Tag Archives: active learning

Ready, Steady, Learn!

Dr David Smith & Dr Graham Holden
@dave_thesmith / @GrahamJHolden

Parallel session 4, CoLab 4.1

This workshop builds on a session devised and developed by Graham, and Professor Ranald Macdonald which then ran with academic staff at the University of Manchester.

Short Abstract
Come teach with us, share your practice and add a little bit of flavour to your teaching. Participants will be asked to design or redesign a teaching session. We’ll award points to all the sessions and feedback to develop further ideas and implementation. At the end of the workshop the session with the most points wins a tasty teaching prize.

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Detailed Outline
We believe that good learning experiences are challenging, risky, unpredictable, experimental, and are, above all, fun! These experiences occur individually as well as in groups, and everyone brings different knowledge, skills and experiences to the table.
In this workshop we will explore the metaphor of cooking in teaching and learning (hence the title) as this incorporate features that make learning more engaging. Learning, like food, can become dull and bland and the addition of an extra ingredient or combining ingredients in a different way can transform the experience. These changes don’t have to mean a complete redesign of the learning experience but can be about adding an extra dimension at the right time. Like any good meal it is the combination of a well-planned menu, good quality ingredients and the skill of the cook that makes the difference.

This session will explore the key elements of active learning and quality design of the learning experience; we will share ideas and techniques that promote engagement. We will do this be drawing on principles for active learning, our own experiences and examples from the University’s Inspirational Teachers. The best experiences, though, are those of the participants, so we ask you to come prepared to explore your own practices and to share your reflections with others. By the end of the session we will have a collection of recipes for engaged student learning and the beginnings of what we hope will be an active learning cookbook.

Using artefact building to engage students in reflective practice

Dr Mary Fitzpatrick

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.2

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Short Abstract
Engaging students in reflective practice can be a challenge. Encouraging active involvement and reflection through artefact building can provide a rich and meaningful experience. This short session will introduce the idea of artefact building as a means of engaging students through a short presentation and round table discussion.

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Detailed Outline
Engaging students in reflective practice can be a challenge as many do not regard this as important or relevant to their practice in ‘real life’. On our PG cert equivalent*, I work with early academics on developing their teaching philosophy and teaching portfolio. They regard this as a mammoth task and it is one that creates, for many, a mental block. The overall programme itself is very reflective and so this activity is hugely useful in engaging students in reflective practice.

In order to get the students thinking and reflecting on their teaching philosophy, I endeavor to make it as enjoyable and relevant as I can. I take students further out of their comfort zone by inviting them to develop an artefact which illustrates their reflections on their teaching philosophy. I provide students with a variety of crafting materials (colours, newspapers, magazines, ribbon, felt, glue, flipchart, etc) to work with and, to date, the artefacts developed have included 3D models, mosaics, posters and masks. All students then give a short presentation on their artifact which provides them with the opportunity to articulate their teaching philosophy through a novel lens.

This activity works very well in assisting students with the development of their teaching philosophy and their stance on teaching – how it has evolved, how it is present and how they may develop it in the future. Many students include evidence of this exercise in their draft portfolio and it really kick starts their engagement in reflective practice, both in and beyond the classroom, within their roles as academics.

‘This exercise reverberated long after the teaching session. It really allowed me to look at key micro and macro elements of my teaching philosophy and approach but from a novel and unique perspective’ (Student feedback, 2014)

In this short presentation slot, I will give an overview of the activity, the outcomes and the application of same. Participants will be asked to discuss how they might use this activity to illustrate their role in engaging their students wherever they are in a round table with other participants.

* Specialist Diploma in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship (level 9 programme) http://www3.ul.ie/ctl/academic-development-specialist-diploma

An investigation into the use of Twitter in teaching.

David Strafford

Parallel session 1, Short Paper 1.8

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Short Abstract
This presentation will review an exploratory study examining the opportunities and challenges of using Twitter as an integral part of the teaching on two Events Management modules. Particularly, it explores whether students would actively engage with course content on Twitter to enhance their learning experience and underpin the teaching from the classroom.

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Detailed Outline
The modern student has access to knowledge and information at their fingertips like never before. Ownership of smartphones, tablets and laptops is prevalent amongst the modern day digital learner, with information, knowledge and feedback being demanded faster and faster. Interaction on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest is growing as a result of increased demand for social connectivity. The modern day tutor needs to reflect on this, as to whether these platforms can be tools for teaching.

If students actively and voluntarily spend their time interacting on social media with peers, then it is natural for tutors to ask whether they can engage their students with learning on these same platforms. Therefore as part of the delivery of two Events Management modules, Twitter was used to underpin the learning from the more traditional classroom based teaching. The vehicle was a weekly ‘tweetchat’ hour where tutors and students could come together on Twitter to discuss course related topics. These tweetchats were not compulsory or assessed, they merely supported course material and provided wider background reading through interesting links, articles and videos.

The tweetchat topics loosely followed a particular module’s lecture topics: in Semester One, the Level 4 Events Foundation was chosen and in Semester Two, the Level 5 Charity Events and Fundraising module was utilised. A bespoke Twitter handle was created (@SHUeventschat) and the hashtag #SHUeventschat was used in all tweets during the tweetchats. Storify was used to summarise the tweetchat conversations each week. At the end of each module a quantitative research survey was conducted to establish students’ views on Twitter being used as part of their teaching, with some further qualitative interviews also conducted to delve deeper with particularly engaged students. The results of that research are presented here, couple with recommendations for future use.

What can we learn from what’s happening in schools? (2014)

Ranald Macdonald & Damian O’Reilly

Having moved from OFSTED’s ‘notice to improve’ in September 2011 to ‘good’ in September 2012, Highfields Secondary School in Matlock has put a significant emphasis on a range of approaches to enhancing the process and outcomes of learning and teaching. These include: promoting active learning and independence; meeting the needs of all students through differentiated teaching; sharing good practice; and using the outcomes of regular assessment to measure whether students are meeting expectations and intervening if they are not.

A particular initiative has been the introduction of Highfields Heroes, whereby students identify their progress within five Rs – Responsible, Resilient, Reasoning, Resourceful and Reflective.

In this session we will briefly introduce the five Rs and provide examples of the characteristics that students will demonstrate under each one.

We will also provide the cards that students use to provide evidence of their achievements as the basis of an approach which we believe will work equally well in promoting effective and challenging learning in Higher Education. Small teams will take a particular aspect of the five Rs to examine their own practice and the experiences of their students. In plenary we will explore the applicability of the approach to Higher Education.

Damian O’Reilly was previously Head of Music and is now Assistant Head Teacher (Teaching and Learning) at Highfields School, Matlock, an 11-18 community secondary school. He is leading many initiatives across the school including Highfields Heroes and the introduction of tablets in Year 7 (first year at secondary school) as a precursor to them being used across all years to support innovation in learning and teaching.

Ranald Macdonald was, before retirement in 2009, Professor of Academic Development at Sheffield Hallam University and remains an Emeritus Professor. He has been a Governor at Highfields School since 2012, is Chair of the Governors’ Curriculum Committee and is taking a role in the professional development of Governors who are being held to greater account under the new OFSTED framework for inspection.

We will also try to bring some students with us to facilitate the small group sessions but this may be too difficult.

Presentation Skills: Co-creating Rubrics (2014)

Kalman Winston, Bangor University

The session will showcase a simple yet innovative method for teaching presentation skills to first year undergraduate students. As part of their learning skills modules, engineering and medical science students were asked to combine individual written reports into small group oral presentations. After eliciting class discussion of key elements of a good presentation, each group of four worked to create an assessment rubric for their course-specific task, which they then presented to the whole class. Key elements from their rubrics were then combined by their teacher into one rubric that each group used as a guide to inform their own presentations.

Students and teachers subsequently used the same rubric to mark the presentations of each group, with good agreement between different graders. Key outcomes included some high-quality presentations, enhanced understanding of the elements of successful presentations, as well as insight into the processes of rubric development and peer-assessment. This work provides a further example of the learning gains made possible by enabling active student participation and staff-student collaboration in assessment design and use, and demonstrates the value of setting high expectations for student engagement.

2012 PPDP and career mentoring

Kent Roach and Ruth Holland

SHU is committed to making PPDP integral to the learning experience of all it’s students, and is developing a framework and toolkit for staff & students to bring this commitment to life.  Being both reflective & forward looking, the PPDP process has a clear relationship with the development of career management and employability skills in students. 

Any general provision for career development in students should include the opportunity to join a dynamic and empowering career mentoring scheme, giving access to committed & highly competent professionals in a range of vocational disciplines. 

It’s benefits to students include: access to specialist skills; advice; insider’s knowledge;  and greater confidence. 

The mentoring process itself involves: identifying learning needs; discussing them; setting goals; taking action; and reviewing & reflecting upon the experience. 

All of which resonate with the core elements of PPDP. 

This session further explores the links between PPDP and career mentoring,  considers it’s place a part of the employability toolkit for SHU students and looks at how staff can be effective ‘enablers’.

D3 – (FU53) 15.30

2012 How do you grow yourself? A study of students’ learning behaviours and matters relating to personal development in a module on career management

Richard McCarter and Emma Heron

This session examines student and staff experience of personal development through an employability and career management skills module. The module covers 2 semesters and the first semester deals with theoretical aspects of work and the workplace combined with reflection on learners’ work related experiences. The second semester (from which this paper is largely derived) focuses on career management strategies and is designed to be practically-based, raising students’ levels of self awareness in relation to their own career management needs and necessitating reflection and action on personal attributes.  The student is thus challenged on many different levels: pedagogically through less conventional delivery of teaching and assessment tasks and a heavy emphasis on reflection; personally through the need to embrace the idea of a curriculum that is not an easy fit with their own definition of academic study;  professionally, through the need to accept the reality of an increasingly unpredictable and competitive employment future.  For the teacher of career management, these challenges translate into a polarity of student response; a core of ‘converted’ (where engagement with the module, including the assessment task, is regarded as positive and worthwhile) versus a group of largely unconvinced sceptics, where attitude, attendance and reflection are influenced, and where engagement is at best reluctant, at worst non-existent.

An evaluation was conducted to gain a broad view of student experience, with a questionnaire delivered in a mid-semester lecture, followed by one to one structured interviews with ‘converts’ and ‘sceptics’ alike (the latter through snowballing techniques in order to capture the views of non-attendees).   Submitted webfolios by the students have also been evaluated. One-to -one discussions with teaching staff have been carried out.

The results contribute to a debate for practitioners and academics on the aspects of embedding employability into the curriculum and teaching career management.  Encouraging students to confront, realise and evaluate overtly their own ‘deficiencies’ and/or strengths through structured and less conventional lecture and seminar formats,  class/shared activities and a sense of being challenged, demands personal learning .  Does it work? How does reflection help or hinder?

Questions raised in interviews and data collected from e-portfolios and the module evaluation draw on 3 key areas –

  • an increase of students’ self-awareness of employability either through the  module activities and by undertaking the assessment
  • how reflection and reflective practice augmented students’ understanding of personal development
  • tutors’ and students’ perceptions of the emphasis on work related experiences, lectures and seminar contact time, rather than content delivered through technology (Blackboard and Pebblepad) 

Schön, D, A. (2009)  The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action.

Qualitative Social Work 2009 vol. 8 no. 1 124-129

Ehiyazaryan, E. and Barraclough, N. (2009) Enhancing employability: integrating real world experience in the curriculum. Education and Training. 51 (4), pp292-308. Available from: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?issn=0040-0912

Dacre Pool, L. and Sewell, P. (2007) The Key to Employability. Developing a practical model of graduate employability. Education and Training. 49 (4), pp277- 289. Available from: http://www.uclan.ac.uk/information/uclan/employability/careeredge.php

Zepke, N and Leach, L. (2010) Improving student engagement: Ten proposals for action. Active Learning in Higher Education 11(3) 167–177

Click to presentation:  How do you grow yourself? A study of students’ learning behaviours and matters relating to personal development in a module on career management

A4 – (FU37, FU05) 11.00

2012 Question time: stimulating participation in lectures via mobile devices

Ben Abell

Students used their web-enabled phones to answer questions during lecture sessions, and worked as small groups to maximise participation and peer learning. The main tool tested was Google Docs Forms, which can be accessed via the internet and is easy to set up, although other tools such as Polleverywhere and ConnectTxt receive input from SMS texts, and offer an alternative way of capturing student answers. 

Questions were mostly in multiple-choice format, and were integrated into the presentation to promote immediate engagement. Answers were collated to generate an overall group response, which was presented graphically, and used as a discussion point to deal with common misconceptions. 

The need for such technology arises from the difficulty of promoting active learning in lectures, especially with larger student groups, a problem acknowledged in science teaching (Handelsman et al. 2004. Science

304: 521-522) and more widely. Although responses can be received using specialised devices, the logistical difficulty of obtaining and distributing these devices has reduced their use. Instead, the extensive ownership of smart-phones provides an opportunity to increase direct student participation throughout lectures, so this trial was implemented specifically in the Biosciences module ‘Plant Physiology and Anatomy’ (Jan-April 2012), but the approach has the potential to be applied to any subject area. 

Student feedback was very positive, with perceived benefits of engaging more actively with the lecture content, particularly via peer learning. Problems with the approach centred on access to mobile devices and class management, which could be addressed with greater support.

Presentation:  Mobile learning

D7 – (EN28, EN11, EN22, EN56) 15.30