Institution: VIVES University of Applied Sciences (Erasmus+ ABC to VLE project partner)
Description: Research and writing skills (onderzoeks- en schrijfvaardigheden)
Authors: Matthieu Calu, Céline Leys, Vera Turpyn (teachers of the course)
- ABC-workshop on 25/5/2018
- Follow-up meeting on 17/5/2019
Course details: In this 3 ECTS course, students learn and practice important research- and writing skills like press releases, copywriting for the web, referencing, copyright… which they have to work out for the launch of a hotel brand. This is a fully face-to-face course and students work individualy, but are grouped together for feedback. This course is given in the 2nd year in the bachelor program hotelmanagement. In the academic year 2017-2018 46 bachelorstudents followed this compulsory course in the first semester, which was then given for the first time (new course).
Course goals/learning outcomes: The main goal in this course is the application of research and writing skills.
Goal of the course: Students learn how to do research with acknowledgement of the source, convocation, writing minutes and a press release, writing web texts and building a website. Much attention goes to copywriting and to (as) objective (as possible) collecting, analysing, displaying and reporting information, referencing, copyrights.
Extra: Critical thinking, problem solving and creativity are the thinking and language skills that Hotel Management strives for with their the students. The programme does not only want to work on these skills in typical communicative course units, but also throughout the entire programme. Hence, these skills are also central during this course.
– Higher education students are expected to improve their language skills independently, but this is often difficult to achieve by reading and writing. Few students succeed in analysing texts and adequately expressing their ideas in writing. Tertiary language skills education aims to close the gaps, stimulate and further develop the language skills and thus also the critical thinking skills of students.
– In terms of content, this means not only technical language skills (spelling, syntax) have to be learnt, but also analysing, critically examining, making connections, structuring, arguing, thinking creatively and presenting sources. The latter, in particular, more complex skills fit in with the challenges of the working environment in which most students operate and end up after their received their bachelor’s degree. These challenges are multifaceted: (1) working together, (2) communicating, (3) ICT literacy, (4) problem-solving and critical thinking, (5) creativity and (6) social and cultural skills.
– The Hotel Management study programme is convinced that it should clearly address the students on their language skills. Only then students recognise the importance of language. The programme aims to use a programme-wide approach to enable students to get the most out of their talents and intrinsic qualities.
“During the course in year 17-18 students said that it wasn’t always very clear what they had to do, what was the purpose, etc.” (Matthieu Calu, teacher of VIVES)
Context of change
The course as it was in year 17-18 was not transparent enough for the students and the teachers also found it was a bit unstructured. Students said that it wasn’t always very clear what they had to do, what was the purpose, etc. So, for the next academic year (18-19), the teacher(team) wanted to restructure the course.
Matthieu Calu (one of the teachers of this course) got in touch with the ABC-method some time ago in an internal professionalization session from VIVES. After that workshop, Matthieu liked to use the method to redesign his course.
ABC workshop plan
On May 25th in 2018, Matthieu followed the ABC-workshop. As he already knew the method, he ran the method by himself together with two colleagues with whom he gives the course.
First, they talked about their course and which goals they wanted to achieve with it. This was based on the ‘Tweet and shape’-sheet (Startblad@VIVES). After a first little talk, they had a look at the storyboard. They structured the storyboard for 6 weeks. For each week, the cards were laid on the board based on the activities they wanted to organize, as well as the sequence. First they hadn’t linked it to (or based it on) the content of the course. But after the storyboard was laid, the content of the course was taken into account. Based on the content of the course, the cards were replaced until they were satisfied with their design. With the information on the back of the cards, they chose different activities for their course and wrote them down. Finally, they have talked about evaluation but not by using the stickers as suggested in the method.
Result of the workshop: Storyboard:
Evaluation/assessment: They used to give one assignment at the end of the course. After redesigning the course, they have chosen to evaluate different assignments during the course, together with one bigger assignment at the end.
What was actually done
After the workshop the teachers used their storyboard as a start point to work out their different teaching moments. They started by writing a kind of scenario, in which the different teaching moments were elaborated and written out. In this way they could maintain an overview, discussed and explained sufficiently what they wanted to do with each other and also communicate transparently with the students. Below you can find a shortened version of this.
Once the scenario was written, they started with creating a study guide for the student in which they explained the goals, working methods, learning materials, etc. per week. This reflected what they designed in the storyboard. (See Appendix CS2)
During the lessons, one thing got changed: the sequence of the learning activities. In the scenario an assignment was planned for which student needed content that wasn’t given to them yet. So based on this experience, the assignment was given a bit later than planned.
What support was required/provided
One of the teachers followed an ABC-workshop on a VIVES professionalization activity. Based on this experience, he used the ABC-toolkit from VIVES (in which all the materials are provided) The teachers did the method without anyone of the educational development unit, but together with his colleagues with whom he gives the course. The teachers mentioned they didn’t miss any kind of support while doing the workshop, even not after the workshop to bring their design into practice. However, the initial ABC-workshop was experienced as very valuable and necessary to be able to run the method by yourself as teacher(team).
Impact and evaluation
The main reason why they wanted to redesign the OPO was the lack of structure and transparency for students. That structure is much better now.
By using the ABC-method, they developed a course in which the students are much more active and self-directed. The teacher takes the role of a coach. It is student-centred education. Because the students now also knew better what to do, compared to last year, the students are also better activated. For example, the students worked very well as it was very quiet in the classroom.
After completing the course with the new approach as developed with the ABC method, they noticed that the learning objectives of the students have been achieved. The goal is that the students should be able to apply these skills in practice and the application level is the level at which we are going to test. They have now practiced the skills and no longer only learnt it theoretically.
The feedback of the students was very positive; they were very satisfied and wanted to keep the redesigned aspects.
Successes and lessons learnt
Overall, the teachers are very satisfied with the method and the result. They would recommend the method to everyone.
Specifically, the method encouraged them to think about the course. The discussion came quiet spontaneously and the teachers worked well and very constructive together, they reflected and brainstormed. This goes quiet smoothly because the methodology gives them a common language.
The teacher notes that the ABC-workshop gave them a better idea of the structure of their course in advance and that they were more aware of this structure during the lessons.
The ABC-workshop helped them to use new ways of working, to innovate and had the courage to experiment. The learning activities on the back of the cards inspired them and gave them ideas. It helped them to think about student-centred and activating education.
Thanks to the method, they have thought about their evaluation/assessment method and now give the students more assignments during the course (instead of only after the course as a final exam). In this way, they can follow up the learning process of their students. In addition, the students are also obliged to work in between and to keep track of the course.
Different educational tools are applied in the course.
ABC ensures that you think creatively. It helps you to visualise your content and approach in your course, which gives you more control over it and allows you to adapt more quickly.
If they would recommend one thing, it would be an online tool in which you can design a course digitally. If that is possible, different teachers could work on the same course from a distance (where and when they want to), write things down, etc. All in in the same tool.
In the meantime, the teacher who followed the workshop has had another encounter with the abc-methodology at another institution and discovered there is such an online tool available.
Scalability and transferability
The ABC methodology can certainly be used for many different courses. The result of this case will be applied to or used for other OPOs.
The teacher will try to use the method in the future for other courses he gives in order to redesign them as well.