University of The Basque Country UPV/EHU (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 3359-3364
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.0713
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
During last years it has been observed that the way students learn how to solve practical exercises is not the correct one. Students often memorize the steps needed to solve the exercises, although they may neither fully understand those steps nor why they have to be followed. In addition, students will often study the exercises solved in the lessons when preparing for a final exam, without looking for new exercises that reveal different facets of the problem. They finally memorize the format of the exercise presented during a lecture, only to reproduce it during the exam. However, the slightest variation in the final test exercises can nonplus some students, leaving them perplexed and reducing their success rate in some subjects.

Reflecting on this situation in the context of the civil engineering degree taught at the University of the Basque Country, a change in classroom methodology was evidently needed. Rather than continuing with the traditional methodology, where the teacher assumes a leading role during the lessons, kikan-shidō, also known as “teaching between desks” or “between-desk instruction” was introduced. It consists of leaving sufficient time for students to solve practical exercises during the lessons, while the teacher moves from one desk to another, resolving doubts and advising individual students or groups. The main purpose is to advance their understanding of different concepts and soft skills. Within group work, students can help each other to understand the exercises. Various studies support the peer-learning methodology, where advanced students help others with knowledge acquisition. Many students will empathize with a colleague whose explanation assists their understanding more than they might towards an initial explanation of a problem from a teacher.

“Teaching between desks” might be difficult to use in groups with many students. Nevertheless, the number of civil engineering degree students has been decreasing over the past few years, with no more than 40 students in most classes, making changes to the lesson plans easier to introduce. With this change, the teacher is able to monitor student progress and to identify the ideas that a student has not properly understood.

Implementation of teaching between desks requires immense effort from teachers that students may not always appreciate. Trial sessions were therefore conducted in a previous academic year, before the methodology was introduced, in which students could express their satisfaction with the methodology that, in turn, encouraged the teacher to continue developing the methodology.
In general, the didactic approach towards the different subjects was successful. In addition, the opinions of most students were positive and supported the communicative advantages of teaching between desks.
teaching between desks, active learning, social skills, inclusive education