Defining good teaching

The Seven Principles of Undergraduate Education  Chickering & Gamson (1987,1991).

This short video explains the principles which were developed from 50 years of research into teaching and learning.

Parity of experience in the Bath Blend

Our challenge is to prepare the best learning experiences for all students, no matter how students and teaching staff 'attend classes'.

When we think about parity there is a tendency to think of this in terms of recreating or mirroring what we had before.  Whilst there is no difference in terms of what we want our students to achieve (achievement of learning outcomes, progression, development of graduate attributes etc.), the student journey in the blended or online context is different, which can make achieving parity more challenging.

Physical proximity is not a condition of good education. (Barbara Means et al, 2013)

In order to ensure parity, more deliberate and focused attention needs to be paid to scaffolding and managing the student journey. This can be achieved through the following steps: 

Gathering feedback to ensure consistency

Another challenge linked to parity is our natural tendency to want something similar or to compare like for like either between courses or from year to year. Our students have recently gained experience of blended/online delivery so reflecting on their feedback is vital to inform future planning and manage expectations. 

Talk with your students about their experiences with these new approaches to learning and be ready to refine your approach by making changes or moving in a different direction if your initial strategies aren’t working. 

Good learning design

One way of ensuring parity is through effective learning design. The design principles which underpin in-person or online learning are often the same. However, whilst the principles remain the same, these may need to be enhanced and made more explicit in order to work effectively in a blended context.

It is important to remember to start with what you know, rather than starting from a blank slate; using a course wide approach to review existing unit content assessment and activities will enable greater alignment across the course. This approach will help learners to build on their prior knowledge, make explicit links between different unit content and apply new knowledge in a range of contexts. 

Scaffolding the student journey

Learning online is different to studying on campus, where the timetable is structured and inflexible. In contrast, The Bath Blend will allow increased opportunity for asynchronous activities in students' own time, giving them greater responsibility for managing their learning. This represents an exciting chance to foster greater student independence and resilience.

However, in order to effectively achieve this, we will need to create explicit opportunities to develop key graduate attributes and skills. When considering how to best scaffold your students’ learning, draw on your own knowledge of their prior learning and experience and try to identify specific skills that your students may have struggled with in the past,such as motivation or time-management, as these may well be more exaggerated in the Blended context. 

Engaging students and fostering community

Key to effective learning is encouraging interaction and building relationships which sustain a learning community. Although this can be harder to achieve in an online context, it is worth spending time building relationships before moving onto course content. Again, this is not dissimilar to face to face teaching, but our attempts to create and facilitate opportunities for this need to be more deliberate.

Updated on: 2 July 2020