New Perspectives

A major intent of the ALTC Fellowship is to effect changes in practice

Exploring New Perspectives

The Fellowship provided a focus on, and examination of, the student experience. To achieve this the Fellowship undertook research across a number of Universities to understand and articulate the student experience of Inquiry Oriented Learning (IOL). Our intent was to provide the research findings and an analysis of these findings to Universities to support their development of inquiry activities. In 2012 we conducted:

  • Four comprehensive student surveys in three Universities nationally
    • Surveys were conducted at two universities to understand the value of an inquiry experiment students had undertaken. A further two surveys were conducted on one student cohort to understand their expectation and experience of inquiry in first year science.
  • Seven student focus groups in five Universities nationally
    • The focus groups were conducted with students after they completed an inquiry experiment or activity and was aimed at understanding:
      • General Context: How students enjoyed and responded to the experiment/activity and how enjoyment , relevance and learning are viewed by students
      • Specifics: How students responded to different elements of the experiment/activity and how inquiry oriented learning affects skill development and confidence
      • Learning Outcomes: How learning is experienced in guided and inquiry experiences
      • Overall Effect and Sustainability: Student belief as to aim of the experiment/activity, if these expectations were met and their recommendations for the future
Once IOL activities have been developed and translated into actions by the tutor or demonstrator, how are they experienced by the student? A focus of the Fellowship in 2012 has been on the student experiences of IOL activities and what can be learned about those experiences that can be fed back to refine activities and bring a dose of reality to the process of evaluating impact and the worth of IOL activities.

This research has been fascinating. We thank the enthusiastic, motivated and articulate students who volunteered to be a part of the research activities. Through this examination we have gained an insight into the student perspective of IOL activities and an enhanced recognition of students’ needs and expectations which will assist in optimising IOL activities. We provided broad-based feedback from the focus groups to individual institutions for use in their curriculum review and as evidence for groups to take to conferences.