Online-learning including self-tests and peer review

Active learning and increasing student numbers

Short Description

Experiences in prior years showed that the high-level learning outcomes and the diversity of active learning activities can be overwhelming for students (in four weeks). Students are expected to acquire, apply and reflect upon knowledge, skills and competencies, during in-class and out-of-class activities. In big groups and short time, the possibility to keep track of learning processes of students and to provide personalized feedback on (group) assignments is limited. Also, stimulating blended learning, with different out-of-class activities (e.g. questions on papers, quizzes, short videos) is known to be more stimulating than only providing traditional lectures and reading materials. So we redesigned the course .

Objective

The aim of the project is 1) to develop and implement online-learning activities, including self-tests and 2) to organize peer review. Main reasons for the redesign are:

  • To stimulate active learning processes. Online-learning activities help students to actively keep track of their learning processes. Self-tests with personalized feedback helps them to improve their skills and competencies. Peer review teaches students to assess each other’s and their own work, to provide feedback in a constructive way and to collaborate. As such, peer review in groups is an effective reflection method, in line with the intended learning outcomes of this course. 
  • The on-going increase in student enrolment in this course (in the coming years about 80 students). Online learning activities and peer review contribute to an active learning environment. Students continue to receive high quality feedback, even when increasing students numbers make detailed personal feedback more challenging for the teacher.

Strong Points

  • We prepared online materials provided online: information, videos, etc for meetings. Students were well prepared in advance, e.g. for discussions. Compared to the year before, we as teachers experienced that student were prepared for the meetings and that their contribution to the discussions were of a higher level.
  • Two self-tests have been developed and made available to students. Students were very positive about these tests as they knew in advance what to expect on examination. Exam results were good.
  • Peer review was conducted three times during course, on the different parts of the assignment. Each time in a bit different way. Most students were positive as this contributed to improving the assignment.  
  • Development of online learning materials: 
    • pre-class: for each week questions, quizzes and videos to prepare for lectures and group discussions. Outcomes will be discussed in-class.
    • post-class: two self-test on course content for each of the two examinations.
    • One self-test for the individual assignment. Students are required to reflect on their development of skills and competencies. A self-test is most appropriate because it helps student to plan their activities and because the personal character of such reflections.
  • The organization of two in-class peer reviews on group assignment work: a paper on public health policy and a paper on a research proposal.
  • Weekly online-learning materials help students to prepare for lectures and class discussions in a more active way. The self-tests on content help students to acquire knowledge and prepare for examinations (learning outcomes 1-5). The self-test for thee individual assignment stimulates students to reflect on the development of competencies such as networking, communication and chairing a meeting (learning outcome 6).
  • The peer reviews are an example in itself of applying a tool for coordinated action (learning outcome 5) and also teach students to argue (part of learning outcome 3).  

Recommendations

To prepare well in advance, as it costs a lot of time. Provide the information in a very clear and structured way. Regularly (each week) have feedback moments with students. The feedback can be helpful in the course immediately.

For more information or recommendations, please contact annemarie.wagemakers@wur.nl.

PRODUCTS

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