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SOUTHAMPTON SOLENT UNIVERSITY

Solent Learning Community

Dialogue Number 1

January 2011


SOLENT LEARNING COMMUNITY

Dialogue SOLENT PEDAGOGIC RESEARCH NETWORK PROJECT TEAM

Sara Briscoe • FBSE Anne Hill • FMAS Lesley MacDonald • FBSE Rob Mills • WMA Sean Wellington • FTEC Lorry West • LIS

VOLUME 1 • JANUARY 2011


Contents Foreword…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………i Editorial………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….ii How Technology Can Facilitate Students‘ Reflective Practice Dr Carolyn Mair………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………1 Applying Managers‘ Views on Group Work in Organisations to Group Assignments in Universities Dr Caroline Kamau and Abigail Spong……………………………………………………………………………………5 Formalising Information Skills Training in the Curriculum Celia Forrester and Scott Burnet…………………………………………………………………………………………14 Perceptions of Female Southampton Solent University Students of Volunteering as a Method to Enhance Employability Skills Dr Stephen Jackson……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….26 Working with E-Champions to Enhance Flexible Learning Ruth McLellan, Susan Patrick, Christina Dinsmore, Andrea Faustino, Timos Almpanis, Whysnianti Basuki ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………33 Editorial Guidelines………………………………………………………………………………………………………………40


Foreword I am delighted to introduce this first edition of Dialogue. Across the university there are excellent examples of innovative teaching, learning and assessment practice. Much of this activity proceeds quietly, enhancing our students‘ learning and better preparing them for the world of work. Similarly, we have a growing number of colleagues who are engaged in innovative pedagogic research. The research and enterprise audit has revealed the extent of their work and acknowledged its important role in understanding how we can best engage and support our increasingly diverse community of learners. This new journal goes a step further by encouraging the sharing of teaching, learning and assessment practice and the wider dissemination of staff pedagogic research. Dialogue is a new development for the university; it has arisen out of the cross-faculty TQEF project ‗Solent Community of Pedagogic Practice, 2007-2009‘. None of us would underestimate the blood, sweat and occasional tears involved in getting the first edition of a new journal into print. My thanks to all concerned and I hope that the journal will enjoy continued success in the future.

Jane Longmore Deputy Vice Chancellor

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Editorial Welcome to the first edition of Dialogue, the journal of the Solent Learning Community at Southampton Solent University. We hope Dialogue will become an important forum for the early dissemination of pedagogic research and promote the exchange of best practice in teaching and learning. In this first edition Carolyn Mair introduces a tool to promote and facilitate students reflective practice. A spreadsheet has been devised to encourage students to record reflections and also promote meta-reflection, the process of reflecting on reflections. Caroline Kamau and Abigail Spong surveyed a group of employers to deduce implications for the design of group assignments in universities. Some useful enhancements to group work activity are proposed that contribute to the development of valuable employability skills. Information literacy skills are examined by Celia Forrester and Scott Burnet. Their research evaluates a survey instrument devised at James Madison University with the objective of developing an online tool for assessing the information literacy skills of students at Southampton Solent University. Steven Jackson examines the perceptions of female students of volunteering as a mechanism to improve employability skills. The study found that students who elected to undertake volunteering through the university‘s Curriculum Plus unit reported that this was beneficial and contributed to the development of employability skills. Finally, Ruth McLellan and colleagues report on the outcomes of a project funded by the Higher Education Academy to evaluate the role of e-champions to support the adoption of blended learning strategies. Thank you to all of these authors for sharing their work. We hope you will consider submitting your research for inclusion in a future edition. Finally, we would like to thank Madeleine Jenness for helping to collate this first edition, creating the page layout and design of the publication.

EDITORIAL BOARD Sara Briscoe, Anne Hill, Lesley Macdonald, Rob Mills, Sean Wellington, Lorry West

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How Technology Can Facilitate Students‘ Reflective Practice Dr Carolyn Mair.

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eflective practice, engaging with experience, reflecting-in and reflecting-on action (Schön 1983) develops new understanding and leads to personal and professional development (eg. Moon, 1999). Reflective practitioners are able to self-regulate and

monitor their progress. Reflecting on what was learned can help students become more aware of their own thought processes (McCrindle and Christensen 1995), but reflecting on how it was learned, metacognition (Flavell 1978) offers far greater benefits. There exists mounting evidence for the benefits of metacognition in relation to enhanced performance and academic success (eg. Coutinho 2007; Dunning et al. 2003). However, despite the costly time investment incurred by recording reflections in journals, reflections are more often retrieved from memory than from the written word. Thus the retrieved reflection is subject to the fallibility of human memory (eg. Baddeley 1999, p.275): distortion, embellishment or forgetting. Furthermore, despite evidence demonstrating that when learners know reflections are to be read, graded or assessed by others, the incentive is to demonstrate knowledge and hide ignorance or doubt (Boud and Walker 1998), students‘ reflections in HE are typically assessed.

Dewey‘s original purpose of reflection was to consider and strive to overcome

weaknesses. In fact, Boud (1999) highlights the dichotomies between the nature of reflection and the nature of assessment, and questions the value and integrity of assessing reflective practice at all. To address these issues and in fulfilment of a Curriculum Fellowship (2008-2009), I developed a resource using a simple spreadsheet. The resource, entitled Meta-Reflection: Reflecting on Reflections (Meta-Reflection) was situated on the University‘s virtual learning environment (VLE), myCourse. The overall aim was to help students develop reflective practice skills with the focus on learning and by placing it on the VLE problems associated with human memory are eliminated. The Meta-Reflection resource was designed to guide students through the reflection process, to make recording reflections simpler by means of prompts (column headings) on the spreadsheet. Thus input for each reflection (horizontally on the spreadsheet) was prompted 1


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by ‗topic‘, ‗what do I already know?‘ through to ‗what have I learned?‘ and ‗how can I apply this in future?‘. The expectation was that by guiding them through the reflective process, students would be encouraged to reflect. Because of the nature of spreadsheets, students were automatically exposed to previous reflections as reflections over time are visible, vertically. Thus users could simultaneously monitor their progress on each reflection horizontally and progress over time vertically, leading to a deeper understanding of the learning process of reflecting on reflections (meta-reflection, Dewey 1939b) in a cyclical fashion as described by Schön (1983). Furthermore, the software‘s sorting facility allows reflections on a particular ‗topic‘ to be viewed alongside similar reflections allowing students to monitor their progress easily and frequently. This provides an advantage not available in traditional reflective practice media (journals and logs). Ten undergraduate Psychology students (Year 1) from Southampton Solent University (SSU) were recruited to investigate the effectiveness of the resource in achieving its aims. Each student completed a semi-structured questionnaire prior to participating in a focus group designed to elicit a common understanding of reflective practice. In order to reduce any possible disadvantage to any participant, a cross-over design was adopted. Students were randomly allocated to one of two groups (A and B) and instructed that reflections would not be monitored or assessed. Group A used the resource for 6 weeks then stopped; Group B used the system for the following 6 weeks. Although there are obvious issues with order effects, each student was able to compare their reflective practice when they were using the system with when they were not. Following this data collection period, individual interviews were conducted and findings suggest a positive evaluation of the system. Notwithstanding the small sample size, I concluded that using an online system to structure reflective practice empowers and ultimately enhances undergraduate learning through the development of their metacognition. The Meta-Reflection resource can be used a stand-alone development tool, or as a basis for structuring more free-flowing reflections. It is available, on myCourse PSY159, to anyone who wishes to use it from SSU. It is generally recognised that shared learning increases involvement in learning, improves thinking and deepens understanding (Chickering and Gamson 1987). Thus to incorporate a shared learning element, and encourage a reflective learning community, I was awarded a second Curriculum Fellowship (2009-2010). In fulfilment of this award, I added a database to the existing spreadsheet to enable students to share some or all of their reflections from the spreadsheet described above, with others. Thus the new development allows individual students to learn from others‘ experiences as well as helping others learn from theirs. This ongoing project is entitled Reflection and Learning: Sharing Experience (ReaLiSE) and is also available on myCourse.

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A study was conducted to investigate this enhanced system. Thirty-one undergraduate Psychology students from SSU (Year 1 and 2) volunteered to participate. Most attended an introductory session when the rationale was explained and instruction on using the spreadsheet and the database was provided. Following this session, students were at liberty to reflect on the spreadsheet a minimum of once a week; there were no obligations or constraints related to uploading to the database. In order to encourage openness and consideration of weaknesses as well as strengths reflections were not monitored or assessed. Participants were invited to attend individual interviews, but unfortunately, uptake was slow and only two interviews have been conducted to dat. However, I intend to follow this up in the Autumn term. Analysis of the reflections is underway and initial indications are that the system was again well received.

References BADDELEY, A.D., 1999. The Essentials of Human Memory. UK:Pyschology Press BOUD, D., 1999. Understanding Learning at Work. UK:Routledge BOUD, D. and D. WALKER, 1998. Promoting Reflection in Professional Courses: The Challenge of Context. Studies in Higher Education, 23,191-206 CHICKERING, A.W. and Z.GAMSON, 1987. Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. AAHE Bulletin, 40(7),3-7 COUTINHO, S.A., 2007. The Relationship Between Goals, Metacognition and Academic Success, Educate, 7(1),39-47 DEWEY,J.,1939b. Experience, Knowledge and Value: A Rejoinder. In P.Schilpp, ed. The Philosophy of John Dewey. Evanston:Northwestern University, 517-608 DUNNING,D. et al.,2003. Why People Fail to Recognise Their Own Incompetence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12,83-87 FLAVELL, J.H., 1979. Metacognition and Cognitive Monitoring: A New Area of CognitiveDevelopmental Inquiry. American Psychologist, 34(10), 906-911 MCCRINDLE, A.R. and C.A. CHRISTENSEN, 1995. The Impact of Learning Journals on Metacognitive and Cognitive Processes and Learning Performance. Learning and Instruction, 5,167-185 MOON,J.,1983. Reflection in Learning and Professional Development: Theory and Practice. London:Kogan Page SCHĂ–N, D. 1983 The Reflective Practitioner. New York: Basic Books

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Contact Dr Carolyn Mair Senior Lecturer in Pyschology Faculty of Media Arts and Society  02380319069  carolyn.mair@solent.ac.uk

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Applying Managers‘ Views on Group Work in Organisations to Group Assignments in Universities Dr Caroline Kamau and Abigail Spong.

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bstract: Universities face the challenge of adequately preparing graduates for groupwork in organisations. Structured interviews of managers were analysed to deduce implications for the design of group assignments in universities. Participants were 10

managers from 10 organisations, 7 of which rank in the Times top 100 UK graduate employers. Themes that emerged included the idea that tight deadlines necessitate groupwork, that communication within and between groups is essential, that group identity is important, and that leadership has important implications. These themes could be applied by giving university group assignments tighter deadlines than individual assignments, by providing tools to encourage communication within student groups (e.g. online informationsharing tools, and group logs to record details of meetings), encouraging student groups to develop a collective identity, and by encouraging student groups to choose a leader. It was concluded that group assignments in universities could be designed to better mirror conditions in real organisations

There is a large body of psychological literature reporting experiments (eg. Latane. Williams and Harkins, 1974), field/case studies (e.g. Janis & Mann, 1979) and meta-analyses (e.g. Karau & Williams, 1993) on the causes, symptoms and remedies for group productivity deficits (see Kamau & Harorimana, 2008, for a literature review). A group productivity deficit is the difference between the actual performance of a group and their potential performance (Steiner, 1972). There is a lot of empirical evidence that groups almost always suffer productivity deficits (Brown, 2000). Despite all this knowledge about the pitfalls of assigning tasks to groups, group-work remains a popular modus operandi in organisations. Universities therefore do well in including group assignments, but these can be adapted in ways that better mirror real conditions in employment settings. This paper reports thematic analysis of transcripts obtained from interviewing managers from a variety of organisations. After summarising the method, the results will report each theme identified and provide examples of verbatim quotes from the interview transcripts. Alongside each theme will be a discussion

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of how each point can be applied in the designing of group assignments within university settings.

Method Participants: Participants were 10 managers in 10 different organisations in Southampton, UK. Seven of the organisations were selected from the Times list of the top 100 graduate employers: BBC, Boots, Deloitte, Oxfam, Tesco, and 2 organisations whose managers requested anonymity. The remaining 3 organisations were selected because they are large employers in the local area, Southampton: British Gas, Carnival UK and Graduate Jobs South. Prospective participants were approached via a letter sent by post or e-mail; interviews were scheduled with those who responded. Materials/Procedure: Materials consisted of an information sheet, a sheet of 10 questions (for use by the researcher), a debrief sheet and an mp3 audio recorder. After the manager signed a consent form, the researcher switched on an mp3 recorder and asked 10 questions in randomized order. These included questions such as: ‗What can be done to prepare undergraduates for good team working skills in the workplace?‘ ‗What kind of team work, if any, is required of new graduate employees?‘ and ‗What would you say are the things that cause teams to underperform?‘ Where necessary, neutral prompts were used, such as ‗please explain more about that‘, ‗do you have any examples‘, and so on. At the end of the study, the manager was thanked and debriefed.

Results Each mp3 audio recording was transcribed. Each manager‘s transcript was given a code name (e.g. ―Manager X‖, ―Manager V‖) not corresponding alphabetically or otherwise to the name of their organisation, to maintain both the managers‘ and the organisations‘ anonymity and confidentiality. Thematic analysis of the transcripts was then conducted. Thematic analysis (see Smith, 2003, for an overview) was chosen because it is an effective way of analysing common occurring topics within qualitative data.

Theme 1: Urgency makes group-work a necessity in organisations. A general consensus was that teamwork is a necessity and that it enables organisations to meet tight deadlines posed by market or client needs, as Manager X explained: “...Ultimately without teamwork we wouldn’t be able to get the output. We have a whole team that sift the results...,‖ (Manager X, Line 38), “...If we were not to deliver the results that day the stock exchange might think that there is something wrong..‖

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(Line 42) ―...It is important we deliver that day and to do that requires a huge amount of organisation” (Line 46.) This suggests that organisations needing to serve clients within a tight deadline have no choice but to rely on teamwork. Manager V echoed the idea that time pressure makes it unfeasible to give the task to individuals: ―Working in a team everybody pitches in when (a deadline is) coming up we need lots of all hands on deck.” (Manager V, Line 38-39). That every group member ‗pitches in‘ out of necessity when a deadline is looming is something which can be applied to assignments to increase task importance (see Karau & Williams, 1993). If students usually have, say, 3 weeks to complete a group assignment, this may not be as high in external realism as giving them 5 working days. These sorts of deadlines are the reality of many organisations. To simulate such tasks, groups of students could be given small tasks to complete within a very restricted timeframe as part of ordinary learning. For instance, students could be divided into groups and each group given a reading list and 20minutes to dash to the library and find/collect the books and articles on the reading list from various floors within the library. By creating a sense of urgency, making the deadline for a group assignment much tighter than for an individual assignment, group assignments in universities can simulate real conditions in organisations.

Theme 2: Effective communication within groups in organisations is vital The idea that employees are expected to possess good communication skills is not surprising but what is notable is how the managers applied this to group-work. Information sharing is an important way of maximising group productivity (e.g. Stasser & Titus, 1985). Listening skills were seen as essential for employees to find out what the group task is: “They need to listen to clients. We often find people are very good at talking and not very good at listening, and listening is the most important part of communication” (Manager X, Line 92-94). “Knowing what your role is and what the team does and what it’s trying to achieve and what the objectives are and being aware of the bigger picture.” (Manager V, Line 189) These ideas could be applied in university settings by formatively assessing students‘ understanding of a group assignment brief, and then giving them feedback on how well they understand what tasks are involved in the group assignment. It was also implied that the listening aspect of communication enables groups (or departments) in organisations to gain an understanding of each other:

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“..Understanding the other departments around you.. everyone works as a team and understand whatever they do has an impact on others... We have 3 main departments on board that is the hotel, the deck side and the technical engine room and you have to work quite hard to get those 3 units working together. They all have to come together, because the technical side will support the hotel side when the light bulbs go or when plugs don’t work, that gets reported a service issue and the technical staff have to understand that if the light bulbs don’t work then that leads to a dissatisfied customer. So those sorts of things come together” (Manager R, Lines 144-155). This idea of communication at a macro level could be applied to university group assignments by encouraging communication with external groups providing information, goods or services needed, such as by scheduling meetings with library personnel, IT personnel and technical personnel. Additionally, good communication was defined by one manager as something essential to meet deadlines. ―I think communication’s key. Being able to both talk ...and being able to listen ... often people who you wouldn’t get on with socially ...especially in a quite high-pressured environment in which we work.... Because ultimately everything is a deadline here... you’ll never meet those deadlines if you can’t communicate properly. If people can’t communicate they will struggle in this business...” (Manager W, Lines 39-51). Undergraduates doing group-could be randomly assigned to groups, thus exposing them to group members that they might not like. Low cohesion within a group can actually benefit group productivity (Hogg & Hains, 1998). The interactions themselves can be encouraged by emphasising the importance of meetings, supplemented by e-mail, telephone and web conversations. Some managers tied social skills with communication skills: “To be able to have the social skills” (Appendix B, Line 36), “Just requires communication skills” (Manager Z, Line 12). ―We like to see people who are good communicators..... We are quite interested in how they interact, how they communicate, what they say and actually what they don’t say” (Manager X, Line 220-223) It may therefore be useful for tutors to give student groups the opportunity to conduct one of their meetings during class time, and for the tutors to then observe how members of each group interact with each other. The tutor can then provide informal feedback, noting both positive communication behaviours (e.g. turn-taking, politeness) and negative communication

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behaviours (e.g. rudeness, abrasiveness). The tutor can mention how each behaviour observed helped or hindered the completion of the group task. Universities can also help student group members learn how to communicate with each other by providing web tools (such as blogs, wikis and discussion forums) with password-restricted access for each student group. The other element of communication within groups is that which involves sharing information on what the task is, what is needed to complete the task, what has been done about the task, and so on. One manager suggested that graduate employees tend to share and gather information more effectively, because their degrees gave them that sort of experience: “(graduates are)…more open in sharing their knowledge...” (Manager Z, Line 91). Nevertheless, this should not be taken for granted. The skills can be further enhanced by giving students web platforms that enable them to share their work online. Additionally, the background information that contributes to this work could be collated in a manner accessible to all group members, such as showing students how to make their searches on bibliographic databases viewable by their fellow members‘ when they log-in.

Theme 3: Social identity as essential in organisations Many managers spoke about group identity. One manager referred to the organisation as ―our world” (Manager R, Line 23 and 43), and other managers referred to ―togetherness‖ in ways such as this: ―We need to come up with a collective ...‖ (Manager E, Lines 215-216) and “... no matter what grade you’re on and what piece of work you’re working on, there’s a togetherness of what you are trying to achieve” (Manager V, Lines 192-195). Another manager implied that employees were expected to safeguard their organisations‘ identity: ―We don’t want people who don’t do the right thing, more than anything else; our reputation matters to us. If we lost our reputation we would lose our business. It would be a disaster. So we want people who do the right thing.” (Manager X, Lines 68-71). Another manager summed up the notion of team identity in a temporal sense, implying that employees ought to view themselves as contributing to the future of their organisation: “If you have got a really good team that understands where they need to be, where they have come from and how they have got from where they were, then often that’s a great way to build and to keep up the momentum” (Manager T, Lines 163-171) In a university setting, group identity could be harnessed by encouraging each student group given an assignment to formulate their own collective identity by choosing a group name, create a group logo and thinking of themselves as a ‗brand‘ or having a collective reputation

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to preserve (see Self-Categorization theory, Turner et al, 1997). Where possible, ‗tangible‘ space could also be given to each student group online or in a physical location: “They all have their own little areas downstairs and they own their own area so they have their own little worlds...they take pride in it... They all own this store” (Manager E, Lines 243-247, 228, 229-230). Team identity is also something that contributes to the well-being of group members: ―For successful team working I would say looking out for everyone else in your team‖ (Manager Y, Line 25) and ―People who work for us should be happy and if people are happy they will do better work‖ (Manager X, Lines 85-86). This may mean that, in university settings, students‘ enjoyment of group-work should be given more importance, and their group identity can be used to harness their satisfaction with the group.

Theme 4: The leader as pivotal to the group‘s performance Many managers recognised the impact that leadership can have on group performance, something also emphasised in previous research (see e.g. Peterson, 1997): “A successful team is about the leader of that team, it comes from how they are led” (Manager W, Line 238) and “Teams don’t underperform if the leadership of that team is spot on. There may be elements/individuals within those teams that under perform but a team will not under perform if the leadership is right”. (Lines 203-205). “...Successful team-working is about having a strong leader who is sharing knowledge ...” (Manager Z, Line 140-143) “Lack of direction from the manager, or the line manager. That’s probably one of the causes (of group productivity deficits) ...” (Manager V, Lines 252-254). A group leader can also increase a group‘s performance by providing feedback, as one manager implied: “If they ...do it exceptionally well, tell them. If they don’t do it then you tell them so whichever way round it is recognising a really good piece of work is equally important as recognising poor work...” (Manager, Lines 116-119) Other characteristics of good leadership mentioned included a characteristic such as being trustworthy: “(a good leader needs)..some back bone, they need to have lots of moral

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courage‖ (Manager T, Line 179). A leader was also said to be someone inspiring: “(A good leader)..inspires the rest of the team to meet that objective... the leader inspires people to get to that objective and cultivates an environment in which they lead from the front and they are clearly seen to be living the dream; they make it very clear what they want. A leader is also someone who will stand up and be counted and put their hands up when something goes wrong and not blame others around them” (Manager W, Lines 185-211). In the case of university group-work, a tutor has the capacity to model good leadership behaviour, such as by being willing to mediate amongst group. Alternatively (or concurrently), student groups can be encouraged to choose a leader, and so students would develop leadership skills.

Conclusion In summary, universities could enhance the realism of group assignments by making the deadlines as tight as possible. Group communication skills can be encouraged in university settings by asking students to keep a log of their meetings, by having tutors provide informal feedback after unobtrusively sitting-in on a meeting, and by encouraging information sharing through online tools (e.g. blogs, wikis, forums). The notion of group identity can simulated in universities by encouraging students doing a group assignment to develop a unique identity, such as by choosing a name and logo, and by being allocated physical or online space. To experience the impact of leadership on group performance, each student group could be encouraged to choose a leader and this way students would develop their leadership skills. In summary, this report analysed managers‘ views on group-work in organisations, and the report then discussed practical ways in which group-work skills can be harnessed through university degrees.

References BROWN, R.,2000. Group Processes. Blackwell HOGG, M.A. and S.C. HAINS.,1998. Friendship and Group Identification: A New Look at the Role Cohesiveness in Groupthink. European Journal of Social Psychology, 28(3), 323-341 JANIS, I.L. and L. MANN., 1979. Decision Making: A Psychological Analysis of Conflict, Choice and Commitment. Free Press: Collin MacMillan, London KAMAU, C. and D. HARORIMANA.,2008. Does Knowledge Sharing and Withholding of Information in Organisational Committees Affect Quality of Group Decision Making? Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Knowledge Management. Academic Publishing: Reading, 341-348

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KARAU, S.J. and K.D.WILLIAMS.,1993. Social Loafing: A Meta-Analytic Review and Theoretical Integration. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(4), 681-706 LATANÉ, B. and S.HARKINS.,1979. Many Hands Make Light The Work: The Causes and Consequences of Social Loafing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(6), 822-832. PETERSON, R.S.,1997. A Directive Leadership Style in Group Decision Making Can Be Both Virtue and Vice: Evidence from Elite and Experimental Groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(5), 1107—1121 SMITH, J.,2003 Qualitative Psychology: A Practical Guide to Research Methods. London: Sage STRASSER, G. and W.Titus.,1985. Pooling of Unshared Information in Group Decision Making: Biased Information Sampling During Discussion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48(6), 1467 - 1478 STEINER, I.D.,1972. Group Processes and Productivity. New York: Academic Press TURNER, J.C. et al.,1987. Rediscovering The Social Group: A Self-Categorization Theory. Basil Blackwell:Oxford.

Acknowledgements This research was made possible by a Curriculum Fellowship grant of £5000 awarded to Dr Caroline Kamau from the University‘s Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund (TQEF). The authors are also grateful to all the managers for their participation in this research.

About the Authors Dr Caroline Kamau supervised this research as part of a wider project, funded by a TQEF Curriculum Fellowship, on optimising student task group performance in university settings. Caroline is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology in the School of Human Sciences. Abigail Spong completed her BSc (Hons) Psychology at Southampton Solent University and worked as research assistant on the project.

Key Words Group Productivity, Group Assignments, Employability, Organisations, Teamwork.

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Contact Dr Caroline Kamau Senior Lecturer in Pyschology Faculty of Media Arts and Society  02380319053  caroline.kamau@solent.ac.uk Abigail Spong Research Assistant Faculty of Media Arts and Society  02380319053  abigail.spong@solent.ac.uk

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Formalising Information Skills Training within the Curriculum Celia Forrester and Scott Burnet

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bstract: In an increasingly competitive graduate market, information literacy (IL) has gained importance as students’ progress through university and prepare for employment. The aim of the study was to evaluate the Information Literacy Test

(ILT) developed by James Madison University (JMU). Eighty-nine, level four students from the Faculty of Business, Sport and Enterprise completed the ILT. Student impressions of the test were obtained upon completion. The mean test score was ( x ± SD) 56 ± 15 %. Analysis suggested that standards 2 and 5 were areas of particular concern.

Student feedback

suggested question format and layout were popular, although subject specific questions were preferred. In addition the number of test questions should be reduced. Whilst the ILT was comprehensive, the format of the test and language used was possibly not conducive with UK HE institutions. Therefore the research team plan to formulate a Solent ILT based on the SCONUL seven pillars.

Introduction: Information Literacy Background In an increasingly competitive graduate market there has been a greater focus on how to prepare students for life after university. Whilst subject specific skills are important, there has been a drive to make students more information literate and facilitate independent learning in preparation for employment (Andretta, 2005). Bent and Stockdale (2009) argue that a university education should encourage students to view learning holistically as part of everyday life and not simply confined to the lecture theatre. The formalised development of information literacy within UK universities has been comparatively slow when compared with countries such as Australia or the USA (Johnston and Webber, 2003). This became apparent in 1999 when a Task Force convened by the Standing Conference of National and University Libraries (SCONUL) Executive Board prepared a statement on the topic of information skills for higher education students‘. What became apparent through SCONUL was that the United Kingdom has less clearly developed thinking in this area than many other countries which had been addressing the implications of the ‗Information Society‘ more fundamentally (SCONUL , 1999). In response SCONUL developed a framework and summarised information literacy in seven headline skills or pillars which

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ranged from ‗an ability to recognise the need for information‘ to an ‗ability to synthesize and build upon existing information, contributing to the creation of new knowledge.‘ Since 2000 Southampton Solent University (SSU) has looked to address the concerns highlighted within the Task Force report on information skills.

To meet the challenge,

librarians have provided information skills handouts, online tutorials such as ‗On Track‘, ‗INFORM-e‘ and more recently within the virtual learning environment of myCourse, the succeed@solent areas; providing guidance on all aspects of research. Group and one-to-one training sessions on how to search for, locate and retrieve information and correctly create bibliographies/reference lists have also been developed.

However as Bent (2009, p.52),

points out ―students make poor use of the wide range of subscription and other highereducation funded electronic information sources and gateways. The preliminary evaluation of these students also indicates that they are very difficult to wean off a Google habit.‖ In addition Walsh (2009) and Radcliffe et al. (2007) suggest that subject librarians are granted too little time to work with students on a very complex field. Attempts have been made to overcome this problem with greater collaboration between academic and library staff and the development of an integrative IL curriculum (Brent, 2009).

Assessing Information Literacy Considering the importance of student IL, both DaCosta (2010) and Dunn (2002) detail that assessment of such skills is essential to enhance student performance and confidence in working with information from multiple sources. Whilst there are numerous methods available to assess student competence in IL, the most common methods appear to be online multiple choice question (MCQ) tests, analysis of bibliographies, assorted MCQ and short answer tests and self assessment forms (Walsh, 2009). Whilst MCQ tests generally measure knowledge and skills, rather than understanding and practical application, pressures of teaching time and limited funding make the MCQ test an attractive option (Johnston and Webber, 2007). An example of such a test was developed by James Madison University (JMU), Virginia, USA, and based on five standards proposed by the Association of Colleges and Research Libraries (ACRL). These five standards are shown in Table 1. Table 1: The five IL standards proposed by the ACRL

Standard

Description

1

Determines the nature and extent of the information needed

2

Accesses needed information effectively and efficiently

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3 4 5

Evaluates information and its sources critically, and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system Uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose Understands many of the ethical, legal, and socio-economic issues surrounding information and information technology

During the mid-1990‘s JMU developed a web-based information seeking skills test (ISST) written in collaboration with the Centre for Assessment and Research Studies (CARS) and involved both librarian subject knowledge and assessment specialists to provide psychometric expertise. In 1999 the ISST became a high-stakes test that all first-year and transfer students had to pass to continue studying at JMU. The IL skills tested were deemed to be crucial for empowering success in student study skills and in life-long learning (Cameron, 2007). The results were used to measure the effectiveness of IL skills training and to identify where strengthening was required.

In 2002, JMU Libraries and CARS began to develop the

information Literacy Test (ILT) that could be used by other institutions (Cameron, 2007). Glass and Griffiths (2009) have since reported that the ILT has become one of the most widely trialled Information Literacy Tests commercially available. Funding for a collaborative IL skills project between members of the Faculty of Business, Sport and Enterprise and Learning Services Team was secured.

The aim of the project was to

evaluate the JMU ILT and identify whether it would be feasible to use the test as a tool to assess the information literacy skills of SSU‘s students and facilitate a greater awareness of skills desired by future employers.

Methodology Participants Eighty Level 4 students from the Faculty of Business, Sport and Enterprise volunteered to take part in the study. The exposure to formally taught information literacy skills was mixed with 62 students having completed a level 4 academic skills unit, with the remaining 18 having had limited information literacy training. Informed consent was obtained prior to testing.

Information Literacy Test (ILT) Licences to complete the ILT were purchased from JMU, whereby an ‗access window‘ became active and login details released. The JMU ILT was composed of 65 MCQ‘s, which constituted four of the five ACRL competency standards (ACRL, 2000). Standard 4 was excluded due to its 16


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applied nature and inappropriate for the present situation. All questions were required to be completed.

Procedures Under examination conditions in one of the University‘s IT suites, students logged onto the ILT through the JMU website. Standardised instructions were provided before the test, which included a clear statement on the formative nature of the assessment. Upon completion of the test, the results were automatically submitted to the JMU server. Test data was then relayed to the research team in the form of an Excel spreadsheet once the agreed ‗test window‘ had closed.

Student perceptions of the ILT were obtained using an open-ended

questionnaire.

Data Analysis Test data for each IL standard was summarised in the form of the mean and standard deviation (

x

± SD) to identify strengths and weaknesses.

Post test questionnaires were

analysed using basic content analysis to gather student perceptions of the ILT.

Results Quantitative Data Results from the ILT were analysed for normal distribution using a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test (p = .06).

The mean test score for the ILT was 56 ± 15% (see figure 1). Students achieved

noticeably higher scores in standards 1 (determines the nature and extent of the information needed), 3 (evaluates information and its sources critically, and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system) and 5 (understands many of the ethical, legal, and socio-economic issues surrounding information and information technology) (see figure 2) with mean standard scores of 59 ± 14%, 57 ± 12% and 53 ± 18%, respectively. Lower scores were recorded for standard 2 (accesses needed information effectively and efficiently) with a mean score of 40 ± 27% indicating a considerable degree of variation in student achievement for this standard.

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Results from ILT Number of Students

30 25 20 15 10 5 0 0 - 9%

10 19%

20 29%

30 39%

40 49%

50 59%

Mark (%)

Figure 1: Results from the JMU ILT

Figure 2: Percentage success rate for each ILT standard

18

60 69%

70 79%

80 89%

90 99%


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Qualitative Feedback Evaluation of Student Feedback Feedback from the questionnaire suggested that nearly all students who completed the ILT acknowledged its relevance for undergraduate study. The most frequently occurring comment concerned the excessive length of the test and as such students found it difficult to maintain focus. Other issues that arose from the feedback can be viewed in Figure 3. Once theme mentioned in the questionnaire was perhaps not detailed extensively , but was expressed informally in conversation was the ‗American phrases/terms‘ used.

Figure 3: Student perceptions on the ILT that needed to be changed

In contrast, positive student perceptions of the test included the MCQ format, the layout and questions related to referencing. Feedback suggested that the students preferred the MCQ format because it was ―easy‖, ―quick‖ and ―did not have to think too much.‖ In addition students remarked that the format of the ILT did have a logical format and the variation in the sequence of questions (e.g. text, graphical or data interpretation) was preferred. The comments propose that referencing is a key area of interest and most beneficial to study.

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Figure 4: Student perceptions of the ILT that were viewed positively

Figure 5: Student perceptions of how the ILT could have been improved

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In terms of improvement, the most frequently occurring requests included subject specific questions, varying the question format, more questions concerning referencing and the inclusion of more diagrams.

Discussion General Evaluation of Test Results The issue of IL was officially addressed in the UK back as 1999 (SCONUL, 1999). Since then, the importance of IL has accelerated with the information environment evolving to increasing levels of complexity (Andretta, 2005). The current project set out to evaluate the JMU ILT and ascertain whether it would be feasible to implement the test for undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at SSU. Originally the project brief had been to formalise information skills training within the curriculum: assessing the impact of current skills provision. In essence it had been hoped that the project would be used to evaluate the provision of current IL based units at SSU in a testre-test fashion (i.e. pre and post test). Unfortunately due to delays in the assignment of TQEF funding, data from the ILT could only be collected after the period one IL units had concluded and not prior to commencement as planned. The mean test score indicated that the pass mark was not attained. Cameron et al. (2007) stated that a proficiency pass mark of 65% was required. To differentiate the advanced and proficient students a mark of 90% was required which was surprising to the research team since the highest mark attained by LIS members was only 90% (Wise et al., 2009). It should be stressed however that the marking criteria from each of the competency standards was not equal but weighted in terms of complexity. Standards 2 and 3 had the greatest weighing within the test (i.e. one third of the marks respectively). The mean score for standard 2 was only 40 ± 27% and could in part explain why the mean test score fell below the pass mark of 65%. Therefore students‘ achieving higher pass marks in standards 1 and 5 and lower marks in 2 and 3 would be at risk of failing the test. A breakdown of the four standards illustrated that the mean score for standard 2 was considerably lower than that of standards 1, 3 and 5 (see figure 2). The standard deviation was comparatively wider than the other three standards tested by the ILT, suggesting considerable diversity in student understanding of issues related to ‗Accesses needed information effectively and efficiently‘. This would support the findings of Bent (2009) and Brabazon (2007) who highlighted the reluctance of students to use academic subscription material, in favour of generic search engines such as Google. The danger is that students use generic search engines for convenience at the expense of peer reviewed material from official

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academic sources. As a result students lack the ability to access information efficiently and effectively. By far the most frequently occurring comment from the feedback questionnaire was the length of the ILT. Students complained of difficulties in maintaining focus and suggested a reduction in the number of questions and a test duration of between 30 – 45 min. This was highlighted by Walsh (2009) who stated that the lengthy and detailed ILT was a reflection of the IL standards stipulated by the ACRL. Walsh (2009) continued by stating that despite the length of tests such as the ILT, MCQ style assessments are still an attractive option for academic and library staff due to the limitations on time and money. A possible explanation for the lower score for standard 5 could be attributed to differences in the Anglo-American legal issues (e.g. issues concerning copyright). This was supported by the research team‘s concerns regarding the applicability of the question content.

This could

potentially have broader implications across other standards (e.g. demonstrate an understanding of the Wall Street Journal or referencing uses the APA and not the Harvard system.) Although Cameron et al. (2007) reported acceptable reliability and validity for the ILT. The present study would question the length of the test, but more specifically the use of US orientated terminology. It would perhaps be more beneficial to tailor a similar IL test for students studying in UK HE institutions. Whilst the ILT was based on the standards developed through the ACRL, a similar test based on the framework of the ‗Seven Pillars of Information Literacy model‘ (SCONUL, 1999) would perhaps be more aligned with UK universities. The seven pillars framework is broken down into the following areas (see table 2). The framework provides progression from basic skills such as the ‗Ability to recognise a need for information‘, to more sophisticated skill sets like the ‗Ability to synthesise and build upon existing information, contributing to the creation of new knowledge.‘ Table 2: SCONUL Seven Pillars Framework (Johnston and Webber 2003) Categories

Description

1

The ability to recognise a need for information

2

The ability to distinguish ways in which the information ‗gap‘ may be addressed

3

The ability to construct strategies for locating information

4

The ability to locate and access information

5

The ability to compare and evaluate information obtained from different sources

6

The ability to organise, apply and communicate information to others in ways

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appropriate 7

The ability to synthesise and build upon existing information, contributing to the creation of new knowledge

Future developments To develop the work of the ILT evaluation, the team intend to formulate an online, MCQ IL skills test based on the Seven Pillars of Information Literacy model (SCONUL, 1999). This will enable the test to align itself with the framework adopted by other HE institutions in the UK. Once the test has been assessed for validity and reliability the intention is to integrate it into the existing IL skills provisions and teaching curriculums in a bespoke format for courses at SSU. All incoming level 4 students will complete the test prior to the commencement of period 1 and then again periodically (e.g. annually) throughout the course of the degree programme. By committing to such a programme of IL screening, under-performing students will be identified earlier, thus prompting tailored support programmes. It is hoped that with the combined expertise of library and academic staff this mode of formative assessment will promote academic standards.

Conclusion As the information network accelerates and develops in complexity, the role of IL skills will only increase in importance. Even though the opportunity to gather pre and post data from the ILT was not possible, the project provided a valuable insight into the theory and application of IL based tests. The next stage is to develop an IL test site(s) that is bespoke to SSU degree programmes.

Acknowledgements Thanks to Mary Hudson and Alison Williams, Information Librarians, Southampton Solent University and Christina Dinsmore and Mark Byrne, Academic Tutors, Southampton Solent University, who worked with the authors on the project.

References ANDRETTA, S. 2005. Information Literacy: Empowering the Learner “Against All Odds”. In: LILAC (Librarians‘ Information Literacy Annual Conference), Information literacy and Elearning. London: UK 4 - 6 April 2005. LILAC: London. 23


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ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGE AND RESEARCH LIBRARIES (ACRL). 2000. Information Literacy Competancy Standards for Higher Education. [online]. Available: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/standards/standards.pdf [accessed 2 April 2010] BRABAZON, T., 2007. The University of Google: Education in the (Post) Information Age. Aldershot: Ashgate. CAMERON, L., S.L. WISE and S. LOTTRIDGE, 2007. The Development and Validation of the Information Literacy Test. College & Research Libraries. 6(3), pp.229-237 DaCOSTA, J.W., 2010. Is There an Information Literacy Skills Gap to be Bridged? An Examination of Faculty Perceptions and Activities Relating to Information Literacy in United States and England. College & Research Libraries. 7(3), pp.203-222 GRIFFITHS, J. AND B. GLASS, 2010. Understanding the Information Literacy Levels of Students: Results of a Three Year Online Information Literacy Audit at Manchester Metropolitan University. [online]. Available: http://www.lilacconference.com/dw/programme/parallel_sessions_detail_3.html [accessed 21 April 2010] JOHNSTON, B., and S WEBBER, 2003. Information Literacy in Higher Education: a Review and Case Study. Studies in Higher Education. 28(3) pp.335-352 SCONUL, 1999. Information Literacy. [online]. Available: http://www.sconul.ac.uk/groups/information_literacy/seven_pillars.html [accessed: 2 April 2010] SOUTHAMPTON SOLENT UNIVERSITY, 2009. Academic Handbook. 2S:University Ethics Policy. [online]. Available: http://blade25.solent.ac.uk/DocMan8/rns?RNS=PPG/ASQS/AH/1234569791 [accessed: 3 February 2010] RADCLIFF, C.J., M.L. JENSEN, J.A. SALEM Jr, K.J. BURHANNA and J.A. GEDEON, 2007. A Practical Guide to Information Literacy Assessment for Academic Librarians. London: Libraries Unlimited. WALSH, A., 2009. Information Literacy Assessment: Where Do We Start? Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. 41(1) pp.19-28 WISE, S.L., L. CAMERON, S.T.-YANG. And S.L. DAVIS, 2009. The Information Literacy test (ILT): The Manual. [online]. Available: http://www.madisonassessment.com/uploads /ILT%20Test%20Manual%202010.pdf [accessed 5 January 2010]

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Contact Celia Forrester Information Librarian Learning and Information Service  02380319684  celia.forrester@solent.ac.uk Scott Burnet Senior Lecturer in Sports Science (Research Methods and Physiology) Faculty of Business Sports and Enterprise  02380319692  scott.burnet@solent.ac.uk

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Perceptions of Female Southampton Solent University Students of Volunteering as a Method to Enhance Employability Skills Dr Steven Jackson

I

ntroduction: In the current economic situation, employability is vital for graduate students. A recent CBI report1 has highlighted the need for graduates to have a range of skills when entering the workplace. These include: Self Management, Teamworking,

Business and Customer Awareness, Problem Solving, Communication and Literacy, Application of Information Technology and Application of Numeracy. This is particularly important for tourism graduates where opportunities for graduate level appointments are few. Although degree level work may develop some of the above skills, there are alternative methods by which they may be attained and valued by employers2. One such way is through volunteering3. Volunteering has recently come to prominence through organisations such as Volunteering England4 and the Institute of Volunteering Research5. A limited amount of work has been done on enhancing the employability of tourism graduates6 but this has paid little attention to the role of volunteering; and some studies have been completed that are tangential to tourism graduates such as gap year provision7 and ‗volunteering in the natural outdoors‘8. Nevertheless, some studies have examinted how volunteering may be integrated into the curriculum9 but again with little reference to tourism. This lack of attention to volunteering and tourism as a mechanism for skills development is somewhat surprising since volunteer tourism has been developing a significant profile through international, peer-reviewed publications and conferences, and is a popular topic for undergraduate dissertations. Indeed, two recent graduates have used their undergraduate dissertation as a springboard into voluntary, environmental grant-giving charity and a volunteer tourism provider. The academic study of volunteer tourism has frequently centred on values, motivations, behaviours and benefits to volunteers10. As such, the strong

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behavioural emphasis of this work is frequently related to the characteristics of graduates sought by employers. It should be clear that the relationships between tourism, volunteering and employability have yet to be fully explored, both from the perspective of enhancing the potential of students (practice) and from the perspective of developing the underpinning theoretical behavioural aspects (theory). The present study set out principally to explore the perceptions of volunteering as a way of improving skills acquisition of students at Southampton Solent University and of a range of tourism employers.

Method An online survey was sent to all students on all tourism courses as well as to students on related courses such as events management, outdoor activity courses and geographical and environmental courses; in addition, the survey was sent to over 130 tourism and tourism related employers. The response was low with only 67 responses in total. The majority of responses were from female students and the results relate to this group only. The number of usable responses from employers was particularly disappointing. Data was collected on: 1.

Age, course and faculty;

2.

Whether volunteering had been undertaken in the past two years and of what type (broadly categorized into ‗environmental‘ and ‗social groups);)

3.

Whether the student held materialist, mixed or post-materialist views11 and the level of pro-environmental attitudes;12

4.

The perception of the usefulness of volunteering as a way to improve employability skills; and

5.

Whether the student would be happy for volunteering to be part of their core studies and the preferred pattern of volunteering.

In view of the small sample size, the data was analysed using non-parametric methods (MannWhitney, Kruskal-Wallis and Chi-square ests and Spearman‘s Rho for correlation.)

Results The only factor appeared to significantly influence whether students had volunteered in the past two years was the course they were following (Table 1)13 while age was the only factor

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that was significantly related to the type of volunteering undertaken. ‗Environmental‘ volunteers had a median age of 22 while for ‗social‘ volunteers it was 2014.

Table 1: Volunteered in the Past Two Years in Relation to University Course Course Events Volunteered

Total

Geography/

Tourism

Tourism

Other

Yes

7

4

2

3

16

two years

No

6

4

17

2

29

Total

13

8

19

5

5

45

in past

The overall perception of female students as volunteering as a mechanism to improve employability skills is shown in Figure 1. Perhaps not surprisingly, soft skills such as Teamwork and Self-Management are rated most highly, while hard skills such as IT and Numeracy came towards the bottom. The only factor that appeared to significantly influence the perception was the type of of volunteering undertaken where ‗environmental‘ volunteers had a median score of 4.5 and ‗social‘ volunteers a score of 3 for business awareness15. The course being followed also had a marginally significant effect on the value of volunteering to improve business awareness with the highest median score for Events students (5), followed by Tourism students (4) and then Geography/Environmental students (3.5). Students were on the whole happy for volunteering to be a core part of their course. Not surprisingly, both faculty and course affected the degree to which volunteering should be part of the core curriculum with Geography/Environmental students in FTEC recording a median of 5, while Tourism and Events students in FBSE recorded a median of 4 16. The level of postmaterialism also marginally influenced the extent to which incorporating postmaterialist values recorded medians of 4 while those with materialist values recorded a media of 317. The level of pro-environmental attitudes was also significantly related to the acceptance of volunteering in the core curriculum with those with strong attitudes being happier for it to be incorporated18.

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Figure 1: Overall perception of volunteering as a way to improve employability skills

Figure 2: The extent to which students would be happy for volunteering being a core part of their course

Finally, students were asked to rank their preference for difference patterns of volunteering (Figure 3). A clear preference is shown for regular volunteering on a one day per week basis followed by (the presumable attraction) of a longer oversees placement where as an extended block of several months is not seen as desirable.

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Figure 3: Preference for different patterns of volunteering (lower median rank indicate s a greater preference)

Conclusions Caution must be exercised when drawing conclusions from a small study such as this where the respondents are self-selecting. Nevertheless, the overall impression given by the results suggest that female students‘ perceptions of volunteering as a skills-enhancing mechanism are favourable and that they would be quite happy for volunteering to be part of their core studies. There are indications that those following a more environmentally based couse are more likely to volunteer and the value of volunteering should be stressed more strongly to tourism students. As expected, those students have stronger pro-environmental attitudes and those who are more concerned with the quality of life rather than the material aspects look upon volunteering more favourably. Although the opportunity to undertake volunteering is offered through a Curriculum Plus unit to everyone, few Tourism students have taken up this opportunity. Where they have, it has proved very beneficial and led directly to employment. Further work should be undertaken to make the curriculum more flexible to enable Tourism students to develop their employability skills through volunteering while at the same time developing their understanding of the Tourism Industry.

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Endnotes 1

CBI, 2008. Taking stock: CBI education and skills survey 2008. London: CBI.

2

Hirst, A., nd. Links between volunteering and employability. Department for Education and Skills, Research Report RR309.

3

Cook, P. & Jackson, N. 2006. Valuing volunteering. London: Chartered Management Institute.

4

http://www.volunteering.org.uk/

5

http://www.ivr.org.uk/

6

Major, B., nd. Enhancing travel, tourism and hospitality management graduates’ employability. HEA, Business Management and Accountancy.

7

Jones, A. 2004. Review of gap year provision. Department for Education and Skills, Research Report RR555.

8

Ockenden, N., 2007. Volunteering in the natural outdoors in the UK and Ireland: a literature review. Institute for Volunteering Research.

9

Cormack, I. & Konidari, S., 2007. Integrating volunteering with the curriculum: present initiatives and future possibilities. Investigations in University Teaching and Learning 4(2), 89-97.

10

See, for example, Jackson, S 2010. The National Trust working holiday volunteer leaders: Who are they and why do they do it? LSA Newsletter 86, July 2010; and Jackson, S forthcoming chapter ‗Profiling volunteer holiday leaders: a case study of National Trust working holiday leaders – socio-demographics, basic human values and functional volunteer motivations‘ in edited book by Angela Benson.

11

Inglehart, R. & Abramson, P. R. 1999. Measuring postmaterialism. American Political Science Review 93(3), 665-677.

12

Based on a method developed using New Environmental Paradigm terms by Milbraith (1984) in Spash, C. L. 1997. Ethics and environmental attitudes with implications for economic valuation. Journal of Environmental Management 50, 403-416.

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13

Chi-square = 9.125, df = 3, p = 0.028

14

M-W U = 8, Z = -1.982, p = 0.047, n = 16

15

M-W U 4.5, Z = -2.405, p = 0.016, n = 16

16

For the faculty comparison M-W U = 50, Z = -2.627, p = 0.009, n = 36

17

K-W test, Chi-square = 5.771, df = 2, p = 0.056, n = 38

18

rho = 0.322, p = 0.048, n = 38

Contact Dr Steve Jackson Principal Lecturer (School Development) Faculty of Business, Sports and Enterprise  02380319172  steven.jackson@solent.ac.uk

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Working with E-Champions to Enhance Flexible Learning Ruth McLellan, Susan Patrick, Christina Dinsmore, Andrëa Faustino, Timos Almpanis, Whysnianti Basuki

S

ummary: In September 2009 the Facutly of Business, Sport and Enterprise (FBSE) were successful in gaining funding from the Higher Education Academy (HEA), Business Management Accountancy and Finance (BMAF), Discipline focused Learning Technology

Enhance Academy (DfLTEA) on a proposal to design a framework for blended learning delivery and pedagogic guidance for academics embarking on blended learning. A gap was identified as lecturers take traditional delivery methods and attempt to make them fit the blended learning model of delivery. The project aims to provide a better teaching and learning experience for the non-traditional adult learner by appointing e-champions on two blended delivery courses, to enhance our provision of blended learning courses and units. This case study describes the development of the blended learning framework.

Institutional, Course and Team Context By definition of Southampton Solent University (SSU) mission statement; ―SSU is committed to inclusive and flexible forms of Higher Education that meets the needs of employers and prepares students to succeed in a fast changing competitive world‖ One of the cornerstones of this commitment to flexible learning relies on the use of e-learning and the virtual campus. This is underpinned by the University‘s Strategic Development Plan (SDP) which is committed to the development of flexible modes of delivery and offering new forms of e-learning. The project is centred around two FBSE based courses: Foundation in Business (FdA) and Masters in Business (MABS), which were originally validated in 2006 and have been running since 2007. Both of the courses are aimed at the non-traditional adult learner and both courses recruit strongly from the Army, where the Business School has developed strong links. Students on these courses attend weekend on-campus session, four times per year. The gap between campus sessions requires directed self study supported by a combination of Elearning, E-tutor support, E-discussion and E-exercises via the University‘s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE); myCourse. Two units from both FdA and MABS were chosen in order to 33


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develop blended learning case studies. The table below outlines the project team, their role, background and application.

Table 1: Project Team Context Name

Role

Background and Application

Susan Patrick

Team Leader and

Susan has experience of blended learning research

E Champion

from a previous TQEF project titled “Transition into or back into HE by Blending Learning: Students’ Perceptions and Expectations within FBSE.” Susan is MABS Course Leader and produced a one unit for the blending learning case study.

Christina Dinsmore

Team Leader and

Christina is FdA course leader and produced one

E – Champion

unit for the blended learning case study. Christina is undertaking a MProf, which includes a unit on blended learning.

Timos Almpanis

Ruth McLellan

Team Member and

Timos is undertaking a PhD in this area. Timos

Learning

gives support, advice and training on technology to

Technologist

enhance and enable learning.

Team Member and

Ruth produced two units for the blended learning

E-Champion

case study (one for MABS and 1 FdA.) Ruth is undertaking a PGC in Blended Learning.

Andrëa Faustino

Team Member

Andrëa provides a student’s perspective. Andrëa is enrolled on MABS and is in her second year. Andrea is also employed part-time in FBSE as Faculty Academic Quality Officer.

Dr Whysnianti

Research Assistant

Basuki

Whysnianti is undertaking a PGC in Blended Learning.

Project Outcomes The following list details the intended project outcomes: 1.

Design a framework of blended learning delivery and pedagogic guidance for academics embarking on blended learning. 34


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2.

Improve blended learning units by developing four case study units within FBSE.

3.

Hold a showcase event on this project and invite other DfLTEA recipients to present.

4.

Provide a 1 day IT training workshop for blended learning tutors teaching on MABS and FdA courses.

5.

Provide information and guidance for the new lecturers‘ induction.

6.

Disseminate project outcomes both internally within SSU and externally via conferences, networking, journal articles, etc.

7.

MABS is being used as a case study example for a university wide online staff resource through the Flexible Delivery Support Team.

8.

MABS is migrating to the new myCourse Pro platform as a pilot case.

9.

Produce a final case study in January 2011, to be included in the BMAF website.

Support for Change As part of the HEA, BMAF, DfLTEA commitment to this project, 3 days were spent at a ‗Change Academy‘ residential in Leeds in January 2010, providing the team members with the time, space and personal development skills in order to clearly define and plan the project. A project action plan and evaluation plan was submitted and approved by the HEA in February 2010.

Development of the Blended Learning Framework Initially a literature review was conducted on blended learning definitions to enhance our own pedagogic understanding of blended learning.

The final agreed definition which was

developed by the team was presented at the showcase event on the 10th June: Characterised by the balanced application of learning technology building on sound pedagogic practice with the purpose of enhancing the learning experience of the student. Characteristics of blended learning include the selective use of learning technologies used in 35


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appropriate measure to complement traditional face to face teaching and learning methods. Three key pieces of primary research were conducted with different stakeholders in order to develop the blended learning framework. The initial framework was presented in May 2010 at the FBSE Research and Enterprise conference. Attendees were asked for their feedback on the framework during an interactive workshop. This feedback from future E-champions was subsequently fed into the framework. Current FdA and MABS students were involved in an oncampus focus group in order to discuss their experiences of the blended learning approach to the course and good practice that they had experienced. This invaluable feedback helped to define support both on and off-campus required by the students which the framework would address. The FdA and MABS course teams were also involved in a course focus group to identify their understanding, challenges and blended learning practice. Based on the feedback and outcomes of the primary research a work in progress blended learning framework was presented at the project dissemination showcase event on the 10th June 2010. This event also included presentations from the University of Plymouth and Hull. Feedback from attendees on the framework was also obtained. The diagram below presents the framework outcome of the research undertaken. The framework provides academics with four different approaches to blended learning and we are not advocating that teaching staff have to reach ‗Approach 4‘. The choice of approach will be fundamentally based on pedagogic understand of the group being taught, plus the tutors own knowledge of using myCourse to support technology enhanced learning. See ‗Useful Links‘ below for further information on this framework.

Diagram 1: Blended Learning Framework 36


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Reflections In order to support and assist other academics in becoming E-champions in their own right, we offer the following advice: Use support of the E-Development Team via Timos Almpanis/Roger Emery and the Flexible Delivery Support Team via Andrew Doig. Use E-assessment tools e.g Turnitin, Grademark and Peermark. Please contact Lorry West for more details. Use on-campus technology and book IT suites and use Learning Information Service (LIS) resources available, i.e. subject Librarian to deliver a session on research databases and how to access off-campus. Use on-campus session for recall and plenary activities, not solely information giving. This requires a complete rethink of how we spend our time in front of the students. Think about how you assess your students. Break it down into contained parts and provide plenty of formative feedback opportunities. Enrol on the PGC in Blended Learning – this will allow you to become a ‗the student‘ and obtain a firsthand view of the difficulties involved in being a student on blended learning course. In addition, this course provides you with a much needed ‗Community of Inquiry‘ which allows you to talk to others about your and their experiences. Please contact the course leader, David Moxon. The library stocks a number of excellent books from lead academics which are accessible and practical. Please refer to links in ‗Useful Resources‘ below.

Limitations There are important limitations to acknowledge. The ability to become an effective Echampion depends upon your willingness to understand and utilise the pedagogy behind teaching in a blended learning format. As outlined in the initial summary, it is not just a case of taking a traditional unit and putting it on the VLE. There are a number of ways that you can develop your understanding, and these have been outlined in the ‗Reflections‘ above.

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Whilst the framework has been developed, it is still yet to be fully tested on a complete cohort of students for an entire academic year. We would welcome any feedback on the framework that would help with our ongoing evaluations.

Future Developments The four case study units will be available to view via myCourse from October onwards. Please refer to ‗Useful links‘ below for more details. It is hoped that new lecturer‘s induction will include the blended learning framework and guidelines from this project.

Useful Links HEA BMAF Link: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/business/projects/detail/disciplinefocused_learning_technology_enhancement

MyCourse Link to Case Study Sites Unit Code

Unit Title

Course

Developed by

BUS108

Business and Academic Skills – Blended Learning Marketing Principles-Blended Learning Personal Development Planning

FdA FdA

Christina Dinsmore Ruth McLellan

MABS

Susan Patrick

Principles of Marketing Principles (BL)

MABS

Ruth McLellan

MKT310 BUS104BL MKT408BL

Textbooks GARRISON R., and N.VAUGHAN., 2008. Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles and Guidelines. San Francisco: Wiley. MACDONALD, J., 2006. Blended Learning and Online Tutoring: a Good Practice Guide. Aldershot: Ashgate SALMON, G., 2000. E-moderating. The Key to Teaching and Learning Online. London: Kogan Page SALMON, G. 2002. E-tivities. The Key to Online Learning. London: Kogan Page.

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Contact Susan Patrick Principal Lecturer (Portfolio Responsibility) Professional Development Faculty of Business, Sport and Enterprise  02380319516  susan.patrick@solent.ac.uk Christina Dinsmore Senior Lecturer in Business Strategy Faculty of Business, Sport and Enterprise  02380319545  christina.dinsmore@solent.ac.uk Timos Almpanis Learning Technologist Learning and Information Service  02380319728  timoleon.almpanis @solent.ac.uk Ruth Mclellan Senior Lecturer in Marketing Faculty of Business, Sport and Enterprise  02380319516  ruth.mclellan@solent.ac.uk Andrëa Faustino Faculty Academic Quality Officer Faculty of Business, Sport and Enterprise  02380319949  andrea.faustino@solent.ac.uk Dr Whysnianti Basuki Associate Lecturer in Business Faculty of Business, Sport and Enterprise  02380319837  whysnianti.basuki@solent.ac.uk

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Editorial Guidelines Background Dialogue is the internal Solent Learning Community Journal. The Solent Learning Community (SLC) was formed as a result of a TQEF project 2007-2009 which identified how a Community of Practice approach could be used to support pedagogic research and share good pedagogic practice across SSU. Dialogue is an academic journal aimed at both practitioners and policy makers. It is intended that it will be published internally twice a year.

Submission Articles need to be submitted electronically to Olga Costa-Munoz . Solent Pedagogic Research Network project team have jointly edited this first edition: Sara Briscoe (FBSE), Anne Hill (FMAS), Lesley MacDonald (FBSE), Rob Mills (WMA), Sean Wellington (FTECH), Lorry West (LIS).

Instructions for Authors Contributions to Dialogue will normally fall into one of the following categories. However, contributions of different lengths will be considered by the Editorial Board: 路 Articles: 2000 - 3000 words (accompanied by an abstract.) 路 Brief reports (up to 1000 words) on, for example, innovative practice, conference events, etc 路 Book Reviews

Format Articles should be typed, single spaced and have only one title. The title will appear in bold. We encourage the use of subheadings (which will also appear in bold) to divide the

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article. All artwork (material that is not textual) such as tables, figures, diagrams, charts, graphs, illustrations should be in black and white or shades of grey. Once your article has been accepted we will ask you to provide a hard copy of text with diagrams or other visuals to help with accurate setting at the design stage. Use Trebuchet 11 MS Font Footnotes should be avoided. Please contact a member of the editorial group for a word document template.

Writing Style Papers should be written in an easily accessible style, suitable for an audience of academics, policy makers and practitioners. All papers should use UK English spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Referencing Use the Harvard Referencing System. Further guidance can be obtained via http://portallive.solent.ac.uk/library/leaflets/resources/US06.pdf

About you Underneath your title we need your name and designation. At the end of your piece we will use: Your name Faculty and role Contact details

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Dialogue Volume 1 Issue 1  

Volume 1, Issue 1 of Southampton Solent University's Dialogue Journal.

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