Learning through Writing in a First Year Business Subject: Enhancing Student Learning Outcomes by Developing Teaching and Learning Interventions
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
Dr Dipu Sebastian
Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Business, Queensland University of Technology
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