University of Westminster (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 5930-5933
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
“Concurrent Learning” is a generic approach that usually refers to the principle that people learn ‘by doing’. A way to learn about a task is to perform this task. The question at the heart of this research is how we could make the most out of this principle by combining different learning goals in one task. Is it possible to ease students’ effort and teachers’ load by selecting tasks that correspond to more than one learning goal? If we could achieve this, we could also reduce assessment needs and avoid over assessment.

This paper aims to present the results of an on-going research project started in March 2008 at the University of Westminster, School of Electronics and Computer Science. The aim of the project was to investigate how the assessment of a specific module could be also used to as a “scaffolding” approach to prepare students for their project module in their 3rd Year.
The module used is “System Analysis II” (2INS511), a 2nd year module in the BSc Computer Science, at the University of Westminster, London. Students who take the module have to use different methods to evaluate websites. At the same time students have to get prepared for their 3rd year Project. Although there is a dedicated website for the needs of the 3rd year project, students tend not to use it before the beginning of the 3rd year as they are completing second year assessments.
In this study we assessed if students were better prepared for projects by asking students who took the 2INS511 to evaluate the project site. We combined two learning goals. The primary learning goal was for students to learn about evaluation methods. The secondary learning goal was to learn more about 3rd year projects. This was used as “scaffolding” approach for the students to prepare themselves for the 3rd year project module, which is not a taught module.

This project started in March 2008. The results we got in September 2008 in relation to how well students had been prepared for the project were very encouraging. As it is suggested by the number of students who submitted the ‘Project Selection Form’ signed by the supervisor, 47.7% of students started the project before the allocation of project supervisors in the academic year 2008-2009. During the previous academic year, 2007-2008, the percentage of students who demonstrated the same interest for projects at the same time was only 33.3%, this is an impressive increase. This is an on-going research and we will repeat the study for the 2008-2009 academic year.

However, the study is using a very specific example, therefore wider research is needed so that we could generalise the process and apply it to many different situations. In order to achieve it, the first step is to define the primary learning goal and at least one secondary learning goal. We need to identify formal definitions for primary and secondary learning goals in order to make sure that two different tasks are ‘compatible’ and we could use them to apply this method. The next step is to identify the similarities and the differences between the learning goals and finally investigate the methods that could be used in order to achieve them. A generalised model of combining different learning goals could help students to achieve their learning goals with less effort and reduce lecturers’ load .

(This project was funded by the “Educational Initiative Centre Development Fund 2007-2008”.)
assessment techniques, learning methods, learning goals, concurrent learning.