Encouraging engagement.

V. Du Preez & V. Barnes | Cape Peninsula University of Technology
A student’s experience in a tertiary programme should
develop the professional skills needed after graduation
as well as e...
Student involvement, as explored in this paper, relates
to the framework developed by Astin (1984) in which he
states: “Qu...
An engaged learner
An engaged learner actively participates and finds
learning meaningful. A learning environment which
en...
An engaged learner
Kearsley and Schneiderman* suggest that engaged
activities increase student motivation, and facilitates...
Avoiding confusion:
• The term ‘engagement’ as explored by Kearsley and
Shneiderman (1999) links to the concept of
engagem...
The main aim of this paper:
• To establish the level of student involvement in the
Industrial Design programme.
• To compa...
The research methodology used in this paper is Design
Ethnography.
“Design ethnography is ethnographic qualitative
researc...
Ethnographic methods used in this project formed part
of a reflective cycle:
•
•
•

Students were observed through photogr...
The discussion of findings:
1. The result of a student involvement questionnaire
and international comparison.
2. The resu...
The NSSE test:
Students completed a paper-based version of the
National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). The test
was ...
The NSSE test:
The five categories explored in the test, are:
• Active and collaborative learning
• Enriching educational ...
Results of the NSSE test:
15.0

11.5

11

10.0

6.25
5.0

0.0

SA
NSSE
AUSSE
% Students who never participate in active le...
Results of the NSSE test:
47

50
45
40

39

37

36

31 32

35
30

SA

25
20

NSSE

18

17

14

17

11

15
10
5

0

0
Very ...
Engagement objectives and session observations:
Session
#1
Traditional
lecture with
lecturer guided
discussion.

Session
#...
Engagement objectives and session observations:
Session
#1
Traditional lecture
with lecturer
guided discussion.

Attendanc...
Engagement objectives and session observations:
Session
#2
Small group
discussion followed
by a lecturer led
group discuss...
Engagement objectives and session observations:
Session
#3
Reading task with
optional lecturer
led group
discussion.

Atte...
Engagement objectives and session observations:
Session
#4
Student led
session.

Attendance:
41 students
Format:
Reading c...
Session 4: Completely student led discussion, lecturer is observer.

Findings: Engagement
Session 4: Completely student led discussion, lecturer is observer.

Findings: Engagement
Session 4: Completely student led discussion, lecturer is observer.

Findings: Engagement
Engagement objectives and session observations:
The teaching and learning activities designed for the
module produced a mo...
Engagement objectives and session observations:
Students responded positively to the design of the module in their
reflect...
The way forward:
The theory of student involvement acknowledges that
the amount of time and mental focus that students
hav...
The way forward:
The impact of the learning experiences documented in
this project need further review, however, the
immed...
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Encouraging Engagement

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A paper presented at the 2012 Design, Development and Research conference. A student’s experience in a tertiary programme should develop the professional skills needed after graduation as well as equip students with necessary skills to navigate real world situations. In the design field students work and learn in an educational design studio which mirrors the working model of professional design industries. Design students’ learning experiences can be investigated from both an external point of view, by establishing the level of student involvement, as well as from an internal point of view through the level of engagement encouraged by the method of teaching and learning. Student involvement, as explored in this paper relates to the framework develop by Astin (1984) in which he states: “Quite simply, student involvement refers to the amount of physical and psychological energy that the student devotes to the academic experience.” If a student is involved they stand to gain more from the educational experience. This experience could further be enhanced by developing an engaging learning situation. The term ‘engagement theory’, as explored by Kearsley and Shneiderman (1999), is grounded in technology based education but can be applied to most learning environments : “The fundamental idea underpinning engagement theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks”. The Schlechty Centre (2009) describes students who are engaged by their learning environment as able to learn at high levels with a clear and comprehensive understanding of what is being learnt, as well as being able to retain what they have learnt and that they are able to apply this new knowledge to different contexts . The three characteristics of an engaged learning experience are collaboration, project orientated assessment and authentic (real-world) learning . These characteristics are similar to practical studio based education practices which focus on problem based projects, grounded in real world contexts.

This paper investigates the level of student involvement of Industrial Design 3 students as well as whether engagement is encouraged within the theoretical subjects associated with this programme. To establish the level of student involvement students completed the 2012 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and findings are compared to corresponding data from America, Europe and Australia. The level of engagement experienced by third year Industrial Design students in the theoretical subject was documented through video and photographic ethnography. The aim of the research is to establish whether design students, with varying levels of student involvement, would have a more engaged learning experience in theoretical subjects if the learning experience was collaborative, project orientated and based in a real world context.

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Encouraging Engagement

  1. 1. Encouraging engagement. V. Du Preez & V. Barnes | Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  2. 2. A student’s experience in a tertiary programme should develop the professional skills needed after graduation as well as equip students with necessary skills to navigate real world situations. Learning experiences can be investigated from both an external point of view, by establishing the level of student involvement, as well as from an internal point of view through the level of engagement encouraged by the method of teaching and learning. Introduction
  3. 3. Student involvement, as explored in this paper, relates to the framework developed by Astin (1984) in which he states: “Quite simply, student involvement refers to the amount of physical and psychological energy that the student devotes to the academic experience.” Student engagement relates to the work of Kearsley and Shneiderman (1999) who states that: “The fundamental idea underpinning engagement theory is that students must be meaningfully engaged in learning activities through interaction with others and worthwhile tasks”. Introduction
  4. 4. An engaged learner An engaged learner actively participates and finds learning meaningful. A learning environment which encourages this is characterised by: - Co-operative and collaborative learning - Project based activities (often problem based) - Real world application and relevance of projects Introduction
  5. 5. An engaged learner Kearsley and Schneiderman* suggest that engaged activities increase student motivation, and facilitates the understanding of diversity and multiple perspectives Engagement Principle* Relate Create Donate Teaching and Learning Activity Small group research activities Small group discussions Class discussion Formative peer evaluation and feedback Industry related project theme Project topic selected by student Research required collaboration with industry and/or relevant communities of practice Introduction
  6. 6. Avoiding confusion: • The term ‘engagement’ as explored by Kearsley and Shneiderman (1999) links to the concept of engagement theory. • Confusion arises when referring to American sources and testing of engagement as it refers to our understanding of student involvement. • To avoid confusion all resources and information relating to the amount of physical and psychological energy students dedicate to their studies will be referred as student involvement. Introduction
  7. 7. The main aim of this paper: • To establish the level of student involvement in the Industrial Design programme. • To compare findings to at least two other countries as there is no repository of data describing South African students’ level of involvement. • • To adapt teaching and learning activities within the theoretical subject Theory of Industrial Design 3 to focus on encouraging engagement through discussion. To observe whether there were any changes in the level of student engagement within the subject. Aims of the Paper
  8. 8. The research methodology used in this paper is Design Ethnography. “Design ethnography is ethnographic qualitative research set within a design context. It delivers results that inform and inspire design processes... It offers reference material about people's everyday life; their practices, motivations, dreams and concerns.” (Dr. Van Dijk, 2010:1) Methodology
  9. 9. Ethnographic methods used in this project formed part of a reflective cycle: • • • Students were observed through photography and video during a student led lesson and discussion. General observations and field notes were recorded. Students completed a reflective questionnaire regarding their experiences. Methodology
  10. 10. The discussion of findings: 1. The result of a student involvement questionnaire and international comparison. 2. The results of observations made in classes focussed on encouraging student engagement. 3. Reflections of students. Discussion of Findings
  11. 11. The NSSE test: Students completed a paper-based version of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). The test was developed in the US in 1998. The test now has a participation rate of around 750 American and Canadian institutions, as well as adapted versions in Europe and Australia. The test covers a wide array of questions regarding the level of student participation and their commitment to their studies. Findings: Involvement
  12. 12. The NSSE test: The five categories explored in the test, are: • Active and collaborative learning • Enriching educational experiences • Supportive campus environment • Level of academic challenge • Student – Faculty interaction There is currently no equivalent test designed for the South African context. The question types are, however, structured in an open manner, requesting students to comment on their activities and interactions. Findings: Involvement
  13. 13. Results of the NSSE test: 15.0 11.5 11 10.0 6.25 5.0 0.0 SA NSSE AUSSE % Students who never participate in active learning Findings: Involvement
  14. 14. Results of the NSSE test: 47 50 45 40 39 37 36 31 32 35 30 SA 25 20 NSSE 18 17 14 17 11 15 10 5 0 0 Very Often Often Sometimes Never Engagement scores: working in class with other students Findings: Involvement AUSSE
  15. 15. Engagement objectives and session observations: Session #1 Traditional lecture with lecturer guided discussion. Session #2 Small group discussion followed by a lecturer led group discussion. Session Session #3 #4 Reading task with Student led optional lecturer session. led group discussion. Observations during all four session focussed on the following – the students’ demeanour, participation and communication Findings: Engagement
  16. 16. Engagement objectives and session observations: Session #1 Traditional lecture with lecturer guided discussion. Attendance: 41 students Format: Two 45 minute sessions with a 15 minute break in between Function: To identify the level of student engagement during a traditional, lecturer led theory class with group discussion at the end Findings: Engagement
  17. 17. Engagement objectives and session observations: Session #2 Small group discussion followed by a lecturer led group discussion. Attendance: 36 students Format: Introduction to topic. Small group discussions (45 min) followed by a 15 break and class discussion (30min) Function: To identify the level of student engagement during a session focused on small group discussion followed by a lecturer led group discussion. Findings: Engagement
  18. 18. Engagement objectives and session observations: Session #3 Reading task with optional lecturer led group discussion. Attendance: 41 students Format: Reading completed before session. Brief introduction to author and topic followed by class discussion facilitated by lecturer. Function: To identify the level of student engagement during a session focused on class discussion. Findings: Engagement
  19. 19. Engagement objectives and session observations: Session #4 Student led session. Attendance: 41 students Format: Reading completed before session. Session facilitated and guided by students themselves. Function: To identify the level of student engagement during a discussion session facilitated completely by students. Findings: Engagement
  20. 20. Session 4: Completely student led discussion, lecturer is observer. Findings: Engagement
  21. 21. Session 4: Completely student led discussion, lecturer is observer. Findings: Engagement
  22. 22. Session 4: Completely student led discussion, lecturer is observer. Findings: Engagement
  23. 23. Engagement objectives and session observations: The teaching and learning activities designed for the module produced a more engaging environment. The majority of students participated at least once during the session and small discussion groups formed as part of the module are still active. Student Reflection
  24. 24. Engagement objectives and session observations: Students responded positively to the design of the module in their reflective discussions and questionnaires. “I think we are using a good method now. The group work helps me understand concepts better.” (ID3. Q8) “Discussion is a very good technique. Getting the whole class involved makes a difference.” (ID3. Q20) “I feel this method of learning (research groups, class discussions, mini presentations) helps [me] understand and learn better than previous methods.” (ID3. Q28) Student Reflection
  25. 25. The way forward: The theory of student involvement acknowledges that the amount of time and mental focus that students have, are limited. It is necessary then to ensure that the time available to students be used for active learning through engaged experiences. Conclusion
  26. 26. The way forward: The impact of the learning experiences documented in this project need further review, however, the immediate effects include greater student participation, a deeper understanding of content and the development of independent research and work groups. Conclusion

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