Faculty Perspectives on Learner-Centered Approaches: Notes from a Teaching with Technology Lunchtime Conversation 

By Chris Fulton, Centre for Teaching and Learning Enhancement

Effective strategies and tools which can help faculty shift towards more learner-centred teaching approaches were shared by Prof. Ying Wang (ICMS) and Prof. Patrick Chu (FBA) at a lunchtime conversation on 16 October. In their experience sharing presentations, a number of strategies and best practices were described, and in this blog post, I highlight best practices which colleagues identified as well-suited to UM learners. In addition, the presentations by Prof. Wang and Prof. Chu were followed up with small group discussions based around conversation questions which were related to the presentations.

Technologies used by colleagues at UM to implement active learning strategies with quizzes include Kahoot!, Rain Classroom ( 雨课堂), UMMoodle and other student response systems. One issue Prof. Chu found was that some students were reluctant to use third party apps which required logging in to answer quiz questions. For instance, some students were reluctant to use WeChat to access the mini-program Rain Classroom as they preferred to keep their personal social media accounts separate from their studies. Furthermore, a few students may not have the necessary third-party app installed or configured on their mobile device.

A web-based quiz tool was the solution. The tool Kahoot!, which allowed students to complete online quizzes without logging into an app, was used successfully. Prof. Chu found the features of the Kahoot!, a web-based quiz tool, to be particularly effective for checking students’ understanding of key concepts and taking attendance. His teaching assistants found the results from Kahoot!, which are presented in standard Microsoft Excel files, easy to review, handle, and sort. Several benefits of using the web-based quizzes with students were observed. Activities with online quiz questions created a starting point that enabled reticent students to participate more in class. Students who initially answered online quiz questions, later appeared more willing to engage in discussions with their classmates and teacher.  For teachers, this quiz tool Kahoot! enabled one to identify individual students who clearly needed additional support to be successful in a course.

In subsequent conversations, colleagues raised questions about the technical limits of Kahoot! and its interface. While this quiz tool is free and allows up to 1000 respondents for each quiz, it is limited to multiple-choice questions with text, images and video. Lastly, colleagues at one table remarked that this type of quiz technology is potentially helpful when introducing active learning strategies to students: online quiz tools provide instant, anonymous feedback, which can help establish a safe learning environment.

Prof. Ying Wang (ICMS) gave a presentation titled “Paradigm Shift in Student-Centered Learning” and described strategies used to engage and motivate postgraduate students who are studying in the field of science. One point made was that problem-based learning can help shift the educational process towards learner and provide greater opportunities for the development of skills. However, some students may need to be encouraged and motivated to persist in solving challenging problems. In addition, it was pointed out that a teacher’s role in today’s information rich world involves allowing students to explore issues in their field.

Another point made was that motivating students can involve strategies which make postgraduate students more aware of the steps and challenges of academic research. Prof. Wang found that introducing students to podcasts and media which described first-time researchers’ process of scientific discovery to be helpful in motivating her postgraduate students to produce scientific knowledge.

A talking point at the lunchtime conversation that resonated with colleagues related to motivation and students’ future prospects. There was agreement that teachers can help motivate students by mentioning the achievements of a wide range of successful scholars in society. Providing students with examples of successful people in various parts of society, in Macau, China, and globally can greatly motivate students to take a deeper approach to learning.

For information on upcoming events for faculty and teaching assistants, please visit our  website at  ctle.um.edu.mo.

By |2019-10-25T16:35:32+08:00October 23rd, 2019|T&L Blog|0 Comments

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