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Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
Writing course materials for successful flexible learning
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Writing course materials for successful flexible learning

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Presenation from a Centre for Distance Education seminar 'Writing course materials and formative assessment for successful flexible learning', held at the University of London in June 2014. …

Presenation from a Centre for Distance Education seminar 'Writing course materials and formative assessment for successful flexible learning', held at the University of London in June 2014.

Conducted by Ormond Simpson, Education Consultant, Visiting CDE Fellow.

Audio from the session is available at www.cde.london.ac.uk

Published in: Education, Technology
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  • 1. Writing course materials for successful flexible learning Ormond Simpson Visiting Fellow CDE CDE seminar - 24 June 2014 1
  • 2. Variations in OU course module retention T302 T331 MU120 W300 K224 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 70 % getting to exam %passingexam 40 50 60 80 90 100 2
  • 3. 3 A successful distance course keeps a student’s learning motivation switched on
  • 4. Course Design - possible influences on retention 1. Course Choice - how students choose their course 2. Course workload – how much is in the course 3. Course structure – how the course is organised 4. Course writing - the writing of the course 5. Course assessment strategies - how students are assessed 6. Course evaluations - how courses are assessed 4
  • 5. 1. Course Choice and retention The second biggest reason students give for dropping out (after time issues) is that they were on the wrong course. 5
  • 6. 2. Course workload and retention No link between students’ reported course workload and dropout - Crooks, 2005 But that’s: Counter intuitive? Counter experience? Possibly a methodology problem? Or the variety of concepts and media? 6
  • 7. 3. Course structure and retention ‘Flexibility’ - choice of material to study - choice of time to study - choice of assessment Crooks 2005 7
  • 8. John Sweller ‘Cognitive Load Theory’ John Keller ‘ARCS’ theory John Hattie ‘Self –Reporting’ 4. Course writing - theories Maintaining a student’s motivation to learn
  • 9. Keller’s ARCS theory A = Get and keep their Attention R = Ensure everything is Relevant to their needs C = Ensure they have Confidence in what they’re doing S = And that they are continually Satisfied with their learning experience 9
  • 10. Getting attention - Empathy – eg stories sharing personal thoughts, acknowledging difficulties Incongruity – eg humour Readability – Flesch tests Relevance Confidence Personal, Approachable, Using ‘I’ Satisfaction Ensuring students feel progress Worked example Ensuring relevance Avoiding redundancy Conclusions from theories Keeping attention
  • 11. Keller – Keeping Attention – Readability ’Flesch Reading Ease’ Score depends on sentence length and number of syllables per word Readability score Interpretations 0 - 20 Very difficult 20 - 50 Difficult 50 – 60 Fairly difficult 60 – 70 Plain English 70 – 80 Fairly easy 80 – 90 Easy 90 - 100 Very easy 11
  • 12. Open Poly of New Zealand course on communication The field of communication studies runs wide. As a discipline, it borders on academic specialities such as linguistics, psychology, media studies, cultural studies, sociology, philosophy, marketing, and business studies. Its diverse components include interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, workplace writing, organisational studies, and mass communication. It can, at times, be difficult to limit the scope of communication studies: it seems to involve pretty much most things human beings to together. This is an indication of the obsession in modern times with communication. As Peters (1999) notes, communication has been viewed as the solution to humanity’s diverse and profound troubles. How many times, for instance, during local or international conflicts have you heard talk of communication breakdowns, or of the need to open channels of communication? In this optimistic view, communication entails connecting with others, expressing our true selves, alleviating loneliness, preventing misunderstandings and conflict. The other side of the attention to communication in the modern world is a focus on the dilemmas and apparently intractable problems of communication. Peters (1999) points to the way that so much twentieth century humour focuses on human miscommunication, where humans are left dazed and lonely – gesticulating wildly, impotent, ridiculous. 12
  • 13. Open Poly of New Zealand course on communication The field of communication studies runs wide. As a discipline, it borders on academic specialities such as linguistics, psychology, media studies, cultural studies, sociology, philosophy, marketing, and business studies. Its diverse components include interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, workplace writing, organisational studies, and mass communication. It can, at times, be difficult to limit the scope of communication studies: it seems to involve pretty much most things human beings do together. This is an indication of the obsession in modern times with communication. As Peters (1999) notes, communication has been viewed as the solution to humanity’s diverse and profound troubles. How many times, for instance, during local or international conflicts have you heard talk of communication breakdowns, or of the need to open channels of communication? In this optimistic view, communication entails connecting with others, expressing our true selves, alleviating loneliness, preventing misunderstandings and conflict. The other side of the attention to communication in the modern world is a focus on the dilemmas and apparently intractable problems of communication. Peters (1999) points to the way that so much twentieth century humour focuses on human miscommunication, where humans are left dazed and lonely – gesticulating wildly, impotent, ridiculous. FRE = 13.5 = Very difficult 13
  • 14. • The field of communication studies runs wide. As a discipline, it borders on academic specialities such as: – linguistics, – psychology, – media studies, – cultural studies, – sociology, – marketing, – business studies. • Its diverse components include: – interpersonal communication, – intercultural communication, – workplace writing, – organisational studies, – mass communication. • It can sometimes be difficult to limit the scope of communication studies. It seems to involve pretty much most things human beings do together. This shows the obsession today with communication. FRE = 62 = Plain English 14
  • 15. 15 Evidence for Keller’s Theory? ‘Motivational measure of the instruction compared: Instruction Based on the ARCS Motivation Theory vs Traditional Instruction in Blended Courses’ Ozgur M. COLAKOGLU & Omur AKDEMIR Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education (TOJDE) 2010
  • 16. Cognitive Load Theory (Sweller, 1998) Transfer of learning Initial learning goes into the working (short) memory and needs to be transferred to long term memory 16 Learning Working memory Long term memory
  • 17. Three types of cognitive load 1. Intrinsic – due to inherent difficulty of subject. Should be managed by e.g. ‘segmentation’ and using worked examples 2. Extraneous – due to way information is presented. Should be minimised by e.g. Ensuring relevance avoiding redundancy 3. Germane – due to way info’ relates to previous info’ Should be maximised by making clear links between new and old information 17
  • 18. ‘Assessing Cognitive Load Theory to improve Student Learning for Mechanical Engineers’ - Impelluso,V. American Journal of Distance Education 23 (4) (2009) - claimed increased retention and learning 18
  • 19. 5. Course assessment strategies ‘Assessment drives learning’ But… Does assessment also drive dropout? 19
  • 20. 1 100 62 57 52 38 43 48 72 5 ASSIGNMENT RIVERGRAM 100 students start the course. At each assignment some drop out and enter the ‘exit’ channel. A very few re-enter the ‘progress’ channel having skipped the previous assignment Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Assignment 3 Progress Exit
  • 21. Evidence - what does research say about assessment and retention? (1) Hattie (2009) most important is ‘self reporting of grades’ – so a student knows how well (s)he is doing 21
  • 22. ‘Self reporting of grades’ Put ‘self-assessment questions’ in text - but how to get students to do them? 1. Tell them 2. Nudging – “most students do the SAQ’s” “research has shown that students who do the SAQ’s do best in the course” 3. Electronic text – make it impossible to move on unless the SAQ is attempted 22
  • 23. E-teaching - can be provided in two ways Course texts in print. Teaching / support online Everything online including course texts Reading off a screen can be 30% less effective than reading paper copy http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading- paper-screens/
  • 24. 24 E-teaching Advantages of e-teaching – can use many different kinds of media – forums, podcasts, video/audio clips, blogs etc Disadvantages of e-teaching – can use many different kinds of media…. ‘Course Exuberance Syndrome’
  • 25. ‘Learning value’ vs. ‘learning time needed’ Learning value poor Learning value rich Learning time needed short Learning time long Paper text Online text Computer forums blogs podcasts Videoclips Wikis Facebook ‘Use line’ Secondlife email ‘Learning time needed’ ‘Learning value’ pencasts Audioclips ebooks
  • 26. 26 6. Course evaluations 1. Asking the students 2. Data analysis
  • 27. 27 Asking the students OU Courses survey
  • 28. ‘Crash testing’ 28
  • 29. 29 Module title Students started Students passed Predicted pass Actual pass Z-score ‘Creative writing’ 1,995 1,615 77.2% 81.0% + 4.38 ‘Introducing religions’ 355 254 62.9% 71.5% + 3.71 ‘Medicine and society in Europe 1500-1930’ 357 227 69.6% 63.6% - 2.80 ‘Exploring the classical world’ 605 414 68.9% 68.4% - 0.29 ‘Exploring philosophy’ 699 500 65.3% 71.5% + 3.84 ‘Inside music’ 413 255 74.0% 61.7% - 6.34 Z-scores for a sample of OU modules Z-scores outside the range +4 or -4 are considered significant
  • 30. Variations in course retention T302 T331 MU120 W300 K224 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 70 % getting to exam %passingexam Sifters Heavy goings Fair Knock Backers 40 50 60 80 90 100 30
  • 31. Barriers to ‘retention-friendly’ text? 31 Material focused Exclusive Highly challenging Serious Student focused Inclusive Aptly challenging Enjoyable Weeding out the unfit – ‘Darwinistas’ Sink or swim - ‘Fatalistas’ Help students be the best they can be - Retentioneer
  • 32. Thank you! More material on www.ormondsimpson.com 32
  • 33. 33
  • 34. 4. Motivational and ungraded feedback (i) Motivational feedback (Wigfield et al, 2009): Learning motivation = (assumed possibility of accomplishing task) x (perceived value of task) If either factor is zero then motivation is zero So feedback tasks should be carefully graded for difficulty 34
  • 35. Formative assessment – the evidence • Yorke and Longden (2004) • Black and Wiliam (1998) • Kluger (1996) • Gibbs and Dunbar-Goddet (2007) 35
  • 36. Without external formative assessment 1 100 62 57 52 38 43 48 7 2 5 ASSIGNMENT RIVERGRAM – FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT 100 students start the course. At each assignment some drop out and enter the ‘exit’ channel. A very few re-enter the ‘progress’ channel having skipped the previous assignment Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Assignment 3 Progress Exit 36
  • 37. With external formative assessment 100 72 70 65 28 30 35 11 9 5 ASSIGNMENT RIVERGRAM – FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT 100 students start the course. At each assignment some drop out and enter the ‘exit’ channel. A very few re-enter the ‘progress’ channel having skipped the previous assignment. Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Assignment 3 Progress Exit 37
  • 38. Keller’s A = Attention 1. Getting students attention 2. Keeping students attention 38
  • 39. Keller - Getting Attention Use: - incongruity – eg humour* - empathy – eg stories, sharing personal thoughts - authority – displaying expertise But everything in a course text should be relevant to learning. *eg see ‘Flipnosis’ – Dutton (2011) 39
  • 40. Keller - Keeping attention - Reading skills and reading habits • Researchers used ‘Cloze’ tests (replacing blanks in text) on new students – many would have significant difficulties in understanding their course material. - 42% new students had lower comprehension than needed for courses - Students’ previous reading was newspapers and magazines - Datta and Macdonald Ross (2002) 40
  • 41. Readability Scales • Automated Readability Index • Flesch Reading Ease • Flesch-Kincaid scores • Gunning-Fog index • SMOG index (simplified measure of gobbledygook) 41
  • 42. Newspapers Flesch Reading Ease score Sun 62.8 – Plain English Daily Mail 61.5 – Plain English Mirror 60.5 – Plain English Guardian 44.5 – Difficult Telegraph 48.8 – Difficult 42
  • 43. OU courses initial pages Flesch Reading Ease score Arts Foundation 47.1 – difficult Social science Foundation 55.2 – Fairly difficult Maths Foundation 39.9 - difficult Science Foundation 53.7 – Fairly difficult OU Access Course 58.1 – Fairly difficult Significant differences in readability levels between tabloid newspapers and UKOU courses - Moore (2004) 43
  • 44. Fonts • Times New Roman • Arial • Helvetica • Courier • Comic • Calibri • Cambria • Brush • Kumasi Pioneer Two groups of students were given exercise advice in Arial and Brush fonts. Students getting Arial text were more likely to change exercise behaviour than students getting the Brush text Herbert - Sci. Amer. Mind Feb 2009 44
  • 45. Type layout - Justifying 1 There appears to have been relatively little work done on course design and retention. Indeed designing a course for better retention rates is a complex concept since course design is intimately bound up with course assessment. In recent years in the UK the annual festival of punditry revolves around the question of whether more students passing the ‘A’ level exams means that ‘standards’ have therefore fallen. Thus the retention debate has tended to avoid questions of the difficulty of content and concepts in the course and concentrated on other possibilities for increasing retention such as course workload, course readability and course design and structure. 45
  • 46. Justifying 2 There appears to have been relatively little work done on course design and retention. Indeed designing a course for better retention rates is a complex concept since course design is intimately bound up with course assessment. In recent years in the UK an annual festival of punditry revolves around the question of whether more students passing the ‘A’ level exams means that ‘standards’ have therefore fallen. Thus the retention debate has tended to avoid questions of the difficulty of content and concepts in the course and concentrated on other possibilities for increasing retention such as course workload, course readability and course design and structure. 46
  • 47. Using columns There appears to have been relatively little work done on course design and retention. Indeed designing a course for better retention rates is a complex concept since course design is intimately bound up with course assessment. In recent years in the UK an annual festival of punditry revolves around the question of whether more students passing the ‘A’ level exams means that ‘standards’ have therefore fallen. Thus the retention debate has tended to avoid questions of the difficulty of content and concepts in the course and concentrated on other possibilities for increasing retention such as course 47
  • 48. Newspapers o Different fonts o Narrow columns o Short paragraphs o Justified – sometimes ragged right o Many graphics o Frequent subheadings and quote boxes o Variable fonts o Colour and shading - all aimed at ‘Attention’ 48
  • 49. R = Relevance • Avoid redundancy • Avoid ‘split attention’ • - see ‘Cognitive Load Theory’ 49
  • 50. C = Confidence • Why are texts largely anonymous? - could we use ‘I’ or ‘we’? • Why little information about authors? – should we ‘personalise’ texts? 50
  • 51. S = Satisfaction Feedback to student - Hattie - most important is ‘self reporting’ – so a student knows how well (s)he is doing’ So use self assessment questions? • put answers straight after questions • keep questions short so students can see progress 51
  • 52. Types of assessment 1. Formative - to enhance learning, not to allocate grades - usually ungraded - feedback for student’s benefit 2. Summative – graded - counts towards final grade - continuous or final exam 3. Ipsative - iterative feedback 52
  • 53. ‘Meta-cognitive awareness’ (3) Gibbs (2010) – marking exercises - enhanced worked examples Some indirect evidence for increased retention 53
  • 54. Gibbs – (1) Marking exercises Students given specimen student assignment answers and asked to mark them 54
  • 55. 55 Graham Gibbs - Marking exercise F2F GROUP ACTIVITY 2: What do 'they' want? (25 mins) Give students copies of a short student assignment. 1. Tell them, “Imagine you are a tutor - read this quickly and mark it. Give it a grade (100 to 0) and helpful comments." (5 mins) 2. In pairs, “Compare your comments and grading together. What have you picked out as important in your comments?“ (10 mins) 3. In plenary, “Right let's now try to draw out some good and bad points from this to help us in our own writing". (10 mins)
  • 56. Gibbs - (2) Enhanced worked examples “Last week I found 50 New Zealand dollars in my suitcase. “So I rushed down to the Post Office where there was one of those illuminated signs in the window. Against NZ$ it said ‘We buy at NZ$2.72 to the £’. So how much did the man behind the counter give me?” 56
  • 57. Enhanced worked example - answer “The statement ‘We buy at NZ$2.72 to the £’ means that for every NZ$2.72 I give the man he’ll give me £1. I've got NZ$50 so we need to know how many times 2.72 goes into 50 to see how many £’s I'll get. Now 50/2.72 = 18.51851852 on my calculator. So the man gave me £18.51 as the post office doesn’t deal in less than a penny of course.” 57
  • 58. Enhanced worked example - answer “The statement ‘We buy at NZ$2.72 to the £’ means that for every NZ$2.72 I give the man he’ll give me £1. (It helps to write out what the statement ‘We buy at NZ$2.72 to the £’ means in practice). I've got NZ$50 so we need to know how many times 2.72 goes into 50 to see how many £’s I'll get. (remember to explain each step rather than just write down the calculation like 'NZ$ = £50/2.17' The more you explain what you're doing, the better). Now 50/2.72 = 18.51851852 on my calculator. So the man gave me £18.51 as the post office doesn’t deal in less than a penny of course.” (Be sure your answer makes sense – it's very easy when using the calculator to write down whatever it tells you!) 58
  • 59. With external formative assessment 100 72 70 65 28 30 35 11 9 5 ASSIGNMENT RIVERGRAM – FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT 100 students start the course. At each assignment some drop out and enter the ‘exit’ channel. A very few re-enter the ‘progress’ channel having skipped the previous assignment. Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Assignment 3 Progress Exit 59
  • 60. ‘Ipsative assessment’ - a new approach? • Assessment or feedback which compares a student’s achievement not with an absolute standard, but with their previous performance (Hughes, 2011) • For example students can repeat an assessment with feedback at each attempt until they reach the required standard • No retention results as yet 60

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