Learning through Writing in a First Year Business Subject: Enhancing Student Learning Outcomes by Developing Teaching and Learning Interventions

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The aim of this research was to investigate whether teaching and learning strategies that encourage students to adopt a deep approach to learning can improve their learning outcomes on a written task. This research was conducted in two phases in a first year business course offered at a major Australian university. Staff teaching the course were concerned about students’ written communication abilities and observed that academic performance on written tasks did not necessarily reflect their level of knowledge articulated through other methods. The first phase focused on developing a curriculum where the aims, the assessment tasks and criteria match the desired learning outcome. The second phase involved situated tasks, built on the SOLO Taxonomy framework (Biggs & Collis, 1982), focusing on assessment and writing were implemented within tutorial time. Two ‘macro’ areas were targeted in the intervention period (i) understanding relational learning outcomes and (ii) planning for writing – understanding relationships. Students were asked to complete the Study Process Questionnaire (SPQ) in their first workshop in order to determine their approach to learning. This instrument and the outcomes formed part of a discussion about approaches to learning and potential implications for their grades in the course. It also formed a foundation for later discussion of the SOLO Taxonomy (Biggs & Collis, 1982) and quality of learning. The results indicated that the majority of the participants made considerable gains. Student success, however, was not uniform. We believe that students who benefited most from these interventions were those with greatest commitment to learning. However, the overall results of this study were very encouraging and have given valuable feedback about how to embed generic skills in the curriculum and provided impetus for policy development and restructuring of the whole first year of the undergraduate degree program.


Keywords: Teaching and Learning Interventions, Genric Skills, SOLO Taxonomy, Student Learning
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , , , Improving Student Learning Outcomes in a First Year Business Subject


Dr Dipu Sebastian

Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Business, Queensland University of Technology
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Dipu Sebastian is an Associate Lecturer in the school of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations at the Faculty of Business, Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Apart from his interests in Marketing and International Business, he has particular interest in the areas of teaching and learning, business curriculum and student experience and expectations.
Dipu holds a Master degree in Business Administration (MBA) and a Masters degree in Education (MEd) and is currently completing his doctoral studies in Australia.

Assoc. Prof. Craig Zimitat

Director, Medical Education Unit, School of Medicine, University of Tasmania
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Associate Professor Craig Zimitat is the Director of the Medical Education Unit, within the School of Medicine at the University of Tasmania. His expertise lies in the areas of curriculum development and implementation and online learning and teaching environments. He has published widely in the area of teaching and learning. His qualifications include a PhD and a Master of Higher Education.

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