FLANZ award to Prof. Scott, WMIER & CeTTL staff

Date / Time: 19 April 2018

Professor Jonathan Scott (School of Engineering) and his research team won this year’s national award from the Flexible Learning Association NZ (FLANZ) for best practice in e-learning, distance, open and flexible learning in New Zealand for their work entitled Easy Over: Developing flipped class videos to teach undergraduate engineering threshold concepts. Jonathan received the FLANZ2018 award on behalf of his team during the conference dinner on 10th April 2018 hosted by Massey University. The research and development team consisted of staff from interdisciplinary departments: Drs Elaine Khoo and Mira Peter from the Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research (WMIER) and Craig Gilliver, Centre for Tertiary Teaching & Learning.

The team developed a set of customised high quality online videos based on best-practice guidelines to teach threshold concepts (TCs) as a key resource to replace face-to-face lectures in a first-year electronics engineering flipped classrooms. The video development work was part of a Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) project (2015-2017) to investigate the impact of adopting a threshold concept-based flipped class approach on teaching, learning and student development of important workplace non-technical competencies. It was led by Drs Mira Peter and Elaine Khoo (WMIER), in collaboration with Prof Jonathan Scott, Assoc Prof Howell Round (School of Engineering) and Prof Bronwen Cowie (WIMER). The video development work was undertaken with available and accessible technologies initially to allow the team to learn and build on those experiences before experimenting with more novel technologies, to enhance personalisation of the video content for students.

In addition to the online videos, the team redesigned the flipped class to incorporate diverse learning supports. Overall, students learning improved significantly including their satisfaction in the traditionally conceptually challenging course. The project was unique as no other studies have integrated a TC-focused curricula with a flipped class approach in engineering education, including the development of online videos suited to teaching TCs for flipped classes.

The win was closely contested by other high-quality entries from institutions within New Zealand. Excerpt of feedback from the judging panel was that the Waikato team’s work “provides a useful refinement of existing approaches to ‘flipped’ classroom thinking - but is applied specifically to the context of engineering students learning the ‘threshold’ concepts. The identification of the positive impact on student learning (e.g. benefits of being able to ‘rewind’ segments of learning) together with the use of analytics that enabled the adaptation of the programme, were a real strength of the project and provided a strong rationale for expanding it further.