Post by Category : Higher education

The essential role of educational sciences for innovations in university teaching  0

Recently NWO release a new funding call for educational innovation projects, labelled “Scholarship of teaching and Learning”. This is an interesting funding opportunity for academics who would like to strengthen their teaching. Academic teachers can apply for funds to put their innovative teaching ideas into practice. And indeed this is a good opportunity to get your funding for those teaching ideas you have been waiting to implement. This also is the time to re-think your teaching and teaching ideas and put them to the test.

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The pedagogy of hope in times of crises  0

Photo: Akil Mazumber. on Pexels

Last week I visited Germany for my study around the climate crisis and the issue of hope. One German student said: Can’t we as teachers just tell students to become vegetarians to save the planet? 

What do you think, would it be a solution, or wise, to tell students what to eat, drink, vote, do or think in order to bring about change? I mean, shouldn’t we do  something as we know that studies about the effects of climate change on young people reveal that pessimism, guilt, hopelessness and fear are common in the new generation?

 

Bringing about change in times of the many present day crises with all the doom stories and anxiety is an interesting, yet challenging research topic. Interestingly,  precisely in the midst of complex crises, those who provide education have a crucial role: to make the new generation appear to the world as powerful and innovative (Arendt, 1958). To not reinforce fear or impose what to do or think, but have the new generation discover from hope that a different future is possible and that even a crisis includes profound problems-though complex and intractable- for which solutions can be found. A focus on hope is key!

 

Hope as a construct has received attention from many different angles, such as psychology, theology, philosophy and recently even famous primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall (2021). Yet, although many authors endorse the need and importance of hope, to date there has been little innovation in the ways in which hope can have a practical impact and lead to change, let alone in education. In my research project, hope has been incorporated into a pedagogy of hope. It holds several powerful design principles for a pedagogy of hope stemming from pilots in teacher education institutes in both the Netherlands and Germany and is now tested in the context of the climate crisis. Around this climate crisis, pre-service teachers are known to feel very committed to teaching the topic, but at the same time concerned and anxious about the climate themselves and ignorant in how to provide hopeful and effective teaching about the climate crisis in their secondary school internship classes (Bean, 2016).

 

The pedagogy of hope was implemented in a Dutch and German teacher education institute. The preliminary outcomes show that participants were able to formulate specific intentions that are both directed toward hope for the climate as well as easy to implement in their actual teaching in secondary education. Also, many intentions show to be action-oriented and participants often used their creativity to find non-traditional ways of conveying climate hope. We also found hindrances for teaching hopefully, such as not enough time, curriculum coverage and a lacking attention in textbooks for climate change and climate hope. Also, the different opinions that others could have could make it a controversial issue to teach in school.

 

On to the next steps!

 

Michiel Dam, researcher at ICLON, LTA teaching fellow

Hoopvol klimaatonderwijs – Universiteit Leiden

Vijf nieuwe Teaching Fellows benoemd – Universiteit Leiden

 

References

Arendt, H. (1958). The crisis in education. In H. Arendt (Ed.), Between the past and present. (pp. 101-124). Leuven/Apeldoorn: Garant.

Bean, H. J. (2016). Pre-Service Teachers and Climate Change: A Stalemate? Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 41(4).

Goodall, J. & Abrams, D. (2021). The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times. Celadon books: New York city, New York.

The Negative Consequences of Multiple Choice Testing for Student Learning  0

Exam” by albertogp123 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

 

Multiple choice (MC) testing is generally viewed as an efficient way of assessing student knowledge. Up until today it has been a very popular assessment format in higher education. Especially in courses where a large number of students are enrolled, the MC format is often used as it allows for fast and reliable grading. Not surprisingly, as an educational consultant and teacher trainer much of my work has revolved around supporting teachers in creating and/or improving their MC assessments. Throughout the years, I have taught numerous training sessions on Testing and Assessment for the University Teacher Qualification at Leiden University. On the one hand these training sessions are designed to teach best practices, but at the same time the sessions are also designed to cater to teacher needs. As such, a large part of the sessions is focused on giving teachers instructions and tips on how to create good MC questions. To be sure, I have always managed to squeeze in some discussion on the downsides and many limitations of MC testing as well. But still… It always kept me feeling a bit uneasy. In giving the instructions that the program compelled me to, I might have inadvertently been endorsing this practice more than I would have wanted. Thus, this blogpost will be as much repentance as it is a cautionary exposition about some of the negative consequences that MC testing can have on student learning.

 

There are multiple reasons for why MC exams could be considered as detrimental for student learning. For instance, one often heard criticism is that the recognition-based MC exam format will often result in students preparing for exams in a superficial way. Furthermore, one could argue that the ecological validity of MC exams is low and not representative of real-world situations. Also, the MC test format is by design not suitable for assessing higher levels of learning. These kind of objections are well-known and they have also received considerable attention in the University teacher Qualification courses on testing and assessment taught at Leiden University. I am not going to reiterate them extensively in this blogpost. Instead, I will discuss one particularly negative consequence of MC testing that I think is often neglected: the misinformation effect.

 

The misinformation effect

Before we consider the misinformation effect in the context of MC testing, we will first take a step back and consider some general research on the workings of human memory and how misinformation can result in misremembering. One of the first general demonstrations of the misinformation effect was provided by Loftus & Palmer (1974). In Experiment 2 of their seminal study, participants watched a short video clip of a car accident. After watching the video, participants were asked to give an estimate of the speed of the cars that were involved in the accident. Half of the participants were asked to estimate the speed of the cars when they smashed into each other, while the other half of participants estimated the speed for when the cars hit each other. The subtle change of the verb used in the question resulted in a difference in the reported speed: Participants estimated the speed to have been higher when they were in the smashed condition. More importantly, one week after giving the speed estimates, participants returned and were asked to indicate whether they remembered seeing broken glass in the video. Interestingly, participants in the smashed condition were much more likely to report having seen broken glass even though there was none to be seen in the video.

 

The results from the Loftus & Palmer study are often cited in the context of the reliability of eye-witness testimonies (and the effects that leading questions can have on misremembering). More  importantly, the results are also taken as evidence in support for the idea that human memory is reconstructive in nature. During the retrieval of information from memory we reconstruct what we have previously experienced. When previously exposed to some form of misinformation, the process of reconstruction can result in substantial misremembering of previous experiences.

 

The misinformation effect in the context of MC questions

In the Loftus & Palmer (1974) study, the degree to which participants were exposed to misinformation was rather subtle (i.e., a small change of verb in the leading question). However, if we now consider the situation of an MC exam, the degree of exposure to misinformation seems much more extreme. A typical MC question will often have four alternatives for students to choose from of which the majority (usually three) is incorrect. Thus, by using MC exams, we are intentionally exposing our students to misinformation. MC exams are designed to do just that. Surely, you could argue that the negative consequences of MC exams might be less severe, because students are aware that they are being exposed to misinformation. They are going into the exam expecting this. However, in preparation of the exam, the teacher has also taken careful consideration of phrasing erroneous answers in such a way that they are plausible. Teachers are instructed to formulate alternatives that students are likely to mistakenly select as the correct one. By exposing students to misinformation in the context of MC exams, teachers might very well be sacrificing student learning for the sake of fast and reliable grading.

 

In a later study by Roediger & Marsh (2005)  the consequences of MC testing on student learning was investigated. In their experiment, participants studied short prose passages (or not) and were subsequently tested on the materials (or not) using MC questions with a number of alternatives ranging from 2 – 6. One week later participants returned and received an open-ended short answer test. Going into the test, participants were also given explicit instructions not to guess. First of all, the results on the 1-week test showed that the consequences of MC testing were not all bad: Taking a MC test increased the retention of (correct) information. This finding, also referred to as the testing effect, is well-established in the literature and has often been replicated across different test formats and settings (e.g., Rowland, 2014). On the other hand, however, being exposed to misinformation in the MC test, also increased the production of erroneous answers on the 1-week short answer test. The degree to which participants produced erroneous (MC) answers tended to increase as the number of alternatives of the MC test increased. Note that this was the case even though participants had received explicit instructions not to guess on the short answer test. Clearly, the misinformation effect is not just relevant in the context of eye witness testimonies, but also in the context of assessment in higher education. MC exams can have an adverse effect on student learning in the sense that students can mistakenly recall incorrect answer options at a later point in time. Later research (Butler & Roediger, 2008) has shown that the misinformation effect as a result of MC testing can be reduced by giving students direct feedback (either after each individual question or after taking an entire test). However, in my experience, summative MC exams in higher education usually don’t provide immediate feedback to students. In the absence of corrective feedback, students might stay under the impression that their erroneous responses on a test were correct.

 

To end on a positive note, there are promising alternatives for MC exams that teachers are exploring. For instance, at the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) some teachers have started using Very Short Answer Questions (VSAQs) on exams as a substitute for MC questions. Among others, dr. Alexandra Langers (Leiden University Teaching Fellow), and her PhD student Elise van Wijk have started investigating the consequences of VSAQ exam format. VSAQs require students to generate short (1 – 4 word) answers to exam questions. Compared to MC questions, VSAQs require retrieval of correct answers rather than simple recognition and as such these type of questions can be more conducive for student learning. Because answers are short, VSAQs will still allow for some degree of automatic scoring (for some predetermined “correct” responses). This can keep grading time acceptable even for teachers with large classes. Some of the findings of the VSAQ research project have recently been published in an article in PLOS ONE. Replicating previous findings (Sam et al., 2018), van Wijk et al., (2023) demonstrate that VSAQ exams can have added benefits over MC tests in terms of higher reliability and discriminability. In addition, van Wijk at al. found that the average grading time per individual VSAQ was around two minutes. This seems very acceptable considering the cohort in the study consisted of more than 300 students. Hopefully, initiatives like the one at LUMC will pave the way for other teachers to start using assessment types that can be more supportive of student learning.

 

References

Butler, A. C., Roediger, H. L. (2008). Feedback enhances the positive effects and reduces the negative effects of multiple-choice testing. Memory & Cognition, 36, 604–616. https://doi.org/10.3758/MC.36.3.604

 

Loftus, E. F., & Palmer, J. C. (1974). Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of Verbal Learning & Verbal Behavior, 13, 585–589. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-5371(74)80011-3

 

Roediger, H. L., & Marsh, E. J. (2005). The positive and negative consequences of multiple-choice testing. Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition, 31, 1155–1159. https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.31.5.1155

 

Rowland C. A. (2014). The effect of testing versus restudy on retention: a meta-analytic review of the testing effect. Psychological bulletin, 140, 1432–1463. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0037559

 

Sam, A. H., Field, S. M., Collares, C .F., van der Vleuten, C. P. M., Wass, V. J., Melville, C., Harris, J., & Meeran, K. (2018), Very-short-answer questions: reliability, discrimination and acceptability. Med Educ, 52, 447-455. https://doi.org/10.1111/medu.13504

 

van Wijk, E. V., Janse, R. J., Ruijter, B. N., Rohling J. H. T., van der Kraan J., Crobach, S., de Jonge, M., de Beaufort, A. J., Dekker, F. W., Langers, A. M. J. (2023). Use of very short answer questions compared to multiple choice questions in undergraduate medical students: An external validation study. PLOS ONE, 18, e0288558. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0288558

Rethinking Teacher Quality in University: Embracing Teacher Agency  2

Max Kusters & Arjen de Vetten

Introduction

How often have you referred to a teacher as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in your school career? When assessing teacher quality, we often struggle with subjective judgments and varying criteria. Is a teacher considered good because they explain well? Or because the teacher’s students obtain high scores? Perhaps it depends on positive evaluations from students. In this research blog, we aim to redefine the way we assess the quality of university educators and propose a shift toward embracing teacher agency. We argue that educators should be seen as experts in their field, who can not only meet the needs of students but also foster innovation. Educators’ willingness to take responsibility and contribute to institutional progress can significantly foster a transformative educational environment. In this regard, educators transcend their traditional role as mere providers of education and instead become facilitators of educational innovation and development.

Shortcoming of current methods

The current methods of assessing the quality of university educators have been widely criticized. For instance, several studies raise concerns about the interpretation and usefulness of Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET) ratings. These studies revealed that SET ratings were significantly influenced by students’ perceptions of their educators, thereby calling into question the validity of this specific assessment tool (see Shevlin et al., 2000 and Spooren et al., 2013 for examples).

There are also educational concerns, for example, that current assessment methods do not contribute to educators’ professional development. Among other things, assessment methods are often criticized for providing little or no constructive feedback. Without this, educators may find it difficult to improve their teaching methods or address weaknesses. Moreover, critics argue that current assessments often fail to take into account the teaching context, such as subject matter, class size, level (bachelor’s or master’s), and student diversity and background. Each of these factors can significantly affect teaching methods and outcomes and should be considered when assessing educators. Moreover, current assessment methods neglect broader purposes of teaching, such as the value of mentorship and creating an inclusive learning environment.

In some institutions, however, there is already a focus on a more holistic approach that integrates different sources of feedback, such as peer evaluations and self-reflection, to gain a more accurate understanding of teacher effectiveness, for example during the University Teaching Qualification track. The ability to reflect on what works and what does not work, and to understand why, is invaluable to teacher quality. Therefore, universities play a crucial role in promoting these skills, as these skills must be recognized and valued by policy makers by reflecting them in assessments. A change to holistic assessment of educators emphasizes effective teaching and the long-term effect educators can have on student growth. Educators need to actively pursue their own development and make informed choices in any given situation, highlighting the significance of teacher agency in discussions about teacher quality.

Embracing Teacher Agency

Embracing teacher agency in the evaluation of teacher quality is crucial for fostering a culture of innovation, growth, and student-centered education. Teacher agency refers to the ability of educators to make intentional choices and take purposeful actions in their teaching practice. It involves educators’ capacity to initiate and control the learning environment, make informed pedagogical decisions in any given situation, and collaborate with colleagues and students. Teacher agency is often seen as a key factor in promoting effective teaching and learning in higher education. By recognizing and valuing teacher agency, universities can tap into the expertise and unique perspectives of their educators.

Moreover, teacher agency encourages continuous professional development. When educators have the autonomy to explore and experiment with different instructional strategies, they are more inclined to seek out new research, attend workshops, collaborate with colleagues, and reflect on their own teaching practices. This proactive approach to professional growth ultimately benefits both educators and students, as it promotes a culture of lifelong learning and innovation within the educational institution.

Embracing teacher agency also cultivates a sense of trust and collaboration between faculty members and administration. Rather than imposing rigid evaluation criteria, universities can create opportunities for open dialogue, feedback, and collaboration, allowing educators to take an active role in shaping their own professional growth and the overall direction of the institution.

Conclusion

In conclusion, embracing teacher agency is a powerful facilitator for elevating teacher quality in universities. By empowering educators to exercise their expertise, make informed decisions, and engage in continuous professional development, universities can foster a dynamic and student-centered educational environment that nurtures innovation, growth, and excellence in teaching and learning. It is essential to engage in an active debate about the assessment of educational quality and challenge the predominant reliance on quantitative evaluations such as SET. Recognizing the complexity of assessing teacher quality, we propose a paradigm shift towards valuing teacher agency in universities. By fostering a culture that empowers educators, promotes collaboration, and encourages continuous learning, we can unlock the potential for lasting educational reforms. Embracing teacher agency is crucial for assessing educators’ quality effectively. By involving educators in the assessment process and valuing their expertise, autonomy, and professional judgment, we can create a more meaningful evaluation system. Practically, this can be achieved through collaborative goal setting, self-reflection and self-assessment, peer observations and feedback, diverse assessment methods, and continuous professional development. By recognizing educators as professionals and empowering them to take an active role in their own assessment, we create a comprehensive and empowering process that benefits both educators and students. Embracing teacher agency thus not only benefits individual educators, but also fosters an educational environment characterized by its dynamic and student-centered nature. It promotes innovation, encourages growth and strives for excellence in both teaching and learning. And that’s what we call: good teaching!

References

Biesta, G., Priestley, M., & Robinson, S. (2017). Talking about education: Exploring the significance of teachers’ talk for teacher agency. Journal of curriculum studies49(1), 38-54.

Cherng, H. Y. S., & Davis, L. A. (2019). Multicultural matters: An investigation of key assumptions of multicultural education reform in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education70(3), 219-236.

Harris, A., & Jones, M. (2019). Teacher leadership and educational change. School Leadership & Management39(2), 123-126.

Imants, J., & Van der Wal, M. M. (2020). A model of teacher agency in professional development and school reform. Journal of Curriculum Studies52(1), 1-14.

Kusters, M., van der Rijst, R., de Vetten, A., & Admiraal, W. (2023). University lecturers as change agents: How do they perceive their professional agency?. Teaching and Teacher Education, 127, 104097.

Shevlin, M., Banyard, P., Davies, M., & Griffiths, M. (2000). The validity of student evaluation of teaching in higher education: love me, love my lectures?. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education25(4), 397-405.

Spooren, P., Brockx, B., & Mortelmans, D. (2013). On the validity of student evaluation of teaching: The state of the art. Review of Educational Research83(4), 598-642.

Tao, J., & Gao, X. (2017). Teacher agency and identity commitment in curricular reform. Teaching and teacher education63, 346-355.

Passing the Buck — Blended Learning and Technology are both Accused of Low-Quality Education  0

This is from https://communitycomputerservices.com/does-a-broken-screen-mean-your-laptop-is-doomed/

Higher education institutions have adopted blended learning to actualize the benefits brought by technology. Specifically, the flexibility of learning afforded by blended courses make learning less dependent on specific space and time (Graham, 2006), and instructional method (Harding, 2012). In addition, blended learning is regarded as a more cost-effective approach than fully on-campus teaching (Harding, 2012). In addition to these potential benefits brought by blended learning, blended learning also provides a context in which students need to adapt themselves from the online environment to on-campus learning environments (Chiu, 2021) which at the same time, puts forward new requirements for teaching. Although many factors like teachers’ interaction with technology, academic workload, institutional environment, interactions with students, the instructor’s attitudes, and beliefs about teaching, and opportunities for professional development (Brown, 2016) are identified as factors influencing teachers’ adoption of blended learning, the institutional environment can always stand out in an authentic educational context. Many teachers are encouraged to use blended learning without thinking about whether it is aligned with their teaching goal and usually expect much from blended learning before they go to the classroom.

 

Potentials of blended learning

 

Blended learning is a balance of online learning and on-campus learning activities (Siemens, Gašević, & Dawson, 2015). Compared to on-campus and online learning, blended learning (through a Learning Management System) enables students to access learning materials whenever and wherever they want (Moskal, Dziuban, & Hartman, 2013) without the loss of obtaining in-person support and instruction in the classroom (Graham, Allen, & Ure, 2005). Additionally, blended learning can provide more effective instructional strategies to meet the course objectives than only online learning or fully on-campus learning (Graham et al., 2005; Morgan, 2002). This is probably because students can tailor their path of learning based on the personalized options afforded by blended learning (Medina, 2018). It can also improve students’ sense of belonging more than either on-campus or online learning (Rovai & Jordan, 2004). Zhu, Berri, and Zhang (2021) elaborated that, on the one hand, students may feel less disconnected because, with a blended learning situation, students can meet occasionally. On the other hand, they can have interactions and immediate feedback because they are interconnected on the online platform.

 

Challenges in Blended Learning

 

However, there are also many challenges in blended learning environments. Blended learning can be problematic if not appropriately designed and utilized. Even if appropriately designed and utilized it does not necessarily lead to the desired goal (Fisher, Perényi, & Birdthistle, 2021). Specifically, finding the optimal “blend” and coordinating all the elements is challenging for instructional designers and teachers of blended learning (Kaur, 2013). If the “blend” is not well-designed students will encounter difficulties in navigating between online learning and on-campus learning. Furthermore, there are technical challenges regarding ensuring student performance and achievement by utilizing and supporting appropriate technologies. In addition, isolation in online learning environments and distraction by non-academic online activities can hinder students’ engagement (Rasheed, Kamsin, & Abdullah, 2020). A crucial element is the amount of guidance and feedback in blended learning compared to on-campus learning due to the reduced in-person time with peers and teachers (Heinze & Procter, 2004). In all, blended learning requires more self-regulation skills and technology literacy than on-campus learning (Rasheed et al., 2020).

 

Technology as a Scapegoat

 

Ironically, although both advantages and disadvantages are afforded with the blended model, many stakeholders, like academics, course designers, and teachers, easily blamed technology for low engagement, increasing workload, and the failure of teaching. Specifically, some institutions and teachers were very glad when they heard they were allowed to return to campus. A teacher mentioned that she did not like teaching online with synchronous interaction because she felt that, to a large extent, she lost her control in building emotional bonds with students.

 

The distrust of technology and blended learning is very disappointing, especially to educational specialists who have invested huge amounts of energy in making blended learning more effective in learning. Joe O’Hara, a full professor of education at Dublin City University (DCU) and the president of the European Educational Research Association, commented “The ‘new normal? Two years of innovation and hard work consigned to the dustbin of (educational) history” under the news of “While some schools may close this week if local conditions are poor, they have been told days must be made up by cutting non-tuition activities.”

 

To be honest, we always have the problem of making education more effective. Teachers did not have scapegoats like technology to blame in the past rather than their own course design. It is always not the fault of any educational elements hindering the effectiveness of education. What really matters is how we use them in teaching and learning. To be specific, before deciding on using blended learning, think about how it can support the learning goals, fit specific learning tasks and facilitate the learning process.

 

Conclusions

 

There are no ways for us to go back to traditional teaching with the 2-year influence of online and blended learning during the pandemic. We highly recommend that teachers and course designers be more agentic in blended courses to make the best use of blended learning.

 

 

References

 

Brown, M. G. (2016). Blended instructional practice: A review of the empirical literature on instructors’ adoption and use of online tools in face-to-face teaching. The Internet and Higher Education, 31, 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2016.05.001

Chiu, T. K. (2021). Digital support for student engagement in blended learning based on self-determination theory. Computers in Human Behavior, 124, 106909.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2021.106909

Fisher, R., Perényi, Á., & Birdthistle, N. (2021). The positive relationship between flipped and blended learning and student engagement, performance and satisfaction. Active Learning in Higher Education, 22(2), 97–113. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787418801702

Graham, C. R. (2006). Blended learning systems. In Curtis J. Bonk, Charles R. Graham (Eds.), The handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs, 1, pp. 3-21. Wiley Publishers.

Graham, C. R., Allen, S., & Ure, D. (2005). Benefits and challenges of blended learning environments. In M. Khosrow-Pour, Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, First Edition (pp. 253-259). IGI Global.

Kaur, M. (2013). Blended learning-its challenges and future. Procedia-social and behavioral sciences, 93, 612-617. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.09.248

Harding, M. (2012). Efficacy of supplemental instruction to enhance student success. Teaching and learning in Nursing, 7(1), 27-31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.teln.2011.07.002

Heinze, A., & Procter, C. T. (2004). Reflections on the use of blended learning. http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/1658/1/4247745025H__CP_-_paper9_5.pdf

Medina, L. C. (2018). Blended learning: Deficits and prospects in higher education. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 34(1). https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.3100

Morgan, K. R. (2002). Blended Learning: A Strategic Action Plan for a New Campus. Seminole, FL: University of Central Florida.

Moskal, P., Dziuban, C., & Hartman, J. (2013). Blended learning: A dangerous idea? The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 15-23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.12.001

Rasheed, R. A., Kamsin, A., & Abdullah, N. A. (2020). Challenges in the online component of blended learning: A systematic review. Computers & Education, 144, 103701. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103701

Rovai, A. P., & Jordan, H. M. (2004). Blended learning and sense of community: A comparative analysis with traditional and fully online graduate courses. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 5(2), 1-13. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v5i2.192

Joksimović, S., Kovanović, V., Skrypnyk, O., Gašević, D., Dawson, S., & Siemens, G. (2015). The history and state of online learning (pp. 95-131). In G. Siemens, D. Gašević, & S. Dawson, S. (Eds.), Preparing for the digital university: A review of the history and current state of distance, blended, and online learning, pp. 55-92. Retrieved from http://linkresearchlab.org/PreparingDigitalUniversity.pdf

Zhu, M., Berri, S., & Zhang, K. (2021). Effective instructional strategies and technology use in blended learning: A case study. Education and Information Technologies, 26(5), 6143-6161. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-021-10544-w

The featured image is from “Does a Broken Screen Mean Your Laptop Is Doomed https://communitycomputerservices.com/does-a-broken-screen-mean-your-laptop-is-doomed/

 

The research team

Linyuan Wang, PhD candidate (ICLON, Leiden University)

Dr. Arjen de Vetten (ICLON, Leiden University)

Prof. Wilfried Admiraal (Oslo Metropolitan University)

Prof. Roeland van der Rijst (ICLON, Leiden University)

 

Stay connected! Students’ sense of belonging in higher education  0

Students’ access, inclusiveness and well-being

Not all students enter university with the same economic, social and cultural capital. Therefore, access, inclusiveness and well-being for all are key in developments in higher education across the world. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are part of the broader social tissue and not just places where students acquire academic skills; they also help students become more resilient in the face of adversity and feel more connected with the people around them. Not least, HEIs are the first place where students experience society in all its facets, and those experiences can have a profound influence on students’ attitudes and behavior in life.

Importance of students’ sense of belonging

As higher education becomes increasingly competitive, students come under more pressure to succeed in their grades, which increases their levels of stress. Stress has been linked to mental health problems, which are highly prevalent among the student population and have been shown to impact learning and well-being (Stallman & King, 2016). A number of factors can affect student retention and well-being, including the student’s social experience within the higher education environment. Students’ sense of belonging to their institutions – personal feelings of connectedness to the institution occurring in academic and social spheres – has come to be recognized as one of the most significant factors in students’ success and retention in higher education. While individual characteristics such as personality and propensity to connect may have some impact, it is also acknowledged that institutional factors play an important role. Elements such as the culture of the university or curriculum design may affect the students’ experiences, including their sense of belonging and connection to other students, staff and the institution (Kahu & Nelson, 2018).

COVID-19 pandemic

The lockdowns in response to COVID-19 pandemic have interrupted conventional schooling and in many countries online teaching is now a new routine for many students in higher education, but it presents significant challenges. Many students experience challenges with respect to keeping a sense of belonging to their peers, staff and institution. Students in the most marginalized groups, who don’t have access to digital learning resources or lack the resilience and engagement to learn on their own, are at risk of falling behind. Universities from around the world have been uncertain about how long the COVID-19 crisis will last and how it might affect the mental health of students and faculty.

What to do?

Students have to cope with many challenges, both inside and outside HEIs, which can have immense consequences varying from poor access, low engagement and feelings of distress to delays and drop-out. Yet these challenges and consequences can be different depending on students’ social, cultural, economic and language backgrounds leading to a discrepancy between inclusive access and inclusive outcomes. But how should HEIs take up this massive challenge of access, inclusiveness and well-being for all? For sure not the umpteenth study on how students experience higher education in COVID-19 times. More attention for connecting students, socializing activities, and embodying social settings; less lecturing, testing and calls to account. Let’s stay connected to take up this massive challenge!


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Digitalisering hoger onderwijs verkleint toegankelijkheid  0

Aanleiding

Het notaoverleg van de vaste commissie voor Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap over de Strategische Agenda Hoger Onderwijs heeft veel stof doen opwaaien in de sociale media. Zo is er een voorstel van VVD-kamerlid Dennis Wiersma voor digitalisering van colleges. Zo veel mogelijk colleges zouden voor iedereen gratis online beschikbaar moeten komen. Aankomende studenten zouden dan kunnen beoordelen of een bepaalde studie voor hen geschikt is, digitaal onderwijs zou makkelijk kunnen worden gecombineerd met een baan of zorgtaken en mensen hebben zo altijd toegang tot kennis en kunnen bijblijven in hun vak. Vervolgens heeft vooral de opmerking dat het hoger onderwijs dan ook wel wat goedkoper kan, veel reacties opgeroepen. De Minister lijkt overigens niet erg enthousiast te zijn over dit plan, mede omdat zij inschat dat het juist meer geld kost.

 

Problemen bij online onderwijs

Maar waar de discussie eigenlijk over moet gaan is of digitalisering van hoger onderwijs daadwerkelijk de toegankelijkheid tot kennis verbetert. Er moet een onderscheid worden gemaakt tussen onderwijs(aanbod) en leren. Uit de inmiddels omvangrijke kennisbasis over open online hoger onderwijs weten we dat studenten erg verschillen in de reden waarom zij het onderwijs volgen en deze redenen veranderen ook nog eens gedurende een cursus. Ook verschillen zij in hun voorkennis over het onderwerp, hebben zij verschillende voorkeuren om zich kennis en vaardigheden eigen te maken, en denken dat zij verschillend over wat een student en een docent zou moeten doen in onderwijs. En al deze verschillen zijn niet bekend als het open online onderwijs wordt gemaakt en uitgevoerd.

 

 

Zoveel mogelijk aanbod

De oplossing voor al deze verschillen tussen studenten in open online onderwijs is zoveel mogelijk aanbod klaar zetten waaruit iedere student dan een keuze kan maken. Maar onderzoek heeft al aangetoond dat:

  • veel studenten in open online hoger onderwijs deze benodigde zelfregulatievaardigheden om goed hun weg in het aanbod te vinden onvoldoende bezitten;
  • het geboden onderwijs vooral gericht is op kennisoverdracht door de docent, iets waarvan we al veel langer weten dit niet effectief is, en
  • studenten weinig actief bezig zijn met de inhoud van het onderwijs, iets waarvan we al langer weten dat het juist wel werkt.

 

Dus…

Dit leidt ertoe dat in open online hoger onderwijs goede studenten het meeste leren en de minder goede studenten afhaken of uitvallen. De digitalisering van onderwijs vergroot weliswaar de toegankelijkheid van alles wat er is, maar verkleint de toegankelijkheid van het daadwerkelijk verkrijgen van meer kennis en vaardigheden. Een verschil tussen onderwijs(aanbod) en leren.

 

Literatuur

Hendriks, R. A., de Jong, P. G. M., Admiraal, W. F., Reinders, M. E. J. (2019). Teaching modes and social-epistemological dimensions in Medical Massive Open Online Courses: Lessons for integration in campus education. Medical Teacher, 41(8), 917-926.
Hendriks, R. A, Jong, P. G. M., Admiraal, W. F., & Reinders, M. E. J. (2020). Instructional design quality in medical Massive Open Online Courses for integration into campus education. Medical Teacher, 42(2), 156-163.
Jansen, R. (2019). Dealing with autonomy. Self-regulated learning in open online education. Dissertatie. Universiteit Utrecht.
Pilli, O., Admiraal, W., & Salli, A. (2018). MOOCs: Innovation or stagnation? Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 19(3), 169-181.

First impressions as a visiting researcher in Victoria, Australia  1

Last week I was in Melbourne to join researchers from two different universities, namely the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University. An aim of my visit was to present my research findings and to learn about Higher Education and Medical Education in Victoria. Upon arriving in Melbourne I found I was in the right place to meet this goal, at least that’s been said on most license plates (‘Victoria – The education state).

The first thing I’ve learned is that student admission to Higher Education is quite different in Australia. In contrast to Dutch secondary education, there are no central school exams before going into university. Australian universities use students’ Australian Tertiary Admission Rank-score (ATAR), in which grades and subjects are combined to determine each student’s score. For example, if students get an ATAR of 80 it means that they outperform 80 per cent of students. Practically speaking, this might encourage students to choose their subjects strategically in order to be admitted to the best universities. In addition, admission requirements differ between universities which means that science, for instance, is not a required subject to study medicine. I don’t know yet what this means for students’ prior knowledge and how teaching staff goes about this when students start studying at university.

La Trobe University is a 50-year old university, a teaching-intensive university in the beginning although nowadays a research-intensive university. Students from the faculty of humanities are engaged in research in education in, for instance, the Hallmark program in their second undergraduate year. Within this program students conduct research projects in small groups with the duration of one year. The research projects are typically multidisciplinary, which provides challenges for the staff members supervising the projects, since they are used to research within their discipline. I was invited to present a study on fostering student learning in research supervision. This presentation was live at four other campuses through video streaming, which was quite an experience. Afterwards we’ve discussed how to enhance student learning in research within a limited amount of curriculum time. A different issue at La Trobe is students having difficulties understanding the English language. Students at La Trobe are from diverse cultural backgrounds, which has implications for promoting student learning.

The University of Melbourne is the oldest research-intensive university of Australia and I was invited to present at a research group meeting of the (bio)medical school. What I got from this is that the role of research in Medical Education isn’t as clear as we might think. So there is still some work to do (and this comment is useful for the introduction and discussion chapter of my thesis J ). It could be helpful to think about how research integration could prepare students for clinical work, building upon studies into other clinical roles (e.g., health advocate, communicator, scholar) as these roles are often not too appealing for students during education. Furthermore, we’ve discussed how to integrate research into undergraduate medical education. At the University of Melbourne there are generally no research activities in the undergraduate learning environment, except for the final year when students are expected to conduct an individual research project. This could hamper a positive student learning experience and learning outcomes.

The discussions in both universities might have implications for Higher Education as well as Medical Education. Our shared experiences indicate that further studies are needed to clarify what learning goals medical education aims for integrating research in teaching. Furthermore, our experiences illustrate that it is not that straigthforward to integrate research in learning activities in a way that promotes student learning.

Thanks to Hannah Schuerholz, Jan van Driel, David Clarke, Liz Malloy and all others being so generous with their time, comments and support. I had a great time in Melbourne. For the next two weeks I’ll be visiting Susan Howitt at the Australian National University in Canberra.

 

Long time to write short !  1

Lately, I was asked to reduce a paper by 20% to meet the word-count requirements of the target journal. As you might except, this can be a painful task, because you don’t want to lose the body of your writing, but you’ve got no choice if you want to hand the piece in as required. Furthermore, this can be even more painful if you are not native English speaker. To me, the paper was already quite short as a literature review study, but nothing to do! Thus, I decided to consider the ways I could shorten the paper, and as a researcher I strated doing some research on it! Then I found out that I was not the only one ! 🙂 I have read a lot of ways, techniques and to do lists for shortening the academic articles.

In today’s blog post, I would like to share some of the techniques and example to shorten a paper without eliminating anything important with you.

1. Firstly, check the following that might let you reduce the word count without doing any modifications: a) Do the references count? b) Does the appendix count? c) Does the abstract count?

2. Delete, delete, delete …
When you remove some words from any sentence and still it does not change the main idea so definitely remove those words. It may seem difficult at first, but after deleting some words back and read the piece once more, I guarantee that you will see that you have deleted much more words than you guessed.

blog3a. Delete articles, adverbs, adjectives, connectives, propositions, and auxiliary verbs
Occasionally articles are essential to make something specifically clear. Though, often, they’re just fillers and can safely be eliminated if their presence isn’t necessary for clarification. Let’s look at this example,
With articles: He won second place for the best tasting pie, as well as third place for the most original ingredients.
Without articles: He won second place for best tasting pie, as well as third place for most original ingredients.
Adverbs are usually very deletable in academic writing. For example, “dropped rapidly” could be replaced with “plummeted”. Tip ! using ctrl + f to search for “ly” is a quick way to find a lot of adverbs. As an alternative of using adjectives, try to keep your prose clear and straightforward, and get straight to the point. Avoid detailed descriptions unless they are absolutely necessary for following your argument and you are sure that the reader needs the detail. Rather than having longer sentences linked with “and” or “but”, just delete those connectives and have two separate sentences. This will reduce the word count.
Remember ! Keeping everything clear and simple will make this process easier for reader.
Convert chunks of text that use a lot of unnecessary prepositions into rephrased, shorter versions without prepositions: you could replace “functions of technology” with “technology function” . The auxiliary verbs you might want to remove in academic writing are ones like “could”, “may”, “might” and so on.
Do ! Say what you mean directly and drop the extra verbs wherever you can.

b. Eliminating unnecessary spaces
Extra spaces between words, numbers and the percentage sign (%), the degree sign (°), symbols or operators and within numerical ranges and fractions can lead to word count inflation. Example: 55 % → 55% (-1 word)

c. Eliminating wordy transitions
In addition → Additionally, Moreover, Furthermore
In particular, More specifically → Specifically
As a result ,As a consequence → Thus, Therefore, Consequently
On the other hand →Instead, Conversely, Alternatively

3. Cut out repetitive chapter-linking sections
In academic writing, a lot of people have a habit to ‘tie off’ each section with a mini-summary and then ‘refresh’ the reader again in the beginning of the next one. This is redundant and wastes a lot of word count.

blog24. Two-line rule !
Do not extend sentence if you are not a native English speaker like me! The reader can’t remember how the sentence began upon reaching end if sentence is too long. Here is simple rule; don’t let sentence exceed two lines, otherwise split it. We love to use connectives so it would be end up being a very long sentence. Combined sentences turn into twisted just like caterpillars.

5. Write using active voice instead of passive voice
Active voice also typically requires fewer words to convey your ideas.
Passive voice: It was found that protein X activated transcription of gene Y. (11 words)
Active voice: Protein X activated transcription of gene Y. (7 words)

6. Reduce the introduction and conclusion
Two of the important parts of academic papers are the introduction and conclusion as their main function is to summarise the whole work. There’s no need to go into a lot of detail in these sections, that’s what the main body is for. Also remember that you should not include new information in the conclusion, keep it all in the main body.

7. Don’t rewrite data that is already presented in your tables and/or figures
It is acceptable, and typically preferred, to simply refer to your table or figure in the text instead of repeating data in the text that is also presented in either a table or figure. For example, you can simply state “Teacher demographics are described in Table 1.”

8. Review your chapters carefully to remove info or data that is defined in earlierblog4
After you have finished writing your manuscript, go through the entire text again to see if you have repeated any information in more than one section. For example, you may describe your data in the Results section and again in the Discussion. If you find this type of redundant text, it is fine to simply refer back to the original section in which the information or data is discussed. While eliminating this type of redundancy, you should be careful not to eliminate any important points, but, believe me; this helps you to reduce your word count.

9. Avoid starting sentence with “there are” or “there is.”
The phrases “there are” or “there is” are typically unnecessary and can be eliminated entirely. For example: There are no previous studies investigating the relationship between classroom management and student profile. This can be rewritten eliminating “there are” as following. No studies have investigated the relationship between classroom management and student profile.

10. Keep the mode !
Love the tenses. Yes, the study carried out in the past, nevertheless, in the article, when you describe the study using present tense seems more accurate. In fact, this issue is open to debate! But at least we can agree on ending a paragraph with the same tense as you started.

 

To sum up, there are plenty of sources for those who want to find out how to write an academic article in English language. For example, James R. Wilson’s article is the good one to start. Especially, the references at the end offer a nice selection for good academic writing, among all of the references, I definitely recommend The Elements of Style ( EOS ) !

 

Useful Resources
http://www.biosciencewriters.com/
http://www.editage.com/insights/10-tips-to-reduce-the-length-of-your-research-paper
http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Going-Over-an-Essay-Word-Limit
http://kurucz.ca/research/reducing.php

How to Reduce Your Word Count!

Need to shorten your paper?

5 Success Factors of Multilingual Universities  2

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As promised in our last blogpost, in this post we share our view on what makes multilingual universities a success:

1. Promote teaching and learning through multiple languages
There is sometimes a tendency to promote the idea that being a multilingual university today means adopting English as the main language of instruction and marginalising courses taught in the national language. This is not the vision of multilingualism we imagine. As mentioned in one of the responses to our previous blogpost, our concept of a multilingual university is one that supports teaching and learning in the national language and additional languages. Decisions as to which language is used in which course will depend on the needs of the students, the program goals and the University profile.

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