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Publication Detail
Developing critical reading, thinking and discussion skills among students at a Masters level using virtual learning environment
  • Publication Type:
    Conference
  • Authors:
    Bobrova Y, Marjanovic- Halburd L, McLennan PS
  • Publisher:
    EDULEARN
  • Publication date:
    04/07/2016
  • Published proceedings:
    EDULEARN16 Proceedings
  • ISBN-13:
    978-84-608-8860-4
  • Name of conference:
    EDULEARN16
  • Conference place:
    Barcelona, Spain
  • Conference start date:
    04/07/2016
  • Conference finish date:
    06/07/2016
  • Keywords:
    Critical analysis, Postgraduate taught education, skills development, virtual learning environment
Abstract
Students entering higher education at Masters level often struggle to develop skills of critical reading, discussion and analysis. That lack of skills often affects the quality of students’ written coursework, even if such work shows an extensive knowledge and understanding of the topic. Academic literature suggests that skills, including cognitive ones, are best developed by going through a learning cycle several, if not many, times. Feedback on students’ activities is known to help students to go through a learning cycle quicker. However, the feedback itself needs to be understood by the students, which could only happen if they possess knowledge of fundamental principles underpinning the coursework. The main objective of this study is to introduce a feedforward learning activity that would familiarise postgraduate students with core concepts of critical reading, discussion and writing skills. Such understanding is expected to increase students’ performance in their subsequent written work. The proposed feedforward activity took a form of Generic Quizzes embedded in e-learning environment. The success of the quizzes was tested in two cohorts undertaking the same Masters programme. The results suggested that such Quizzes are capable of accelerating students’ familiarisation with core principles of critical thinking and analysis, which results in substantial improvement of their subsequent written coursework. However, that process only occurred when given feedback was understood by the students, which only happened is a discussion of the learning activity with a module tutor. Therefore, even though the amount of teaching resources needed for a continuous support of the proposed learning activity is substantially reduced compared to a usual form of student-tutor interaction such as a seminar, it could not be completely eliminated.
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