Evidencing a learner-centred approach to teaching S. Pantiru, S. Jolley, R. Barley.
Introduction to module• The research investigated and evaluated a first year module – Researching Society.• Range of degree routes researched.• Module was under revalidation, therefore under new format (from RMSS to Researching society)
RationaleAim:• To explore messages from student led researchinto module challenges and attitudes.• To understand student learners better so thatachievement could be promoted more effectively.
Objectives• Discovering students’ views about learning andin a particular Research module• Promoting students’ sense of agency throughtheir role in the project as researchers andplanners
Literature review We will start our literature review by looking at the concept of action research• Habermas’ (1970) work provides a very good theoretical background to the methodologies advocated by action researchers. The research results and outcomes all relate to the researcher and can be applied directly, therefore it is closing the gap between theory and practice. This is why this action research approach has been used in the current study, as research has been carried out by students who have had experience of the research module in the past (Sarah and I), and were co-ordinated by the member of staff leading the module (Ruth) This gives as an unique positioning of students researching students
Literature review• We now move on from action research to student centred-techniques of teaching and their benefits• Barrakett’s (2005) work is a reflective case study analysis of ways to enhance student learning through student-centred teaching methods at masters-level for a social research methods course (some of these techniques would be case study techniques, problem based learning, group work or role-play).• This study found that while student-centred techniques were a useful tool, students also valued more didactic/formal teaching approaches. The study therefore concludes that a combination of these methods should be used in order to enhance student learning. The current study will explore how these findings can be used if they were adapted for use with a Level 4 student cohort in a Research Methods group (we would also refer to student centred techniques versus formal teaching used in this module later on in the findings section). This research also explores the success of this approach.
Literature review• The next thing we will look at is the work of Alaniska et al taking the form of a workshop for different Quality Assurance agencies discussing levels of student engagement across countries• Hanna Alaniska et al (2006) looked at student involvement in quality assurance, including benefits and support of this process. The report also investigates the level of student involvement in Finland, Catalunya and the UK and compares the three systems.• Relating this back to our research, incorporating students views and experiences is a key aspect of this module’s future development and a one of the key aims of this Student as Researchers pilot scheme. We would therefore look at how our involvement in this research would benefit both ourselves and the quality of learning, therefore directly participating in quality assurance.
Methods• Unique position of students researching students.• Quantitative – Survey Monkey online questionnaire created• The data collected was then entered into SPSS and analysed.
MethodsQualitative• 1 scoping interview• 2 seminar module evolutions (11 students History/Politics + 6 students Criminology/ Sociology)• Open ended questions from surveyThe data collected was then imported intoNVivo and analysed.
Methods Something that consistently came up in our literature review are the different challenges regarding student involvement. Therefore, some of the issues that we faced as researchers while doing this research were:• difficulties in recruiting participants (due to clash with OUR/THEIR assessment times)• Lack of student engagement with the project (due to survey fatigue OR not understanding the purpose of the research, its objective or its value for them)• time delays in survey completion and participant involvement (lack of interest in module evaluations)• time delays in recruiting participants for focus groups and semi-structured interviews (due to late start of the Student as researchers pilot scheme just a couple of months ago)
Sampling• Purposive sampling technique (selecting a group of students within the module and then surveying them )• 467 students were invited to take part in the survey• Response rate 19% (87 students) Ethics• An ethical clearance form was filled in by the student researchers before any work was carried out and a consent form was filled in by all participants in the research project.
Findings• The majority of students found the seminars to be useful (67%), even if this interest decreased in the second semester (58%) with the introduction of a hands-on approach to seminar teaching
The seminars in the second semester were useful 12% Agree Disagree30% Dont know 58%
Findings• 59% of our quantitative respondents found that the Research module is relevant to the rest of their course. However, Politics and Criminology students did not find it relevant in the qualitative part of the study. Research methods is relevant to my course 17% Agree Disagree 24% Dont know 59%
• The qualitative results showed that this applied approached in the 2nd semester appealed to students, BUT the quantitative results reflected an even split between respondents’ preferences (39% prefer hands-on approach/ 40% do not prefer hands- on approach ) I found the hands on approach using Lego useful 21% 39% Agree Disagree Dont know 40%
Findings• The majority of respondents in the quantitative study felt happy about the amount of content covered in semester 1 (62%) and in semester 2 (70%), but the qualitative side disagreed with the findings as students responded that the content was too high or not interesting enough.
Research conclusion• The research produced suggestions about how to best raise interest and improve research subjects by the use of improvement strategies collected directly from students:• Involving students in research and drawing on our sense of agency encouraged our motivation and involvement in the whole educational experience as well as providing us with research skills
Discussion1. Our own experience as Student as researchers allowed us to develop awareness on real-life research issues• 1.Time management• 2.Meeting deadlines• 3.Organising interviews and focus groups• 4.Writing reports2. This experience also gave us the opportunity to use skills learnt within our degree and put it into practice.
However, there are some points to consider• This research showed an inconsistency between quantitative and qualitative results. This could be seen as an opportunity for further investigation into the relationship between a chosen method and the studied phenomenon, ‘thus allowing researchers and the readers of their reports, alike, to improve their understanding of that phenomenon’ (Rocco et al, 2003)
Points to consider• On the other hand, These inconsistencies could also be seen from a qualitative perspective. Qualitative study is not about trying to reflect quantitative results, but explaining in more depth why people might have responded as they did.• It was a shortcoming that the qualitative results did not illuminate why some people didn’t like the second semester seminars, but the project has more information on why some people did.
We would be interested to find out What do YOU think about inconsistencies between research methods (Quantitative/Qualitative)?
References• Alaniska, H., Arboix Codina, R., Bohrer, J., Dearlove,R., Eriksson, S., Helle, E., Wiberg, L.K. 2006, Student involvement in the processes of quality assurance agencies, Available online at: http://www.enqa.eu/files/Student%20involvement.pdf• Barraket, J., Teaching Research Method Using a Student-Centred Approach? Critical Reflections on Practice, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 2(2), 2005. Available at:http://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol2/iss2/3• Habermas, J., 1970. Toward a rational society: student protest, science, and politics; translated by Jeremy J. Shapiro. Heinemann Educational• Rocco et al, 2003. Taking the Next Step: Mixed Methods Research in Organizational Systems, Information Technology, Learning, and Performance Journal, Vol. 21, No. 1, Spring 2003