This blog post is written by Nasreen Majid (Lecturer in Primary Mathematics and Director of the BA Primary Education (QTS) programme at the University of Reading’s Institute of Education).
All students on the BA Primary Education (QTS) programme develop a piece of final-year research project, entitled Advanced Teaching Project (ATP). This blog summarises how the ATP conference is used to develop peer learning in order for Part 2 students to learn from the research experiences of Part 3 students (Nelwati, Abdullah, & Chan, 2018).
The main objectives of this activity were:
- Develop sustained and structured scaffolds to undertake effective undergraduate research
- Develop high quality peer learning opportunities
- Develop a culture of educational research
- Enable an understanding that teaching is a research informed profession
Module ED3PI1 is a 40-credit module, assessed through an 8,000-word ATP dissertation. The ATP develops our trainee teachers’ educational research skills. The preparation for this project starts at the end of Part 2, with an introductory lecture and a conference in the summer term, showcasing the research undertaken by Part 3 students (Kneale, Edwards-Jones, Walkington, & Hill, 2016).
The conference aims are firstly to celebrate the outstanding work undertaken by our students and the teaching aim is for peer learning where Part 3 presentations and posters inform Part 2 students on the best approaches to write a strong piece of undergraduate research. This approach amplifies the impact of learning as it is an exchange between peers and based on Part 3 students’ experiences of writing their ATP over an academic year.
The student presentations highlight the research undertaken, how they conducted their literature review, their methodological approach and the effectiveness of this. The students share ‘top tips’ throughout the presentation to enable collaborative learning. The presenters use Mentimeter to generate questions, thus providing an anonymous platform for Part 2 students to ask questions freely (Skoyles & Bloxsidge, 2017).
The ATP conference sets a foundation for the students to develop a sustained and structured approach to undergraduate research. This is measured by the way students engage with their ATPs and the quality of research output. Furthermore, the ATP work serves as a springboard for some Part 3 students to undertake Masters level study as well as being encouraged to publish their research. A major impact of the conference is the high quality peer learning opportunities that take place. This culminates to our students building a strong identity as educational researchers (Rådesjö, 2018).
The materials shared at the conference (e.g. PowerPoint presentations and posters) are drawn upon during the ED3PI1 teaching input to further consolidate the learning experience gained during the ATP conference. Moreover, videos, as developed by Part 3 presenters on ‘top tips’ for students working on their ATPs, are also shared across the academic year to facilitate further learning of the students. The link below can be used to access the ‘top tips’ videos developed by the presenters.
My reflections on the process
The process of developing high quality projects for the ATP, using a peer learning model, provides a strong opportunity for students to collaborate and learn from the previous cohort’s experiences. It is clear from the observations that the Part 2 students gain a great deal from listening to and being assured by the Part 3 students about the ATP writing and learning process. Evidently, learning from peers and understanding that the Part 3 students were in the same situation one year ago, provides food for thought for the Part 2 students and enables then to recognise that, although the work is very challenging, it is ‘doable’ to a high standard because they have seen outstanding examples of work from their peers. Overall, I am always impressed by the work that goes into the presentations and the professional way the Part 3 students deliver their research to their peers.
More details of the ATP conference can be found here.
Kneale, P., Edwards-Jones, A., Walkington, H., & Hill, J. (2016). Evaluating undergraduate research conferences as vehicles for novice researcher development. International Journal for Researcher Development, 7(2), 159-177. doi:10.1108/IJRD-10-2015-0026
Nelwati, Abdullah, K. L., & Chan, C. M. (2018). A systematic review of qualitative studies exploring peer learning experiences of undergraduate nursing students. Nurse education today, 71, 185-192. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2018.09.018
Rådesjö, M. (2018). Learning and growing from ‘communities of practice’: autoethnographic narrative vignettes of an aspiring educational researcher’s experience. Reflective Practice, 19(1), 68-80. doi:10.1080/14623943.2017.1361917
Skoyles, A., & Bloxsidge, E. (2017). Have you voted? Teaching OSCOLA with Mentimeter. Legal Information Management, 17(4), 232-238. doi:10.1017/S1472669617000457