Methods - researching inputs

Researching methods, ie inputs to learning and teaching

We've divided the projects into two main themes: "methods" which correspond roughly to an emphasis on researching inputs (what staff do) and "engagement" an emphasis on researching outputs (what students do). This is, of course, an artificial (some would say crude) distinction since the two are closely linked, but we've found it a useful way to organise the site. More important are the sub-themes within each of the two themes which better express the distinction. Here we consider curriculum and course design, the use of new technologies and the social context of learning.

These three sections here are mainly composed of changes that staff can implement in order to make the courses more engaging for the students, showing how methods and engagement are linked.

Methods, subdivided into Design, Technology and Community. Design is split into Curriculum Transformation (Assessments, Feedback, Learning Outcomes and Course Structure). Technology is split into Lecture Capture, Blended Learning and Online Resources. Community is split into Peer Learning, Students as Partners and Students Working Collaboratively

Click on the headings in the text below to find out more about the three areas: design, technology or community.


Design includes both the content and delivery of a programme. A well-designed programme is "constructively aligned". (Biggs, 1996) This means that the modes of delivery support the learning objectives, both discipline content and skills, and the assessment assesses all the learning objectives in a balanced way. This requires considerations that range from the structure of the programme as a whole to the structure of individual learning sessions.

Thus, programme design can happen at a range of levels, from full curriculum transformation to interventions at the sub-modular level. These investigations can take place either before or after the design has occurred - to evaluate whether a change is needed on the programme, or whether the change has been beneficial.


One step ahead for the technology, two steps back for the pedagogy
(Mioduser et al., 2000)

New technology may be not only expensively futile but actually impeding unless backed up by appropriate pedagogy and hence by research. (What do I mean by "appropriate"?)


US studies have shown that students who feel they 'belong' have a higher degree of intrinsic motivation and academic confidence (Freeman et al., 2007; Anderman and Leake, 2005)

The UK national Engagement Survey (UKES) carried out by HEA also shows a link between a sense of community and time-on-task for Leicester students. Since time-on-task is believed to be linked to learning gains, the development of a sense of community is a key to effective learning. This is reinforced by the way in which students apparently judge their work ethic in relation to other students. The projects in this section relate to building a sense of community amongst students and between students and staff.


Biggs, J., 1996. Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. Higher education, 32(3), pp.347-364.

Lynley H. Anderman, Valerie S. Leake May/June 2005 The ABCs of Motivation The Clearing House v. 78 n. 5 p. 192

Mioduser, D., Nachmias, R., Lahav, O. and Oren, A. (2000) 'Web-Based Learning Environments', Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(1), 55-76.

Tierra M. Freeman, Lynley Anderman, Jane M. Jensen spring 2007 Sense of Belonging in College Freshman at the Classroom and Campus Levels The Journal of Experimental Education v. 75, number 3, p. 203

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