Designing a tutorial; Attempting to kill many birds with the same stone ShantalaArundathiHariDass
What were we teaching? • Course description: Basics of neuroscience • Student background: Year three undergrads with this being their first formal exposure to neuroscience • Course Aim: To teach the content in 10 chapter of the text book and make student critically analyze the material taught.
How did we teach? 3 4 1 2 7 9 5 6 8 10 11 12 WEEK Chapters 1-10 Introducing course and aligning students with aims of the course. Re-teach any fuzzy topics LECTURE Tutorial • Teacher Focused • Content heavy • Planned • Student Focused • Facilitative
What did we want to achieve in tutorials? • Outcome led: Asses their knowledge of the chapter taught • Dialogic : Provide a framework for critical thinking • Participatory : Hear every voice • Activity based: Scientific debate
Every voice must be heard! Tutorial Structure Numbers: 240 students in 2 rooms + 2 tutors per room, Duration : 60 min • Every student must answer ATLEAST once • Students must have ATLEAST 70% attendance Phase 1:Read question and discuss in your group (10 min) Phase 2: 1 member moves to the next group and discusses answer (5 min) Phase 3: Students return to their groups. Tutors walk through and a group representative presents their answer. (30-40 min) Grading is groupwise.
What did the tutors have to say? Too hectic!!We had to grade 10 groupseach. Chaotic and noisy I got to know most students personally Students just gave one word answers and then went back to fiddling around on their phones. No discussions.. I only had time to listen to factual and superficial answers. I couldn’t assess their deeper understanding of the subject. Students didn’t have time to ask any questions
And the students? We only discussed 1-2 questions per week. I want more practice, Questions were too easy. Boring!I was only explaining the answer to the tutor for a few minutes. I don’t know how I fared. How will I improve? How will this help me for the final exam? I had nothing to discuss when I went to another group. Everyone knew the answer I want an individual grade. I provided the answer every week.
All in all how did we fare? Asses their knowledge of the chapter taught AVERAGE Elaborate set up did not allow for us to assess anything beyond their superficial knowledge Hear every voice GOOD Tutors got to know each student personally. This made is easier for them to approach us with queries even after the tutorials were over. It gave the passive learners more confidence. Provide a framework for critical thinking AVERAGE Students didn’t have enough time to read the questions and understand what they were asking. They irecognised key words and gave associated terms as one word answers Scientific debate AVERAGE As students had only 10 minutes to ‘digest’ the questions. We noticed this wasn’t enough for them to come up answers. They spent most of the time looking through lecture notes for answers instead of debating.
Don’t sacrifice one learning aim for another! While we managed to (somewhat) increase class participation we did this at the cost of assessing the students’ in-depth understanding of the material taught
Why didn’t the tutorial match our expectations? • Students might have been satisfied with viewing subject material “through the lenses of their preinstructionalconceptions *” only. *(Duit and Treagust, 1995) • Expecting too much too soon?..Students were not used to tutorial design and might found the logistics challenging. Subsequent trials might have worked better. • Class size was too large.(This is not completely in the tutors power to change as class sizes are fixed by the university)
Possible alterations… • Design assessments using Structure of Observed Learning Outcome (SOLO) Taxonomy to better understand the exact level of student learning. Extended abstract:make connections not only within the given subject area, but also beyond it, able to generalise 5 Relational: appreciate the significance of the parts in relation to the whole 4 Increasing depth of understanding 3 Multistructural:number of connections made but their significance is still lacking 2 Unistructural: obvious connections are made, but their significance is not grasped. 1 Pre-structural : acquiring bits of unconnected information http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/solo.htm
Possible alterations (contd)… • Use clickers to provide instant feedback to students and teachers alike on the general level of understanding amongst student. This is useful to test levels 1-3 in SOLO taxonomy • Make use of social media (facebook/twitter) as a platform for students to continue ongoing discussions. This enables two things: i. increase dialogues amongst students ii. Gives a platform for students to post interesting associated readings (this makes empowers them to be facilitators in their own learning) iii. Helps shyer students/passive learners a space for asking questions/airing their views.
Modified tutorial structure Prior to Tutorial • Provide every student with a clicker • Create a facebook page for the course with students, tutors and course coordinator as members • Divide 120 students into 20 groups of 6. • Post a detailed case study online the evening before the tutorial with questions matching SOLO taxonomy.
Modified tutorial structure (contd).. During Tutorial 0-10 min: Students answer questions 1-3 (of SOLO taxonomy) using clickers. Show result immediately so students can evaluate themselves. 10-25 min: Allow for discussion within group to clarify any doubts so far + Allow group members to discuss their individual answers for question 4. 25-35 min: one group at random presents answer + other can rebut it. But don’t let them endlessly argue it out. Present a model answer at the end and move on to question 5 35-45min: Allow group members to discuss their individual answers for question 5. 45-50 min: one group at random presents answer + other can rebut it. Don’t post the answer immediately but allow the discussion to continue on facebook for a day and then post it.
Modified tutorial structure (contd).. After the Tutorial • Allot one group to present an SOLO taxonomy based assessment for that topic online next week(along with an answer key after a few days). Encourage students to try to answer these • Assesment • Individual clicker scores: 30% • Answer to question 4 + discussions: 15% • Answer to question 4 + discussions: 15% • Assesment designed : 40%
Associated readings • Claus Brabrand, C (2007) Constructive Alignment for Teaching Model-Based Design for Concurrence • Fusch, D. (2011) Social Media and Student Learning: Moving the needle on engagement in Academic • Impressions,ATHERTON, J. S. (2005) Learning and Teaching: SOLO taxonomy. • Zhu,E (2007) Teaching With Clickers • Furtak et. al. (2013). Challenges in Developing Classroom Assessments Linked to Multidimensional Learning Progressions .Paper presented at the National Association of Research on Science Teaching Annual International Conference, Puerto Rico, April 2013 • Duit R. and Treagust D.F., (1995), Students’ conceptions and constructivist teaching approaches. In • B.J. Fraser and H.J. Walberg (Eds.), Improving science education, The National Society for the • Study of Education, Chicago, IL, pp. 46-49
Here I describe a tutorial on the 'Basics of neuroscience' that i conducted for year 3 undergraduate students. While designing the tutorial we set out to maximise student participation; every voice must be heard'! Along the way we realised that this was happening at thecost of accurately accessing student learning. We struggled with how to ago about designing tutorials tht tackle more than one aspect of learning.