Posted in PGCAP Blogs

Reflection 1: Educational Autobiography (My learning journey)

This first blog is my educational autobiography and it has the purpose of helping me to reflect on my own experience of education. Although my education began at the age of four, the starting point for this autobiography is 1994 when I left Coventry Polytechnic having completed my undergraduate degree in occupational therapy. I would say this course equipped me with the technical skills to be able to do the job of an occupational therapist but not the language to be able to express and explain the concepts underpinning what I did. However, this slowly changed. After being qualified for a couple of years I began to have students working alongside me as part of their clinical training. These students asked questions about why I was doing what I was doing. This questioning motivated me to reach for the text books and journal articles to explore the theory behind my practice. Through this self-directed learning, I began to develop and be able to express a deeper theoretical understanding of occupational therapy practice. Completing an MSc in Accessibility and Inclusive Design, in 2011, and a Ph.D in 2016, has been a further way of developing a deeper theoretical understanding of my practice.

In attempting to understand the above narrative, I would argue that my initial undergraduate training was based on a type of folk theory of learning (Beretier and Scardamalia 1996), where the student’s mind is viewed as a ‘container’ which needs to be filled by the lecturer with the traditions and ideologies, in this case those of the occupational therapy profession. Furthermore, folk theory of learning explains why as students we were never encouraged, or even thought it necessary, to question the knowledge we were being ‘filled’ with. Whilst this approach to teaching was effective in giving me the practical skills necessary to do the job, my level of knowledge was not sufficient when called upon to explain the concepts of what I did as an occupational therapist.

It could be argued that my reaction to my difficulty in coping with answering student’s questions about the theory behind the skills I was using in clinical practice was an internal trigger to conduct problem based learning. A problem based approach to learning ‘empowers a learner to conduct research, integrate theory and practice, and apply knowledge and skills to develop a viable solution to a defined problem’ (Savery 2006). Educational constructivist theorists would explain that learning occurs through this approach to teaching because students experience a conceptual change to the way they view the world (Biggs and Tang 2011). In my situation, this conceptual change resulted in my being able to understand and explain the theory behind why my practice skills change the health and well-being of the people I treated.

It is no longer sufficient for occupational therapy education to be about students acquiring the skills to do the job of a therapist. As the college of Occupational Therapists (2017) makes clear, in a political climate where it is necessary to show the economic value of any health and social care interventions there is an expectation that students and practitioners are able to explain and express how the unique skills of the profession can contribute to the health economy of the UK. Therefore, Boniface (2008) suggests occupational therapy training has to be a process whereby practical skills are gained alongside an ability to articulate the theory of why the profession improves health and well-being through interventions that change occupational performance and participation.

From this reflection I have identify the following action to develop my own role and skills as a teaching in higher education – the letters in brackets demonstrates how this action links to dimensions in the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education:

  • Identify if my current use of self in the teaching environment appropriate? (A1, A2, V1)
  • Improve my ability to assess student learning after each session I teach (A3, K5, K4).
  • Improve my ability to give formative feedback to support and enhance the learning experience of students (V1, A3).
  • Improve my knowledge of how students learn about challenging concepts? (K3)

References

Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1996). Rethinking learning. In D.R. Olson, & N. Torrance (Eds.),The Handbook of education and human development: New models of learning, teaching andschooling (pp 485-513). Cambridge, MA:Basil Blackwell.4

Biggs, J.B., Tang, C., 2011. Teaching for quality learning at university. London: McGraw-Hill Education.

Boniface, G., Fedden, T., Hurst, H., Mason, M., Phelps, C., Reagon, C. and Waygood, S., 2008. Using theory to underpin an integrated occupational therapy service through the Canadian Model of Occupational Performance. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(12), pp.531-539.

COT Improving Lives. (2017). About the campaign: Improving Lives, Saving Money – COT Improving Lives. [online] Available at: http://cotimprovinglives.com/about/ [Accessed 11 Jan. 2017].

Heacademy.ac.uk. (2017). UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) | Higher Education Academy. [online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf [Accessed 10 November 2016].

 

 

Posted in PGCAP Blogs

Reflection 2 Tutor observation (Use of self in the teaching environment)

This second blog is based on reflections facilitated by a discussion with the PGCAP tutor following their observations of a teaching session. The focus of this reflection is on the use of humour in the learning environment. The session observed by the PGCAP tutor involved students hearing a speaker talk on his experience of using an aspect of the National Health and Social Care service. This is a key session for the students as they use their experience of the session to write an essay based reflection of what they have learnt about the challenges of being a service user of health and social care in the UK. At the beginning of the session the PGCAP tutor noted how I used humour at the beginning of the session to draw attention to the importance of the session to the assignment.

Although I do not claim to be a stand-up comedian, I agree with the work of Tait et al (2015) who argue that teaching is a form of public performance and as such a teacher will adopt different types of persona’s to inform their performance, including the use of humour. In this instance, my motivation for using humour was based on the assumption that it would be an effective way of drawing the student’s attention to the importance of the session without sounding authoritarian. However, in discussing the use of the humour in this situation with the PGCAP tutor, the tutor raised the argument that rather than motivating the students to engage in the session it could have raised their anxiety levels about the assessment. This feedback was a concern to me as my intention had been the reverse and it made me consider what the role of using humour is in my teaching is.

In the teaching environment humour has been described as a communication device that can be used by the lecturer (Wanzer, Grymier, Wojtaszczyk and Smith 2006). A literature review, by Banas, Dunbar, Rodriguez & Liu (2011), into the use of humour in higher education identifies three broad functions in the teaching environment. The first function is it can be used to build relationships with students. The second is  it can be a method of managing difficult situations that arise in the classroom environment or from the learning material, for example using humour to explain a difficult concept. Finally, humour can be used as a method by which the lecturer builds their reputation and standing amongst the students. In this situation my intention was to use humour to manage the tension that can arise from discussing assessments with students.

As with all types of communications devices, Wanzer et al (2006) warns it is important that humour is used competently and based on their research findings they identified the following features for the appropriate and competent use of humour in the learning. Firstly, although humour can be used to promote positive student behaviour it should not be used to isolate or stigmatise a particular student or group of students. The amount of humour used is also important, over use of humour can be distracting for students. Finally, if using humour to introduce and explain difficult or important concepts it is imperative that the teacher provides supplemental teaching material and ensures students have understood the material fully.

Using the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education, from this reflection I have learnt that humour is an effective teaching device (A2) and when used appropriately can be employed to support student learning (K3). However, as with all teaching tools it is important that when I use humour in the teaching environment it respects the needs of individual learners (V1). From this reflection I have begun to take the following action– the letters in brackets demonstrates how this action relates to the descriptors in the UK Professional Standards:

  • Identifying the ways in which I use humour in the learning environment to ensure that it support learning (A2)

As recommended by in the above reading:

  • Avoiding the over use of humour in the classroom environment (A1)
  • Ensuring I do not use humour to raise anxiety levels of the students (V2)
  • Ensuring any humour used to explain concepts is supported by additional learning material and checking that the students have achieved the intended learning outcomes (K5)

References

Bekelja Wanzer, M., Bainbridge Frymier, A., Wojtaszczyk, A.M. and Smith, T., 2006. Appropriate and inappropriate uses of humor by teachers. Communication Education, 55(2), pp.178-196.

Banas, J.A., Dunbar, N., Rodriguez, D. and Liu, S.J., 2011. A review of humor in educational settings: Four decades of research. Communication Education, 60(1), pp.115-144.

Heacademy.ac.uk. (2017). UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) | Higher Education Academy. [online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf [Accessed 10 November 2016].

Tait, G., Lampert, J., Bahr, N. and Bennett, P., 2015. Laughing with the lecturer: the use of humour in shaping university teaching. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 12(3), p.7.

 

 

 

 

Posted in PGCAP Blogs, PhD Blog

Reflection 3 Mentor observation (Understanding the role of assessment in the teaching environment)

This third blog is based on reflections facilitated by a discussion with my mentor. This reflection focuses upon my role as teacher in the learning environment. Furthermore, how I ensure that learning has taken place. The session observed by the mentor was a workshop involving 28 students. The workshop, developed by a colleague, is designed to introduce the concepts of the 6 C’s of good healthcare, which are care, compassion, communication, commitment, courage, and competence (NHS 2017). During the workshop the students watched 6 short videos introducing the 6 Cs. After each video, in small groups, students discussed the video and my main role was to facilitate large group discussion on the good and bad practice each of the groups observed in the videos.

Personally and professionally I am striving to take a level 3 approach to teaching, where my focus is on ensuring students achieve intended learning outcomes of the module through engaging in activities that support the learning process (Biggs and Tang 2011). In addition to this, Ramsden suggests level 3 teachers also ‘systematically adapt what they do to suit student understanding’ (Ramsden 2003 p 115). Although my management and role during the session appeared to facilitate student engagement in the learning process, I discussed with my mentor my concerns that I did not know whether the students had achieved the learning outcomes identified for this session. Furthermore, I was unsure whether students would recall their learning as they were not provided with any workshop notes or other learning material to support the session. My mentor discussed the strategy of using informal assessment to identify the progress of student learning during and at the end of a teaching session. She reports how this helps her to adapt what she does during the session and what subsequent learning material she provides to students in order to support and enahnce their learning experience.

Prior to starting the PGCAP, I viewed the purpose of assessment as a formal method for testing whether students had gained the relevant knowledge and skills to be able to perform the role of an occupational therapist. And for the student, I viewed the purpose of assessment as a method to gain the relevant certificate to get employment as an occupational therapist. Whilst Bloxham and Boyd (2007) acknowledge that whilst the above view is a valid reason for using assessment in higher education, they also identify how assessment can be used less formally to ensure student learning is occurring. For example, during and after individual sessions, they identify how this approach can help the teacher identify if changes to the teaching strategy is required to support student learning. Therefore, adopting the strategies suggested by my mentor and with the purpose identified by Bloxham and Boyd (2007) provides a potential tool for me to support a level 3 approach to teaching. This is because the information gained from this method of assessment provides me with an opportunity to ‘systematically adapt what [I] do to suit student understanding’ (Ramsden 2003 p 115).

From this reflection I have begun to take the following action – the letters in brackets demonstrates how this action relates to the descriptors in the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education.

  • During and at the end of each teaching session, using the learning outcomes, I am adopting ways of establishing the level of student learning. For example, I developed a Kahoot quiz to test the students’ knowledge of key concepts in quantitative data analysis. From the results of the quiz I was able to identify additional reading material on a couple of the concepts students appeared less confident in defining (A1, A2, K2, K5, V1, V2).
  • Having read concepts discussed in Haynes, Haynes, Habeshaw, Gibbs and Habeshaw (2012) I have planned to use recognised strategies for checking student learning. For example I have developed a handout to support the learning for the workshop discussed in this reflection (V3, A5 K5).

References

Biggs, J.B., Tang, C., 2011. Teaching for quality learning at university. London: McGraw-Hill Education.

Bloxham, S. and Boyd, P., 2007. Developing Effective Assessment In Higher Education: A Practical Guide: A Practical Guide. London: McGraw-Hill Education.

Heacademy.ac.uk. (2017). UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) | Higher Education Academy. [online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf [Accessed 10 November 2016].

NHS (2017). The 6Cs. [online] England.nhs.uk. Available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/leadingchange/leading-change-adding-value/about/the-6cs/ [Accessed 10 Jan. 2017].

Jaques, D., 2000. Learning in groups: A handbook for improving group work. New York: Psychology Press.

Ramsden, P., 2003. Learning to teach in higher education. London: Routledge.

 

Posted in PGCAP Blogs

Reflection 4 Observing a peer (Responsibility of providing effective formative feedback

The focus of this reflective blog is ‘feedback’ and the role it has on enhancing the student learning experience. The trigger for this reflection was an activity where I had to give feedback to a peer on the PGCAP course. This feedback was given following an observation of my peer’s lecture on criminology theory. Although prior to this session I was doubtful that I could give effective feedback to my peer, due to my lack of knowledge of criminology, I found the discussion during the PGCAP lecture reframed my thinking about the purpose of feedback. Furthermore, my peer completed an observational form that told me what she wanted the focus of the feedback to be on, which was her management of student behaviour. Thus, I found giving feedback a positive experience as I could see how my peer could use what we discussed to move her own learning and development forward. However, although I use observation frequently in the learning environment, I recognised how my own feedback to students is less constructive and unlikely to enhance the learning experience.

By providing a mechanism of self-reflection and improvement, one of the purposes of using peer observation in higher education is to enhance and improve teaching (Cosh 1998). However, it appears the mechanism of providing feedback needs to be appropriate to ensure the desired outcome from peer observation is achieved. For example, Siebert and Walsh (2012) discuss how reflection following observation can become a mechanism for the person to identify how they ‘could work harder and more effectively’ to meet the needs of the organisation, rather than identifying their own learning needs and how the organisation could support them to achieve these. McMahon, Barrett, & O’Neil (2007) suggests that the above type of issue arises when there is a power difference between the observer and the person being observed and  recommends an approach that fosters a mutual approach to the reflection process. To do this McMahon, Barrett, & O’Neil (2007) recommends that those being observed have an element of control over the process including ‘choice of observer, focus of the observation, form and method of feedback’. It would appear the approach adopted as part of the peer observation on the PGCAP, in the use of the observation form, achieved this mutual approach to feedback.

However, I am frequently involved in providing feedback to students following observation of their clinical or presentation skills. Prior to my own experience, my approach to providing this feedback probably fostered an atmosphere where the student felt they needed to justify their lack of performance and having to acknowledge that they needed to do better. According to the Higher Education Academy (2012), this approach is not fit for purpose as it does not support students to consider what they need to do to achieve the standards required of them to meet the learning outcomes of the course. Furthermore, feedback after an observation or presentation is an opportunity for formative feedback, which Biggs and Tang (2012) suggest is a powerful tool for enhancing the student’s learning experience. This is because formative feedback occurs during the process of learning, helping the student to identify what they need to do to support their learning as they work towards achieving the learning outcomes of the module (Biggs and Tang, 2012).

Based on the seven principles of good feedback practice (Higher Education Academy 2004 and Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick) I have begun to take the following action when providing formative feedback following the observation of student’s clinical skills or presentations. The letters in brackets demonstrates how this action relates to the descriptors in the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education.

  • To reduce student anxiety, where observation is not part of a summative assessment, I make students aware how formative feedback is designed to support their learning rather to test their knowledge (A4).
  • When providing feedback I to make students aware of how the observation relates to the learning outcomes (A1, A, K2, K5).
  • Prior to the observation, I discuss with the students the standard of practice we are expected to observe during the observation. I provide feedback as to what was good about the performance and areas where the performance did not meet the required standard (V1, V2, V3).
  • A well as oral feedback, I am providing written feedback and suggestions to the students so that they are able to reflect on what additional learning they need to do to meet the desired standards or learning outcomes. However, where the observation has involved a group of students I need to identify ways of providing individual feedback (V1, A3).

References

Biggs, J.B., Tang, C., 2011. Teaching for quality learning at university. London: McGraw-Hill Education.

Cosh, J., 1998. Peer Observation in Higher Education‐‐A Reflective Approach. Innovations in Education and Training International35(2), pp.171-176.

Higher Education Academy., 2004. Enhancing student learning through effective formative feedback. UK: Higher Education Academy

Heacademy.ac.uk. (2017). UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) | Higher Education Academy. [online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf [Accessed 10 November 2016].

McMahon, T., Barrett, T. and O’Neill, G., 2007. Using observation of teaching to improve quality: Finding your way through the muddle of competing conceptions, confusion of practice and mutually exclusive intentions. Teaching in Higher Education12(4), pp.499-511.

Nicol, D.J. and Macfarlane‐Dick, D., 2006. Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in higher education31(2), pp.199-218.

Siebert, S. and Walsh, A., 2013. Reflection in work-based learning: self-regulation or self-liberation?. Teaching in Higher Education18(2), pp.167-178.

 

Posted in PGCAP Blogs

Reflection 5 Learning through play (Threshold concepts)

The reflections from this fifth blog are based on my experience from the challenge set in one of the PGCAP sessions, where we were asked to creatively purchase items in order to design a teaching session. The purpose of the teaching session was to explain a threshold concept. For my session, I was able to purchase, for free, three round pieces of lego. Using the pieces of lego I created a Venn diagram to help explain the threshold concept of occupation and its contribution to health and well-being. Although I was unable to use my learning material in a formal teaching session, I was able to use it during a one to one session with a level 4 student. This particular student was having difficulty defining occupation in an assignment. Despite my enthusiasm, I was disappointed that the student’s understanding of occupation did not improve with my method of teaching.

In occupational therapy, the relationship between occupation and health has been described as the only profession specific threshold concept (Fortune and Kennedy-Jones 2014). Fortune and Kennedy-Jones (2014) describes how understanding this threshold concept helps student ‘join the dots between theory and practice’. However, in order to join the dots Meyer and Land (2003) argue that student has to experience an uncomfortable and challenging process, whereby they ‘oscillate between old and emergent understandings’. Therefore, it is not surprising that the student I was working with did not experience an immediate change in his understanding of occupation and health.

Interestingly, Fortune and Kennedy-Jones (2014) suggest that occupational therapy educators in higher education tend to over simplify threshold concepts because they do not like to witness students being confused. From my own approach to the development of learning material (such as the lego venn diagram) I can see how I am guilty of this. For example, I tend to take a level 2 approach to teaching, where the design of learning materials is based on what I think students need to know (Biggs and Tang 2011). I tend to think that my role is to simplify the complexity of theory and practice, but by over simplifying it I am not providing an environment that supports the learning of threshold concepts. Tanner (2011) suggest that this approach then becomes a barrier for occupational therapy students going out into their practice placement because they cannot join the dots and see the relevance between the theory of practice taught at university and what they actually observe on practice.

Tanner (2011) recommends that to develop student learning around the threshold concept of occupation and health there needs to be closer co-operation between educators in higher education and occupational therapists in practice so that the links between theory and practice can be explored between the two parties. However, research exploring the use of theory in practice suggests that practitioner’s level of understanding of threshold concepts is poor (O’Neal 2007). Interestingly, I observe the above tension in my role as a lecturer. As part of my role I contact students while they are on placement and frequently, during conversation with students on placement they complain that their practice supervisor has said that they cannot see the relevance of the theory we have taught them at university to the realities of practice.

In the past, when students have raised the concern that they cannot see the relevance of the threshold concept whilst on practice, because it does not seem relevant to their practice supervisor, I have only provided reassurance. Cousin (2006) acknowledges reassurance is an important way the teacher can support the learner through the process of developing an understanding of a threshold concept. However, she also suggests the discussion is also an opportunity to provide an environment to listen to where the student is at in their learning journey. Cousin (2006) also describes how the teacher can also explore with the student why mastering the link between occupation and health is important. Finally, Cousin (2006) suggests the discussion can help the teacher to identify what other support or signposting the student needs in order to master their understanding of the threshold concept.

From this reflection I have begun to take the following action based on the reading material in this blogs – the letters in brackets demonstrates how this action relates to the descriptors in the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education.

  • I will explain to students what threshold concepts are and how they are relevant to clinical and professional practice. (A2, V1, V3, K3)
  • Where appropriate, I will allow students to experience uncertainty to help in the process of developing their understanding of the threshold concepts. (A2, V1, V3, K3)
  • Where appropriate, I will avoid over simplifying threshold concepts to help in the process of developing their understanding of threshold concepts. (A2, V1, V3, K3)
  • In the programme development days, which occur each semester, I will discuss how we can support clinical supervisors to understand the relevance of threshold concepts to clinical and professional practice. (K6, V4)

References

Biggs, J.B., Tang, C., 2011. Teaching for quality learning at university. London: McGraw-Hill Education.

College of Occupational Therapists., 2017. Professional Standards for Occupational Therapy Practice. London: College of Occupational Therapists

Cousin, G., 2006. An introduction to threshold concepts. Planet. 17 (x).

Fortune, T. and Kennedy‐Jones, M., 2014. Occupation and its relationship with health and wellbeing: The threshold concept for occupational therapy. Australian occupational therapy journal61(5), pp.293-298.

Health and Care Professional Council., 2017. HCPC – Health and Care Professions Council – Standards of proficiency. [online] Available at: http://www.hpc-uk.org/aboutregistration/standards/standardsofproficiency/ [Accessed 18 Jan. 2017].

Higher Education Academey,. 2011. UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) | Higher Education Academy. [online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf [Accessed 10 November 2016].

Meyer J H F and Land R 2003 ‘Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge 1 – Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising’ in Improving Student Learning – Ten Years On. C.Rust (Ed), OCSLD, Oxford

Tanner, B., 2011. Threshold concepts in practice education: Perceptions of practice educators. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy74(9), pp.427-434.

 

 

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Posted in PGCAP Blogs, PhD Blog

Professional Conversation – Joining the dots….

This final blog is based on reflections facilitated a discussion with the PGCAP tutors as part of the professional conversation element of the course. The focus for the professional conversation was the lego model I had been asked to design for this session. I designed the model to represent my learning and experience from participating in the PGCAP course. As a learning device, I have found making the lego model and then expressing the ideas behind the symbolism of the features of the model has helped me to join the dots between the theory and concepts introduced during the PGCAP sessions and their relevance to my own teaching practice and future professional development as a lecturer.

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To start with, Ramsden’s (2003) explanation of surface and deep approaches to learning has helped me to appreciate the difference between ‘learning to understand’ and ‘learning only to complete course requirements’. As lecturer, I need to encourage and prepare students to adopt a deep approach to learning. Without a deep approach to learning students are unlikely to meet the expectations of the Health and Care Professions Council practice standards (2016) nor the College of Occupational Therapists professional standards (2017), which demand that students are able to understand and express the theory and concepts of their clinical and professional practice.

As well as intrinsic factors such as personality traits, Salamonson et al (2012) suggests there are external factors which can help to influence whether a student takes a surface or deep approach to learning, including the role of the teacher. In one of the PGCAP sessions, we discussed Biggs and Tang (2011) ‘levels of teaching according to how students learn’ and how this can explain the role of the teacher in the learning environment. In summary, the role of a level 1 teacher is to ‘transmit knowledge’ (Biggs and Tang 2011). At level 2 the role continues to be about transmitting knowledge, however the focus is on transmitting information about ‘concepts and understanding’ (Biggs and Tang 2011). Finally, at level 3, the role of the teacher is concerned with identifying what the students need to learn, thinking about how they will know the student have learnt, and delivering the learning in the most effective way.

On reflection, prior to starting the PGCAP I feel my particular strength as the teacher was my ability to use 20 years of clinical practice to put the learning material in the context of the real world. However, in terms of my approach to teaching I was only operating between a level 1 and a level 2 teacher. If I am to encourage students to adopt a deep approach to learning then my role has to facilitate a learning environment that encourages it. Given Ramsden (2003) previous description of what a deep approach to learning ‘looks like’, I am more likely to support students to take a deep approach to learning if my teaching role enables me to operate as a level 3 teacher. I feel I have begun the transition from level 2 to level 3. This change has resulted because I am now considering ‘what it means for students to understand’ the content that I am teaching (Biggs and Tang 2011), particularly using the intended learning outcomes to ensure that I do this.

Intended learning outcomes (ILO) have their critics. For example, in a Times Higher Education (THE) blog, the author describes how they have a negative effect on teacher student relationship, interfere with the ‘art’ of teaching, and fosters a ‘culture of cynicism’ (THE 2012). Despite these criticisms, as a novice teacher I initially found ILOs a useful tool for monitoring and auditing whether the learning material I designed aligned with what I thought I needed to teach. However, Hussey and Smith (2003) advise against this approach as the ILOs developed in this way do not focus learning experience from the student perspective. Instead, Biggs and Tang (2011) suggest to writing the ILO’s should be written from the student’s perspective, in particular they should reflect what the students are expected to understand or do ‘as a result of engaging in the learning experience’. To write ILO’s from the student perspective, I am now choosing from Blooms Taxonomy that are more specific to understanding and performance from the student’s perspectives. Hopefully, the difference in the way I now approach writing ILOs can be seen from the table below, which compare my ILO pre and post the PGCAP session on learning outcomes.

ILO Pre-PGCAP ILO Post-PGAP session on ILO
Objectives of this session are:

• Identify why occupational therapists need to use a process in professional practice.

•       Consider the elements contained in the OTIPM.

•       Consider how the OTIPM supports professional practice.

 

By the end of this session you should be able to demonstrate you can :

·         Explain why occupational therapists need to use a process in professional practice.

·         List the elements contained in the OTIPM.

·         Describe how the OTIPM process supports professional practice.

Hussey and Smith (2003) identify the importance of ensuring congruence between the ILO’s and the learning activities employed in the learning environment. Ramsden (2003) and Biggs and Tang (2011) suggest alongside ILO, the right type of learning activity can enable a level 3 approach to teaching. I am fortunate to work in a department where the programme has been designed to support the use of learning activities that promote a level 3 approach. In particular, problem based learning is used. Understanding learning through the lens of constructivist theory I can now see how problem based learning and the tools we employ in the learning environment has the potential to change the way students ‘see the world’ (Biggs and Tang 2011). However, despite the benefits of problem based learning discussed in my first blog, I have been critical of the use of this approach following feedback from students reporting they did not value the experience provided by this form of learning. On reflection, I think the feedback from students is symptomatic of a number of issues within the wider teaching environment, which influences the my ability to operate as a level 3 teacher. The remainder of this blog focuses on these issues.

Having discussed the importance of ILOs, Savin-Baden and Major (2003) discuss the role they play in ensuring students have an understanding of how activities used to support problem based learning (PBL)  informs their learning. However, informal student feedback from when I facilitate PBL feedback sessions indicates that students do not always see the relevance of what they are doing. On reflection, the cause of this issue tends to lie with those teachers supporting the feedback of the PBL activity. More often than not, the teacher who is involved in briefing the students at the beginning is only able to facilitate the feedback of one group. The remainder of the groups are facilitated by other teaching staff, and like myself, they are not always fully briefed as to what the ILO are and how they should approach the feedback, as recommended by Savery (2007). Whilst I can take action to ensure I make the link between the ILO and the PBL activity, I do not have influence over what other teaching staff do, which is a problem because different students potentially will then have different learning experiences.

Another issue with PBL, as well as other teaching methods we use in the programme, is the university environment. It has been identified that the design of the teaching environment influences a student’s engagement in the learning experience (Scott-Webber et al 2007). To engage in group activities (which we frequently use as part of PBL and other aspects of teaching) it is recommended the environment facilitates students being able to position themselves to be able to participate a member of the group (Tiberius 1999). Unfortunately, the rooms allocated for these session are not always appropriate for facilitating group work, thus there is a danger the environment does not promote student learning and engagement.

Furthermore, whilst universities and other higher educational institutions are being encourage to ensure teaching and assessments cater for a diverse student population (HEA 2012); this is not always possible on the occupational therapy programme I teach on. Whilst we actively support students with educational, physical, and mental health needs, the timetabling process often creates a barrier for a significant number of our students, who are predominately female, have young families, and work part-time. Because of managing the increasing number of students and courses, module leaders have to accept timetabling decisions that do not meet the needs of this group of students. For this reason, students attending evening teaching sessions are often unhappy about this situation and it could be argued that their frame of mind is a barrier to learning.

Although the problems discussed above could act as potential barriers to achieving a level 3 approach to teaching, Jackson (2005) appears to suggest creativity in higher education is a potential solution. For Jackson (2005) creativity is a method for encouraging deep approach to learning. At an individual level, Jackson (2005) identifies how teachers can facilitate their own creativity in the learning environment. From Jackson’s list, I am demonstrating my own creativity in the learning environment in the following ways:

  • The PGCAP course and the use of the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education is helping me to reflect on my own practice and I am taking positive action to improve my teaching.
  • I use my previous clinical skills to ‘reveal something of [myself] in the teaching process’.

Jackson (2005) also identifies how there is a need to introduce creativity at a curriculum and programme level. Applying this to my situation, as the issues with the teaching environment and timetabling is because of the current structure of the programme and modules, I can see how Jackson’s suggestion of allowing ‘students to work in new and interesting ways’, could be an opportunity to re-think what we currently do. For example, I could see how the theory of flip learning, where students undertake individual learning before moving into the group situation for in-depth exploration of the learning material (Flipped Learning Network 2017), would better frame the learning we are trying to achieve through PBL. Furthermore, through the ‘flipped classroom’ we could make better use of on-line resources, reducing the demands we currently place on campus facilities. However, as with all new approaches to learning, flipped learning has its challenges such as students being able and then motivated to access the learning material, and teachers ability to develop the resources to implement this method of teaching (Mull 2012).

The professional conversation was a positive experience because it has helped me to see the connections between teaching, learning, assessment, feedback, learning activities and what I bring to the teaching role. Based on this reflection and what I have learnt from the reading material discussed above, I have identify the following action to develop my own role and skills as a teacher in higher education – the letters in brackets demonstrates how this action links to dimensions in the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education:

  • I will continue to implement the action points identified in the previous shorter blogs (A5).
  • I will use the second module of the PGCAP to explore online, and other digital tools, to evaluate ways technology can be used to creatively design, implement, and enhance the student learning experience (A2, K2, K4).
  • I will use my monthly meetings with my mentor to ensure my ILO and other areas of teaching practice support a level 3 approach to learning. This will also support my on-going learning (A5, K5).
  • Before using pre-existing learning material, developed by other staff members, I will take time to evaluate the materials to ensure I have a full understanding of the ILO’s (A1, K6).
  • Before using pre-existing learning material, developed by other staff members, I will take time to evaluate the materials and adapt it to ensure the learning activities are congruent with the ILOs (A1, K5).
  • In the programme development days, which occur each semester, I will positively challenge the delivery of the programme in order that we provide an environment that supports student learning (V4).

References

 

Biggs, J.B., Tang, C., 2011. Teaching for quality learning at university. London: McGraw-Hill Education.

College of Occupational Therapists., 2017. Professional Standards for Occupational Therapy Practice. London: College of Occupational Therapists.

Flipped Learning Network Hub., 2017. Definition of Flipped Learning – Flipped Learning Network Hub. [online] Available at: http://flippedlearning.org/definition-of-flipped-learning/ [Accessed 11 Jan. 2017].

Health and Care Professional Council., 2017. HCPC – Health and Care Professions Council – Standards of proficiency. [online] Available at: http://www.hpc-uk.org/aboutregistration/standards/standardsofproficiency/ [Accessed 18 Jan. 2017].

Higher Education Academey,. 2012. A Marked Improvement A Marked Improvement | Higher Education Academy. [online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resource/marked-improvement [Accessed 5 Jan. 2017].

Higher Education Academey,. 2011. UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) | Higher Education Academy. [online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf [Accessed 10 November 2016].

Hussey, T. and Smith, P., 2003. The uses of learning outcomes. Teaching in higher education8(3), pp.357-368.

Jackson, N., 2005. Making higher education a more creative place. Journal for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching.

Mull, B., (2012). Flipped Learning: A response to 5 Criticisms -What’s Flipped Learning?. [online] Available at: http://novemberlearning.com/educational-resources-for-educators/teaching-and-learning-articles/flipped-learning-a-response-to-five-common-criticisms-article/ [Accessed 6 Jan. 2017].

Ramsden, P., 2003. Learning to teach in higher education. London: Routledge.

Savery, J.R., 2006. Overview of problem-based learning: Definitions and distinctions. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 1(1), p.3.

Salamonson, Y., Weaver, R., Chang, S., Koch, J., Bhathal, R., Khoo, C. and Wilson, I., 2013. Learning approaches as predictors of academic performance in first year health and science students. Nurse Education Today, 33(7), pp.729-733.

Savin-Baden, M., 2003. Facilitating Problem-Based Learning. UK: McGraw-Hill Education

Scott-Webber, L., Strickland, A. and Kapitula, L.R., 2013. Built environments impact behaviors: Results of an active learning post-occupancy evaluation. Planning for Higher Education, 42(1), p.28.

Times Higher Education (THE). (2012). The unhappiness principle. [online] Available at: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/the-unhappiness-principle/421958.article [Accessed 6 Jan. 2017].

Tiberius, R.G., 2013. Small group teaching: A trouble-shooting guide. London: Routledge.