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Wednesday, June 18 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
PSD.06 – Enhancing Learning in a Large Psychology Course: An Evaluation of Blended-Format Collaborative Inquiry Exercises

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Educational research and practice indicates that students learn best when they are actively engaged with the course material and with one another in collaborative, inquiry-based learning activities. Because such learner-centred techniques require regular, time-intensive student-to-student interaction, they have been particularly challenging to implement in large classes. This session will illustrate how the traditional small-group teaching model has been adapted to a large undergraduate Psychology course using blended-format Inquiry Exercises, allowing students to collaborate on a series of case studies both face-to-face (in class) and within virtual pods (discrete online units of 3-4 peers). The exercise materials were designed to facilitate critical thinking and application of course concepts, and the iterative process (four exercises throughout the course) provided students with an opportunity to self-reflect and internalize the learning. Most importantly, students conducted independent peer reviews and assessments of one another’s work, with minimal interference (but regular monitoring) from the course instructor. By transforming students into teachers, responsible for all aspects of their own learning, the Inquiry Exercises were designed to foster a sense of increased engagement, accountability, and accomplishment among the students.

This session will present a pilot study evaluating the impact of Inquiry Exercises from the students’ perspective. At the end of the term, all students enrolled in the course were invited to complete a survey about their academic self-efficacy beliefs, learning styles, critical thinking dispositions, and experiences working on the Inquiry Exercises. In addition, participants’ grades and submissions for the four Inquiry Exercises were analysed to explore the temporal dynamics of students’ performance over time. Although results are only preliminary due to lack of a control group, they can inform further development of the design, implementation, and outcomes of this transformative blended-format approach, designed specifically to deliver the learning benefits of a traditional small-group teaching model in courses with large enrolments. The audience will have the opportunity to discuss the innovation, ask questions, and provide suggestions for further adaptation.


Kateryna Keefer

Western University

Robyn N. Taylor

University of Waterloo

Wednesday June 18, 2014 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
A241/A242 Duncan McArthur Hall

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