I have found this assignment a difficult one to get started with, perhaps because there are so many things that I know I could do to improve my teaching and therefore I am having difficulty choosing something to focus my time and energy on. Also while I love the outcomes of research and the implementation of research into practice I find the process involved in formal research difficult, time consuming and something I often struggle to get my head around and interested in.
Having said that (after some stern self talk and an approaching due date) I decided it was time to put something on paper rather than continue to have it swirling around my head and be the topic of numerous conversations with peers.
Some of the issues that are occurring within my teaching are:
- Minimal student engagement with peers in online post graduate courses
- Anecdotal evidence from student questions and assessment answers/quality indicates that students are not fully engaging with or understanding the course material
- Anecdotal evidence also suggests that students are unable to link the theory with practice. In the current health care sector, practitioners are required to be able to justify their clinical practice and clinical decisions with evidence and therefore the ability to link theory with practice is a key graduate outcome.
When I look at these issues I feel that my teaching (or the teaching that I inherited) has a significant impact on student learning therefore changes in my teaching should have significant impact on student learning.
This and several conversations with peers within my organisation considering the issues presented above and potential teaching strategies I have the following potential research questions:
Does the use of Problem-based learning strategies increase student engagement in online post graduate courses?
Do Problem based learning strategies increase student engagement with peers and course content in an online post graduate course?
I have sat on these questions for a couple of days, reread the assessment criteria, reflected on the issues mentioned above and considered the current course structure and realised that these questions are not quite right.
The courses I teach into already have elements of Problem based learning(PBL) incorporated into them through the use of case studies and discussions posing questions or dilemmas that students may encounter and asking them to document how they would respond then discuss this with peers. Perhaps the question is not how PBL can increase engagement but how the principles of networked learning can support learning in a course using a PBL approach. So my current research question is:
How can the principles and tools used in networked learning support learning in a course using a problem based learning approach?
I think the question needs a little more refining so any feedback is much appreciated.