22 SES 04 C, Learning and Assessment
This paper details the most recent results and outputs of a research project aimed at investigating the concept of ‘learning gain’ as a measure of pedagogical effectiveness. In the first part of the paper we describe the principles of a teaching approach that combines self-assessment and Peer-Instruction (Mazur, 1997) to facilitate the creation of active learning environment for a large-class undergraduate module in Economics. In the second part of the paper we conceptualise our definitions of learning gain and confidence gain, and we describe how these definitions can be operationalised to develop an evidence-based evaluation of our teaching approach. In recent times, the international pedagogical debate has registered increasing interest in defining, measuring, and evaluating the impact of different pedagogical approaches on student learning. Whilst the Organisation for Economic and Social Development embraced the broader approach of ‘assessment of learning outcomes’ (OECD, 2014 and 2011), the American and British literature seems to focus more tightly on the concept of learning gain. Within this context, the debate tackles the validity of metrics based on student performance taken at distinct points in time over a student’s educational journey (McGrath et al., 2015). However, while the debate on learning gain focusses predominantly on measures of student attainment, little attention has been devoted so far to other important dimensions of learning, such as student self-assessment skills (Taras, 2015; Henderson and Harper, 2009) and student self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977 and 1997; Pajares, 1996). We argue that students’ ability to reflect on their performance and form positive beliefs on their educational experience represents an important catalyst to learning, and should also constitute a learning objective on its own (Ritchie, 2016), which can support Self-regulation behaviours (Zimmerman, 2002), as well as Student Motivation (McMillan and Hearn, 2008). For these reasons, we propose a teaching approach that aims at enhancing students’ performance, as well as students’ awareness about their own skills. Our teaching strategy relies on a well-established flipped classroom approach, which combines formative quizzes, Peer-Instruction, and self-assessment components (Aricò and Watson, 2015). In practice, the pedagogy analysed in this paper relies on an algorithm that alternates formative assessment questions, self-assessment questions, and Peer-instruction moments, in a sequence of learning cycles iterated over the duration of each flipped classroom session. Thus, using data collected in the classroom, we proceed to evaluate the impact of our teaching approach constructing two measures of learning: one related to attainment, and one related to self-efficacy and self-assessment skills. In previous research (Aricò and Watson, 2015) it was demonstrated that within our learning environment: (i) students are able to develop good self-assessment skills, (ii) Peer-Instruction effectiveness is independent of student self-efficacy, and (iii) learning gains generated by Peer-Instruction are higher when students’ preparedness is initially poorer, (iv) students recognise the impact of the pedagogies employed on their own learning. Building on these results, we revise and enhance the pedagogical design illustrated in Aricò and Watson (2015) to investigate: (i) the patterns of correlation between learning gain and confidence gain, (ii) the synergy between Peer-Instruction and self-assessment, and (iii) the characteristics of the distribution of learning gains and confidence gains in the classroom. Our first research objective aims to uncover whether higher learning gains and are associated to better self-assessment skills and positive self-efficacy beliefs. Our second research objective assesses whether the development of good self-assessment skills affects Peer-Instruction outcomes (whilst Aricò and Watson, 2015, only considers individual effectiveness of the two pedagogies, in isolation). Finally, our third research objective focusses on individual student performance, and evaluates whether learning gains and confidence gains are equally distributed in the classroom for the benefit of all students.
Aricò, F.R., and Watson, D. 2015. Peer-Instruction Unveiled: Measuring Self-Assessment Skills and Learning Gains in a Large Flipped Learning Environment. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, Budapest. Aricò, F.R., and Watson, D., 2014. Assessing Self-Assessment: another argument for Blended Learning. Paper presented at the Society for Research in Higher Education Annual Conference, Newport, Wales, UK. Bandura, A. 1997. Self-efficacy: The Exercise of Control, New York: Freeman. Bandura, A. 1977. Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying theory of Behavioral Change, Psychological Review, 84, 2, 191-215. Henderson, C., and Harper, K. A. 2009. Quiz Corrections: Improving Learning by Encouraging Students to Reflect on their Mistakes, The Physics Teacher, 47, 9, 581-586. Mazur, E. 1997. Peer Instruction: A User's Manual, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs. McGrath, C.H., Gurein, B., Harte, E., Frearson, M., and Manville, C. 2015. Learning Gain in Higher Education. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR996.html. (Accessed 14/01/2016). McMillan, J., and Hearn, J. 2008. Student Self-Assessment: The Key to Stronger Student Motivation and Higher Achievement, Educational Horizons, 87, 1, 40-49. OECD. 2014. Skills beyond School: Testing Student and University Performance Globally: OECD’s AHELO. Paris: OECD. http://www.oecd.org/edu/skills-beyondschool/testingstudentanduniversityperformancegloballyoecdsahelo.ht. (Accessed 14/01/2016) OECD. 2011. A Tuning-AHELO Conceptual Framework of Expected Desired/Learning Outcomes in Engineering. OECD Education Working Papers 60. Paris: OECD Publishing. Pajares, F. 1996. Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Academic Settings, Review of Educational Research, 66, 4, 543-578. Ritchie, L. 2016. Fostering Self-Efficacy in Higher Education Students. London: Palgrave. Taras, M. 2015. Student Self-Assessment: what we have learned and what are the challenges. RELIEVE, 21, 1, ISSN 1134-4032. Zimmerman, B.J. 1995. Self-Efficacy and Educational Development.in: Self-Efficacy in Changing Societies, edited by A. Bandura, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Zimmerman, B.J. 2002. Becoming a Self-regulated Learner: An overview. Theory Into Practice, 41, 64-70.
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