Dr Paul Dyer, Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, details how Talis Elevate played a key role in his research project, investigating how students engage with a Learning Research Methods Module. The project looked into how Research Methods could be enhanced beyond a passive, unpopular course in Biomedical science by using a Team-Based Learning Methodology, adopting a number of active learning principles. Talis Elevate was the primary delivery mechanism for resources used in this project. Further research will be looking into how this process compares to traditional teaching methods of the same subject matter. We asked Paul to tell us more about the project…
Can you give an overview of the project and what you’re investigating?
This project was born out of frustration in teaching research methods using a traditional lecture style and we wanted to move towards a much more engaging pedagogy using team-based learning. The principal aim was to instil in our students a passion and enthusiasm with published science and new scientific discoveries related to our topic area in Biomedical Science. We wanted to provide students with an opportunity to develop a variety of transferable skills that would be beneficial to their future students, in their final year major project, and beyond into their new careers. We began by evaluating the best approach to take and settled on Team-Based Learning, with each focussed on a research area of their choosing. Essentially developing ‘learning by doing’ approach.
The key output was the creation of a public facing video on the area incorporating up-to-date scientific information. Additionally, we measured both individual and team understanding of materials provided as part of a flipped learning approach where students were required to interact with online materials prior to each workshop. Measuring engagement in the online space was a key metric in our analysis of the student performance in this novel approach to ‘research methods’ education.
How did Talis Elevate fit into this?
Talis elevate has proven to be essential to our understanding of the student performance not only in our TBL workshops (pre/post online materials) but also in other aspects of the module, such as information delivery in lectures and computer labs. We have recently moved over to Canvas as our virtual learning environment which provides engagement data, but the extra opportunity to drill down into the engagement with individual resources is very powerful indeed.
What have you observed from the initial findings here?
Looking at the data we have some interesting findings such as when we compare the around to time spent on Canvas versus engagement with online materials. On average students spent about 5% of their total time engaged in the online learning materials published via Talis Elevate, yet 100% of the resources we used on this module went into Elevate. Other metrics such as their favoured day of engagement and the favoured week provided some insights into when on average students would look at materials. No huge surprise but the greatest engagement with certain online materials was seen just before a test or assessment. On average students engaged with the materials for 14 mins per week! We also found that students’ tended to favour the slides we uploaded rather than the video guidance we produced as supplementary resources, which we weren’t expecting to quite this extent. We are now looking at how to encourage more time spent engaged in in the online space using ‘comment’ function in Talis Elevate.
How do you feel Talis Elevate helped this project?
One of our key concerns with the project was how we were going to measure individual performance in the team, as students often fall into dysfunctional characters, such as the ‘freeloader’. Talis Elevate has helped formulate opportunities to explore individual engagement in team environments more effectively. We will be using this in the future to measure individual performance on the module.
How has this project informed practice in your discipline?
In all honesty, it has opened so many new avenues for investigation. From interrogating the relationship between different media types and engagement level to more in-depth analysis looking at the relationship between engagement and performance. It is fair to say we are still learning what metrics Talis Elevate can provide, but it certainly enables us to look at the impact of our materials, and developments, on the student. Previously we rely on rather crude metrics of performance or whether the student enjoyed the session, this enables us to both support students better and improve our content based on the insight it provides.
How do you plan to make use of this next year?
As previously alluded to, we want to use Talis Elevate to enhance student engagement with online materials, building into our assessment strategy for both team and individual performance. The comment function and being able to monitor interactions via comments is also a powerful tool to enable more fruitful in class discussion, developing debate and discourse.
Find out more
The key headline figures from this project will be presented at the Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference. See the conference programme here (information on this session in Gen3.6A).
Thank you to Paul Dyer for his contribution to this article. If you would like to find out more about Talis Elevate, click here, or for a demo or information on how we could be making an impact in your university, email Matt East.