Thoughts around assignment 2.

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.


7 thoughts on “Thoughts around assignment 2.

  1. Hi Musette,

    I am working with a few students who are studying their post-graduate and I often hear from them that the communication factor is an issue and one of the reasons they come to see me is because they can discuss their ideas and assignment with someone. I also work with them to deconstruct what is required in tasks as they can sometimes be difficult to understand, particularly when they cover theories, something a lot of postgraduates who have not completed an undergraduate will have difficulties with. Another issue is juggling work with study commitments, and this applies for students only taking one subject too.

    I think that the incorporation of problem-based strategies are the focus on assessment, as I’ve seen many assessment tasks requiring students to situate their assignment in a real-world context.
    However, I agree with you that the goal would be to see how NGL can improve your students learning. I like what you have written as your focus question but I was thinking that it should include the issues you’re having with engagement.

    What do you think of the following? It is very similar to yours as you can see.

    How can networked learning, via a problem-based learning approach, enhance engagement with and understanding of course content and materials?



    • Hi Annelise
      Thank you for your feedback. I agree that assessment tasks can be confusing. I like that your question allows me to research all the various issues that I have identified.


      • Hi Musette,

        I just realised that you replied, for some reason it didn’t come up in my inbox. I just went looking to see why you didn’t reply and you did. 🙂

        Would it be possible to get some feedback on my DBR when I post it. I am getting there but needed to do a 360 as my focus was wrong. I’d appreciate anything that you can critique or provide advice on.



      • Hi Annaliese

        I will do my best to give you some feedback on your DBR. I currently have some significant family issues occuring so if you don’t here from me just give me a nudge.



  2. Hi Musette
    I’m coming at this from a very biased perspective, but have you considered trying to develop a more evidentiary based approach? You state that there is anecdotal evidence that students are not fully engaging, understanding the content or linking the theory and the text. Have you considered trying to assess if this is actually occurring, and If it is occuring, could you test whether NGL actually alters this? Similarly, your first two questions regarding problem based learning were looking at whether or not that method improved student engagement, learning etc – but when you framed the question about NGL, you swapped from a “does NGL support learning” to a “how can NGL support learning”.

    Obviously if you are convinced that those issues exist, and that NGL will overcome them, then you may not want to test that. As I said at the start, I am quite biased on that view as I don’t think there is yet sufficient evidence on the benefits of NGL at university level. That is something I want to look at in my own DBR – so my apologies if I am projecting my view too much onto what you are intending on doing.




    • Hi Laura
      Thank you for your feedback, don’t feel like you are projecting as your ideas have given me some things to think about and consider. Regarding the evidence being anecdotal, there are some things that would support the ideas of lack of engagement such as the student activity logs from the LMS but we haven’t done any formal studies at the institution, perhaps that is where the project should start.

      I agree with you that there appears to be limited evidence regarding NGL at university level however doesn’t our DBR contribute to that evidence? I also am currently of the opinion that what is currently being done in my courses isn’t achieving the learning outcomes for students so I have to try something new. NGL approaches may not achieve the goals but I won’t know unless I try.

      I appreciate your input.



      • HI Musette

        I totally agree that our DBR should help provide some of the evidence for whether or not NGL can contribute to learning at university level. I guess my concern was that your question implied that it would necessarily achieve this – and I was questioning if that is the case, or if that in itself was something you should be examining. But from your reply, it sounds like you are looking to test that idea anyhow.

        I will be interested to see how you intend to examine this – I am also trying to look at something similar in my DBR. I’m hoping to have some more text posted about my proposed methods by the end of the week.




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