FLIPPED CLASSROOM PLUS: USING PEER TUTORING TO DEVELOP COMMUNICATION SKILLS IN FINAL YEAR STUDENTS
This paper reports a new application of the ‘flipped classroom’ model involving peer tutoring of first year university students by final year students.
A key outcome of higher-education is to produce graduates who are successful independent learners in their professions. This requires subject-specific knowledge, skills and competencies, and the generic skills often described as ‘graduateness’. These skills are highly transferable to professional work environments, and help provide a good basis for graduate’s career progression.
Developments in technology are opening new possibilities for delivering learning, including the ‘flipped classroom’ approach. This inverts the teaching traditional paradigm, and may involve learners accessing short videos or other material before a learning session. Problem-solving and other tutorial activities are used during the session, when students apply knowledge acquired prior to the class.
Peer tutoring may be described as ‘people from similar social backgrounds who are not professional teachers helping each other to learn, and learning themselves by teaching” These is evidence that the most effective learning arises from teaching someone else.
The BSc Food and Nutrition (BSc FN) course at Teesside University (TU) is a multi-disciplinary science degree with a strong emphasis on teamworking and communication skills. Graduates are employed in a range of professions including Public Health and Nutrition, Teaching, and the Food Industry. In these areas they work in multi-disciplinary teams and need to communicate with a range of stakeholders.
As part of the strategy of encouraging students develop their communication skills, the final year BSc FN cohort were asked to develop ‘flipped classroom’ tutorials for use with first year students on their course. This was done as part of their final year Employment Skills module. Groups developed narrated presentations, using free screen recording software, along with a range of tutorial materials. Topic development required academic justification, with respect to developing the skills and knowledge of the first year students.
The presentations were made available to the first years a few days before the final years delivered the tutorials. After the tutorials, an anonymous survey was distributed to the first years. This included Likert scales for measuring the first year students’ view on aspects of the exercise, and open-ended questions. First year students were very positive about the exercise, consistently rating the activities as “good” to “very good”.
As part of the evaluation for the Employment Skills module, final year students complete a reflective essay, which includes reflection on this exercise. Comments were positive, with students noting that it “increased their confidence”, and “developed new skills”.
A group from the final year presented their work at TU’s annual Learning and Teaching conference. The presentation was well-received, with good discussion and feedback from the audience.