Student Participation for Social Learning

MODULE TITLE: Stage 2/3 Hydraulics 1/2
MODULE CODE: CVEN20130/30060

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself …… Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand” Chinese proverb

Involvement therefore is at the core of this participatory approach to an enhanced learning environment. Learning needs to be a social activity and a collaborative environment is crucial in facilitating the learning process. This approach utilises small learning communities to create an interactive and dynamic learning environment.

The capacity of students to recall and understand material covered in the latter parts of lectures is shown in educational literature to be low. The role of the active learning environment is to re-engage students at points in lectures where concentration levels are seen to be in waning.

At the commencement of lectures, small learning communities (2 or 3 students) are established to employ active learning techniques to engage students in particular problems that will be presented in the course of the lecture. The duration of each engagement is limited to between 30 seconds and 1 minute after which, a designated ‘leader’ of each group reports their findings. Between three and five active learning periods of this type are typical in each 50 minute lecture to ensure that students remain engaged with the material being presented for the full lecture. The use of ‘props’ and multi-media movie clips from social knowledge-sharing websites such as You-Tube are used to contextualise the material in lectures and form the basis of some of the interactive engagements in lectures.

The active learning environment assists students in becoming participants rather than passive listeners. This is conducive to more enjoyable learning and helps establish a mutual co-operation between lecturer and student.

The active learning environment works well when established and has received positive reviews from students in the UCD module feedback process. Perseverance however, is required. Initially, students seem somewhat bewildered with the concept of being arranged into small groups at the commencement of lectures but over time, this becomes the norm.