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Core activity 6.2: Case studies from the Carnegie Gallery of Teaching & Learning

November 28, 2010

Gallery of Teaching and Learning

Carnegie Foundation, this organisation has used a ‘knowledge-sharing tool’ developed by the Carnegie Foundation’s Knowledge Media Laboratory called the KEEP Toolkit.

What methods have the developers used to measure or otherwise assess the effects of their teaching designs on student learning?

Looking Into the Efficacy of the Course Construct

Barbara Gayle, a CASTL Scholar and Professor of Communication Studies, University of Portland, uses a template to represent student development in a public speaking course. Gayle tracks students’ growth by displaying videos of student presentations alongside her own reflections and analysis.

This process is described as “more than an exercise in editing”, and is reported to have led several academics to rethink the format of their assessment and analysis of responses. Also using the web-based representations helped identify resources and evidence that were initially missing. The suggestion is that these kinds of tools may not only make creating web-based representations easier but may “amplify” stakeholders ability to analyse the teaching/result outcomes.

For me this example shows how online tools can 1) take some pain away from publishing web based materials and 2) How on reflection these tools can stimulate a step change in the means of assessment.

Transferring Knowledge and Experience in Innovative Educational Transformation

John Belcher, Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his colleagues in the Department of Physics, successfully converted an introductory physics course from traditional format to a student-centered active learning space. According to claims made this resulted in “substantial increases in student conceptual understanding and decreases in failure rates“.

Belcher says, “Changing institutional teaching practices is enormously hard, especially in research universities. Even though scientific studies repeatedly show that the ‘transmission of knowledge’ model is not particularly effective, there is a real inertia in moving away from this model, because it has been common practice for centuries. The way to facilitate even tentative moves toward scientific teaching is to hold up best practices for faculty to see, and to publicize them widely using tools like the KEEP Toolkit.”

I can understand that this has been well recieved in publications and articles. I imagine that it is important for academics and lecturers that wish to move their teaching objects from paper/classroom based to digital format that they don’t need to learn an entire new set of skills to do so. The toolset should take the headache out of what is going on in the background. However like all tools these can be used effectively or badly. In this case I think that Belcher had a good vision of what he wanted to achieve. For those who lack direction this is perhaps a case for and the realm of the Learning Technologist were they can advise those wishing to make this transformation the possibilities available to them.

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