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SEED projects 2020 – Designing for learning

Go big or go home! Exploring ways to maximise the learning benefits of lectures for students in large-scale statistics and data-science courses

Dr Rhys Jones

Dr Rhys Jones

Dr Rhys Jones, Anna Fergusson and Emma Wilson (Statistics, Faculty of Science)

This project involved one of the largest stage one papers offered by the University of Auckland, STATS 10x, which has over 2000 students per semester and lecture sizes of up to 600 students. Currently, lectures are predominantly driven by sequences of PowerPoint slides that match examples provided in the student workbooks, with “gaps” in the examples filled in during the lectures. This lecture design has been argued as being the best way to deliver course content and engage students, due to the large scale of the course. However, in recent years, we have been experimenting with the use of “large-scale interactives” within the STATS 10x lectures. We believe that just like in small class settings, practical activities (interactives) can facilitate the creation of engaging and motivational learning experiences, which in turn can help improve students’ confidence and achievement.

Based on lecture observations and the student feedback we’ve received, we’re confident that lectures designed around interactives would provide further learning benefits to our students. Current interactives in our STATS10x course include students engaging with each other via group work, with the lecturer, often with devices that can be supported through custom-designed apps or Qwizdom. However, often these interactives are used as “one-off” events in a lecture, competing with the need to get the examples done in the workbook. We think these interactives have a greater potential for learning, but we need to develop a new framework and approach for the whole lecture. We also need to consider how to link these re-designed lectures to existing course materials (the workbook), and the various tools and existing online materials we are developing in Canvas (e.g. practice quizzes, online assignments). We also see the contributions of our students as invaluable to the design and development of new (as well as existing) teaching materials and tools to facilitate the proposed changes to our courses listed above.

We, therefore, planned to utilise several groups of STATS 10x students and to gain their perspectives on the interactives and the lecture experience. This is performed via the use of focus groups after we have re-designed and delivered lectures on the course. We employ a research assistant to help with building a literature base to support our innovations and with collecting and analysing data from the project. In this project, we aimed to explore ways to maximise the learning benefits of lectures for students by: building on our previous success with using large-scale interactives; developing new lectures designed around the interactives; and considering the combined benefits of lecture experiences and Canvas-based activities.

Download the poster

Go big or go home! (6.9MB)