Mixing Teaching Approaches to Maximise Student Learning Experiences
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Context: Postgraduate student education is a highly dynamic environment that experiences significant fluctuations in regard to the make-up of the student cohort and their educational expectations. Like all educators, we seek the best learning and teaching methods to maximise student outcomes. Therefore, the educator must be dynamic and embrace the notion that varying teaching and learning approaches may be necessary - even in the same course/subject. Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine how fee-paying coursework postgraduate students perceive different teaching approaches in a traditional-type of course/subject and, therefore, what approaches should be improved/pursued/adopted in the near future. Approach: Over a three-year period, a new postgraduate course delivered to cohort of students with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds was examined to see how different teaching approaches were perceived by the students. The course/subject is contained within a traditional chalk-and-talk program taken (mostly) by fee-paying (chiefly overseas) postgraduate students. Two approaches were used sequentially during the delivery of the course - the first was the approach of interactive lectures and supportive tutorials, while the second was based on problem-based learning and with supportive workshops. At the end of the course, formal feedback was obtained from students to see how they perceived the teaching approaches used, and where improvements can be made. Results: Results from the formal student surveys indicated that students appreciated both methods of delivery, with high satisfaction results being achieved for both approaches. The students showed no preference of teaching approach employed, and their performance-as assessed through formal measures (assignments, exams, reporting and presentations)- again showed that both teaching approaches were successful. Informal feedback was also obtained, and it was clear that students felt that the professionalism and availability of the staff were factors that were critical to achieving high student satisfaction outcomes. Conclusions: It was concluded that the exact method of delivery of the course components did not have a significant impact on the learning perceptions of the students, which was similarly reflected in their assessable items. Both methodologies, and their combined impact, proved highly satisfying to the students. It was apparent that the main factors influencing students were professionalism and accessibility to the staff which, while known, seems to be critical to the postgraduate cohort.
Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2017)
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Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified