Summary and reflection

What did you learn this week?

In this first week of the course you have done some initial thinking about student learning by drawing on your own experiences, the literature and the experiences of your peers. In particular we focussed on three common approaches often used by learners, surface, strategic and deep. We also looked at Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cylce as a framework for understanding the role of experience in learning.

Reflective practice

In the discussions you shared your experiences of using reflective practice in your professional contexts and discussed how it can enable us to challenge our assumptions and reveal our biases.

Our students, our learners

Many of you commented on the increasing diversity among the student populations in your institutions and the support mechanisms in place for these diverse cohorts. How much are we taking this diversity into consideration when we are developing our courses? This is a question to take with you into the next course Introduction to Educational Design in Higher Education.

Beliefs about learning

In the comments on UNSW Beliefs about Learning some of you challenged the validity of one or more beliefs whereas others found it difficult to identify any one belief that was less relevant than the others. The belief that learning should be ‘situated and authentic’ led to some questioning of what was actually meant by this phrase. This page on the Curtin University website has an explanation of authentic learning and its benefits that you might find helpful.

Your experiences of learning

Clearly there is a variety of experiences of learning among our cohort, however, a common theme across the responses was that good experiences tended to reflect one or more of the beliefs about learning (or some variation of these) in the previous step. For example, being engaged in the learning (one way or another) was common as well having clear motivational goals for engagement in the activity. Bad experiences of learning were clearly passive and often inactive, or as many people described them, ‘boring’.

Theories of learning

In the comments on theories of learning some of you mentioned applying a constructivist approach in your teaching, whereby students draw on their experiences to construct new knowledge and make sense of what they are learning. Others pointed out that the teaching context can determine what theories might apply, so for example tutorials might be more student-centred than lectures.

Surface, deep and strategic approaches to learning

Many of you identified broader educational systems focused around assessment, grading and benchmarking as the primary cause of surface approaches to learning but this is not the only factor. Encouraging deep learning in practice was discussed many times, effective design is part of the answer, which is covered in the second course on educational design. There were various responses to the survey for ‘typical’ students however most ‘ideal’ students were aligned with the characteristics of deep learners.

In Week 2 we’ll be focussing on teaching, in particular you’ll hear from teachers at UNSW discussing their approaches and strategies to teaching in their contexts.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

UNSW Sydney