3 years on from our Student-led teaching and content creation case study with Dr Shirley-Ann Rueschemeyer from the Department of Psychology, we catch up with her to find out what she’s up to.
Keywords: interactive lectures, formative tasks, group work, aligning tasks to learning outcomes
Can you summarise the technique you used for us?
I re-designed a module so that students were grouped and assigned a different activity each week that all contributed to the same goal. The groups cycled through the activities and used a different skill each week.They created a shared resource that helped them to relate topics together.
What was your motivation for changing your teaching practice at the time?
I was keen to do something more active than to lecture for 2 hours! It’s difficult for anyone to attend to a long lecture, and I personally always learn better if I’m forced to actively engage with the content I’m trying to learn.
I wanted to use a technique that was hands-on in some way. It can be difficult with content-heavy modules to use hands-on methods but I broke things down into smaller components and then everything built up into one (Google) site. I heard about this way of working through ELDT who had seen similar approaches in other departments.
How did the students respond to the module design?
The students loved it. I made sure I gave them time in class to start work on the weekly tasks. Each week’s task was planned to take no more than 30 minutes and I booked a computer lab to carve out the time and place for the tasks to be completed.
Did you change any activities over time?
I adapted some of the activities that I felt didn’t work as well – the MCQ exercise didn’t help them to prepare for the exam as I thought it might. The students didn’t put good effort into writing their distractors so the MCQs weren’t helpful in their revision. They didn’t get MCQ in their exams anyway so I changed the task.
Are you still using this technique with your students?
Unfortunately, the module is no longer on offer but it could be offered again in the future and I would deliver it in a similar way.
Can’t this technique be used with all student groups?
The technique was more suited to a small group (up to 50) on a content-heavy module. It also aligned with the assessment requirements of that undergraduate module – For the written exam, they needed to be able to recall with confidence the topics covered in the module. The activities ensured they were engaging with the material at a deeper level than if they had received it just as a lecture. It’s not manageable for something like 200 students and it’s not worth the organisational effort for a 10-credit module. It does take a substantial amount of work to organise and a few tasks have contingencies (group A can’t write the open question and then answer it the following week, for instance), so you have to be super-organised.
It sounds like a lot of work to set up!
It was set up over summer to run in autumn term. It was initially a big jump to learn the technology to make the re-design work, but I now use the technology (Google Sites, Google Docs etc) on all levels in all areas of my work.
What further impact has this had?
Other people in my department have heard about what I do and have asked me for specific ideas.I’m teaching a Masters programme now and I’ve adopted some of the exercises for those students, getting them to generate the open question (not necessarily on vle or using technology).
In the lecture, I hand out sticky notes so students can write their open question. I pick 3 and each week, one group gives a mini-lecture that answers one of these open questions. This technique aligns with their assessment method (they have coursework) and it helps them with their research skills.
What? No other technology-enhanced learning?
Well, the whole department uses clickers all the time. We don’t even think twice about it.
What would you say to a lecturer who is still lecturing for 2 hours?
Try to introduce short hands-on tasks that you can use in class to break things up and keep students engaged.
- You can learn more about the topics discussed here on the York Pedagogy site, which also contains links back to our TEL handbook, specifically:
- Interactive lectures
- one-minute papers
- peer instruction in lectures
- Contact the E-Learning Development Team via email at email@example.com to find out more.
- Visit our Development Opportunities page to view upcoming webinars on a range of TEL topics and to access recordings of past ones.
- Follow us on Twitter for TEL-related news and tips.
Published Dec 2017