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Harnessing Insight into Disciplinary Differences to Refine e-learning Design Su White & Ilaria Liccardi FIE 2006 San Diego 28-31 October 2006

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Presentation on theme: "Harnessing Insight into Disciplinary Differences to Refine e-learning Design Su White & Ilaria Liccardi FIE 2006 San Diego 28-31 October 2006"— Presentation transcript:

1 Harnessing Insight into Disciplinary Differences to Refine e-learning Design Su White & Ilaria Liccardi FIE 2006 San Diego 28-31 October 2006

2 Overview Introduction and Background Understanding Disciplinary Differences Approaches to e-learning Survey Discussion

3 Background: our survey Survey of students attitudes –Wanted to find out about their experience and perceptions of e-learning –Identify user needs –Compare experience with theory Because –Disciplinary differences literature –Ad hoc development of e-learning resources –High cost of developing e-learning resources –Sometimes structural barriers to change

4 Indicative Areas HardSoft Applied Pure Engineering Social Sciences and Humanities Nursing or Education Natural Sciences Biglan, 1973

5 Mapping the differences Curriculum/Content Assessment Cognitive Purpose

6 Neumann, R., Parry, S. & Becher, T. (2002) Teaching and Learning in their Disciplinary Contexts: A Conceptual Analysis. Studies In Higher Education, 27:4, 405-418. Disciplinary Learning Reflecting on Biglan… a sound understanding of key aspects of teaching and learning must depend on the recognition of the distinctive features of different knowledge domains and their social mileiux (Neumann et al., 2002) And maybe taking into account perspective of authors??

7 Curriculum/ContentAssessmentCognitive Purpose Concepts and principles closely connected. Content typically fixed and cumulative. Quantitative. Teaching and learning activities are focused and instructive. Specific and focused exam questions. Objective tests relying on quantitative nature of knowledge Logical reasoning. Testing of ideas in linear form of argumentation. Reliance on facts, principles, and concepts. Concerned with the mastery of the physical environment. Focus is on products and techniques. Knowledge is atomistic and cumulative. Emphasises factual understanding Preference for exam questions, especially problem-solving Problem-solving and practical skills Emphasis on integration and application of existing knowledge Hard Pure e.g. Natural Sciences Hard Applied e.g. Engineering Hard Subjects…

8 Curriculum/ContentAssessmentCognitive Purpose Non-linear, open and loose Content is free-ranging Qualitative Teaching and learning activities are constructive and interpretive Essay questions, short answer questions, and oral presentations Ongoing assessment Broad command of intellectual ideas Emphasis on creativity in thinking and fluency of expression Concerned with the enhancement of professional practice Knowledge reiterative and holistic Essays, project- based assignments Use of peer and self- assessment tasks Emphasis on personal growth and intellectual breadth Development of reflective practice and lifelong learning skills Soft Pure e.g. Social Sciences and Humanities Soft Applied e.g. Nursing or Education Soft Subjects…

9 Definitions are not absolute but…. different requirements specific to each of the four broad areas Can inform decisions related to curriculum design and pedagogic innovations approaches outlined relate to general educational methods different types of e- learning implementation match different educational methods

10 Framework Implications This observation may have special resonance to those who are making curricular changes which involve e-learning and blended learning concerned for indiscriminatory eagerness to embed methods found effective in one discipline area into other less amenable fields Neumann Parry and Becher

11 Approaches to e-learning

12 Education + technology

13 1970s Kolb Experiencin g ProcessingGeneralising Applying CBT-> CAI-> ->CAL->CBL->…. One of many educational models Recurs in many educational technology applications Biglan drew on Kolb…

14 Disciplinary Perspectives Biglan thought about Kolb… But wanted to explain the specific context of academic disciplines and fields of study… The Knowledge The Processes Hard or Soft Pure or Applied Becher Parry and Neumann relate this more specifically to educational processes… Experiencing ProcessingGeneralising Applying But what about my specialist area?

15 1990s Laurillard Teachers conceptual knowledge Students conceptual knowledge Teachers constructed world Students experiential knowledge interaction discussion reflection on student performance reflection on interaction adaption of world adaption of actions Laurillards Conversational Model Rethinking University Education, 1993 Discussion extrinsic feedback clarifying learners ideas Interaction acting in world to achieve goals, getting intrinsic feedback Adaption adapting actions in light of feedback Reflection reflecting on action to modify description

16 Teaching approaches Wright and White, 2001

17 Learning activities

18 Our Student Survey Hard Pure: Bioscience, Earth Environment Science, Maths, Statistics, Operational Research, Physical Science Hard Applied: Built Environments, Engineering, Health Science and Practice, Computer Science, Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine, Psychology Soft Pure: Economics, English, History, Classic and Archaeology, Language Linguistics and Area Studies, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Sociology, Anthropology and Politics Soft Applied: Art, Design and Media. Business Management and Accountancy Education Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism, Law -Dance, Drama and Music Social Policy and Social Work

19 Survey Field of Study Survey Participants Under graduate Post graduate Hard Pure 4315 Hard Applied 9323 Soft Pure 4816 Soft Applied 908 Total22462 Grand total286 Focus Experience & Perceived Needs How do students regard e-learning Context UK – high level of specialisation Face to face, research intensive Blended learning widespread Questions Past and Present Experience Rate Approaches (Five Types + VLEs)

20 Major Findings Students in Hard areas valued online tutorials reference materials objective tests (also VLEs) Support the mastery of facts, principles and concepts. Quantitative, Closed Students in Soft areas valued synchronous discussions role play and games access to open web Access to online journals Support the development of argumentation skills and critical thinking Qualitative Open The responses were broadly consistent with knowledge framework.

21 Tensions in our areas… Neumann Parry and Becher students In Hard fields of study experience a heavy workload, so technology which offers affordance which save or optimise the use of time will be powerful However from the point of view of the academic there is also a high incidence of face to face teaching and concern for substantial coverage So… Academics may be disinclined to invest large amounts of additional time preparing e-learning materials

22 Relevance to e-learning? Broad Conclusions Confirmed the theory Identified particular perceived needs Pointers for future developments blended approaches… allow systematic selection of activities to best meet range of requirements supporting student learning making good use of faculty time streamline administrative tasks (monitoring and recording student progression and achievement)

23 Further Questions How can insight into disciplinary differences assist the selection of effective e-learning approaches? How can understanding disciplinary preferences help identify ways of working with faculty to successfully embed e-learning and develop blended approaches? What are the technology affordances of e- learning which might best be used in engineering and its cognate areas?

24 Thank You Dr Su White Learning Technologies Group University of Southampton

25 About Dr Su White Su White is based in the Learning Technologies research group in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. Su is a member of the Advisory Group for the Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Information and Computer Science and is also one of their regional academic advisors. She is also a member of the Council for Professors and Heads of Computer Science Working Group on Learning Development. With an original working background in journalism and computer programming, Su has a first degree in the social sciences from the London School of Economics and post graduate qualifications in Computer Science and Education from the University of London. She has been based in Southampton since 1993 when she joined a university wide project developing an institutional approach to the use of computer based learning resources. She has had specific responsibilities as a Learning and Teaching co-ordinator in the University since 1998 where she has held this role at a Faculty and School level.

26 references [1]A. Biglan, "The Characteristics of Subject Matter in Different Academic Areas," Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 57, pp. 195–203, 1973. [2]A. Biglan, "Relationships between Subject Matter Characteristics and the Structure and Output of University Departments.," Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 57, pp. 204–213., 1973. [3]T. Becher, "The Significance of Disciplinary Differences," Studies In Higher Education, vol. 19, pp. 151, 1994. [4]R. Neumann, "Disciplinary Differences and University Teaching," Studies In Higher Education, vol. 26, pp. 136-146, 2001. [5]R. Neumann, S. Parry, and T. Becher, "Teaching and Learning in Their Disciplinary Contexts: A Conceptual Analysis," Studies In Higher Education, vol. 27, pp. 405-418, 2002. [6]C. Jones, M. Zenios, and J. Griffiths, "Academic Use of Digital Resources: Disciplinary Differences and the Issue of Progression," presented at Networked Learning, 2004. [7]N. V. Hammond and C. Bennett, "Using C&IT to Support Group-Based Learning: What's Effective and How Do Disciplines Differ?" presented at Online Conferencing in the Arts and Humanities: Proceedings of HAN Conference, 2001. [8]N. Hammond, "Understanding Scholarly Teaching: Role of Discipline, Institution And National Context.," presented at Improving University Teaching 29th annual conference, Berne, 2004. [9]D. Laurillard, Rethinking University Teaching: A Framework for the Effective Use of Educational Technology. London: Routledge, 1993. [10]D. H. Jonasson, J. T. Mayes, and R. McAleese, "A Manifesto for a Constructivist Approach to Uses of Technology in Higher Education," in Designing Environments for Constructivist Learning, T. M. Duffy, J. Lowyck, and D. H. Jonassen, Eds. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1993, pp. 231-247. [11]Knuth and Cunningham, "Tools for Constructivism. In," in The Design of Constructivist Learning Environments., T. Duffy, J. Lowyck, and D. Jonassen, Eds. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag, 1993. [12]R. Schank and C. Cleary, "Engines for Education." New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994. [13]J. T. Mayes, "Learning Technology and Groundhog Day," presented at Hypermedia at Work: Practice and Theory in Higher Education, University of Kent at Canterbury, 1995. [14]S. White and P. Maier, "Building Models Which Enable Change: An Examination of the Teaching and Learning Technology Support Network," presented at Bringing Information Technology to Education (BITE), Maastricht, 1998. [15]V. Wright and S. White, "Technology and Language Learning," in Supporting Lifelong Language Learning. Theoretical and Practical Approaches, L. Arthur and S. Hurd, Eds.: Open University & CILT, 2001. [16]W. W. Gaver, "Technology Affordances," presented at Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems: Reaching through technology, New Orleans, 1991. [17]N. Entwistle, "Learning Outcomes and Ways of Thinking across Contrasting Disciplines and Settings in Higher Education," Curriculum Journal, vol. 16, pp. 67- 82, 2005. [18]N. Entwistle, J. Nisbet, and A. Bromage, "Teaching-Learning Environments and Student Learning in Electronic Engineering," presented at Third Workshop of the European Network on Powerful Learning Environments, Brugge, 2004. [19]N. J. Entwistle, D. Hounsell, and F. Marton, The Experience of Learning: Implications for Teaching and Studying in Higher Education. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press 1997, 1997. [20]N. Hammond, "Discipline-Based Research into Learning and Teaching: A Survey," presented at International society for the scholarship of teaching and learning, Indiana, 2004. [21]E. McDowell, S. White, and H. C. Davis, "Changing Assessment Practice in Engineering: How Can Understanding Lecturer Perspectives Help?" European Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 29, pp. 173-181, 2004.

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