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Reflecting on our teaching practice to bring about a more student-centred approach to learning and promote “deeper” learning by the students

Authors: Alan O'Donnell - Niall Delaney


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5.3 The problem-based task

From the problem based task that was undertaken by the focus groups, our reflections and student feedback have determined our observations. The learning was an engaging process, where the lecturer worked alongside the student in developing the learning opportunities. The students had to work on the task individually, but the realisation of the need to collaborate in small groups became apparent. Peer learning was developing and there was a greater sharing of experiences. The classes became less formal around the task, with the students working with teachers to define the overall outcome. The students were active in their self-learning, a greater responsibility for learning was in evidence, where the lecturer was the facilitator of learning. The problem-based task was not given an assessment mark, but was used for formative feedback purposes. Feedback was structured around good principles identified. (Juwah et al. 2004). The students along with their peers were involved in the analysis of each project.

5.4 The summative exam

With the open book exam the focus was on acquiring knowledge and skills in a wider and deeper context than previously taught. The teaching of theory leaned toward the wider understanding and application of the knowledge and where to source it. The student was encouraged to engage with the notes and books more to achieve this. Feedback indicated that this exam was more relevant to their work life than the current assessment format. Exploring the knowledge was encouraged, with lecturer acting as facilitator, to help students access and process information. The students were willing volunteers and sat another multiple-choice assessment. This was outside the scope of the original project but generated good information for comparison of summative assessment types for the students.

5.5 Awareness

Another of our aims was to make the student more aware of what they are doing and why they are doing it. There was engagement at an early stage in the problem-based task, and discussions around the key learning points. The student became more aware of why we were teaching certain elements. The student was involved and felt they had ownership over their learning. Reflections on these classes noted that the students were highly motivated and eager. Feedback indicated a high level of interest and desire for similar tasks as a continuous assessment.

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