Development of an assessment tool for Design-Based Learning Environment

Learning Environments often encompass the social, physical, psychological, and pedagogical contexts in which teaching and learning occur. It includes the relationship between the teacher and the students, the relationship among the students, students’ learning approaches and motivations, supportive learning technologies, how the curriculum has been developed in relation to the learning outcomes specified, the climate in which teaching and learning takes place and students perceptions of it and the potential link between learning environment and learning outcomes (Fraser, 1998; Nolen, 2003; Adams and Granić, 2009).

Many studies have confirmed the relations between students’ perceptions of the learning environment, approaches to learning and learning outcomes (e.g. Struyven, Dochy, Janssens and Gielen 2006; Trigwell, Ellis and Han, 2012).

In this study, we will use the 3P model of Biggs’s (1985;1987) to focus on coaching students in a design based learning environment. As became clear from the previous CEE project, coaching needs to be approached from a dialogical perspective. To date, little is known about coaching dialogues and the learning environment wherein these dialogues take place, how these learning environments affect learning outcomes, students’ perceptions and motivation and how such an environment should be arranged for optimal coaching and learning. 

In the model of Biggs (1985;1987), the learning environment is conceptualized as an interacting system of three sets of variables: the learning environment and student characteristics (presage), students’ approach to learning (process) and learning outcomes (product). Figure 1. pictures how we envision the Design-Based Learning Environment.

In this project, we will approach the coaching of students that work on complex CDCM from a learning environment perspective. Furthermore, our starting point for this project was to build on the ideas and practical knowledge of teachers and to fulfill their needs. Therefore, we have formulated the objectives in close consultation with the teachers. Our aim is:

  • To develop and validate an assessment* tool, which is able to identify teachers’ and students’ perceptions of the coaching dialogue taking place in DBL environments.
  • To implement the assessment tool for formative purposes in DBL projects. The assessment tool will be used by teachers and students in order to identify barriers/obstacles in their coaching interactions and assist them to clarify expectations, communication challenges and (re)design an effective DBL course.
  • To evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the assessment tool to facilitate coaching dialogue in DBL learning environments.
  • To disseminate the assessment tool (and potentially other insights on coaching) to support teachers in developing coaching skills for DBL courses.

* Through formative assessment, evidence about the effects of coaching interventions is elicited, interpreted, and used by teachers, or fellow students, to make decisions about the next steps in coaching that are likely to be better, or better founded, than the decisions they would have taken in the absence of the evidence that was elicited (Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick, 2006)

This project is ongoing and will consist of three parts and focusses on practice as well as theory to be able to come up with useful tools:

Part 1. Will focus on the development of a framework describing key elements of coaching dialogue in DBL environments.

Part 2. Will focus on the translation of the developed framework to an assessment tool with two versions a) for teachers and b) for students

Part 3. Will focus on the implementation and evaluation of the assessment tool in DBL environments and its dissemination.

This project is ongoing