Teaching Methods: Small group teaching

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Faculty of Social Sciences

Enhancing small group teaching: using participatory techniques

Stavroula Leka (Institute of Work Health and Organisations).

The aim of this project was to explore and evaluate the use of participatory techniques in small group postgraduate teaching and learning. The project focused on the implementation of a number of these techniques and their benefits for student learning. It also aimed at exploring issues relating to mature, international and disabled students. Finally, it examined how the use of these techniques can facilitate the development of key skills that are transferable to the workplace.

Three techniques were implemented and evaluated: the round-robin questionnaire, debate groups, and consultancy skills role playing. A qualitative case-study analysis for each of the techniques implemented was employed. The evaluation of the techniques used was conducted in three ways: group discussion, module evaluation forms, follow-up evaluation through the tutorial system. The analysis showed that the students perceived the techniques as useful in terms of enhancing student learning and developing key skills. However, the success of each technique ranged according to the lecture/seminar objectives and the tasks set. In addition, the techniques were evaluated in relation to the needs of mature, international and disabled students. Some problems were identified in relation to the last group that will be highlighted.

The findings suggest that the adoption of a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning could prove beneficial if it is carefully matched to the student group and to lecture/seminar objectives. Attention should be paid to the needs of disabled students. The study has shown that participation is a key dimension that could potentially enhance not only knowledge transfer but also key skill development. However, the design of any new teaching initiative to be implemented should include its careful evaluation. This enables shortcomings to be identified and appropriate modifications to be made.

Future research could further address the needs of disabled students. It could also test the applicability of such techniques to large group teaching. An interesting focus of future research would be the identification of participatory techniques that would enhance learning and would develop key skills in e-Learning students.

Small group teaching resource 11 of 16
Paper presented at the University's Fifth Learning & Teaching conference (September, 2004).
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