Developing Open Academic Practices in Research Methods Teaching within an HE in FE context
Ester Ehiyazaryan, University Centre Doncaster and SCORE, The Open University, UK
Conference Theme: Impact
Summary: The experiences of research methods tutors and students of reusing OER within an HE in FE institutional context.
Abstract: This paper reports on a SCORE teaching fellowship project focused on embedding open academic practices within social science research methods teaching. The host institution is a large, mixed economy (HE in FE) college where the majority of the HE provision is at full degree and postgraduate level. This requires effective research methods teaching at levels 4 to 7 and is an argument for making good use of the high quality research methods OER available through repositories such as Jorum Open, iTunesU, the National Centre for Research Methods and Merlot. However as the HE provision sits within a further education framework, historically there has been a strong emphasis on extended face time with students. As a result the introduction of blended and distance learning pedagogies to supplement or substitute this face time is a fairly new concept which is currently starting to take shape within the institution. This transition is in part driven by the learners’ own preparedness for e-learning and their increasing expectations for such provision (OLTF, 2011). This project has sought to develop tutors’ awareness of OER for research methods teaching and evaluate the embedding of such resources in academic practice. Tutors from three different disciplines engaged in evaluating research methods OER and subsequently embedding these in teaching practice. The criteria for selection of OER for evaluation was based on including a mixture of media types as classified in the Conversational Framework (Laurillard, 2002) in order to address the need for ongoing dialogue with the learner. As the evaluation of OER had a strong focus on meeting learners’ needs, the Learning Object Attribute Metric (LOAM) tool (2010) was further used to define criteria concerned with the level of support, feedback and self-direction which an OER provides to the learner. Finally, the conceptual categories developed by the ORIOLE project (Pegler, in press) provided a framework for understanding the factors which were likely to influence tutors’ decision making in reuse and students’ decision making in engaging with the resources. Within an action research framework three research methods tutors from different disciplines engaged in evaluating 22 research methods OER. Using the criteria outlined above, each tutor completed 6 evaluative questionnaires – three for OER they would like to use in practice and three for OER which they would not consider suitable for reuse. The tutors participated in extended interviews the purpose of which was to develop an understanding of their preferences and needs where reuse of the resources in academic practice was concerned. Learning designs for embedding OER in specific modules were developed on the basis of the evaluation. These learning designs applied pattern based frameworks (LDSE, 2011, Littlejohn and Pegler, 2007, Oliver et al., 2002) to plan and structure academic practice with OER. The learning designs were trialled with students at levels 5,6, and 7 on two different programmes of study. Focus group interviews were conducted with students who used the OER in a self directed way, beyond their face-to-face sessions. The findings this paper reports on are concerned with understanding the role which OER have in developing e-learning within HE in FE academic practice. In addition, the capacity of OER to meet learners’ needs in this context will be explored. Finally, the value of using learning design frameworks to support tutors in designing learning with OER in the context of research methods teaching will be discussed.
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