Exchange

Sharing ideas for Learning and Teaching

Learning from Blogs – evaluating the learning and teaching benefits of using blogs in higher education

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📥  Case Studies

Summary

The project aimed to evaluate the use of blogs across a number of units in the SPS department with a view to enhancing existing practice, by carrying out a detailed assessment of how students’ learning can be enhanced by blogs, and by identifying any barriers to their effective use. The project showed that students in general found the approach useful, because it helped them to clarify their thoughts on a topic, develop a critical voice, and experience writing in a different style and audience. The key lessons in terms of incorporating this approach were to maximise opportunities for teacher/peer feedback and ensuring that the rationale was clearly explained. There was considerable differences in terms of students’ motivation. While some students were keen that blog-related exercises were graded, others particularly enjoyed the freedom and scope for experimentation that came when these exercises were not formally assessed. The findings of this evaluation will be disseminated through a set of practical guidelines to encourage the wider use of this teaching method across the university and an academic article. (more…)

 

Exploring the Benefits of Peer Assisted Learning (PAL): an evaluation of University undergraduate PAL schemes

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📥  Case Studies

Summary

Peer support, comprising peer mentoring and peer assisted learning (PAL), is an important component of HE and thus contributes to the University’s Education objectives. Our investment in PAL is significant, especially where it is essential for professional accreditation. There has been very little research within our institution as to the advantages of PAL and the steps we can take to improve it.

This project aimed to define the benefits of PAL and produce guidelines promoting successful PAL schemes with maximal student engagement. We used a qualitative approach to evaluate the perceived benefits from attendees across a range of PAL schemes at the University of Bath. Qualitative data obtained through SAMIS evaluations and focus groups, were used to assess the overall benefits of PAL, learn more about the key criteria required for successful schemes and identify effective strategies which promote engagement and inclusivity. PAL attendance and student grades will provide quantitative data to assess the impact of PAL on academic performance

Guidance produced through this project, together with a summary of accompanying benefits, will be available on peer support webpages hosted through the Students’ Union (SU). These will enable PAL to develop across our institution and enhance the student experience.   (more…)

 

Randomised Coursework

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📥  Case Studies

Peter Sloan, Department of Physics

In this case study (from accounts first published on his blog), Peter Sloan discusses the implementation of randomised coursework, followed by an evaluation over two years looking at the outcome on exam performance and considering additional questions such as bias in the outcomes.

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Social Networks and Social Learning: a study of two MOOC communities

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📥  Case Studies

Summary

The University has successfully run two Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); one on ‘Inside Cancer’ and one on ‘Sustainability for Professionals’. These MOOCs have attracted different communities of participants, as reported internally at Exchange! 2014.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a technique used to identify the characteristics of a network. A variety of SNA metrics can be used to detect the overall character of a network (density, connectedness, ‘small world’ and so on). In addition node-level metrics (one at the level of the individual participant) can be used to identify different types of participant (for example, ‘hubs’, ‘spokes’ and ‘links’).

This project has applied SNA techniques to these two Bath MOOC courses. The study has been mainly descriptive rather than proscriptive. The hypotheses that have been explored are that:

  1. The differences between the courses leads to measurable differences in the nature of the resulting network;
  2. These differences could guide the development of new MOOCs.

In order to explore these hypotheses, the courses have be compared using a variety of SNA metrics. The findings show that:

  1. A pedagogical design encouraging community driven (‘connectivist’) learning does indeed lead to measurable structural differences in a MOOC network. Thus, design of a MOOC needs to take into account the desired learning behaviour of the participants;
  2. We were able to identify network learning – in which conversations are driven by the community rather than by tutors. Thus, the role of community gatekeepers are key and these individuals can be identified and supported;
  3. There is some evidence that a more centralized MOOC becomes more community led over time. Thus, it may be important to redesign a MOOC over time to take account of the evolving participant behaviour.

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Building Bridges with Foreign Languages

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📥  Case Studies

Summary

This 2014-15, international, cross-university, collaborative, student-led project promoted and enhanced the learning of foreign languages through multilingual and multicultural interviews and case studies using social media.

5 students from the University of Bath studying Spanish as a foreign language were put in contact with 5 students from the University of Mar del Plata studying English as a foreign language. They were given a set of guidelines to conduct the project together with topics related to their syllabus such as personal information, university life, cultural differences, etc. Each student was allocated a partner to work with. They carried out interviews and arranged online meetings. All communication was conducted in their respective target language. Students exchanged experiences, learnt about different academic and cultural life, built new relationships and developed their languages skills in a real context.

They presented their findings in a variety of forms ranging from class discussions, a short oral presentation or a written report. The project was supervised by their Spanish tutor at different point of its course. When it was finished all students taking part received a letter certifying their participation and conclusion of the project. Overall the project was highly successful on different levels and easily transferable to other languages or departments. (more…)

 

Improving feedback mechanisms to UG students in engineering degrees

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📥  Case Studies

Summary

This 2014-15 project made an important contribution to the overall cost of a one-semester (S1, 2014/15)  sabbatical aimed at improving the student experience through enhancing teaching, learning and feedback outcomes during UG degrees in Chemical Engineering at two leading universities in the Southern Hemisphere (and the most highly ranked Australian universities for Chem Eng): UQ (Brisbane) and the University of Melbourne.  To maintain our excellent NSS position for student satisfaction we need to innovate and learn from other leading academic institutions. This sabbatical proposed to do this by:

  • Benchmarking UoB measures of student satisfaction (including feedback methodologies) and other tools for enhancing the student experience against those in UQ and Melbourne;
  • Examining the effectiveness of the teaching, feedback and student experience innovations that have been introduced in UQ and Melbourne. This was done both by examining outputs such ranking of subjects and universities, and by conducting interviews with academic staff, students and administrative support managers;
  • Examining how QA documentation is interpreted through to the institutional committee structures down to improving and enhancing the individual student experience through assessment, feedback and student support outcomes. Of key concern was academic ownership of programme and changes made to it, which affects both student and staff identities, and social cohesion within universities.

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Mini-SSLCs

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📥  Case Studies

Fabio Nemetz, Computer Science, Director of Studies

In the Department of Computer Science, we introduced agile mini, stand-up meetings between the Director of Studies (DoS) and the student representatives. The idea is very simple: between SSLCs, separate short informal meetings are held with each year group’s student reps separately.

The main benefit is that reps don’t need to wait for SSLCs to introduce their issues. If problems are minor, solutions can be suggested that can be implemented quickly, or we place an item for the next SSLC. This enables the SSLCs to concentrate on more major issues and for reps to raise issues they would otherwise feel too minor or not timely for the SSLCs themselves. This can however in turn resolve issues quickly before they become major and and the structure could help to potentially save time overall.

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In session feedback using Poll Everywhere

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📥  Case Studies

Dr Aydin Nassehi from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bath discusses using the Poll everywhere audience response system in his lectures to gain feedback from students.

In the second video, Aydin directly compares the Poll Everywhere system with the common option of using clickers as an audience response system for use within lectures.