• Improving Student Learning Theory and Practice - 10 Years on

    Title: Minor interventions can have major effects on student learning: results from a three-year study.

    Author(s): Margaret Price, Chris Rust, and Berry O'Donovan
    Institution(s):Macquarie University and CLTAD (London Institute, Royal College of Art, Wimbledon School of Art)
    Session: Research seminar  

    This paper reports the most recent findings of an action research programme in progress since 1997, some of which was reported at ISL 2000. Based on a constructivist approach to learning, the current stage of the research has focused on developing students' understanding of assessment criteria and assessment processes to improve student learning and performance. Findings replicated over a three year period indicate that an intervention requiring relatively little contact time in a resource constrained environment can produce significant results. Findings provide clear evidence of enhanced student performance immediately following the intervention and also in the long term.

    In recent years there has been an increasing emphasis on the need for greater explicitness in assessment methods and standards. The authors propound that student's understanding of assessment requirements is more effectively achieved through the transfer of a combination of both tacit and explicit knowledge, and that transfer methods based on active learning methods that effectively transmit tacit knowledge can improve student learning and performance.

    The most recent development of the research programme is with feedback processes. Initial findings emphasise the difficulty students have in interpreting passive feedback and the need for their active engagement to interpret and understand feedback to support future learning.

    The development and nature of the interventions are explained in detail, and the outcomes are analysed and discussed. The research team believe that these initiatives combine to create a student assessment process cycle (which they have named the PRO-assessment cycle) that improves student learning and performance. This cycle will be introduced and considered.