Seminar: Evaluating Learning in Higher Education
University quality assurance processes often foreground the evaluation of pedagogic practice and student learning. While more broadly, this reflects an international policy agenda where demonstrations of educational quality are integral to institutional transparency and accountability, this seminar will present aspects of two situated postdoctoral projects that enact this emphasis in methodologically distinct ways. Following the presentations an open conversation will consider what effects of higher education learning could (or should) be measurable and measured, what methodologies and metrics are most effective and ethical, and what the benefits of measuring learning might be – for students, staff, institutions, and the wider communities they exist within.
Rethinking Learning through ‘Field’ Theories of Cognition: Alternative approaches to technology-enhanced intervention design and testing
Dr. Prajakt Pande, postdoc in Centre for Virtual Learning Technologies, RUC
Dr. Pande takes a fresh perspective to the process of conceptual learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), through a lens of ‘field’ theories of cognition such as embodied cognition. By proposing a new makeshift model of the socio-cognitive mechanisms supporting the process of learning, in contrast to the currently dominant classical information processing accounts, and the various computer intervention designs these accounts inspire, he argues for a theoretical as well as empirical shift in technology-enhanced intervention design for learning-teaching in STEM. In addition, he also discusses how current intervention design and testing approaches borrow principles from the broad domains of user experience and user interface design, and how this could be problematic for learning. To exemplify, Dr. Pande shares some preliminary work on alternative design principles for technology-enhanced learning. He will conclude the talk by cautiously presenting some of the complexities and nuances involved in this kind of work.
Measuring Effect and Assuring Effectiveness: A Consideration of Problem-oriented Pedagogies in Higher Education
Dr Renae Acton, Postdoc in Centre for Research on Problem-oriented Project Learning, RUC
Problem-oriented pedagogies are often implemented in universities with an explicit aim to facilitate student transformation in academic, professional, personal and interpersonal proficiencies. Dr Acton presents a critical synthesis of recent empirical studies that evaluate the effects and processes of problem-based and inquiry approaches in disciplinary fields outside of medicine and engineering. A systematic approach to the review of the research literature allows for a comparison of methodological approaches, evaluation foci, and research findings. On this basis, she will then outline her proposed postdoctoral project design, which assembles a suite of methods that collectively aim to illustrate the outcomes of this pedagogical approach at one institution.