About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6614-6621
Publication year: 2018
ISBN: 978-84-09-05948-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2018.2548

Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain

DEVELOPMENT OF AN ONLINE WIDENING PARTICIPATION COURSE USING DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO ENCOURAGE SOCIAL AND PEER INTERACTION TO FACILITATE LEARNING

M. McVey, A. Edmond

University of Glasgow (UNITED KINGDOM)
The biology component of a four week widening participation summer school was extensively redesigned to include new content and facilitate online delivery. The course design employed a number of strategies to foster student interaction and collaborative learning to limit student isolation. Online learning also does not usually include practical components, something that has been shown to be key to students developing a deeper understanding of course material.

This paper will describe the development, implementation and evaluation of one significant strategy, that of implementing a practical object based learning activity (OBL) and how this led to further development of group work within the course. OBL includes the use of objects, usually museum specimens or artwork, in a learning activity.

'Adaptation in mammals' is a learning unit delivered over one week. Students learn that adaptation is a process by which an animal becomes better suited to its habitat, allowing it to survive and reproduce. As part of this unit, specific mammalian skulls and other bones were displayed within the University’s zoology museum with worksheets and other information to guide students through the activity. This was designed to provide students with practical experience of identifying key features of mammal skulls.

This OBL activity was introduced to encourage deeper understanding, enhanced by social learning and allow students to handle skulls. The Zoology museum provided an appropriate environment which can encourage active student engagement. The activity was unstaffed and laid out in such a way to encourage discussion and self-directed learning. OBL has been shown to have a number of benefits including inspiring, informing, engaging and motivating learners . It has also been shown that that touching objects can lead to a deeper and more memorable learning experience.

Students were encouraged to attend the activity in pairs or groups to give them an opportunity for peer discussion, sharing of ideas and the OBL included a summative assessment component where students inspected an unfamiliar skull.

Assessment grades showed effective students learning. Student perception of OBL was completed using focus groups. It was clear that all students were enthusiastic about the content and format of the activity irrespective of if they attended alone, in pairs or in groups. Students described the advantages of being able to discuss the questions and concepts and being able to touch and manipulate the skulls. The absence of staff allowed students the freedom to work at their own speed and forced them to be independent learners. Students appreciated the activity being held in the Zoology museum and indicated that they took the opportunity to look at other exhibits.

As the benefits of the OBL in terms of student learning and peer interaction were evident the decision was made to include more group work throughout the biology course. Group work in an online environment has a further layer of complexity. Providing students with the necessary tools, in this case the Microsoft Teams App, part of Office 365, to facilitate collaborative group activities was essential. The authors will present student and staff perspectives of setting up, facilitating and undertaking group work in the online environment.
@InProceedings{MCVEY2018DEV,
author = {McVey, M. and Edmond, A.},
title = {DEVELOPMENT OF AN ONLINE WIDENING PARTICIPATION COURSE USING DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO ENCOURAGE SOCIAL AND PEER INTERACTION TO FACILITATE LEARNING},
series = {11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2018 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-09-05948-5},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2018.2548},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2018.2548},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {12-14 November, 2018},
year = {2018},
pages = {6614-6621}}
TY - CONF
AU - M. McVey AU - A. Edmond
TI - DEVELOPMENT OF AN ONLINE WIDENING PARTICIPATION COURSE USING DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO ENCOURAGE SOCIAL AND PEER INTERACTION TO FACILITATE LEARNING
SN - 978-84-09-05948-5/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2018.2548
PY - 2018
Y1 - 12-14 November, 2018
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2018 Proceedings
SP - 6614
EP - 6621
ER -
M. McVey, A. Edmond (2018) DEVELOPMENT OF AN ONLINE WIDENING PARTICIPATION COURSE USING DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO ENCOURAGE SOCIAL AND PEER INTERACTION TO FACILITATE LEARNING, ICERI2018 Proceedings, pp. 6614-6621.
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