An action research project was initiated at the Economics department at the University of York to increase active learning in lectures. It was thought that the introduction of voting tools in lectures might increase student engagement and improve attendance, although some staff were reluctant to use such tools. To fully understand the engagement problem, research was undertaken by three Economics staff and their educational adviser, with a small student focus group providing qualitative data. Although the project started small, the initial findings produced a snowball effect that engaged the whole department in discussion and plans for further actions. The snowball effect was due to the enthusiasm of the staff involved in the research wanting to share the insights drawn from the student focus group with the whole department for consideration. They were surprised by the findings from the focus group that found several factors, not previously considered by the staff, that contributed to the passive classroom, for example, cognitive load, expert blind spot or not understanding expectations. These factors would greatly impact the effectiveness of any technology interventions and all staff needed to be made aware of these challenges and the simple changes they could make. The conversation was steered from being about ‘barriers to technology adoption’ to being about what worked in teaching and learning.
The research team were also keen to share the positive insights into what students appreciated about lectures. These insights were a revelation for the department who had only thought about active learning in lectures as a problem to be solved, rather than anything to be celebrated. By using an Appreciative Inquiry approach to action research, the research team experienced for themselves the power of asking positive questions and were keen to transmit some of this positivity to the department. Once they were made aware of what they were doing well, several staff were then motivated to try different solutions to further improve learner engagement, for example, by using voting tools and flipped classroom approaches. It is posited that the positive stories generated by an Appreciative Inquiry approach became the catalyst for more technology-enhanced learning approaches in teaching and learning in the department. This session will detail the findings of the research, discuss the simple changes proposed to staff to motivate them to adopt changes to teaching practice and use of technology and discuss the impact of using an AI approach. There will also be an update on the department’s current progress, along with student feedback, on how they are building capacities to help students engage with their learning.
Cooperrider, D. & Whitney, D. (2005). Appreciative Inquiry. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler
Hodges, L. C. (2015). Teaching Undergraduate Science: A Guide to Overcoming Obstacles to Student Learning. Virginia, USA: Stylus Publishing, LLC. Available at http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hud/detail.action?docID=4438646
Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J. & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75–86. Available athttps://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep4102_1
Stead, D. R. (2005). A review of the one-minute paper. Active Learning in Higher Education, 6(2), 118–131. Available at https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787405054237
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