Teaching and Learning Innovators Event – May 2019

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LEaD’s Teaching and Learning Innovators event returned in April with presenters from the School of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS) and the School of Health Sciences (SHS). The idea behind this event is to provide an opportunity for staff to share innovative teaching and learning practices and to learn from each other. Elliot Freeman (Psychology) spoke about using Microsoft SharePoint for flipped learning and Greg Layther (Health Services Research and Management) spoke about differentiating learning outcomes using feedforward.

Using Microsoft SharePoint for flipped learning

Elliot began by outlining the context for his use of flipped learning. With ever-increasing undergraduate student numbers, individual students can become lost in the crowd, and high assessment workloads make it difficult to provide sufficient feedback on students’ performance. To reduce workload, Elliot replaced some traditional exam essays on his second-year Visual Perception module with short-answer questions. He then coached his students on this new format and decided to provide new weekly workshops to engage students.

In these workshops, students discussed and then co-authored practice answers to short-answer questions based on topics introduced in the previous lecture. After a brief class discussion of the topic, students collaborated in small groups, writing their answer into a single SharePoint Word document. This document was easy for students to access and edit in a web-browser. The document was projected to the front of the class and updated in real time, then discussed in class and if necessary revised. SharePoint enabled different groups to work simultaneously on different answers, and to then get instant feedback that could be shared around the class. The resulting final document was then shared weekly to all students on the module as a comprehensive set of model exam answers.

Elliot summarised these teaching activities saying

“These sessions were fun and highly productive, and students loved it (as evidenced by their module evaluations). They provided a regular opportunity for focused revision, plus formative feedback and exam skills training. I found that the time invested in these seminars paid back as a reduction of marking, better exam performance in those who attended, and higher student engagement and satisfaction”.

Differentiating learning outcomes using feedforward

Greg’s presentation discussed a Master’s level module which is offered as part of both the MSc in Health Policy and the MPH in Public Health. This presented a teaching challenge as the first programme is aimed at students who aim to (or already) work in the field of policy whereas students in the second cohort aim to (or already) work in a clinical context.

The core aim of the module is to teach students to develop the skills to implement a change plan for improvement in health and social care. The assessment aligns with this core aim as it requires students to develop a change plan. In order to address the needs of both cohorts of students, Greg developed a common framework which could be used by both policy and clinical students.

Feedforward activities

What is feedforward? JISC (2016) defines the difference: “While feedback focuses on current performance (and may simply justify the grade awarded), feedforward looks ahead to the next assignment. Feedforward offers constructive guidance on how to improve. A combination of feedback and feedforward ensures that assessment has an effective developmental impact on learning (provided the student has the opportunity and support to develop their own evaluative skills in order to use the feedback effectively)”.

Greg designed feedforward activities which engaged students in understanding the common frameworks and tools used in their field whilst simultaneously developing their skills in developing change plans. Students worked in groups related to their specialist field developing each section of a change plan over the course of the teaching. They received feedback from both their peers and Greg at each stage which they were then able to use as feedforward for each subsequent stage of their change plan.

Do you have an example of innovative learning and teaching to share?

The next Teaching and Learning Innovator for the School of Health Sciences session will be on Tuesday 23rd July 2019 from 12-1pm. If you’d like to present something you’ve been doing, please contact Peter Kogan.

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