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Skinner and Jenkins: Inspiring And Enquiring


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Presented by E Skinner and M Jenkins at the LTEA Conference 2008 (University of Sheffield), this paper reviews a case study of providing scaffolding and support to Level One students in a group work activity to encourage active engagement.

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Skinner and Jenkins: Inspiring And Enquiring

  1. 1. Inspiring and Enquiring Elisabeth Skinner Martin Jenkins University of Gloucestershire
  2. 2. <ul><li>Some students prefer scribing (McAlpine 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>EBL threatens low confidence …. poor independent learning </li></ul><ul><li>EBL builds confidence …. strengthens independent learning </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Capacity building or personal development does not occur before participation but through participation (Warburton 1998:33) </li></ul><ul><li>Build confidence before EBL? X </li></ul><ul><li>Build confidence through EBL?  </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Focus of this Paper <ul><li>Persuading students to take part despite low confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Providing support to maintain motivation </li></ul><ul><li>Because the rewards (growing confidence) are great </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Case Study <ul><li>Level One: Town and country planning </li></ul><ul><li>64 students = 23 campus + 41 distance </li></ul><ul><li>EBL activity in groups: investigating a chosen planning application found online </li></ul><ul><li>Vehicle for both learning and assessment over nine weeks </li></ul>
  6. 6. Inspiring <ul><li>‘ Engagement’ is to “ gain the full attention of students ” (McAlpine 2004:126) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensure relevance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create excitement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Design an activity that is “ so enticing, so intriguing, and so marvelous (sic) that [students] really do not want to miss out on it ” (Bender 2003:47) </li></ul><ul><li>Choices: groups, application, assessment </li></ul>
  7. 7. Support: Information and Practice <ul><li>“ Instructional responsibility in relation to practice is to provide a learning environment in which there is both structure and formative feedback since the two are supportive of a deep approach to learning ” (McAlpine 2004:129) </li></ul><ul><li>Course materials (print and online) </li></ul><ul><li>Clear instructions with assignment checklist </li></ul><ul><li>F2F classes </li></ul><ul><li>Learning activities </li></ul>
  8. 8. Support: Practice and Feedback <ul><li>WebCT discussion group with teacher presence and feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Campus class groupwork with teacher help and feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Group as learning community with mutual support </li></ul>
  9. 9. Evaluation <ul><li>Observing attendance online and in class </li></ul><ul><li>Mid-point survey of campus class only </li></ul><ul><li>Standard end-of-module evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Assessed 300 word individual reflection </li></ul>
  10. 10. Support for independence <ul><li>Inspired to work independently </li></ul><ul><ul><li>7/10 distance groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3/6 campus groups </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Slow starters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3/6 campus groups (absent students, waiting for deadline) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3/10 distance groups (absent students, online decisions difficult) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Five mid point drop outs </li></ul><ul><li>Pressures for all students </li></ul><ul><li>Groupwork </li></ul><ul><ul><li>25% de-motivating </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>75% motivating </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Inspiring independent learning <ul><li>Mid-point survey </li></ul><ul><ul><li>70% inspired, engaged </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>50% fun </li></ul></ul><ul><li>End-of-module evaluation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>4 out of 5 median score for developing new skills, extending learning, opportunities for independent learning, enjoyment </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Marks <ul><li>2008 59 students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>average mark 64% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>25% 70+ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2006 48 students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Average mark 57% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>15% 70+ </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Assessed reflection <ul><li>One student critical of the EBL activity </li></ul><ul><li>Problems with groupwork </li></ul><ul><li>Sense of excitement and inspiration </li></ul><ul><li>“ I found this project both exciting and challenging. We picked a complex application …. and I learned a great deal. I enjoyed the challenge immensely and my motivation stayed high during the task.” (Distance learner) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Assessed reflection <ul><li>“ This assignment was a good way to see exactly how the planning system works; it is hard to understand when you’re just being told about it, so it was easier to understand when looking at it in terms of a specific application in a more practical set-up.” (Campus student) </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive learning </li></ul><ul><li>Explicit comments on growth of confidence through knowledge and skills </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>“ I am naturally a nosy, inquisitive person and love being given the chance to find out about anything, particularly something as important as housing and associated laws. I enjoyed the task and think that it was a successful method of getting students to do their own research into what a planning application involves.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Campus student) </li></ul><ul><li>Students went the extra mile – investigations online and on the ground </li></ul>
  17. 17. Tentative conclusions <ul><li>Provided stimulating, relevant activity with choices </li></ul><ul><li>Provided support online and in class to maintain motivation </li></ul><ul><li>Consider role of groupwork and individuals in groups </li></ul><ul><li>Inspired the majority of students to engage to help students grow in confidence </li></ul>
  18. 18. References <ul><li>Bender, T. (2003) Discussion-based Online Teaching to Enhance Student Learning (Virginia, Stylus Publishing) </li></ul><ul><li>McAlpine L (2004) Designing learning as well as teaching: A research-based model for instruction that emphasizes learner practice, in Active Learning in Higher Education Vol 5, Issue 2 July 2004 pp119-134 </li></ul><ul><li>Salmon, G. (2000) E-moderating: the key to teaching and learning online (London, Kogan Page.) </li></ul>