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Blended learning to support teaching and assessment: linking theory with practice. Mark Russell The Blended Learning Unit University of Hertfordshire m.b.russell@herts.ac.uk. Background. Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics Core engineering module (15 CP/ single semester)

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blended learning to support teaching and assessment linking theory with practice

Blended learning to support teaching and assessment:linking theory with practice

Mark Russell

The Blended Learning Unit

University of Hertfordshire

m.b.russell@herts.ac.uk

background

Background

Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics

Core engineering module (15 CP/ single semester)

Often seen as a difficult subject

New language

Reliant on some mathematical competency

First year module

~50% failed the examination (2001/02)

teaching up to 2001

Teaching - up to 2001

What would Yorke, Kift, et al say?

i. Lectures(didactic 1:~150)

instruction, motivation and sign-posting / making links

ii. Tutorials(interactive 1:~25)

student participation working on tutorial sheets - related to lecture

iii. Laboratory studies x 2 (interactive 1:~25)

Practical application of theory “ Hands on” activities

Some socialisation

Using i) as a backdrop, ii) & iii) sought to provide opportunities for students to ‘construct’ their understanding of the subject through practice and experience.

Assessment based on:

70% final examination (at week 12)

20% laboratory reports (conventional - teacher marked)

10% phase test (set at week 7/8 - teacher marked)

what would you do if you wanted to fail more students provide a lousy first year experience
What would you do if you wanted to fail more students / provide a lousy first year experience?
good practice
Good practice…
  • Encourages Contact Between Student and Faculty
  • Develops Reciprocity and Cooperation among students
  • Encourages Active Learning
  • Gives Prompt Feedback
  • Emphasises Time on Task
  • Communicates High Expectations
  • Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning
  • How People Learn
  • Learning is a conversation
  • Learning is not a spectator sport
  • The learners have much to offer as well as gain
what went wrong some possible issues
What went wrong? – some possible issues
  • Increasing student numbers
    • Increasing difficulty in providing personal & prompt feedback
    • Increasing difficulty to track student’s progress
    • We teach, you learn (reciprocity?)
  • Increasing range of abilities (qualified to similar levels!)
    • Previous assumptions on student’s capabilities becoming invalid
  • Increasing range of motivation (or lack of motivation)
    • Time-on-task was varied (not appropriately encouraged)
  • Lacking learner focus
    • Did not use student’s conceptions to drive follow-up tasks (learner-centric?)
  • Assessment did not really support learning
    • Timeliness of feedback
    • Use of feedback
    • high expectations? / Active learning?
chronology of developments
Chronology of developments

e-content

2001 StudyNet – opportunities to provide:

  • Improved teaching materials – on-line access
  • Additional support material (diverse talents)
  • Develop reciprocity… via discussion forums

2002 Weekly Assessed Tutorial Sheets (WATS)

  • Active Learning / high expectations

2004 Peer assessment of laboratory reports

  • Learning through assessing
  • Sharing good and bad practice
  • Engaging students with criteria (high exp)

2004/5 Just-in-Time Teaching

  • Intelligence led teaching (learner centric)

2006 IWB to encourage collaborative learning

2007 On-line tutorial using Elluminate

blended

learning

the use of discussions within studynet
The Use of Discussions within StudyNet

Objectives:

  • Provide tutor prompts
  • Respond to student questions
  • Encourage student-student interactions
  • Drip feed students with F&T
discussions student use of total students in group
Discussions – student use (% of total students in group)
  • 2001 - 10% (70)
  • 2002 - 10% (97)
  • 2003 - 20% (105)
  • 2004 - 49% (697)
  • 2005 - 37% (443)

Our forum?

Their forum?

2002: 57% of students thought the forum was useful

interesting but what about the conversation
Interesting, but what about the conversation?

In your own words describe the temperature change graphs

What one area / topic / thing would you like further help on?

Please state which question was the most difficult and why

Often in manometry we ignore the density of the fluids in one of the limbs – why is this?

In your own words describe Bernoulli’s Equation

arguably we were
Arguably we were …

… Developing (forcing) good study behaviours

“I think WATS was a good thing as it has made us all review our notes and revise throughout the semester instead of throwing on the floor and not looking at them until the exam”.

“I think it is a good approach to learning because it enables or rather "forces" us to work on the module every week, and this kind of helps sometimes”.

some feedback
Some feedback…

Course was well organised

Independent learning was encouraged

conclusions
Conclusions
  • Improved student performance resulted from use of Blended Learning
  • Greatest improvement through:
    • Use of WATS
    • Adopting just-in-time teaching
  • Many students valued:
    • Greater structure
    • More personalised approach

Pedogically driven

for every classroom door
For every classroom door?

“As you enter a classroom ask yourself this question: If there were no students in the room, could I do what I am planning to do? If your answer to the question is yes, don't do it.”

Gen. Ruben Cubero, Dean of The Faculty, United States Air Force.

Student vs. content-centric view of T&L

Teaching or learning focus?