What do your students think about ‘learning outcomes’? Do they use them? What do they use them for? Are they helpful for their learning? How could they be made more helpful? What, if any, specific aspects of their studying do ‘learning outcomes’ support?
These are some of the questions that the ‘Learning Outcomes Project’ team at the University of Leicester would like to help you and your institution answer. We are currently seeking expressions of interest from institutions to participate in a national-level study and I am shamelessly using our blog space here to promote the call. I have a formal invitation document that contains all the details about our study that I will gladly forward on to interested parties, but let’s see if I can whet the appetite with a short and sweet look at the key details about our planned research:
The study aims to explore the use of learning outcomes by students and academic staff at various institutions across the UK.
The study will involve undergraduate students and academic staff at participating institutions who will be invited to complete a survey and take part in focus groups that investigate both groups’ perceptions of learning outcomes and how these outcomes may be utilised within their learning and teaching activities.
- To advance understandings within the academic community about the use of a learning outcomes approach within higher education, which is currently insufficiently underpinned by research evidence;
- To inform participating institutions about particular features of the learning and teaching activities of its students and staff;
- To develop online guidance materials for each participating institution to support and enhance how students and staff work with learning outcomes.
The project team at the University of Leicester will facilitate most of the activities that will occur in participating institutions. The University of Leicester project team will:
- Prepare all research instruments, in consultation;
- Support institutions (with relevant information, document templates, etc) in securing institutional ethical approval for the project;
- Facilitate dissemination of the survey via online and in-person methods;
- Conduct focus groups within each institution;
- Input, transcribe and analyse data gathered;
- Write a report of findings for each partner institution;
- Develop online guidance materials in collaboration with each institution;
- Support the roll-out and evaluation of resources within each institution.
Participating partner institutions will:
- Designate a project lead person within their institution who will be the main contact and liaison person for the University of Leicester project team;
- Provide practical and logistical support, such as assisting with survey distribution and booking rooms for focus groups for the University of Leicester project team to carry out required research activities;
- Complete necessary institutional administrative procedures, such as gaining ethical approval for the project (these activities will be supported by the University of Leicester project team);
- Champion the project across the institution;
- Contribute to project outputs.
Input from partner institutions to help shape and direct the activities being conducted with their students and academic staff will be welcomed and encouraged at all stages of the research process.
We aim to begin the study in July 2015. The research with students and academic staff will occur in the 2015/16 academic year. The development and evaluation of the online guidance materials will take place in the 2016/17 academic year.
Participating institutions will have the opportunity to benefit in the following ways:
- Gaining greater insight into facets of the learning and teaching activities of students and academic staff within the institution;
- Having own institutional data-set gathered by the University of Leicester project team to use for further research/development work;
- Developing, in collaboration with the University of Leicester project team, a set of guidance materials for students and academic staff;
- Networking with other project partner institutions at project feedback events;
- Collaborating on and co-owning potential project outputs, including peer-reviewed publications.
This is a really exciting opportunity to be involved in an, as yet, very under-researched area. My previous blogs posts show that the ‘Learning Outcomes Project’ team has made a start on filling the research gap by investigating this topic within our own institution (e.g. Learning about learning outcomes: the student perspective and Countering arguments against learning outcomes with scrutiny and evidence). We need now to collect evidence on a much broader and wider scale to begin addressing questions about the actual impact of a learning outcomes approach on students and academic staff within higher education.
And so finally my plea – please get in touch if you are interested in participating in our study, or would like any further information about it – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your interest in my shameless plug!