How can we move students from critically analysing a particular contemporary challenge – for example, urban inequality and unsustainability – to also imagining responses to it? In my new book, Creative Universities: Reimagining Education for Global Challenges and Alternative Futures, I show how introducing students to design thinking and methods, including scenarios, is one way to combine critique and creativity in university classrooms.
The challenge of cultivating student attention has never been more intense than it will be in the coming academic year. Faculty have been battling the distracting power of student devices in the classroom for a decade or two, and during the pandemic the integration of screens into education has intensified. Continuous engagement with our devices over the past 18 months will likely make it more challenging for students to pull their eyes away from their screens and focus on in-person classroom activities.
Assignment feedback is key to helping students improve and correct their understanding so they can build upon solid foundations of knowledge as their course progresses.
Yet, traditionally only about 30 per cent of students review their assignment feedback in my experience of teaching. This feedback consists of answers to quizzes and/or comments on how to improve the quality of their writing.
Having experimented with different forms of feedback – written remarks, reports, pre-recorded video discussions – I’ve found the engagement level remains at around 30 per cent.
The transition from “delivery mode”, where students listen and make notes, to learning activities that require their active engagement and interaction can be challenging. But when I’ve introduced LEGO® to the class, these transitions have been different.
The disruption of higher education due to Covid-19, particularly the sudden forced switch to online and digital learning, has stimulated much thought as to what lessons and improvements higher education institutions (HEIs) could take away from this experience.
When designing a sequence of learning, there are a few things to consider before you decide how inherently complex or difficult your content can be. I wish to focus on a concept from cognitive load theory described as intrinsic load.
Maintaining teaching, social and cognitive presence as part of the community of inquiry (CoI) proposed in the work of Randy Garrison, emeritus professor at the University of Calgary, has long been key tenet of higher education. But in online learning, designing and implementing learning activities to address these presence elements and maintain engagement and connection are even more essential.
The pressure and excitement of the online learning space can feel a bit like a Christmas tree. Keen to have your tree shine brighter than your neighbours’, you add extra tinsel and another bauble. If you’re not careful, however, you can find yourself chucking all kinds of mismatched decorations at it and, before you know it, the tree looks a mess and is tipping over under the weight of good intentions.
How do we create a culture in which students learn from each other during the process of producing an assignment? One place to start is through peer review, in which students give and receive feedback on each other’s work. However, some students resist engaging in peer review. At our university in China, this appears to be linked to our students’ previous educational experiences and wider cultural influences. In our experience, teachers can address this problem by considering how best to support students in critiquing each other’s work.