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Teaching and learning tricky topics
Teaching and learning tricky topics

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2 Hearing the student voice

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Figure 3 Student voice

You have already seen (in Week 2) one way of hearing the ‘student voice’ with a needs analysis to establish what problems a student is having. Hearing the student voice is important in identifying the problem examples in a tricky topic and a first step in the tricky topics process. Thinking now about how to overcome those tricky topics and thinking about an intervention that will help students, one of the first things to think about when designing the intervention is what you want your students to say about their learning. Once again, there are many ways to listen to the ‘student voice’. Start by reading this excerpt from Olney et al. (2017) which discusses how classroom teachers are already accessing the student voice in many ways but interpreting the information is not always easy. They suggest that learning design principles may help classroom teachers to interpret their information to provide more effective interventions.

Putting the students at the heart of the learning experience is generally easier for classroom teachers than learning designers involved in online or distance learning. The day to day interaction with students builds a relationship which fosters empathy between student and teacher and there is far more scope for flexibility when needed. Classroom teachers have, to some extent, the benefit of being able to respond to fluctuations in class mood, spend extra time reinforcing particularly difficult concepts, or receiving visual cues that support expectations that genuine learning has taken place. Classroom teachers can employ strategies to gain immediate feedback from students to better understand their progress and understanding. Tacit knowledge and common sense can drive design.

However, there may still be much for the classroom teacher to learn from the learning design approach. For example, consideration is rarely given by teachers as to how they would like their students to respond to their pedagogical decisions, especially using qualitative data.

As part of a push towards the use of a more evidence based approach to teaching and learning teachers may find themselves collecting data from their students in a similar way, using common online tools such as Survey Monkey, or paper based approaches, to obtain feedback on questions such as ‘how I teach’ and ‘what I teach’. This set of qualitative data can then be used to demonstrate at review a teacher’s learning and teaching practice, or … how curriculum design has been improved. However, it is sometimes problematic interpreting this data and turning it into action.

We hope that a better understanding of this approach to Learning Design might help.

Olney et. al., 2017