In a seminar with the UpCERG research group Ville Isomöttönen presented a paper on the use of Action Research in changing a classroom setting from a more classical seminar (passive) based course to a course based on blended learning and flipped classroom ideas. This is basically when you use e-learning in teaching and aim at using the seminars for discussing matieral that the students have studied outside of the seminar room. The pedagogic aim was to practice active learning with many practice sessions, online learning and review sessions.
Ville Isomöttönen described that they had a very optimistic start of the project with many pedagogic ideas for improvement.
Some of the things they found in the study was:
- Students prefer informal communication. It is difficult to drive a self study course through asking students to pose driving questions.
- Student pass rates went down after this change, but the number of students increased. Many students logg into the system and tried it out and experimented.
- Students constantly say that they really enjoyed the freedom and self-paced and flexible sized studying, but that it is nothing for them and they don’t want it in the future.
- Students need to practice “freedom in learning”, and they often have a mindset where they believe that there is a best way of doing something. “Which is the best way to do this?”
During the presentation we also discussed the many choices that we need to do as action researchers. What kind of participation are we aiming at in our projects? Who do we include when designing the change we want to do, and in what way? In how many action research projects are the students invited to participate in the changes made, and what would happen when they are? What are the different roles that we take as researchers in our projects? I take on different roles such as coach, seminar leader, meeting participant, interviewer, notes taker, meeting leader. All these roles include different levels of listening, talking and discussing.
We also had a very interesting discussion about Action Research in areas, or in projects where interia is so strong that you almost know from the start that this goal will not be reached. My opinion is that we cannot stop doing action research on the big and challenging problems such as “cancer care”, or ” gender in the a Swedish school system” or “usable ICT in organisations” because it is difficult. We need to work to change things in small steps. Grit and perseverance in research are crucial! 🙂
The full paper is published soon and is called: Isomöttönen & Tirronen (2016, ToAppear). Flipping and Blending: An Action Research Project on Improving Functional Programming Course. ACM Transactions on Computing Education.