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Noel Entwistle, Jennifer Nisbet, and Adrian Bromage Edinburgh and Coventry Workshop jointly with the Engineering Subject Centre Improving the student experience.

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Presentation on theme: "Noel Entwistle, Jennifer Nisbet, and Adrian Bromage Edinburgh and Coventry Workshop jointly with the Engineering Subject Centre Improving the student experience."— Presentation transcript:

1 Noel Entwistle, Jennifer Nisbet, and Adrian Bromage Edinburgh and Coventry Workshop jointly with the Engineering Subject Centre Improving the student experience of learning electronics

2 Outline of the workshop v Introduce the project as a whole v Explain the concepts being used v Describe EEE settings and data collection v Explain the analyses and present findings v Consider the relevance and implications

3 TLRP programme objectives ESRC Teaching and Learning Research Programme v Enhancing learning outcomes & engagement v Developing research collaborating with users v Achieving synergy across disciplines & stages v Transforming theoretical knowledge for users v Producing findings valuable for practitioners

4 Research objectives and processes vWork with colleagues in five subject areas to explore teaching and learning in their discipline vExplore how teaching-learning environments in each subject area help or hinder student understanding vUse the interplay between quantitative and qualitative methods to build up evidence on the effects of teaching on learning v Investigate ways of encouraging university teachers to enhance their teaching through carefully designed, detailed feedback from students

5 Main phases of the project Phase 1 Reviews of the literature, development of questionnaires, analysis of national teaching quality reports, telephone interviews with staff in excellent departments Phase 2 First year group - identify departments and course units, interview staff, collect questionnaire data at start and end of course units analyse these baseline data, report back to course teams, suggest and negotiate collaborative initiatives Following year group - repeat data collection, analyse data and compare with previous year group, report back to course team, discuss the effects of the collaborative initiative Phase 3 Prepare reports and communicate findings in various ways designed for each of the main audiences of users

6 Phase 1 analyses of teaching-learning environments Teaching quality reports of 12 departments in each subject area and telephone interviews with staff in 6 of those departments were found to differ systematically in the following aspects v Administrative v Research v Professional v Teaching v Student support And student characteristics suggesting aspects of alignment Entry qualifications, knowledge and skills at entry, work experience, age, gender, ethnic and home background, & student sub-culture


8 Main concepts within Phase 2 v Teaching-learning environment v Constructive alignment v Ways of thinking & practising in the subject v Students approaches to studying v Students experiences and perceptions of the teaching-learning environment


10 Constructive alignment A good teaching system aligns teaching method and assessment to the learning activities stated in the objectives, so that all aspects of this system act in accord to support appropriate learning. This system is called constructive alignment, based as it is on the twin principles of constructivism in learning and alignment in teaching. John Biggs (2003, p. 11)

11 Ways of thinking and practising in the subject (WTP) The richness, depth and breadth of what students might learn through engagement with a given subject area in a specific context. This might include, for example, coming to terms with particular understandings, forms of discourse, values or ways of acting which are regarded as central to graduate-level mastery of a discipline or subject area… McCune & Hounsell (2005)

12 Approaches to learning and studying v Deep approach- understand for yourself v Surface approach- complete required work v Organised studying and time-management v Effort and concentration

13 Experiences and perceptions of the teaching-learning environment Clear aims and well-organised course unit v Teaching focusing on understanding & WTP v Set work and feedback supporting WTP v Staff enthusiasm and support v Support from other students v Interest and enjoyment

14 Main components of Phase 2 data v Documents describing the course unit and materials made available to students v Discussions and interviews with members of course team transcribed or recorded in notes v Questionnaires completed by students at start and end of each selected course unit Learning and Studying Questionnaire -SLQ Experiences of Teaching and Learning Questionnaire - ETLQ v Interviews with small groups of students about their experiences of teaching

15 Electronic engineering settings v Ancient research-intensive university Analogue units in second and fourth year v Technological research-intensive university Analogue in second, third and fourth years v Post-1992 university Analogue taught in the final year v Technology college Introduction to microprocessors

16 Strategy for integrating findings Build up evidence from a variety of sources to reach conclusions, in much the same way as a barrister builds up a case in court v Establish the main type of ways of thinking and practising being encouraged in the course units from literature, Phase 1, and interviews with staff & students vConsider the extent to which different teaching-learning environments were seen by students as supporting their learning effectively from questionnaires, and interviews with students and staff vEvaluate the perceived effects of the collaborative initiatives to explore effective pedagogy within the subject area from questionnaires, and interviews with students and staff

17 Ways of thinking in analogue electronics v Appreciating the overall function of a circuit v Recognising the crucial groups of components v Seeing how to set about analysing different circuits v Having the necessary analytic tools for solutions v Developing a memory bank of contrasting examples v Thinking intuitively in designing new circuits

18 Strategy for looking at student learning v Analyse relationships between questionnaire scales v Compare the means of scales for course units v Analyse the responses to individual items v Analyse the interview transcripts for further evidence v Report findings to teaching staff and discuss v Devise a collaborative initiative where appropriate

19 Analyses of questionnaires Factor analysis of the complete set of scales Factor I Good experiences of teaching & outcomes linked to low surface approach in electronic engineering Factor II Deep approach with interest in the subject Factor III Organised effort put into studying Factor IV Surface approach with lack of purpose linked to choosing unit because thought to be easy (EE) Factor V Perceived easiness and achievement linked to prior achievement and low surface in EE

20 Mean scale scores for three units Reasons for taking the degree and the unit Course unit A (94) B (68) C (54) Reasons for taking the degree Career Interest Social Lack of purpose Reasons for taking the unit Needed for career Interest Importance Expected easiness All scales recalculated to be on a 1-5 (high) scale with a median of 3

21 Mean scale scores for three units Approaches to studying and perceived easiness of unit Course unit A (94) B (68) C (54) Approaches to learning and studying Deep approach prior to unit Surface approach prior to unit Effort Difference in deep during unit Difference in surface during unit Perceived easiness of demands made by unit Knowledge Pace Academic difficulty Workload

22 Mean scale scores for three units Experiences of teaching and knowledge acquired Course unit A (94) B (68) C (54) Clear aims and well-organised unit Teaching focusing on understanding Set work and feedback for WTP Staff enthusiasm and support Support from other students Interest and enjoyment Knowledge and skills acquired

23 Changes in approaches to studying Percentage agreement with items before and during units Course unit A (94) B (68) C (54) I usually set out to understand Before During Trouble making sense of things Before During Generally put a lot of effort in Before During Systematic and organised study Before During

24 Experiences of teaching Percentage agreement with items on the same three units Course unit A (94) B (68) C (54) Easy pace in lectures Amount of work required easy Teaching fitted in with learning Most of material was interesting Plenty of examples provided Staff were patient in explaining Feedback given made things clearer

25 Attitudes and approaches to studying - 1 Youre repeatedly reading it, hearing it, talking about it, doing it, doing it, doing it [and] that doesnt work for me. For first, second and part of third year, it was a case of scraping by. Ive tried to go through the motions; its the sameness. Each day is that pattern. At the beginning I was all [at sea], sort of too much information at one time. I just think that were given too many different concepts at one time… It seemed that once wed gone over one specific network we werent given enough time to absorb the information before we were given another one, and the difficulty level increased as you went onwards.

26 Attitudes and approaches to studying - 2 You have to focus your energy where its rewarded… You work through the problems and for the analogue ones, you dont get any answers out of them. You cant see how in the world you got from point a to point b. I tended to work blindly. I knew if I just followed these steps, then I could get an answer, but have no idea what to do and yet we scrape by. We probably would have got great marks had we actually understood what we were doing.

27 Delayed understanding In second year I got a better understanding of what I learnt in first year. Now in third year Ive kind of learnt what I was supposed to know in second year. Its a shame Ive never felt that Ive learned it in the actual year [it was taught]… When youre being taught something, youre just desperately trying to learn it, and theres not necessarily a whole lot of interest. Youre scrambling back to notes in preparing for the exams, trying to understand the course. Later on, you do get interested and [then] things start to fall into place.

28 What do these findings suggest to you? What were the problems facing the students? What do you see as the main causes of them? What might be done to overcome them?

29 Difficulties in learning analogue v Seeing the relevance when carrying out analyses v Coping with the pace as new ideas are introduced v Lack of variety in the teaching-learning experiences v Not understanding which type of circuit is involved v Reduced confidence through failing to solve problems v Not enough feedback to understand mistakes

30 Collaborative initiatives in analogue Increase students focus on understanding by reflecting on problem-solving processes v Problem-solving in electronics stressed and modelled during lectures & examples classes v Students encouraged to use a log-book to record and comment on solutions v Arrangements made to facilitate systematic group discussion during tutorials

31 Helpfulness of teaching-learning activities in three units involved in the collaborative initiative Mean ratings on 1 -7 scale Unit A Unit B Unit C (N = 59) (73) (27) The way diagrams presented The way ideas explained in lectures Lecture explanations of problems Worked examples provided Working on problems on own Using the log-book Staff help in tutorials Discussions with other students Feedback on work submitted not given Class tests and the results not given

32 The logic of teaching analogue electronics Teaching-learning activities necessary in supporting learning v Circuits linked to real-life illustrations from industry v Main circuit components highlighted in diagrams v Functions of circuits fully explained with examples v Ways of thinking about circuits exemplified v Students work through varied examples & comment v Worked examples provided and fully explained v Sufficient tutors available to provide prompt advice v Progress monitored in tutorial work and tests



35 References related to project See papers in International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education 42/1, 2005, and other papers on, or forthcoming, on project web-site at McCune, V., & Hounsell, D. J. (2005). The development of students ways of thinking and practising in three final-year biology courses. Higher Education, 49, 255–289

36 Indicative general references Biggs, J. B. (2003). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. (2nd Ed). Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press. Entwistle, N. J. (1998). Improving teaching through research in student learning. In J. J. F. Forest (Ed.), University Teaching: International Perspectives (pp ). New York: Garland Publishing. Entwistle, N. J. (2003). Concepts and conceptual frameworks underpinning the ETL project. ETL Occasional Reports, 3, see the project web site Marton, F., & Säljö, R. (1997). Approaches to learning. In Marton, F., Hounsell, D. J., & Entwistle, N. J. (Eds.), The Experience of Learning (2nd ed.) (pp ). Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press (now on project web site).

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