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Capturing the Student Experience: What are the options?

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1 Capturing the Student Experience: What are the options?
Jason B. Truscott Experiential Learning CETL University of Plymouth

2 Session Outline Experiential learning What are the options?
Why capture the student experience? What are the options? Some ‘cyber’ & electronic based examples Why use them? How do you keep them interested? Which method should I use?

3 Experiential Learning
‘Learning by doing’ (Kolb, 1984) “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” Theorising Relating experience to course work & theory. Doing Undertaking fieldwork, labwork or work based learning (WBL) Planning Planning future fieldwork, labwork or WBL activities Reflecting Reflective journal Self reflection

4 Experiential Learning
Our CETL is mainly but not limited to fieldwork, labwork or work-based learning Geography, Geology, Biology & Environmental Sciences disciplines interested in the wider student experience What/how do students think/feel about their experiences during their degree? Affective domain (Krathwohl, Bloom & Bertram, 1973)

5 What are the options? Consider: Type of data required?
Data in context (the student experience) Fieldwork is discussed in next session The student concerns? Privacy, anonymity and freedom of speech? How the data will be collected? What methods adhere to the above? We have to consider the following… What type of data do we require?

6 Privacy, anonymity and freedom of speech
Freedom to express yourself without consequence! Popular idea with the students Avoid situations where students feel exposed to their peers, consider: Environment Location Student confidence Express yourself - We have found that this I very popular with students… But have to consider that the ethical implications of our data collection.

7 ‘Cyber’ & electronic based data collection
The following can create an environment where data collection is personalised and ‘safe’: Video diary Audio diary Online questionnaires (open ended) Blogging SMS or MMS (Mobile phone texts) ‘Virtual worlds’ (future consideration) I have chosen electronic methods specifically. These examples meet the criteria. Although not exhaustive, we have tested these but for the exception of ‘Virtual Worlds’

8 Video or Audio Diary Students are provided with their own camera/audio device video or audio recorder Webcam/microphone attached to PC? Students are free to make a diary in their own time Reduces bias

9 Video Diary example A female student
Starts camera and straight into conversation (before even sitting down) “Hello! Today we have been going through personal stuff…it has been quite intense and people have got to know each other…people are quite tired today…I think a few of them are going to clash…”

10 Video Diary example A male student
Waves at camera (to check it works) Shuffles around - a hesitant start “Hello, this is a little odd, right, what have we been doing…mainly just trying to understand each other [swallows hard] and how everyone works in the group…people have been holding back on what they expect of each other…”

11 Audio Diary Provides some data
Tend to accumulate everything into one recording Some read off pre-written notes automated and lacking emotional content Uncomfortable with the idea of recoding their voice Not that popular

12 Online questionnaires
Questionnaires are web based links (targeting audience) Open ended questions Also reduces biased Returns can be the limiting factor (~35%) Current examples of its use: Student conceptions surveys

13 E-mail Why e-mail? (Woodfield, 2002) Email already used by students
NB Students use ‘other’ accounts! Sets up a personal rapport with researcher once or twice a week some s can and will be ignored Ruth Woodfield University of Sussex

14 example If there was ONE element of your student experiences that you could NOT be without, what would that be? What is really important to you? “Mates and beer. its just the good times realy which make the experience so great. you could have a really bad day of lectures and courcework stress, but having a good bunch of mates (which you instantly get in halls) instantly makes you realise that really its all ok..... and a few beers help in extreme cases.”

15 Blogging (Weblogs) One week or the whole degree?
students can express themselves without researcher interference Rich topic range from: social, family to educational. Reveals their thoughts, perceptions and ideas Some students lack motivation or consistency Private, group or open to the web?

16 A Student Blog

17 Blogging example “two essays done one to go and friday as a deadline. heres heathfield landfill site, a sacred cow and phragmites Australis, which have been pretty much all thats been on my mind lately. Enjoy!” (male student) Interestingly, this student found the use of a blog to be a great way to get into the mindset for coursework! (Mature Student) Portrays the rich and diverse content that blogs provide… Scared Cows of Economics - Phragmites Australis or ‘Reed’ are analysed for metals uptake as part of a laboratory session…

18 Email & Blog returns Email Blogs
Excellent response, typically 75% return Fairly consistent throughout Response tales off near end Blogs Can be sporadic Some students complete Dropouts most likely near start of project

19 Texting (SMS + MMS) Take advantage of the students closest companion.
Questions and prompts straight to the phone. SMS text + emoticons “smileys”…   MMS multi-media possible Audio, video and text. Can also be sent via SMS – Short Message Service MMS - Multimedia Messaging Service

20 Texting Example ‘Hi there, what is the best thing and the worst thing about your job today? Pictures, video and sound are also allowed. Thank you! Jason’ (111 Characters) ‘Best is meeting with all the team this morning, worste is concern for a work mate who is not well and having to drive vp and down the a38’ (female student) Although the female message is brief K was able to convey emotional stress in regards to a fellow colleague. Equally, male participant was equally able to convey the emotions of contentment and loneliness within a short message.

21 Texting Example Hi! Please send me a picture that bests captures your week so far. Feel free to add additional text. Thank you. Jason (118 characters) ‘Mostly s so far?’ (male student) MMS reply to SMS From Male participant - Female participant did not reply…

22 SMS returns Pilot showed typically around 50% return rate
Response tales off near end Content can be limiting factor 160 characters maximum (std. SMS) Long SMS (Combines) Respondent replies are kept short Texting long messages is laborious

23 Virtual Worlds Use of online virtual worlds…
Takes cyber-social science to a new level Second Life Flexible 3D computer social environment Has some educational institutional backing Lectures & Events Virtual ethnography – Social interactions Focus groups (can be made private) Questionnaires not uncommon

24 Second Life lecture

25 How do you get/keep them interested?
Advertising – , fliers, posters and in person. Money… Vouchers, payment forms or cheques? Do it for no money? Non-financial incentives Food!

26 How do you get/keep them interested?
Create a sense of community A place to go…a website? Appeal to their ideas of helping to improve their learning environment For others and themselves Share the fruits of their participation, how have they helped their fellow students Reduce the ‘black hole effect’ ‘What is happening with my personal thoughts?’

27 Which method should I use?
What do you want from your participant? Interactive Response having commonality to all previous questions, discussions or prompts. Reactive Response is direct and related to researchers question or prompt. Non-interactive Participants own (unbiased?) response to their experiences.

28 Which method should I use?
Methods that are: Mainly reactive Online questionnaires Mainly reactive – some interactivity: SMS / MMS Mainly interactive Virtual Worlds Some reactive responses – due to environment

29 Which method should I use?
Methods that can be: Reactive, interactive or non-interactive: Video diary Audio diary Blogging Important to consider the amount of research bias in the data.

30 Which method should I use?
Summary – what would we choose? Suitable for pre, during and post. Video diary Audio diary SMS or MMS (Mobile phone texts) Suitable for pre and post-experiences Online questionnaires Blogging ‘Virtual worlds’ From our experiences, what would we choose…

31 Acknowledgments Methodological Innovations HE Academy HEFCE
Experiential Learning CETL team

32 References Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning: experience as the sources of learning and development, New Jersey; Prentice and Hall. Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Bertram, B. M. (1973). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, the Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Co., Inc. Woodfield, R. (2002) Student Perceptions of the First Year Experience of University Results from a Qualitative survey, Final Report to University of Sussex: 1-169

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