Are we having fun yet?

On my mind lately has been the idea of student engagement and improved teaching quality. Most teachers and ed devs will agree that lecture-based, teacher-driven teaching with essay- and test-based summative assessment needs to change. Student-centred, collaborative and interactive learning design with formative and dynamic assessment models is coming into focus. Since this shift is based on a better learning experience for students, one would assume we’re already preaching to the converted – that students recognise that this shift in teaching is more effective and more closely meets their needs as learners. I’m yet to be convinced this is the case, though.

As mentioned in a previous post, I was surprised to learn that, when asked, many students will report that lecture notes, Powerpoint slides and lecture podcasts are effective aspects of their study. I know and you know that this experience could be better, but do the students? Traditional tertiary teaching methods result in success for many, in that their desired outcome of a degree is achieved. To most, this is what tertiary education looks like. I’m curious, though, how many students are working through a course, simply feeling as though they are text-regurgitating essay-writing machines ticking boxes, but aren’t aware that it doesn’t have to be like this? That it is possible to enjoy and be enthusiastic about learning? Many students, even at postgraduate level, lack the knowledge of educational theory and research and the metacognitive skills to be able to identify the cause of frustration and potential solutions based on awareness of their needs as a learner.

What I’m getting at is that I suspect that there are large numbers of students who aren’t necessarily aware that they could potentially be experiencing a much more engaging form of education. If we are advocating a change in teachers’ perceptions of what effective learning is but are not changing students’ perceptions, are we able to continue to attract these students to our courses? What kind of strategies do we need to adopt to begin to shift students’ perceptions?

One Reply to “Are we having fun yet?”

  1. I think lectures (and accompanying handouts/notes) have a place in edu – it’s just one pedagogy that can (and should be) complemented by others. Lectures are an efficient way of getting across a lot of information to an (imagined?) audience. Someone else has done the synthesis and analysis of information and then passes it on in a format for other people to engage with… this is why supplementary materials (whether they be handouts, notes or simply questions to think about) are so important. And tutorials, and discussions, real-life observations, PLN etc. as well.

    But a well-crafted lecture? Ahhh… it can make you think outside of the box, which unfortunately your PLN often can’t do because of the echo chamber effect 🙂

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