Tag Archives: knowledge

Engaging practice-based learners

Aileen Watson, Andrew Fowler & Jacky Burrows

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.8

Short Abstract
This session will consider the design and delivery of an academic module studied by volunteers working for Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability. Our aim is to explore the use of blended learning in engaging practice-based students utilising our own experience and student feedback.

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Detailed Outline
This paper will explore the challenges of engaging practice-based learners in a blended learning experience, with specific reference to a joint project between Sheffield Hallam’s Department of Law and Criminology and Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability (YHCOSA). This project involved a group of YHCOSA volunteers engaging in a standalone academic module entitled ‘Working with Sex Offenders’, which aimed to improve their volunteering through integrating theory and practice. Students completed the course by engaging in one face to face session and twelve online lectures delivered by Sheffield Hallam, and four face to face sessions delivered by YHCOSA. The project had a number of specific challenges including the wide geographic distribution of students, the range of their previous academic experience, and the challenging nature of the subject material and volunteers’ specific roles; however the paper will also address broader issues relevant to blended learning including establishing course identity, sustaining motivation, and maximising potential. It will therefore consider the specific learning needs of practice-based adult learners and maximising the effectiveness of the blended/hybrid of model of face to face teaching and technology-facilitated learning for them, as well as ways of increasing motivation and student satisfaction such as formal and informal reward and recognition and ensuring adequate support (see for example, Ausburn, 2011).

The blended learning approach can be regarded as both a practical solution to the learning needs of geographically diverse, practice-based learners and a theoretically sound mode of engaging adult learners, especially those learning for practical application. The authors take the view that the project’s blended learning approach fits well with Knowles’ model of androgogy (see for example Atherton, 2013) and in particular allows students to learn in a constructivist manner, thus facilitating deep learning (e.g. Sharpe, Benfield, Roberts, and Francis, 2006). The paper will therefore consider blended-learning through those lenses.
The paper will conclude with ideas for future directions including the role of evaluation for transformative practice and the increasing focus on blended learning as part of the wider agenda of ‘flexible learning’ (HEA, 2015)
References
ATHERTON, J. S. (2013). Learning and Teaching; Knowles’ andragogy: an angle on adult learning [onlline] Last updates 10 February 2013 http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/knowlesa.htm
AUSBURN, L. J. (2011). Course design elements most valued by adult learners in blended online education environments: an American perspective. Educational Media International, 41, 327-337
HEA (2015). Flexible Learning [online]. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/workstreams-research/themes/flexible-learning
SHARPE, R. BENFIELD,G,. ROBERTS, G., and FRANCIS, R.(2006). The undergraduate experience of blended e-learning: a review of UK literature and practice.

126 – Using a teacher-generated website (wiki) to support the learning of statistics – Diarmuid Verrier

Strand: The technology enhanced course (or, supporting students)

Anticipated outcomes:  Attendees should leave with an appreciation of the value of wikis for teaching.  Personally, I would like to get a sense of whether attendees consider this resource something that could potentially be used across multiple courses in the university or whether it is necessarily limited to the one for which it was created.

Session outline (or abstract):

It is now beyond question that technology and new media can support the process of learning and teaching. The subject of statistics may have particularly benefitted from this over the last 20 years with the growth and current ubiquity of computer programs designed to perform complex statistical calculations and to provide output describing the results of those calculations.  Nonetheless, statistics remains a highly complex subject.  The need for a sophisticated conceptual understanding of why a particular method should be chosen remains, and there are now additional challenges in terms of interpreting statistical output.  Further, while there is much consensus about the way statistics should be carried out and reported, cultural and discipline-specific differences remain.  There is a plethora of information out there, the vast majority of which is not relevant, and some of which is contrary to the cultural norms within the department.  In order to provide an easily accessible source of information that avoids these problems, we created a parsimonious wiki-style website for an introductory research methods and statistics module taken by first-year psychology students — essentially a resource for students analogous to a module-bespoke hyperlinked online textbook. It is intended to encompass what students need to know and no more (core concepts, basic theory, and stripped down procedures).  The vast majority of questions students ask in class can be answered by directed them to the website.  Thus, this system scaffolds students towards becoming autonomous learners who work to solve their own problems rather than relying on an external authority.  Students can then ‘graduate’ from this resource and engage with more sophisticated and detailed textbooks, articles, etc. that might otherwise have been experienced as overwhelming.  Although students cannot edit it, the website is easily malleable, and we can consider whether to add information if a student’s query goes beyond its current content.  This paper will evaluate how successful the site has been and will discuss some of its strengths as well as challenges we have encountered in creating and using it.  The possibility of using this resource (or one like it) across multiple courses will also be mooted.

Session activities for engagement: A hands on demonstration of the website

References: None

Possible thunderstorm session questions:

To what extent can such a resource truly be said to support the development of student autonomy?

To what extent would it be possible (or desirable) to share this resource within the university or beyond (i.e., as an open educational resource)?

Click to view presentation:  http://prezi.com/mkzxjcvbq-fp/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

208 – The links between research and teaching in Biosciences at SHU from a students and staff perspective – Robert Widdowson, Susan Laird, Nicola Woodroofe

The Department of Biosciences at SHU has strong links with the Biomedical Research Centre (BMRC) with all staff who undertake research and consultancy also being actively engaged in teaching.  Between March and July 2013 the department is carrying out a higher education pedagogic study into the links between teaching and research.  The benefits of a strong relationship between research and teaching is more often assumed than evidenced through educational research into good practice.  The aim of this project is to gather evidence to assess how research and consultancy undertaken by staff in the research centre can benefit biosciences undergraduate students’ learning experience and employability.  We will be reviewing the current influence that research and consultancy carried out in the BMRC has upon the B.Sc. Biomedical Sciences degree course to understand to what extent research and consultancy impacts the B.Sc. Biomedical sciences course design and delivery.  Focus groups and questionnaires will be used to measure staff and student perceptions of the current links between research and teaching and the extent to which students are aware of research activities that are carried out within the department.  Interviews with academic and technical staff, postgraduate research students and undergraduate students will establish the importance of research and consultancy in enriching our course content and in providing the skills required to gain graduate employment following study.  We hope the study will provide evidence to identify good practice from both the student and staff perspective, which will then be more widely disseminated in SHU and beyond. We will present the initial interim results of the project at the conference.

Click to view poster: 208 RITposter