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Problem-based learning: a sceptic’s diary

This paper outlines my own experiences in learning about problem-based learning (PBL) and my attempts to implement it (or elements of it) into my teaching at Brookes. It is a very personal paper, outlining one person’s experiences and feelings about PBL and also the problems and advantages gained from using it on one particular module. Basically this paper gives initial responses to ‘trying something different’ (for example PBL) and the rewards this can give.

Posted in Practice Paper

Pedagogic Research and Ethics: Some Pointers for Pedagogic Researchers

In all research planning and execution, ethical issues should be considered. Not least is this the case in pedagogic research and development where data on our students’ experience and performance are essential evidence of good practice or of the need for change. This short paper describes an approach to consideration of pedagogic research ethics that has been adopted by the Business School. It is based on the experience of practitioners.

Posted in Practice Paper

Which University? Which Course? Undergraduate Students’ Reflections on the Factors that Influenced their Choices.

The paper measures the relative significance of factors affecting prospective undergraduates in their choice of university and course. The paper also examines the relative importance of different sources of information in making this choice. Based on factors identified by undergraduate students, the paper centres on the results of a questionnaire distributed to first year undergraduate law students at two universities. The results are looked at in the light of a recent national survey, and conclusions are drawn which should be of interest to those involved in student recruitment across all disciplines.

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Various Ways of Using Online Testing in a ‘Virtual Learning Environment’

This paper describes how the ‘quiz’ facility in WebCT, one of the leading names in ‘virtual learning environments’, is used, inter alia, to provide a series of short ‘required tests’. These can be taken up to three times and together contribute a small percentage of marks towards module assessment. Tests motivate students, in a non-threatening way, to use notes and other resources (possibly provided via WebCT), and the system can provide immediate feedback. The paper describes the various forms of quiz question available in WebCT, including multiple choice. The other forms such as matching and multi-response questions are much less time-consuming to prepare. The final section relates the use of quizzes to aspects of good practice described by Graham Gibbs (2002) in a lecture on ‘Thinking Radically about Assessment – Reducing Marking and Improving Learning’.

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