Developing open academic practices in research methods teaching within a Higher Education in Further Education context

Ehiyazaryan-White, Ester

Research methods; Academic practice; OER; Learning design; Reuse; Threshold concepts

Journal article

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License,

This paper reports on a SCORE teaching fellowship project focused on embedding open academic practices within social science research methods teaching. The host institution is a large, mixed economy Higher Education in Further Education (HE in FE) college where the majority of the HE provision is at full degree and postgraduate level. This requires effective research methods teaching at levels 4 (first year of undergraduate study) to 7 (Masters level, postgraduate study) and is an argument for making good use of the high quality research methods OER available through repositories such as Jorum Open, iTunesU, the National Centre for Research Methods and Merlot. However as the HE provision sits within a further education framework, historically there has been a strong emphasis on extended face time with students. As a result the introduction of blended and distance learning pedagogies to supplement or substitute this face time is a fairly new concept which is currently starting to take shape within the institution. This transition is in part driven by the learners' own preparedness for e-learning and their increasing expectations for such provision (Online Learning Task Force, 2011).

This project has sought to develop tutors' awareness of OER for research methods teaching and evaluate the embedding of such resources in academic practice. Tutors from three different disciplines engaged in evaluating 22 research methods OER and subsequently embedding some of these in teaching practice. Using criteria for evaluating OER emerging from the literature (Windle, et al., 2010; Pegler, 2012), each tutor completed 6 evaluative questionnaires - three for OER they would like to use in practice and three for OER which they would not consider suitable for reuse. The tutors participated in extended interviews the purpose of which was to develop an understanding of their preferences and needs where reuse of the resources in academic practice was concerned. Learning designs for embedding OER in specific modules were developed on the basis of the evaluation. These learning designs applied pattern based frameworks (Learning Design Support Environment, 2011, Littlejohn and Pegler, 2007, Oliver et al., 2002) to plan and structure academic practice with OER. The learning designs were trialled with students at levels 5,6, and 7 on two different programmes of study. Focus group interviews were conducted with students who used the OER in a self-directed way, beyond their face-to-face sessions.

The findings this paper reports on are concerned with understanding the role which OER have in developing e-learning within HE in FE academic practice. In addition, the capacity of OER to meet learners' needs in this context will be explored. Conclusions are drawn regarding the contribution which OER make in supporting learners and tutors in research methods teaching and learning.

University Centre Doncaster
Peer reviewed
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Journal title
Journal of Interactive Media in Education (JiME)
Publication date
The Open University
ISSN (Electronic)
Cambridge OER 2012 special issue
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