Teaching and learning tricky topics
Teaching and learning tricky topics

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Teaching and learning tricky topics

3 Using activity types to plan interventions

Assimilative activities are often used to introduce a topic and they tend to form a core part of all learning. However, Open University research shows that students tend to learn better when they are challenged to be more active with their learning and to debate, discuss, create, analyse, or explore, rather than passively receive information by reading, watching or listening. This means that using non-assimilative activity types is a useful way to help students to overcome the stumbling blocks you have identified for your tricky topic.

For example, if you think back to the optics and ray diagrams shown in Week 3, you will see that the teachers identified that students needed help with drawing ray diagrams and went on to design some ‘productive’ activities to help them overcome the stumbling blocks.

Another example might be that when teaching fractions, the teacher could ask a student to explain to a peer the difference between 2/3 and 5/8. This ‘communicative’ activity would be a good way to test if the student understands the component parts of fractions.

Assessment will always form part of the tricky topics process because there is a need to test students’ understanding of the topic.

Activity 3 Identify an activity type for your stumbling block

Timing: Allow approximately 45 minutes

Using your own tricky topic, identify an activity type that you might use to create an intervention and describe why this would help the student to overcome one or more stumbling blocks.

Write your comments in this text box and then feedback your activity design through IRIS Connect (see Week 5, Activity 3).

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Optional

You might also like to spend a few minutes looking at the Innovating Pedagogy report [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] from 2016 (Sharples et al., 2016) to look at which activity types have been used in these examples. List the examples in the report together with the activity type(s) that are represented in the text box below.

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Answer

Table 1 Activity types
Example from Innovating Pedagogies 2016Activity type
productive failure communicative and productive
teachbackcommunicative
learning through video gamesinteractive/adaptive
formative analyticsassessment
block chain for learningproductive/assessment

Share your activity profile

Describe why you have chosen this profile and how it will meet the needs of your students. You could refer back to the needs analysis you did in Week 2 or the student profile you created last week. After you have done this, go to IRIS Connect and feed these thoughts back to the tricky topics team under Week 5, Activity 3.

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It is important to note that this activity type classification is something that our learning design team has identified as a tricky topic for many staff at The Open University, so please don’t worry if you find it difficult to grasp straight away.

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