One of the key objectives of the Pedagogy for Employability strand of the University of South Wales Student Experience Plan (2016), is to create ‘experiential approaches’ for learning and develop ‘learner passion which is vital for intrinsic motivation’ (University of South Wales, 2016, p.6). In September 2017, the Centre for Excellence in Learning & Teaching (CELT) recruited a graduate intern to carry out a study to investigate staff and student digital literacy levels and the use of technology for learning and teaching across the institution.
Traditionally, in Higher Education the teacher was rarely challenged by the student and this role was emphasised by lecturing; a more dominant, traditional teaching method (Badley and Habeshaw, 1991). More recently, this approach has been challenged through the introduction of authentic methods (Herrington and Parker, 2013) where learners play a more active role in the learning experience and develop greater independence and enhanced digital literacy skills. Throughout the duration of the project, CELT undertook research to explore how techno-pedagogies are used to increase student engagement and participation as opposed to the more traditional teaching method. The presentation will explore how staff view their role in facilitating a learning environment which fosters greater independence, creativity and enhances their students’ employability skills with particular emphasis on digital literacy. The student perspective will also be discussed to draw out key considerations in relation to how students use technology for independent learning.
The presentation will be relevant to anyone interested in exploring how technology can enhance student engagement and participation; it will also be of interest to staff involved in providing staff development and support around the pedagogical application of technology.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
Over 530 students from across the institution took part in the JISC Digital Experience Tracker, a UK wide project designed to benchmark students’ use of technology in both Higher and Further Education. Follow up focus groups were held to gain a deeper understanding of the technologies being used by students to support their learning. Over 200 staff also took part in an internal survey. Participants were later invited to interviews to discuss in detail how they use technology to support their teaching and develop students’ digital literacy skills.
Findings of this study indicate that a variety of interactive and collaborative tools are being used across the institution by lecturers to create a more authentic learning environment and echo how this interactivity can have an overall positive impact on student engagement (Pike et al, 2010). Students comment favourably on the opportunity to use these tools to support their independent learning and gain valuable employability skills. Staff acknowledge the importance of their role in developing students’ digital literacy skills, with just under 80% of respondents affirming this and highlight the benefit of nurturing student independence. Staff also comment positively on how using these tools increases student engagement, fosters student creativity and enhances employability skills.
The research has enabled us to investigate the use of technology for teaching and learning across the institution and evaluate the impact of this on students’ employability. Recognising the power and prevalence of these learning opportunities is vital to keeping formal education relevant (Adams Becker et al. 2017). This research has supported the dissemination of best practices across the institution and has provided evidence for technology-enhanced learning policy developments including the development of a Digital Literacy framework for staff and students and changes in approach to staff development.
Badley, G and Habeshaw, T. (1991). The Changing Role of the Teacher in Higher Education, British Journal of In-Service Education Volume 17, Issue 3.
Pike, G et al. (2010). An investigation of the contingent relationships between learning community participation and student engagement. Research in Higher Education 52(3). pp. 300-322.
Herrington, J and Parker, J. (2013) Emerging technologies as cognitive tools for authentic learning, British Journal or Educational Technology, Vol 44, No 4, pp 607 – 615
University of South Wales. (2016). Student Experience Plan. pp. 6-7. Retrieved from: http://celt.southwales.ac.uk/media/files/documents/2017-10-18/USW_Student_Experience_Plan_2016-2020.pdf