From tiers to tables – enhancing student experience through collaborative learning spaces

Rasmussen, Gary N., Dawes, Les A., Hargreaves, Douglas, & James, Jonathan (2012) From tiers to tables – enhancing student experience through collaborative learning spaces. In Mann, Lllewellyn & Daniel, Scott (Eds.) Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, The Engineering & Science Education Research (ESER) group, Faculty of Engineering & Industrial Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Vic..

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BACKGROUND Collaborative and active learning have been clearly identified as ways students can engage in learning with each other and the academic staff. Traditional tier based lecture theatres and the didactic style they engender are not popular with students today as evidenced by the low attendance rates for lectures. Many universities are installing spaces designed with tables for group interaction with evolutions on spaces such as the TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning) (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, n.d.) and SCALE-UP (Student-Centred Activities for Large-Enrolment Undergraduate Programs) (North Carolina State University, n.d.) models. Technology advances in large screen computers and applications have also aided the move to these collaborative spaces. How well have universities structured learning using these spaces and how have students engaged with the content, technology, space and each other? This paper investigates the application of collaborative learning in such spaces for a cohort of 800+ first year engineers in the context of learning about and developing professional skills representative of engineering practice. PURPOSE To determine whether moving from tiers to tables enhances the student experience. Does utilising technology rich, activity based, collaborative learning spaces lead to positive experiences and active engagement of first year undergraduate engineering students? In developing learning methodology and approach in new learning spaces, what needs to change from a more traditional lecture and tutorial configuration? DESIGN/METHOD A post delivery review and analysis of outcomes was undertaken to determine how well students and tutors engaged with learning in new collaborative learning spaces. Data was gathered via focus group and survey of tutors, students survey and attendance observations. The authors considered the unit delivery approach along with observed and surveyed outcomes then conducted further review to produce the reported results. RESULTS Results indicate high participation in the collaborative sessions while the accompanying lectures were poorly attended. Students reported a high degree of satisfaction with the learning experience; however more investigation is required to determine the degree of improvement in retained learning outcomes. Survey feedback from tutors found that students engaged well in the activities during tutorials and there was an observed improvement in the quality of professional practice modelled by students during sessions. Student feedback confirmed the positive experiences in these collaborative learning spaces with 30% improvement in satisfaction ratings from previous years. CONCLUSIONS It is concluded that the right mix of space, technology and appropriate activities does engage students, improve participation and create a rich experience to facilitate potential for improved learning outcomes. The new Collaborative Teaching Spaces, together with integrated technology and tailored activities, has transformed the delivery of this unit and improved student satisfaction in tutorials significantly.

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ID Code: 56049
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Learning spaces, student experience, HERN, Collaboration
ISBN: 9780987177230
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > INTERDISCIPLINARY ENGINEERING (091500) > Engineering Practice (091503)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Science Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy (130212)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Division of Administrative Services
Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
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Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 please consult the authors
Deposited On: 03 Jan 2013 02:33
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2015 06:15

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