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Discipline-focused Learning Technology Enhancement Academy 2010
Proposal Form
Please note that the number of words for sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 should not exceed 2000 words in total.

1. Institution: only one proposal will be considered per subject department


University of Bath - Department of Economics


2. Project title:


Integrating learning and feedback in a core first year Economics unit


3. Project vision, objectives and rationale: Describe the nature and scope of the project; why has the department decided to do it? How does it link to the institution's strategic priorities in the sector? How is it aligned with HEFCE's Enhancing Learning and Teaching through the use of Technology implementation framework? What is the scale of transformational change you hope to achieve with the project? How do you think participation in the programme will help?


Issues:
There is a lack of student participation in online activities for Economics' units that depend on face-to-face lectures with no practical classes. As a result there is a break in the loop of delivery, feedback and assessment, which negatively affected the department's NSS and Student Experience Survey (internal) scores on feedback and assessment.
Objective of the project:
The project aims at using the technology to close the above gap and transform the learning process from passive to active. The proposal is to use a blend of classroom and online activities to offer instant and peer feedback to the student as well as an opportunity for self assessment. Both the lecturer and the student can then identify which parts that need further explanation. This is envisaged as an iterative process during the course whereby it is more agile and responsive as the lecturer can implement more effective interventions compared to waiting for the revision lectures.
Expected Outcomes:

  1. Enhancing student learning.
  2. Increasing student participation in online activities.
  3. Offering formative feedback
  4. Possibility of extending the assessment to online assessment in the future.


    Improving feedback and motivating both the students and staff to effectively engage in e-learning is an institutional priority at Bath University. Although the University provides the infrastructure for VLE (Moodle) and classroom technologies (clickers, capture software) and is actively committed to promote e-learning at departmental level., still some staff members (particularly in the Economics department) use Moodle merely as medium for delivering lecture notes and may incorporate, as an add on, non-compulsory online activities. As a department, we feel that we are arguably behind the game of integrating technology into teaching. We believe that the department requires a change in culture and we hope with the help of the external consultant we can start this process. The department aims to transfer lessons learnt from this project throughout the Department with the longer term intention of improving its score in the NSS regarding feedback and assessment. This project, we believe, will assist us in achieving this goal.

    The project will focus on an undergraduate unit "Modern World Economy" which has 250 enrolled students. Currently, this unit is delivered by 2-hours face-to-face lecture, and online discussions via Moodle. Student participation in the online discussions is very limited. Due to limited resources, there are no classes or seminars. Hence, there is no alignment between receiving the information in the lecture and learning through a process of application of concepts, ideas and/or techniques to particular questions. The project aims at closing this gap through the incorporation of e-learning technologies such as Personal Response System, Camtasia and Panopto to offer both periodic feedback and assessment. What we envisage is to develop a bank of MCQs that the lecturer can use at the end of each lecture/ topic to test the students learning. This will provide an indication to the lecturer of which part(s) that require more explanation. S/he can then develop online resources using softwares such as Camtasia or Panopto. These softwares can also be used to provide summative feedback to the students. Students will then be motivated to engage with the VLE. MCQ activities on Moodle can also be used to provide formative feedback and some self-assessment. We are aware of significant developments in national MCQ question banks. Therefore, we'd aim to re-use these (where appropriate) to allow our focus to include using the technology in non-objective marking to mark free texts so that we do not restrict our online assessment to MCQs only. We would particularly appreciate any help we can get to achieve this last objective (i.e. using the technology in non-objective marking). Although the project will be applied firstly on the "Modern World Economy" unit, the aim is to widely apply the outcome of the project to enhance student learning experience in all Economics Units.

    The proposal develops some of the suggested actions from the recent HEFCE enhancing learning and teaching through the use of technology ({+}http://www.hefce.ac.uk/Pubs/hefce/2009/09_12/+). In particular, identifying where learning technology can be used more effectively to enhance learning, teaching and assessment, and to achieve the Departments strategic goals.


4. Stages of development: What are the anticipated timescales for addressing this enhancement area? The programme works best with projects that are in the very early stages of planning and development: at what stage is the project now and where do you expect to 'be' by the time of the residential event in April 2010?


The project is still in its very early stage of planning. The unit has been identified, "Modern World Economy" which is a first year unit, undertaken in Semester 1 with over 250 enrolled students. The use of technology is within a content and support model (Mason), where the lecture is not interactive and the Moodle course contains non-compulsory discussion activities. The level of student engagement with these forums is less than 3% of enrolled students contributing to discussions.

By April 2010, the project team will have met to redesign the way the course is taught. This will include researching and designing interaction and feedback in the large group lectures (use of clickers, Twitter etc.), the introduction of more Economics based educational games into the teaching (both face to face and online), the development of question banks of MCQs as formative feedback tools with light touch monitoring, and how to effectively connect the physical and virtual learning spaces. Therefore, we will have worked through various iterations on paper, and identified potential barriers and solutions within the proposed model.



5. The benefit to students: Describe the anticipated impact of your project on the student learning experience


At the moment, the student learning experience is very passive on this course. The design means the focus is on didactic lectures and optional discussion boards. A key desire, to enhance the learning experience is to shift the emphasis to enhanced feedback loops (both in lectures and online). The intention is to develop both staff to student, and student to student feedback loops across a number of mediums to create a more self regulated learner (Nicol and McFarlane-Dick) This will radically change the learning experience to one where the student becomes central to the process and the quantity and quality of the feedback enhances significantly. It also designs in the situation where the students are not a homogenous group; Therefore, it will enhance the learning experience of those who are relatively new to the subject through the use of formative quizzes (integrated into face to face teaching), and video based learning objects of key models. Through effective monitoring the lecturer will be able to quickly tailor appropriate intervention strategies.

Another key desire is to diversify assessment, which will also have an impact on feedback enhancement. This unit covers different economic issues of international nature. As mentioned earlier, we do not want to restrict our assessment, and hence feedback, to using MCQs only. We would like to capitalise on the different backgrounds (educational, cultural or ethnic) of the enrolled students and allow exchange of knowledge to enhance the learning experience. If we can, for example, find a way of incorporating the technology in non-objective marking, then we can set online group activities such as writing country reports on a particular economic issue. Students learning then will be enhanced by peer feedback, exchange of knowledge, and speedy summative feedback on their reports.



6. Support: Give an indication of the level and nature of the support from senior management; resources already committed


The university has increased its expenditure on resources and re-equipping lecture theatres. For instance, over 400 classroom clickers, a 5 year general teaching space refurbishment plan, including new technologies. At the same time the institution is publishing its new Teaching and Learning Strategy, and e-learning Operational Plan (2009-2011), which place emphasis on supporting departmental initiatives.

This project focuses on Departmental cultural change and staff capacity-building in effective teaching strategies. Therefore, it will build on available existing technologies. The Department has also committed resources and prioritised technology enhanced learning through the purchase of hardware (laptops, free text presentation aids) and software (camtasia, authoring toolas). However, more importantly, recruited the Team Leader (Rania) as a specialist Teaching Fellow & e-Learning Officer. Her role is an interface between the department and central provision to take advantage of opportunities and dissemination channels.

Overall, the recent creation of this post illustrates the department is serious about the need of culture change to motivate staff as well as students in engaging with e-learning technologies. This proposal is seen as a mean to achieve this longer term goal.



7. Team Members: at the Team Leaders' meeting in January, we will spend some time discussing how teams can be selected, supported and prepared. It is not essential at this stage to identify the individuals that will make up the team, however, please identify the number, roles and sort of people who will be involved. We are keen to involve a student participant where it is appropriate to do so. It may also be appropriate to involve a stakeholder from outside the institution e.g. from a professional body/subject association. Teams are limited to a maximum of six including a member of the supporting Subject Centre and all team members are expected to commit to participation in the three-day residential, April 2010.


Role

Name (if known)

Email address (if known)

Team Leader

Rania Naguib

r.naguib@bath.ac.uk

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Catherine Winnett

hsscpw@bath.ac.uk

Head of the central e-learning team at the University of Bath

Andy Ramsden

a.ramsden@bath.ac.uk

Advisory Academic ¿ Unit Leader

Timothy Hinks

t.hinks@bath.ac.uk

First year student representative

Name to be confirmed later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Team Leader's contact details

Name

Rania Ihab Naguib

Institutional role

Teaching Fellow and E-learning officer in Economics

Contact address (inc. postcode)

University of Bath, Department of Economics, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY

Telephone

01225 386384

Email

r.naguib@bath.ac.uk



8. Summary: if your proposal is successful a summary based upon this submission will be placed on the Academy website together with the team leader's name and contact details. Please provide a 250 word summary that can be used for this purpose, otherwise we reserve the option of creating a summary from your submission. This summary will not be used in the assessment process. Submission of a proposal will be taken as approval of this publication.



Issues:
There is a lack of student participation in online activities for Economics' units that depend on face-to-face lectures with no practical classes. As a result there is a break in the loop of delivery, feedback and assessment, which negatively affected the department's NSS and Student Experience Survey (internal) scores on feedback and assessment.
Objective of the project:
The project aims at using the technology to close the above gap and transform the learning process from passive to active. The proposal is to use a blend of classroom and online activities to offer instant and peer feedback to the student as well as an opportunity for self assessment. Both the lecturer and the student can then identify which parts that need further explanation. This is envisaged as an iterative process during the course whereby it is more agile and responsive as the lecturer can implement more effective interventions compared to waiting for the revision lectures.
Expected Outcomes:

  1. Enhancing student learning.
  2. Increasing student participation in online activities.
  3. Offering formative feedback
  4. Possibility of extending the assessment to online assessment in the future.


9. Dates: Discipline-focused Enhancement Academy is a year long programme of facilitation and support for departmental emergent change. It is expected that successful institutions will take part in the full range of activities, including:


Activity

Date

1- Team leaders meeting

14-15 January 2010,
Weetwood Hall, Leeds

2- Teams formed in participating departments

January - March 2010

3- Visit by Critical Friend

January - April 2010

4- Three day residential event for project teams

14-16 April 2010,
Horwood House, Milton Keynes

5- Teams develop plan and work with Critical Friend

April-June 2010

6- Team hosts CAMEL event and visits other teams

May-September 2010

7- Project implementation begins

June-September 2010

8- Final 24 hour project meeting

16-17 November 2010

9- Submission of project report

January 2011

10- Submission of brief implementation report and case study

April 2011



10. Signature: The Higher Education Academy, on behalf of the Discipline-focused Enhancement Academy team will be storing data on the successful proposals and teams. Please indicate in your submission that you are agreeable to this. Your postal submission should be signed and dated on behalf of your institution and team.


Please indicate your agreement with the following:

  • I agree to my name, title and institution being featured on the attendance list distributed to all delegates and being used for publicity purposes
  • I agree to the information I have supplied on this form being stored in an electronic format by the Higher Education Academy and the Subject Network.
  • If the proposal is accepted, I agree to publication of the project summary provided (or created by the Discipline-focused Enhancement Academy team from the information provided on this form) to be made available on the Academy website and for publicity purposes


Signature
Name
Position Vice Chancellor/Principal/Dean/Head of Department
Institution
Date

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