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Understanding and Enhancing Student Learning Kerri-Lee Krause http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au Overview Understanding student learning in a changing environment What the research tells us… Implications for enhancing student learning in higher education The student experience . . .

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Understanding and Enhancing Student Learning

Kerri-Lee Krause

http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au

overview
Overview
  • Understanding student learning in a changing environment
    • What the research tells us…
  • Implications for enhancing student learning in higher education
part a learning in a changing environment what the research says
PART A: Learning in a changing environment What the research says . . .
  • Sources: Various studies conducted by the Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne. All are available on the CSHE website http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au
  • National studies
    • First Year Experience studies
    • Managing Study and Work
  • Institutional studies
what is changing in the student experience
What is changing in the student experience?
  • Some changes include:
    • Part-time paid work commitments
    • Patterns of enrolment - flexibility, double degree courses
    • Modes of engagement - use of information and communication technologies (ICTs)
    • Responding to labour market/industry demands
    • Increased mobility due to globalisation and internationalisation of education and the labour market
    • Aspirations, motivations, expectations
1 changing part time paid work commitments
1. Changing part-time paid work commitments
  • P/T paid work as a source of income for students (% of first year students)
  • Source: McInnis, James & Hartley, 2000 (First Year on Campus)
1st year students time spent in paid work
1st year students’ time spent in paid work
  • Hours spent in paid work in a typical university week (% of first year students)

Source: McInnis, James & Hartley, 2000 (First Year on Campus)

paid work and the student experience
Paid work and the student experience
  • Part-time work does not necessarily impede progress and satisfaction at university
  • Part-time workers often more strategic about time use in all areas, including:-
    • study,
    • peer interaction at uni, and
    • extra-curricular activities

Source: McInnis & Hartley, Managing Study and Work (2002)

2 changing patterns of enrolment
2. Changing patterns of enrolment
  • Double degrees/ combined courses are having a significant impact on student program selection (Ramsay, commenting on DEST study “Combined Courses of Study”, 2001)
  • But what is the impact on student identity and belongingness?
    • I’m studying in X Department and Y Department. I don’t really feel like I belong anywhere. I haven’t really made friends in either place. (student voice)
2 changing patterns of enrolment15
2. Changing patterns of enrolment
  • Double degrees/ combined courses are having a significant impact on student program selection (Ramsay, commenting on DEST study “Combined Courses of Study”, 2001)
  • But what is the impact on student identity and belongingness?
    • The worst thing is shifting across campus. I don’t feel I belong anywhere. I keep in touch with school friends a lot. But I’m learning to accept that this is uni and not like school where you really feel that you fit in.
3 changing modes of engagement using icts
3. Changing modes of engagement - using ICTs
  • Online learning and teaching environments
    • New skills required: Technical skills, information literacy skills, communication skills
    • Changing nature of interactions - flexibility, anonymity
    • Changing student expectations - online delivery of content

I use email a lot instead of going to knock on the lecturer’s door. It means I don’t have to feel anxious about asking stupid questions or facing scary professors. (FY student voice)

4 changing expectations
4. Changing expectations
  • Expectations
    • Of university experiences, processes and outcomes
    • Of teachers, learning and teaching
    • Of support services
    • Of selves as university students
  • Aspirations and motivations
    • Employability issues
    • Shifting concepts of career pathways
    • International mobility
part b implications for enhancing student learning
PART B: Implications for enhancing student learning
  • What does “student-centred” mean in universities of the 21st century?
  • It means
    • Placing the best interests of the student at the centre of all that happens in universities
    • Quality teaching practices
    • Closely monitoring student expectations
    • Responding with their best interests in mind, but not necessarily meeting all their demands and expectations
    • Communicating and upholding Dept/Faculty/University expectations of students
part b implications for enhancing student learning19
PART B: Implications for enhancing student learning

“The aim of teaching is simple: it is to make student learning possible”(Ramsden, 1992, p. 5)

  • What is the most important thing you want students to learn in your classes?
  • Possibly …
    • Critically assessing the arguments
    • Compiling patterns to integrate their knowledge
    • Becoming aware of the limitations of theoretical knowledge in the transfer of theory to practice
    • Coming to accept relativism as a positive position
enhancing student learning
Enhancing student learning

“The aim of teaching is simple: it is to make student learning possible”(Ramsden, 1992, p. 5)

  • What is the most important thing you want students to learn in your classes?
  • What strategies do YOU use to accomplish this goal?
  • What strategies do STUDENTS use to accomplish this goal? i.e., what do students DO in the learning process in your classes?
kolb s learning style model source evans forney guido dibrito 1998 p 211
Kolb’s Learning Style Model(source: Evans, Forney & Guido-DiBrito, 1998, p.211)
  • Accommodator
  • action-oriented and at ease with people, prefers trial-and-error problem-solving
  • good at carrying out plans, open to new experiences, adapts easily to change
  • Diverger
  • people- and feeling-oriented
  • has imagination and is aware of meaning and values, good at generating and analysing alternatives
  • Converger
  • prefers technical tasks over social or interpersonal settings
  • excels at problem-solving, decision-making and practical applications
  • Assimilator
  • emphasizes ideas rather than people
  • good at inductive reasoning, creating theoretical models, and integrating observations
kolb s learning style model source evans forney guido dibrito 1998 p 21122
Kolb’s Learning Style Model(source: Evans, Forney & Guido-DiBrito, 1998, p.211)

CONCRETE EXPERIENCE (Feeling)

  • Accommodator
  • action-oriented and at ease with people, prefers trial-and-error problem-solving
  • good at carrying out plans, open to new experiences, adapts easily to change
  • Diverger
  • people- and feeling-oriented
  • has imagination and is aware of meaning and values, good at generating and analysing alternatives

REFLECTIVE OBSERVATION (Watching)

ACTIVE EXPERIMENTATION (Doing)

  • Converger
  • prefers technical tasks over social or interpersonal settings
  • excels at problem-solving, decision-making and practical applications
  • Assimilator
  • emphasizes ideas rather than people
  • good at inductive reasoning, creating theoretical models, and integrating observations

ABSTRACT CONCEPTUALISATION (Thinking)

kolb s learning style model source evans forney guido dibrito 1998 p 21123
Kolb’s Learning Style Model(source: Evans, Forney & Guido-DiBrito, 1998, p.211)

Practical fields e.g., business

CONCRETE EXPERIENCE (Feeling)

  • Diverger
  • people- and feeling-oriented
  • has imagination and is aware of meaning and values, good at generating and analysing alternatives
  • Accommodator
  • action-oriented and at ease with people, prefers trial-and-error problem-solving
  • good at carrying out plans, open to new experiences, adapts easily to change

Humanities, liberal arts

REFLECTIVE OBSERVATION (Watching)

ACTIVE EXPERIMENTATION (Doing)

  • Converger
  • prefers technical tasks over social or interpersonal settings
  • excels at problem-solving, decision-making and practical applications
  • Assimilator
  • emphasizes ideas rather than people
  • good at inductive reasoning, creating theoretical models, and integrating observations

Basic sciences, mathematics,including Law

Physical sciences, engineering

ABSTRACT CONCEPTUALISATION (Thinking)

some views of student learning in higher education
Some views of student learning in higher education
  • Student learning is about the learner …
    • acquiring high-level knowledge - passive reception
    • actively engaged in forming ideas
    • processing, storing and retrieving information in well-defined and sequenced sets of knowledge structures
    • engaging with concepts in a sociocultural context - i.e., situations co-produce knowledge through activity (situated learning, authentic activity)
situated or mediated learning
Situated or mediated learning?
  • Situated learning
    • Everyday knowledge: located in our experience of the world
  • Mediated learning in higher education (Laurillard, 2002)
    • Academic knowledge: located in our experience of our experience of the world
    • Involves higher order ‘reflecting on’ experience
    • Involves constructing the environments which afford not only learning of the world, but also learning of descriptions of the world
    • Relies heavily on symbolic representation - usually language, but also mathematical symbols, diagrams
enhancing student learning 9 principles what students say
1. Atmosphere of intellectual excitement

One of my lecturers keeps the students interested by asking questions throughout the lecture and moving around the lecture theatre with a microphone for students to respond (so that EVERYONE can hear). It’s only fun when you know the answer though!

Enhancing Student Learning9 Principles What students say . . .
enhancing student learning 9 principles what students say27
1. Atmosphere of intellectual excitement

2. Intensive research culture

It’s quite interesting hearing about what the lecturer does when they’re not teaching. I just thought they lectured - I didn’t really understand about their research as well. It kind of brings them to life a bit more.

Enhancing Student Learning9 Principles What students say . . .
enhancing student learning 9 principles what students say28
1. Atmosphere of intellectual excitement

2. Intensive research culture

3. Vibrant, embracing social context

One of the best things about this semester?

Completing group projects with friends

I met nice people, they made it more interesting as we helped each other through the classes

Enhancing Student Learning9 Principles What students say . . .
enhancing student learning 9 principles what students say29
1. Atmosphere of intellectual excitement

2. Intensive research culture

3. Vibrant, embracing social context

4. International, culturally diverse curriculum & learning community

I’m learning another language so I can get work overseas. It’s not expected but I thought it would help my job prospects

With my not very strong English background, I find it hard to engage in social activities and make friends.

Enhancing Student Learning9 Principles What students say . . .
enhancing student learning 9 principles what students say30
1. Atmosphere of intellectual excitement

2. Intensive research culture

3. Vibrant, embracing social context

4. International, culturally diverse curriculum & learning community

5. Explicit concern for individual development

It’s great that students are able to receive help outside of class time and that there are heaps of study facilities in the building

It’s majorly different to school. Far more open and free. I like the idea that you have to teach yourself, rather than having information ‘force-fed’

Enhancing Student Learning9 Principles What students say . . .
enhancing student learning 9 principles what students say31
6. Clear academic expectations and standards

I just received my first assignment back. I’m not sure where to go or who to talk to for help. Is it normal to feel disappointed about a grade like this?

Why are they important?

I like it when the tutor gives us the sheet the week before and tells us what needs to be done, gives us strategies for studying so we can prepare for the tute. We get much more out of it that way.

Enhancing Student Learning9 Principles What students say . . .
enhancing student learning 9 principles what students say32
6. Clear academic expectations and standards

7. Learning cycles of experimentation, feedback and assessment

Why are these important?

I’ll wait and see what I pass and then decide if I stay here or not

I’m not sure if I’m understanding the reading yet - I haven’t had any feedback really (Week 4 Semester 1)

It’s a trial semester. I’ll just see how I go

Enhancing Student Learning9 Principles What students say . . .
enhancing student learning 9 principles what students say33
6. Clear academic expectations and standards

7. Learning cycles of experimentation, feedback and assessment

8. Premium quality learning resources & technologies

I like being able to communicate issues to lecturers and tutors on the web

There are discussion groups on the internet - supposedly - but I’ve never accessed any of them at all … unless you’re forced to

Enhancing Student Learning9 Principles What students say . . .
enhancing student learning 9 principles what students say34
6. Clear academic expectations and standards

7. Learning cycles of experimentation, feedback and assessment

8. Premium quality learning resources & technologies

9. An adaptive curriculum

It’s good to have the staff-student committee so they hear about our ideas and suggestions

I would have liked to know more about how to prepare for my career path from first year. (4th year student)

I feel like my course doesn’t really have much to do with what the employers are looking for (4th year)

Enhancing Student Learning9 Principles What students say . . .
part b implications for enhancing student learning36
PART B: Implications for enhancing student learning

1. Proactive strategies for keeping your students connected

  • Quality teaching practices
  • Assessment and feedback
  • Fostering learning communities - social connections in real and virtual environments

2. Communicate and operationalise expectations of students

  • Attendance and participation
  • Preparation
are learning styles the answer
Are “learning styles” the answer?
  • Kolb
    • Different academic disciplines tend to impose different kinds of learning demands
    • Sociocultural variation, Differences in student and staff demographics, personality, values, group norms
    • Education in an academic discipline represents for the student a process of socialization to the norms of that field
    • Over time an “increasingly impermeable and homogeneous disciplinary culture” is produced, along with “a specialised student orientation to learning” (Kolb, 1981, p. 234)
    • I.e., norms within the academic discipline may become exclusionary, and one learning style favoured
enhancing student learning38
Enhancing student learning

Experiential Formal knowledge knowledge

  • Teaching in higher education is
    • “essentially a rhetorical activity, seeking to persuade students to change the way they experience the world through an understanding of the insights of others.
    • It has to create the environment that enables students to embrace the twin poles of experiential and formal knowledge.” (Laurillard, 2002, p.23)