Traditional lectures for large groups of students can often involve a standard, tutor-led, single exchange presentation with little opportunity for interaction, discussion or pre/post-lecture work.
This session will look at a project developed for a Business School course in Accounting and Finance.
The project centred on converting a number of traditional lecture slides into interactive teaching tools that could be used both inside and outside the lecture. They allow greater student engagement and understanding and give the tutor an indication of student understanding of the subject matter. The students on the course were made up from a variety of nationalities. Differences in language and cultural backgrounds of students can often be a barrier to class discussion and response, especially in a large lecture theatre setting. Some students do not feel comfortable with in-class discussion or with direct questions from the lecturer. The tools allow class participation on a number of levels to suit the learner style.
Articulate Storyline was used to create and explain complex financial models and example case studies though interactive diagrams, activities and formative feedback. All the tools can be accessed through a range of devices: laptops, tablets and mobiles and were made available pre-lecture as a preparation activity and post-lecture for students to reinforce or revise their understanding of the subject. Lecture material is managed through a Blackboard course space to give the tutor control over lecture material and information for each weekly session.
TurningPoint Responseware was used for in-class polling activities. Students used their mobile device, tablet or laptop to individually respond and select the correct options when presented with diagrams or questions. Polling results were then shown to indicate to the class (and tutor) their level of understanding. The tutor could then explain or encourage discussion depending on the outcome of the responses, e.g. “What led you to think this way?” “Let’s look at why you may have thought that”.
Choice of software and tools
The software and tools for this project were chosen for a variety of reasons, but mainly because they offered the features needed the development of this project.
Articulate Storyline allows the development of complex interactions without being restricted to quiz templates or structures. It also allows you to create graphics for diagrams and animate images if required. A major benefit of the tool is the ability to publish resources to various platforms: desktop, mobile and tablet. There is a free Storyline app for iOS and Android tablet users. Storyline is a popular tool used by instructional designers and is well supported through online communities and free tutorials.
Turning Point Responseware has been the adopted polling tool of the Humanities Faculty, initially used and introduced gradually in pilot projects. The use of Turning Point clickers has gradually been phased out in preference to Responseware which allows polling on any mobile device, tablet or computer, technology most students have access to. Access to the tool is easy through a browser or the Responseware app and time is not wasted in handing out clicker devices.
There are other tools that could have been used for this project – some which are free or open source.
Interactive content tools
- Xerte (free)
- NearPod (free, although limited features)
In both cases, the tools allowed a deeper dimension to student learning and engagement that the traditional lecture setup could give for this subject matter.
Difference in Learning Styles
The project looked at adapting e-learning tools that might better address specific learning styles of accounting students, and allow the educator to ‘flip the classroom’.
Proposed solution 1
David Kolb (1976, 1984) formulated a learning style theory and proposed a learning style inventory to measure learning preferences of a wide array of individuals. A core concept is that individuals differ in how they learn.
Research shows that accounting students clearly favour the converger or assimilator style (Adler et al., 2004) with a preference for individual over collective work, and active experimentation vs reflective observation.
Research in this field also shows that there’s a clear cultural divide between Western and Far eastern learning styles with Western leaning towards accommodators, and Far Eastern towards the assimilator learning style. Serving a global student community as we do, we were interested in ways in which we might better accommodate this cultural dimension in traditional classroom teaching.
As accounting educators, we must adapt our classroom methods to best fit each student’s learning style.
Proposed solution 2
Accounting students are no different to other students in that it is often challenging to have them engage with the pre-readings, which then diminishes in-class learning. To begin to address this, the lecturer wished to trial a ‘flipped classroom approach’ to teaching and learning, releasing e-learning resources prior to the lecturer. This resulted in a marked improvement in the ability of students to engage in an in-class discussion on how Accounting practice might be at odds with established theory.
‘The Flipped Classroom’ Approach
This project introduced elements of ‘The Flipped Classroom’ approach to teaching and learning1. Resources that were to be used in the lecture were released to students prior to the lecture. This allowed students to familiarise themselves with the subject, access the interactive tools and prep them for any in-class activities (ie. Ensure they apps downloaded on their device)
The lecture session then allowed students and lecturer to use the resources together, with explaination and guidance provided as they worked through the material. Polling sessions gave the opportunity for student participation, discussion and question/answer feedback from the lecturer.
“The flipped classroom will redefine the role of educators”, Dr Eric Mazur2
The Flipped Classroom approach has been widely promoted by Dr Eric Mazur, who has been using similar approaches to his teaching for years. His experiences and techniques in teaching can be seen in his ‘peer instruction’ approach3. He uses two main approaches to teaching, (1) active engagement in the classroom. And (2) a continuous flow of information flow back and forth with the student and teacher and also between students.4
1Image: The Flipped Classroom, http://ctl.utexas.edu/sites/default/files/flippedflowmodel.png
Center for Teaching and Learning, The University of Texas at Austin
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science
You Tube, Confessions of a Converted Lecturer: Eric Mazur
Presentation Zen, Eric Mazur: confessions of a converted lecturer
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