Creating an active learning environment with pre-class quizzes, in-class activities and post-class activities

SHORT DESCRIPTION

The project focusses on the interrelationship between criteria; stimulate an active learning environment by using group work while staying within resource limits. 

Our past approach 'knowledge transfer by the lecturer during lectures' did not obtain the learning outcomes of this course, which focusses on demonstrating and applying (Also noted in the peer review of this course). Moreover due to limited interaction, the lecturer is unable to stimulate processing of the learning material and unable to monitor during the course whether students obtain the learning outcomes. In addition there were four additional reasons for redesigning the course:

  • The course was designed as a second year course where about 100 students participated. Now it is a first year course with over 300 students.
  • The general rating of this course is negatively correlated with the number of students (4.1 in 2010 with 116 students to 3.5 in 2013 with 262 students).
  • The number of students attending lectures has declined to about 50% and participation during lectures (asking/ answering questions) is very limited.
  • Other courses with teachers from the MCB and MST group also are confronted with rising student numbers and teachers from these courses are eager to learn from this innovation project.

OBJECTIVE

Creating an active learning environment within time and budgetary constraints set for this course and despite growing student numbers. 

STRONG POINTS

The new approach includes:  

  • Pre-class quizzes to monitor student’s self-study of literature, and assess less complex learning-outcomes (remember). Knowledge clips (developed internally or elsewhere) help students with difficult topics.
  • In-class activities involve cases, preferably from students’ own experience to stimulate buy-in; and results of market research in which students participated themselves. Group assignments about simplified cases or market researches encourage questions to group members, other groups, and the lecturer.
  • Post-class activities follow-up on in-class group assignments with real case studies and market researches. Students work on assignments as a group. Performance in the assignment is assessed individually.

We introduced a quiz that students need to do before each lecture to obtain a bonus. The goal is to stimulate self-study and introduce principles of the flipped classroom. Most students obtained the bonus. However, this did not raise the level of interaction during classes.

We also introduced an assignment where students apply after the lecture what they have learned and give feedback on other student’s assignment. This feedback is integrated with other courses where students learn to work in groups Students liked the assignment, but many students discontinued the assignment because of time pressure.

Pre-class quizzes focus on the less complex learning-outcome (remember): “Recognize the use of marketing and management concepts and theories in a business environment and daily life”. Keeping-up with reading is stimulated by making quizzes part of the assessment.

In-class and post-class activitiesl focus on more complex learning outcomes (understand, apply): “Explain key concepts and mainstream theories in management and marketing”; “ Apply marketing and management concepts and theories to management and marketing tasks”; and “Demonstrate that management and marketing are strongly related, but entail different theories and practices.” Explaining, interpreting, demonstrating and using knowledge is stimulated in group processes.

1) Quizzes activate students’ prior knowledge, which helps linking new knowledge to existing knowledge and thus learning. Assessment of quizzes helps to ensure that students have learned also during “independent” self-study. Time in-class is available for more complex learning outcomes.

  • Self-administered market researches and student-proposed cases stimulate buy-in.
  • Group work offers repetition, feedback, and moments to correct mistakes; stimulates explaining concepts and theories in own words, which increases understanding; and facilitates peer-to-peer teaching.
  • Post-class group assignments allow student to practice what they have learned in real live situations and reflect on what they have learned. Individual assessment of these assignments help to ensure that students have learned. Help from group members during individual assessment is not discouraged, because it stimulates peer learning and peer feedback strategies.

 2) New learning tools (Qualtrics, feedback fruits, knowledge clips) and group work should ensure that questions of all students are answered and all students receive feedback to test their mastery of the learning outcomes. It replaces discussion and questions during lectures, which becomes difficult when student numbers rice.

  • For example, assume answering a question requires one minute, and every lecture one in ten students has a unique question, it would already take 30 minutes every lecture to answer all questions. However, every student should have opportunities to receive feedback several times per lecture. Thus lecturers simply do not have the time to do this.In this projects we want to deploy new learning tools that require little time during the lecture period from the lecturers, but give high quality feedback to students about their mastery of the learning outcomes. Group work (peer to peer teaching) can also be used for this purpose.

3) Group work can stimulate an active learning environment and peer to peer teaching. Thus group work contributes to learning outcomes that focus on “explaining” and “applying”, which are central in this course. Challenge is to identify and correct free riders. This is particularly challenging for first-year students, because they have little experience with group work and do not know how to correct and/ or stimulate group members. Another challenge is to find an effective, fair and efficient way to include active participation in group work in the assessment. 

  • Lectures will be further adapted (i.e. introduce practical cases) to stimulate students to demonstrate and apply theories and concepts that they have learned in self-study.
  • The assignment will be included in the assessment to stimulate students to (continue to) participate.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Create a learning environment that helps students to obtain learning outcomes that emphasize demonstrating and applying, despite increasing student numbers.
  • Make sure you have extra time when you teach the course for the first time, which allows you to make changes immediately if things do not work out as expected.

For more information or recommendations, please contact frans.verhees@wur.nl.

PRODUCTS

n.a.