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All or nothing: Building teaching team capacity to support the adoption of active learning


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Andrew Middleton and Helen Kay
Learning Enhancement & Academic Development, Sheffield Hallam University
The workshop explored how we can better support the development of effective academic teams by recognising and acknowledging the various stages and characteristics associated with the implementation of innovative practices. Participants considered the implementation of educational development strategies aimed at developing consistently excellent learner-centred teaching across teams to improve student satisfaction. This is a challenge because innovative teachers are typically set apart from their peers as innovative champions by, for example, receiving special funding for teaching development projects or being recognised for inspirational practice individually. A shift to a learning paradigm (Barr & Tagg, 1995) is not a matter of individual excellence but is cultural. Adopting a common philosophy requires a significant commitment from all team members, although some would argue this is not attainable (Kember & Kwan, 2000).
To background this, the facilitators will report on the CPD models (Rogers, 1995; Pundak & Rozner, 2007; Herckis, 2017).they have used to move a course team towards confident and consistent use of the problem-based pedagogies associated with SCALE-UP active learning classrooms (Beichner, 2008). We will introduce the SCALE-UP method and the challenges its adoption created for the teaching team and their students. Initially driven by a sole innovator, its implementation exposed not only the imagination and strengths within the team, but the time, teaching experience and required capacity needed for the adoption of new active learning methods.

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All or nothing: Building teaching team capacity to support the adoption of active learning

  1. 1. All or nothing Building teaching team capacity to support the adoption of active learning Andrew Middleton and Helen Kay Learning Enhancement & Academic Development Sheffield Hallam University
  2. 2. What: Facilitating the development of consistent course team practice. Context: the adoption and implementation of student- centred active learning pedagogies where the team has different levels of experience and interest in shifting their practice. Workshop focus
  3. 3. Using a SCALE-UP and problem-based approach, we will consider,  the teaching role in SCALE UP and the problem of its associated paradigm shift in practice;  the 'developer's dilemna';  strategies for developing course teams and their consistency. Outline
  4. 4. Problem context SCALE UP  An active learning pedagogy associated with a physical large group space (Beichner, 2008);  Student-centred active learning;  Short learning activities interspersed with class- wide discussion;  Use of problem-solving, experiments, etc;  Flipped teaching model ('Upside down Pedagogy');  Use of circular tables accommodating groups of 9 and divisible by 3;  Technology-rich integration.  Large scale - 'alternative to lectures'  Paradigm shift for some of the teaching team: didactic to active  'UP' - critical dependency on the 'flipped' method  The need for group formation strategy  Is it about the room or the pedagogy? PedagogyTechnology
  5. 5.  Responding to a significant investment in STEM-owned teaching space;  Investment at a time of changing management i.e. concerns over resource efficiency, apparent lack of commitment;  Led by a small number of experienced academic STEM 'innovators';  The inflexible nature of the SCALE UP room imposed a common philosophy and student-centred practices;  Teaching innovation - uneven and uncertain interest amongst team e.g. shift from didactic to facilitation of PBL, etc;  The 'deep end threat' - don't know until you've done it - the difficulty of 'evidence' and context in pedagogic development;  SCALE UP modules existing in a mixed economy of course delivery. Problem context Team challenge
  6. 6.  Access to the team;  Knowledge of the team as a whole;  Knowledge of team members;  'Innovation bias', credibility and mixed developer identities;  Pitching - simplifying complexity while explaining or advocating;  The need to contextualise innovation;  Mixed intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of participants. “Why isn’t this simple?” the 'developer's dilemna'
  7. 7. Innovation characteristics Rogers, E. (2003). Diffusion of innovations, 5th edition. New York: Free Press Relative advantage (+) - An individual's perception that the innovation will be better when compared with similar ideas, products or practices. Compatibility (+) - The perception that an innovation is similar and congruent with existing understandings, ideas, products, or practices. Complexity (-) - The perceived difficulty of the innovation. Trialability (+) - An individual's access to an innovation for experimentation before 'adoption' and their commitment to applying it fully. Observability (+) - How available and visible an innovation is to an individual.
  8. 8. Problem The academic developer is required to support the adoption of SCALE UP by a course team (n. 12). This will require the team's:  shared commitment to SCALE UP,  consistent understanding,  reworking of content, and  adoption of active learning methods.
  9. 9. Activity 1. Individually, review and clarify the problem context and the problem definition (5 minutes quiet) 2. Together, identify or create an effective model for developing the course team (20 minutes total) 1. List important factors 2. Identify and agree a single development model or approach 3. Write and/or draw your model on the flip chart 4. Describe the essential features of your model in a posting to Padlet.
  10. 10.  What do you particularly like about the model you developed?  see blog post for summary and resources Summary discussion