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This article is one in a series of reflections on strategic directions in higher, vocational and professional education. It is written with an audience of senior managers in learning organisations in mind. It is part one of eight. Each section has proposed actions for senior managers to consider.

The Challenge

Institutions operate in increasingly competitive environments. Funding is a challenge. Identifying and recruiting students, the right 'kind of students', is also a challenge. Even if you operate in an open educational context with barriers to access being largely absent you still need to ensure that students self-select the right programme of study, at the right time and that they are prepared, with whatever support required, to be successful.

The meta-view, including national agendas for widening participating, increasing transnational education and student mobility, as well as rapidly emerging disciplines and their associated unforeseen employment opportunities, all compound the challenge.

Who are your programmes designed for? This is not as straightforward a question as it first appears. The minimal 'market research' into new programmes carried out by many providers, whether by means of listening to international recruitment agents or industry leaders, risks producing ill-fitted programmes frequently in a rush to market. Sometimes running pilots, floating a balloon, tweaking an existing programme, even sometimes just changing the title on an existing programme, all can lead to the 'wrong' students embarking on your programmes. The number of programmes that are designed but never launch, or launch and under-recruit, is sizable.

Strategic Implications

The strategic implications of designing learning with learners in mind are profound. Not only is it important to ensure that the learning is designed to fit student needs and aspirations, but they must also reflect the nature of the institution, the professions they work with and prepare graduates to serve and to the societal service that any given institution claims to address.

A strategic approach to this student profiling;

  1. determines the 'fit' of the student to the programme ensures retention and progression
  2. predetermines learner support needs, and allows institutions to cost programmes accordingly
  3. acknowledges and develops unique cultures of learning, not least to account for governmental expectations
  4. aligns student participation with programme needs to fulfil institutional strategy, ethos and purpose.

At the heart of any learner's experience is their programme of study. Regardless of whether this is articulated as a curriculum, syllabus, programme, course or module outline, and whether it is strictly regulated and deemed formal or more loosely defined as non-formal education; the educational design is at the core of every learner's experience. Great marketing and recruitment processes attract learners and excellent support services work to retain students, but it is the relevance and efficacy of learners engagement with their programme is what matters most.

Profiling Students

There are two levels of profiling students. The first is the individual's epistemological framework (prior assumptions about the nature of knowledge) and the second is their, often unconscious, orientations to learning, their cultural, educational, circumstantial and dispositional influences. The first could be regarded as a higher, more abstract, perspective. The second more practical and easier to grasp. Both are important. The illustration at the top of this article, and reproduced again here,  represents an aide memoir for design groups and strategists to reflect on.

Strategic leaders need to pay attention to the orientation of the incoming students. The outer circle reflects the work that emerged from the POISE project (Atkinson 2014). The inner circle is an illustration of the work by Thomas and May (2010) in establishing the basis for developing inclusive learning approaches. Despite the fact that this work might originate from a desire to better integrate international students with domestic students and to recognise diversity and equality in teaching, it manifests itself as a very useful framework to allow tutors and students themselves to assess their own influences.

POISE Framework

The POISE Framework is an attempt to identify the epistemological assumptions of students, and their faculty, by exploring five facets of learning, the first letters of which stand for POISE: Pace, Ownership, Innateness, Simplicity and Exactness. In its most simplified form, it can be seen as the representation of five beliefs about knowledge represented as binary opposites.

This resulted in the following matrix.

Pneumonic Binary concept Belief statements (after (Schommer, 1990)) Scholarship roots
Pace Quick or not at all Learning is quick or not all (Quick Learning) (Schoenfeld, 1983)
Ownership Authority or Reason Knowledge is handed down by authority (Omniscient Authority) (Perry, 1968)
Innateness Innate or Acquired The ability to learn is innate rather than acquired (Innate Ability) (Dweck & Leggett, 1988)
Simplicity Simple or Complex Knowledge is simple rather than complex (Simple Knowledge) (Perry, 1968)
Exactness Certain or Tentative Knowledge is certain rather than tentative (Certain Knowledge) (Perry, 1968)

The notion of binaries presents an opportunity to engage in a ‘dialogue about beliefs’. It is appropriate to establish the beliefs about learning that underpin a student’s (or faculty member’s) approach to learning and teaching, rather than to identify a ‘problem’ and tackle it with an intervention in isolation.

For example, a challenge in many western universities is that students are not fully aware, or in tune with, the institution's guidance on plagiarism. It would be useful to introduce this dimension of academic practice by first exploring the question of whether knowledge is based on authority or reason. Without a fundamental understanding that the western academic tradition expects students to develop their own reasoning skills, and to acknowledge pre-existing authority in a particular way, one cannot effectively explore the detailed nature of academic referencing, citations and intellectual ownership.

The online POISE resource articulates this using five questions to explore each binary element. These could be woven into class tutorials, set as introductory work for debate or implemented in a learning support setting. Personally, I would prefer to see them integrated into students initial study as part of orientation work. Questioning one's assumptions is the basis for fresh learning.

Binary concept POISE Questions
Pace Quick or not at all Is hard work enough?
Ownership Authority or Reason Who has the answers?
Innateness Innate or Acquired Who is responsible for my learning?
Simplicity Simple or Complex Is there a simple answer?
Exactness Certain or Tentative Is there always a right answer?

Any airing of such deliberations at the beginning of any learning process, and revisiting them periodically, serves to properly orientate the learner.

ACTIONS: POISE

Review your policies for pre-enrolment engagement, recruitment and on-boarding of students. Consider sharing a contextualised version of the POISE questions with your students. Design a customised self-diagnostic tool that all incoming students complete that reflects back to them in the feedback how your institution values knowledge against each of these five questions. This will cause potential students to reflect on their expectations and relationship with the meaning-making process.

Once students have been enrolled you might review your pastoral and tutorial support. You may find it helpful to establish small-group seminars or one-to-one tutorials and work through each of the five questions in a non-judgemental context. In doing so teaching staff come to understand the degree of homogeneity within a cohort and also, in some cases, to contrast the approaches of their students to their own.

Framework for Inclusion

The second epistemological dimension of the student, before and after enrollment, that requires some attention falls under different names. It will appear in reference to an institution's equality and diversity agenda, widening participation or inclusion strategies. In some countries, these are mandated by funders, in others, they are less formally expressed but are usually present in any growth and recruitment strategy.

Much of tertiary education globally is seeing its student population becoming ever more diverse, and disparate with increasing part-time, distance provision growing.  We know that different groups of students have different rates of success, measured by retention, completion and attainment. It is critical institutions either declare their focus (where they are expressly exclusive: male only, Catholic only, etc)  or risk disadvantaging specific groups of students.

Working in a way that advocates equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) universally enhance the learning experience of all students. So we can use the matrix define by Taylor and May (2010) to not only value the contribution of students regardless of their backgrounds and appreciate, in an active sense, the contributions individuals bring from different value systems, enriching the experience of everyone, we can also use it to assess the 'fit' of students to programme.

ORIENTATIONS INFLUENCES
Dispositional Identity; self-esteem; confidence; motivation; aspirations; expectations; preferences; attitudes; assumptions; beliefs; emotional intelligence; maturity; learning styles; perspectives; interests; self-awareness; gender; sexuality.
Educational Level/type of entry qualifications; skills; ability; knowledge; previous educational experience; life and work experience; learning approaches.
Circumstantial Age; disability; paid/voluntary employment; caring responsibilities; geographical location; access to IT and transport services; flexibility; time available; entitlements; financial background and means; marital status.
Cultural Language; values; cultural capital; religion and belief; country of origin/residence; ethnicity/race; social background

All of these factors will express themselves in the values, attitudes and orientations to learning amongst your student population. Giving an early opportunity for individuals to express their views, without judgement, as to how meaning is made, how knowledge is acquired, curated and exchanged. A supportive dialogue about a student's relationship with knowledge allows the student to identify how they may need to adjust their own approaches to learning. Although I do not recognise the constructs referred to as 'learning styles', I do believe there are important orientations to learning that are contextually and culturally specific and are acquired as language is from infancy.

ACTIONS: INCLUSION

Faculty and learning support staff: the four things institutions can do are to make sure that all faculty and learning support staff are equipped with the skills to anticipate their diverse students' needs, to reflect on their own orientations, to encourage learning designers to build flexible approaches to learning to accommodate difference and to do so in collaboration with students themselves. This means valuing the professional development of your faculty and learning support staff.

Be Upfront: the strategic advantages of not delegating these concerns to the back-end student support service and bringing them right up front in your pre-enrolment and onboarding activities with students are that you are much more likely to create a community in which each individual brings their real self to the community and is valued for their unique contribution. Institutions may want to have anonymous discussion boards that allow prospective students to share their readiness to learn.

Reflect on Materials: Students will always connect more effectively with learning materials that are relevant to them. Materials can be alienating for learners. Cultural references or unfamiliar contexts can slow the learning process. You need to ensure your materials are easily ‘translatable’ from one cultural context to another. Instruct your materials design teams to adopt an inclusive matrix as a  quality enhancement mechanism.

How should institutions respond?

There are three possible strategic responses to this challenge.
Ignore it. We continue to design courses that fit into our educational structures and work harder at selling them to students in general.
Accommodate it. We attempt to incorporate some of the principles suggested here, perhaps implementing a version of POISE questions in our tutorial support structures, establishing an orientation questionnaire based on the four dimensions of the learner's context, and possibly implementing some diagnostic assessment at the beginning of each course or module.
Embrace it. Design orientation questionnaires and data capturing processes that inform the discussion between the student and their institution. Explore options for student-defined learning outcomes and assessment models, implement real-world, in-place, situated, flexible learning options, micro-credit accumulation frameworks leading to awards, and begin to redefine our institutions as enablers and validators of learning rather than curators of knowledge.

There is an old adage about a container ship leaving Tokyo and being just one degree out on its course heading to San Francisco and missing the United States completely. I have not checked the geography but the implications are clear. Pointing students in the right direction is our first strategic challenge.

Consultancy support is available institutions that feel they would benefit from an external review of their strategies, policies and practices. See Consultancy pages.

References

Atkinson, S. P. (2014) Rethinking personal tutoring systems: the need to build on a foundation of epistemological beliefs. BPP University Working Papers. London: BPP University.

Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E. L. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review95(2), 256–273.

Perry, W. G. (1968). Patterns of Development in Thought and Values of Students in a Liberal Arts College: A Validation of a Scheme. Final Report. Office of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC. Bureau of Research.

Schoenfeld, A. H. (1983). Beyond the Purely Cognitive: Belief Systems, Social Cognitions, and Metacognitions As Driving Forces in Intellectual Performance*. Cognitive Science7(4), 329–363.

Schommer, M. (1990). Effects of beliefs about the nature of knowledge on comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology82(3), 498–504.

Thomas, L., & May, H. (2010). Inclusive learning and teaching in higher education (p. 72). York: Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/inclusivelearningandteaching_finalreport.pdf

The question of whether the four categories of Fellowship, professional recognition from the Higher Education Academy (AdvanceHE), represent a progression framework appears to be one of those perennial discussions. At first glance, it is understandable that it might be interpreted as though individuals must first achieve a D1 (descriptor1) 'level' before moving on the D2 and so on. The truth is slightly more confusing. I believe we should all we use carefully chosen language in identifying the differences between categories of Fellowship by avoiding the implication of levels in D1, D2.... and instead have an active discussion with Faculty about the descriptors and potential labels. In my practice, I insist on discussing the differences between a Teaching Fellowship (D1) and an Academic Fellowship (D2), between that and a Leadership Fellowship (D2) and a Strategic Fellowship (D4).

I believe an accurate interpretation of the UKPSF and its relationship to Fellowship Descriptors across all four categories make it largely incompatible with any institutional promotional structure. Certainly achieving recognition within a category can, and should, generate evidence that can be used as part of an evidence base towards promotion, but tying Fellowship to internal promotion distorts individuals understanding of Fellowship and undermines their active engagement with the Professional Standards Framework.

Below are four videos representing extracts from an institutional Fellowship Seminar recently. They are presented in the order in which they were delivered although each should stand alone. They are:

  • Overview of the UKPSF (Professional Standards Framework)
  • Curating Evidence (putting a portfolio together)
  • Categories of Fellowship (an explanation of why they are NOT levels)
  • Good Standing (staying on top of your Fellowship)

Overview of the UKPSF (Professional Standards Framework)

I do not represent either an authority on the UKPSF nor do I represent the views of the HEA or AdvanceHE. These are my personal views based on having overseen an institutional scheme and written an aligned PGCert, as well as providing some consulting services to a number of UK colleagues in recent years. Other than my publicly stated reservations about the lack of an epistemological referencing within the UKPSF I think it is an essential tool for reflective practice.

Curating Evidence (putting a portfolio together)

Everyone is busy! I suspect we need to do a better job of supporting new Faculty to develop a reflective portfolio from their first day on the job. It should be part of that first on-boarding conversation with their new line manager. Encouraging new staff to document even the most mundane professional observations is necessary but is rarely a skill most of have naturally. This segment makes a few suggestions.

Categories of Fellowship (an explanation of why they are NOT levels)

The Fellowships have four descriptors, one each, obviously. Of course, they are numbered 1 through 4, D1, D2.... So it is natural enough to assume that they are progressive, that they constitute a series of levels. This is not the case. Each descriptor describes the kind of role that someone in HE has and articulates this with reference to the UKPSF. Even if you are an extremely competent academic, engaged in all dimensions of the UKPSF with evidence of your on-going excellence in practice, you cannot assume to be made a Senior Fellow without exploring your practice against this new category's descriptor, essentially the leadership and mentoring of others around learning and teaching. It is important to grasp the notion that longevity and 'excellent in role' is not sufficient to presume eligibility. In each category, there is a distinct focus. This segment explores the four distinct categories as teaching, academic, leadership and strategic roles. I think this makes it easier to unpack them.

Good Standing (staying on top of your Fellowship)

The Higher Education Academy (AdvanceHE) have not detailed any guidelines for what constitutes 'remaining in good standing' as a Fellow, in whichever category it is awarded. But, institutions are encouraged to support Fellows to document their practice and facilitate both reflection and sharing. In theory, an institution's delegated authority to award fellowships through an accredited pathway could be at risk if the HEA chose to audit an institution and found them wanting. It need not be that difficult. Here are a few suggestions.

Colleague interested in designing modules and programmes that enable a full range of skills development across domains (cognitive, affective, psychomotor, interpersonal and metacognitive) will hopefully find this short video resource useful. Feel free to share with colleagues on PGCerts. It is designed to support a reflective question which is, "what are the tools that your graduates might be expected to master on day one in their first graduate job role?" and secondly, "how would you design intended learning outcomes to progressively enable your students to acquire such skills and to demonstrate them?" (to be assessed)

This ten-minute video (10'30") outlines the advantages of using a psychomotor domain taxonomy in designing learning outcomes for both vocational programmes and all tertiary disciplines. Simon Atkinson advocates the design of 'manual' skills in terms of computer software and tools used by graduates. He outlines two taxonomies from the 1960s and 70s, those by Simpson and Harrow (full references are on the main psychomotor domain page), but both of these are described as being more psychological definitional taxonomies, whereas Ravindra H. Dave's 1967/70 taxonomy lends itself perfectly to the articulation of progressive skills development in tertiary contexts. Simon also illustrates the scope of 'manual' skills applied to all disciplines regardless of whether arts, humanities, social or physical sciences.

While such taxonomies are clearly of interest to those designing vocational and adult learning programmes, it is arguably as important that university students also experience the progressive nature of intended learning outcomes. Writing, and assessing, such outcomes will support graduates' development of tangible 'physical skills', notably in the use of discipline-specific digital applications. Course designers should not abdicate the responsibility of such skills development to an extra-curricular programme of 'digital literacy, but incorporate their skills development in their mainstream courses.

See pages for the Psychomotor domain

I persist in being a fervent advocate for the use of a broader range of domains of learning, other than the cognitive domain (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001; Bloom, 1956), in course design.

Higher education must surely be more than just about acquiring content and intellectual skills. A broader student experience should be embedded into each course, module and programme design, beyond that of acquiring purely intellectual skills.

The 'graduate skills' so demanded by employers are rarely without reference to so-called 'soft skills' (S. P. Atkinson, 2015). These are interpersonal domain skills, conflict resolution, cross-cultural awareness, collaboration and communications are what most graduates need most (J. C. Atkinson, 2014; Bennett, 1986). Alongside these the skills, often assumed by employers, to make effective use of software pertinent to that profession are rarely taught and assessed despite being critical to be effective on the day one. These skills can be set out and assessed using psychomotor domain outcomes (Dave, 1967). Such non-intellectual attributes are often seen by faculty as beyond their remit, as are also those values, the affective domain (Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1956) and the development of personal epistemologies using a metacognitive domain (S. P. Atkinson, 2014) which form part of the maturation process within students themselves. These cannot be 'taught' in the strict sense, but their facilitation is entirely within the capabilities of able faculty.

Given that we know students are more likely to take anything assessed seriously, it is essential to write assessable outcomes across a range of skills. So, it is beholden on course designers to include the interpersonal domain (communications, cross-cultural awareness, conflict resolution), affective domain (values), metacognitive domain (personal epistemologies) and the psychomotor domain (manual and dexterity skills). Each has its place in all disciplines. There is clearly a craft in designing ILOs that motivate and steer learning but which are transparent and assessable. There is guidance on how to do that under the 8 Stage Learning Design Framework 8-SLDF and I am always willing to share practice with colleagues in workshops when requested.

Bibliography

Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing : a revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

Atkinson, J. C. (2014). Education, Values and Ethics in International Heritage: Learning to Respect. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Group.

Atkinson, S. P. (2014). Rethinking personal tutoring systems: the need to build on a foundation of epistemological beliefs. London: BPP University College.

Atkinson, S. P. (2015). Graduate Competencies, Employability and Educational Taxonomies: Critique of Intended Learning Outcomes. Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 10(2), 154–177.

Bennett, M. J. (1986). A developmental approach to training for intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 10(2), 179–196. https://doi.org/10.1016/0147-1767(86)90005-2

Bloom, B. S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain (2nd edition). New York: Addison-Wesley Longman Ltd.

Dave, R. H. (1967). Psychomotor domain. Presented at the International Conference of Educational Testing, Berlin.

Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Company, Inc.

 

 

Workshop aligned to UKPSF A1-A4, K3-K4, V1, V4

This post is a summary of the page for Stage 7 of the 8-SLDF, and the fourth element in a constructively aligned course design approach, which is feedback throughout. Closely reflective of both our assessment practice and our learning activities, feedback is best fully integrated into the learning rather than seen as a separate administrative response to submitted work. Designing feedback throughout opportunities in our courses will lead us to adopt variations in our learning activities and potentially to modify our assessment strategies too. Reviewing our strategies for feedback at this stage in the design process allows us to ensure that we can adjust our ILOs, assessment and activities if necessary to accommodate meaningful feedback throughout.

There are four concepts which we need to clarify or define, for this stage of the 8-SLDF. These are:

  • Formative Feedback
  • Feedback for learning
  • Feedforward
  • Feedback throughout.

Four types of feedbackThey all feature in a well-structured feedback approach to any module or programme in higher education, regardless of whether it is a classroom/seminar based module, online or blended course. They are explored fully on the Feedback pages.

 

psychomotor domain"Why do I need to worry about manual skills? I teach history/French/maths...". My answer is simple. What tools are used in the pursuit of your discipline? Is there not a degree of increasing proficiency in the deployment of these tools expected of students they progress through their studies?

Psychomotor skills can be defined as those skills and abilities that require a physical component. Rather than using the mind to think (cognitive) or reflect (metacognitive), or our ability to speak and observe to develop social skills (affective, interpersonal), these are things we do physically. These skills require a degree of dexterity, suppleness, or strength. They require motor control.

Such skills have been in development since parents taught their children to hunt, to sew skins together and make fire. There is a rich history in vocational education towards acknowledging progressive skills development, from apprentice to journeyman and to master (Perrin, 2017), dating back before the establishment of craft guilds in the European High Middle Ages (Richardson, 2005). As the craft guilds loosened their grip, as industrialisation centralised the production of goods and ultimately services, some skills have been lost, others divided, segmented, into a series of tasks. Formal education has routinely separated cognitive and manual skills, giving primacy to intellectual skills above all others (Gardner, 2011).

With the growth of formalised vocational education, noticeably in the OECD developed economies in the 1950s to the 1970s, attention turned amongst policymakers as to how to codify and measure progressive skills development. These resulted in the development of a number of educational taxonomies for objectives (or outcomes in later language) notably those of Simpson (1972), Harrow (1972) and Dave (1969). It is understood that Ravindra Dave was party to Bloom's project team's original 1950s work on the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains although all three significant contributions have to some extent referenced Bloom's work.

Simpson (1972) established a progressive taxonomy with 7 stages.

Stage Descriptor
Perception* Sensory cues guide motor activity.
Set* Mental, physical, and emotional dispositions that make one respond in a certain way to a situation.
Guided Response First attempts at a physical skill. Trial and error coupled with practice lead to better performance.
Mechanism The intermediate stage in learning a physical skill. Responses are habitual with a medium level of assurance and proficiency.
Complex Overt Response Complex movements are possible with a minimum of wasted effort and a high level of assurance they will be successful.
Adaptation Movements can be modified for special situations.
Origination New movements can be created for special situations.

Arguably Simpson's first two stages are dispositional and can be separated from the remaining 5 stages. Likewise, Harrow's (1972) 6 stage taxonomy organized around the notion of coordination is less of a  progressive educational taxonomy given that it combines involuntary responses*, arguably interpersonal skills** and learned capabilities:

Stage Descriptor
Reflex movements* Automatic reactions.
Basic fundamental movement Simple movements that can build more complex sets of movements.
Perceptual Environmental cues that allow one to adjust movements.
Physical activities Things requiring endurance, strength, vigour, and agility.
Skilled movements Activities where a level of efficiency is achieved.
Non-discursive communication ** Body language.

My personal belief is that less is more in the context of psychomotor taxonomies and favour the following 5 stage version developed by Ravindra H. Dave (1970) in the context of vocational education.

Stage Descriptor
Imitation Observing and copying someone else.
Manipulation Guided via instruction to perform a skill.
Precision Accuracy, proportion and exactness exist in the skill performance without the presence of the original source.
Articulation Two or more skills combined, sequenced, and performed consistently.
Naturalization Two or more skills combined, sequenced, and performed consistently and with ease. The performance is automatic with little physical or mental exertion.

I have adapted Dave's psychomotor taxonomy in order to make it suitable for the articulation of intended learning outcomes for higher education programmes, regardless of disciplines.

Dave Stage Atkinson's Stage Revised Descriptor
Imitation (to) Imitate ability to copy, replicate the actions of others following observations.
Manipulation (to) Manipulate ability to repeat or reproduce actions to prescribed standard from memory or instructions.
Precision (to) Perfect ability to perform actions with expertise and without interventions and the ability to demonstrate and explain actions to others.
Articulation (to) Articulate ability to adapt existing psychomotor skills in a non-standard way, in different contexts, using alternative tools and instruments to satisfy a need.
Naturalization (to) Embody ability to perform actions in an automatic, intuitive or unconscious way appropriate to the context.

I have then chosen to represent this revised version of the psychomotor domain as a circular form (as I have done with other domains). This develops the active verbs appropriate to each proto-verb for each stage which can be used to design course designers in authoring intended learning outcomes and learning activities and their objectives. The outer circle also suggest possible, but not exclusive approaches to allowing students to demonstrate such skills development in the context of higher education.

psychomotor domain

But what again of the academic who says, "I teach history (or maths, or French, or nearly any higher education discipline), what do these skills have to do with me and my students?"

My answer is simple. What tools are used in the pursuit of your discipline? Is there not a degree of increasing proficiency in the deployment of these tools expected of students they progress through their studies?

Examples of tools used in higher education across a range of disciplines are not hard to come up with. Once you start thinking about it I am sure you can add many more:

Discipline Tools (physical, paper-based or online)
Languages Dictionaries, Thesaurus, Lexicons
Maths Calculator, MathML, Geometry software
History & Philosophy Mapping software, archival retrieval, databases
Geography GIS (Geographic Information Systems), Mapping software, Spatial databases
Psychology and biology Response systems, lab equipment
Physics and Chemistry Modelling and visualisation software, lab equipment
Accounting and Business SPSS, Accounting software, Spreadsheets
Music Instruments, recording equipment
Dance & Performance Lighting rigs, sound equipment

More advanced students expected to record and analyse quantitative or qualitative data are likely to also be faced with using SPSS or its equivalent of NVivo or its competitors. And of course, all students should be expected to make use of the library search engines and associated bibliographic software. Most will also use word processing software (Word) and presentational software (PowerPoint).

Do we assume that the skills to use these skills are simply absorbed through some form of osmosis, through casual exposure? Can we realistically expect undergraduates to have 'done this at school'  or for postgraduates to 'come already equipped from their undergraduate degree'?

Obviously not. So what do we do about it as course designers and teaching faculty? Firstly we need to design our courses through a systemic approach. But we can also make use of the psychomotor taxonomies above to structure assessable intended learning outcomes. We know that students are focussed on where the assessment points to. They engage in anything that is directly assessed and ignore anything that appears peripheral. So by designing into a module's ILOs the psychomotor skills associated with the tools of the discipline we are able to:

  • motivate students
  • encourage their real-world assessment skills
  • deliver employment skills

Unless there is an absolute, universally agreed, brand name associated with a tool it is always best to refer to it more generically. For example, it is better to refer to 'GIS systems' rather 'ArcGIS', or 'professional audio mixing equipment' rather than 'Studiomaster ClubXS'.

The same guidelines on creating well-structured progressive ILOs for intellectual skills (cognitive domain) still apply. As with all ILO it is important to be a precise and concise as possible while all the while trying to preserve a degree of flexibility. 

Structure of all ILOs follows the same pattern: Active Verb -> Subject -> Context.

Below are some examples. Each one makes use of my taxonomy circle above demonstrating a progression in complexity should a student be required to develop increased proficiency towards mastery through an undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

This first example is from a humanities discipline in which archival databases and library-based sources more often than not require some manipulation. Consider the difference between what is being asked of a first-year undergraduate and that of a postgraduate masters student. Remember this is just one of a number of ILOs for this particular module.

Discipline: History On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
Level 4: First Year UG replicate searches of valuable sources of historical research data for the purpose of  verification
Level 5: Second Year UG employ a range of different search engines and archival systems to produce a meaningful dataset
Level 6: Third Year UG organise a systematic search of historical records in order to answer a pre-determined research question
Level 7: Masters manage searches across a range of remote web-based services to provide a robust dataset

You will also notice that I have not made the mistake of identifying a specific archive or database. So your resources can change without you having to rewrite your ILOs.

In this next example, from a physical science discipline, instruments are named but only using their generic name rather than a specific model or brand for the same reason. The progressive theme here is measurement.

Discipline: Physics On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
Level 4: First Year UG adhere to prescribed methods for using Vernier callipers to make accurate measurements
Level 5: Second Year UG manipulate a range of micrometres to perform precise measurements
Level 6: Third Year UG calibrate an oscilloscope to accurately measure time-variance in voltages
Level 7: Masters integrate a range of different lab equipment in order to support the accurate recording of experimental data

Finally, here is an example from languages. I remember at one institution a student complained that they did not know how to add accents and macrons to their typed script. They were resorting to printing out a text and then providing the finishing touches with a pen! Surely we should support students to develop skills in something as superficially basic as word-processing too.

Discipline: French On successful completion of this module you will be able to:
Level 4: First Year UG replicate simple tasks to make use of an AZERTY keyboard to produce French language texts
Level 5: Second Year UG employ the customisation features within your word processing software to facilitate authoring in French
Level 6: Third Year UG organise your information technology environment to optimise the production of edited texts in French
Level 7: Masters integrate multilingual referenced sources in your bibliographic software and cite them appropriately through a variety of publishing platforms

Hopefully, these illustrations will provide you with some insights into how you might progressively support students in their 'tool' use.
For most university programmes, with the exception of arts and performance related subjects, psychomotor domain skills are likely to be seen as less significant than the cognitive (intellectual skills), affective (values), metacognitive (epistemological development) and interpersonal (communication) domain skills. But I would argue there is not a single programme, if not every single module, warrants the inclusion of a psychomotor outcomes students needs to have assessed to invest value in its acquisition.

References

Dave, R. H. (1967). Psychomotor domain. Presented at the International Conference of Educational Testing, Berlin.
Gardner, H. (2011). Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Perrin, D. C. (2017, January 13). The Apprenticeship Model: A Journey toward Mastery. Retrieved September 1, 2018, from https://www.classicalu.com/the-apprenticeship-model-three-levels-to-mastery/
Richardson, G. (2005). Craft Guilds and Christianity in Late-Medieval England: A Rational-Choice Analysis. Rationality and Society, 17(2), 139–189. https://doi.org/10.1177/1043463105051631

Designing Engaging Learning Opportunities

Workshop aligned to UKPSF A1-A2,  K1-K4, V1 

The third element in a constructively aligned course design and stage six of the 8-SLDF is the learning activities that allow students to prepare for the assessment of their learning outcomes. This is not about the content that we share with our students; it is about how we develop an appropriate strategy to do that. Some modules will require a good deal of knowledge to be acquired by novice learners and a set-text and discursive seminars may be the appropriate strategy. Could we use one-minute papers, 'Pecha Kucha', lightning talks, and other techniques to secure student engagement? Alternatively, we might be designing a more advanced module in which a discovery learning approach is more appropriate. Could we use enquiry based learning models here instead, asking our students to prepare to take a debate position, run a Moot or team-based discussion? The important thing is that we are developing a strategy and practical approaches that build on our design, not seeking innovation for innovation's sake. The pages for this stage of the 8 Stage Learning Design Framework are summarised as:

      1. The content to be taught should serve the students ability to evidence the ILO
      2. The skills and attributes that are taught at a topic, week or session level should be designed to rehearse elements of the assessment
      3. Not everything that engages students is directly assessed but everything they are asked to do should be justifiable as informing the assessment and ILOs.

You might want to ask yourself as a course design team

        • How closely mapped are the  ILOs to each topic, week or session outline?
        • How confident are you that you cover the ILOs appropriately in terms of weighting and importance?
        • How much variation is there in the learning approaches taken throughout your module?
        • How are you enabling students to develop skills beyond knowledge acquisition?

    See 8-SLDF pages for a fuller explanation.

Workshop available aligned to UKPSF A1, A4, A5, K2, K3, K6, V1-V4


This post is a shortened version of a new resource posted about designing effective ILOs available here.

ILOs are the detailed explanations, written in language the students will understand before beginning the module or programme, as to what they will be able to DO when they have successfully completed the learning.

Many quality assurance structures, institutional or external, require Programme and Module Specifications contain details of the 'intended learning outcomes' (ILOs) of the programme of study. ILOs serve to provide students with a ‘checklist’ of the types of skills, attributes, abilities or competencies they should be able to evidence through successfully completing the module or programme.

Intended Learning Outcomes should not be seen as a straight-jacket for faculty. Rather, if they are well written, they should provide scaffolding for creativity in teaching and assessment.

Most teachers can identify any number of unintended learning outcomes, depending on the character of the cohort, the changing context in which learning takes place or the emergent nature of the discipline. However, the ILOs are the facets of learning that will be assessed. They should be written knowing that these are the capabilities that will be assessed, not the content knowledge.

Read more for guidance on how to structure effective ILOs that cover all dimensions of learning.

 

Visualisation of factors impacting on media choicesThere are five key considerations we should take into account as we either work with media in our learning and teaching process or design learning using media.  The relative importance of each of these depends on the level, context and nature of the module or programme but all should need to be reflected in any learning design. These five are:

  • Students: orientation and disposition to learning with and through media.
  • Staff: abilities to work with media. Their abilities to identify appropriate media and manipulate it as appropriate.
  • Professional needs: present and future demands of the professional context in using media appropriately.
  • Content & Resources: Identifying existing, or creating, effective media resources for learning.
  • Institutional Choices: The constraints and opportunities for learning designers to develop media.

 

This is stage 3 of the 8-Stage Learning Design Framework. Read the associated pages for this stage for more detail.

Workshop Schedule - Details see here

This 33-minute presentation is from a session delivered to an internal audience of colleagues on my final day at BPP University as part of Digital Literacy Day (16 Feb 2018). Set-up as a demonstration, sharing QRs, Padlet, Twitter. After six years leading a portfolio focussed around teaching enhancement, scholarship and research and educational technology adoption, I outlined the pervasive nature of resistance to change and issued a call for recognising the urgent need to embrace sound educational technology practices. The presentation sets up the premise that our educational history has created a walled garden within which the majority of our academic practice exists. I suggested a few alternatives to existing practice, encouraging colleagues to take some small steps. These included Voicethread as a an interactive discussion platform and H5P (I misspoke in the video and said HfP!). H5P provides a degree of interactive possibilities.

My challenge to my colleagues was about who was going to design the learning experiences through educational technology. What is the relationship between instructional designers and content specialists? What about their relationships with 'classroom' practitioners?

 

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