Tag Archives: enquiry-based learning

Turning First Year History Students into Historians (2014)

Chris Corker & Sarah Holland

The first year module ‘Making History 2: Aspects of Sheffield History’ was redesigned by the presenters two years ago to incorporate an enquiry based, independent research approach, as well as incorporate an introduction to employability, enhance students’ knowledge of Public History and how to ‘do history’, and foster the development of learner autonomy.

Students taking the module work in groups of two to three to work on a piece of research on any aspect of Sheffield history they wish between 1743 and 1918, with emphasis placed on under-researched or new areas of investigation, and use of primary source material. One of the student’s main outputs is an unassessed poster, which is exhibited at a public exhibition.

This paper will highlight our findings from delivering the module for two years based on our own observations and evaluation of the module, and drawing from our surveying of students undertaking the module in the last two cohorts.  Furthermore, we will show that formative assessment is effective in improving engagement when it has an impact on a student’s ability to complete the module assessment. Finally, we will show how allowing students to choose their own topic and area of research is effective in improving their knowledge, engagement and achievement.

This paper builds on work presented at the SHU L&T Conference in 2013 during a thunderstorm session, and is also currently being prepared for publication in SEEJ in 2014.

292 – Using independent research to enhance employability in first year History students – Chris Corker, Sarah Holland

Strand: Course identity

Abstract: This paper will explore the redevelopment and initial delivery of the redesigned module Making History 2, a core module for first year History students. The module was redesigned with three objectives in mind: emphasise the skills development involved through doing a history degree to students in their first year; enable students to engage with libraries and sources outside of the University, including those at local archives for a piece of independent research; and guide the students in understanding the relationship between academic and public history. To achieve this, students would be expected to work in small groups to undertake a small research project on any aspect of Sheffield history they were interested in between 1750 and 1950. Emphasis was placed on originality and areas of Sheffield’s history which were under-researched. From their research the students would have to produce an essay-style write up of their project individually, and an un-assessed poster for a history exhibition as a group. The poster exhibition would be open to the public, with posters being judged as part of a competition by a local historian. Their assessment also included a reflective element in which the students were encouraged to evaluate their performance as part of a group, and to explore their skills development through doing the project. The skills primarily developed from undertaking their projects include, but is not limited to: team work; autonomy; research skills; writing skills; and planning and organisation. Students would also write a short essay critically evaluating different approaches to public history. The paper will highlight the approach taken to delivering the module, and be supplemented by data gathered during the course of its delivery.

While the approach outlined is tailored for delivery with History students, it is anticipated that attendees will be able to take away ideas on how to emphasize the skills developed through doing a degree with first year students. The paper will highlight one possible approach to introducing employability to students, and offers a means of helping students develop their skills and to seek resources outside of the University while undertaking their studies.

References:

Fazey, D. M. A., and Fazey, J. A., The Potential for Autonomy in Learning: Perceptions of competence, motivation and locus of control in first-year undergraduate students, Studies in Higher Education, 2001, 26:3, 345-361

Pegg, A., Waldock, J., Hendy-Isaac, S., and Lawton, R., Pedagogy For Employability, Higher Education Academy, 2012.

‘Principles and Practice of Learner Autonomy’ in Moore, I., Elving-Hwang, J., Garnett, K., and Corker, C., CPLA Case Studies Volume 1, Centre For Promoting Learner Autonomy, 2010.

surveyed at the start of the module and will be surveyed at the close of the module, assessing their skills development and perspectives on employability.

292 SHU L&T Conference June 2013

278 – Collaborative Learning – Mark Boylan, Jackie Cawkwell

Jackie and Mark aimed to facilitate:

  • a developed understanding of the nature of collaboration
  • a map of the experience of collaborative learning
  • an identification of student support needs
  • a cross-course understanding of differences and similarities in practice
  • a possible SEEJ paper
  • an experience of a model of collaborative enquiry to inform practice

Using (literally) brown paper as a way of visualising the experience of collaborative learning, small groups mapped a real-life scenario, identifying strengths and weaknesses of the approach and discussing what student support activities might enhance the student experience. Whilst this methodology offers an effective way of unpicking different elements of a process, or in this case an experience, we did find that it takes more time than you’d think! Consequently we did well on charting the experience and on understanding the nature and different aspects of the experience  but barely began to explore differences and similarities between courses. Nevertheless, the enquiry group on collaborative learning will take this discussion forward into 2013/14, with a possible SEEJ paper and Student as Researchers project. And we also now have 7 or 8 charted and mapped course experiences of students working together!

Everyone who contributed to the Co-Lab will now have their names added to the Enquiry Group email list. Many thanks to all who joined in.

Session outline as in Conference Programme:

Collaborative learning is an important aspect of the student learning experience, taking many different forms, including peer supported learning of various types and assessed group work. Developing and practicing the capacity to collaborate is itself an important life skill as well as a pedagogical approach widely recognised as supporting different and greater learning than individual activity might alone. It is central to problem based and enquiry based learning. It is also often challenging for students and this can be accentuated by socio-economic, disability and other student characteristics. Often the experience of collaborative learning across the course or programme is not sufficiently considered either.

The focus of this Co-lab is on the student experience of collaboration across a range of courses, the experience of progression and on the support needs of students (generally and specifically). There will be a brief introduction to the work of the SHU Collaborative Learning Enquiry Group; we will share the methodology and outcomes from an earlier activity by the Group, adapting a method called ‘Brown Paper mapping’, a technique that allows processes and experiences to be visualised and adapted from industrial and business contexts. We will undertake our own Brown paper mapping exercise, charting the journey of the students and identifying:

  • what is experienced positively by staff and students
  • what challenges staff and students
  • further opportunities for the development of effective approaches to collaborative learning
  • what support students receive and what further support could be offered
  • an agreed number of action points to inform the future work of the Enquiry Group

References:

Boylan, M. & Smith, P.  (2012). Tutor roles in collaborative group work. Student Engagement and Experience Journal, 1(1). Available at: http://research.shu.ac.uk/SEEJ/index.php/seej/article/view/34/Boylan

Falchikov, N. (2001) Peer Tutoring in Higher Education New York, Routledge Falmer.

Lizzio, A. & Wilson, K. (2006). Enhancing the effectiveness of self-managed learning groups: understanding students’ choices and concerns, Studies in Higher Education, 31(6), 689-703

Nortcliffe, A. (2012) Can students assess themselves and their peers? A five year study. Student Engagement and Experience Journal, 1,(2) Available at: http://research.shu.ac.uk/SEEJ/index.php/seej/article/view/29/Nortcliffe

Thorley, L. & Gregory, R. (eds.) (1994) Using group based learning in higher education. Kogan Page.

 

222 – Engaging students with a resource list: an exploration of student perceptions, expectations and use of reading lists – Alison Lahlafi, Peter Gledhill

Strand: Supporting students; The technology enhanced course

Anticipated outcomes: Participants will be better informed about student perceptions, expectations and approach to using reading lists. They will be aware of best practice approaches and use of technology to help develop reading lists into dynamic resource lists.

Session outline (or abstract): max 300 words

Reading lists are an integral part of most course modules, described as being “at the heart of the academic experience,” (Swain, 2006, p18) and “one of the most important resources for any course of study in UK HE”, (Secker, 2005, p41).This session explores student perceptions and expectations around reading lists, presenting findings from SHU student focus groups on reading lists, and a literature review on student engagement with reading lists.

Elements considered:

  • whether student reading list usage is “means-end instrumentalism” focussing on a “minimalist approach to use of a limited number of sources”, (Stokes & Martin, 2008, p 124)
  • “futility of multiple copy provision” (Chelin, 2005 p 49) set against “UK students’ reluctance to buy books” (Swain, 2006, p19)
  • how reading lists can “spoon-feed” or encourage information skills/student autonomy (Stokes and Martin, 2008)
  • the need for “decoding” of reading lists to provide better signposting to students, (Carroll, 2002)

The session also explores the potential impact of Resource Lists Online (RLO), including an enhancement of the student experience of reading lists and how RLO encourages the use of a mixture of resources to develop a reading list into a resource list. Best practice recommendations for resource lists at SHU are outlined.

Session activity: “The good, the bad and the ugly”. Short five minute activity asking participants to consider two different resource lists from a student’s perspective, identifying elements which can help engage students with their reading.

References:

CARROLL, J. (2002) Suggestions for teaching international students more effectively. [online] Last accessed 1st March 2013 at: http://145.33.5.5/NR/rdonlyres/8168C349-8698-4844-8BEB-4B59EAA4C0E9/0/JCarroll2002guidelinesforteachinginternational_students.pdf

CHELIN, J. (2005) Five hundred into 4 won’t go: how to solve the problem of reading list expectations. SCONUL Focus, 36, 49-51.

SECKER, J. (2005) DELIVERing library resources to the virtual learning environment. Program electronic library and information systems, 39(1), 39-49.

STOKES, P. and MARTIN, M. (2008) Reading lists: a study of tutor and student perceptions, expectations and realities. Studies in Higher Education, 33(2), 113-125.

SWAIN, H. (2006) Makeovers for the guides to essential reading. [online] Times Higher Education, 26 January. Last accessed 1st March 2013 at: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/

Click to view presentation:  222 lta conference 2013 Gledhill and Lahlafi