EDU8203 : Investigating Learning Processes (40 credit version)

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 20.0


The module is available to students wishing to innovate in specific domains of learning that are of interest to them. The aims are for students to:
•       Develop a critical understanding of the particular role of design experiments as a test bed for novel approaches to learning;
•       Understand learning contexts as ecologies or systems that can be researched through the study of small group interactions;
•       Identify organising theories and frameworks through a systematic search of the literature in a chosen domain of learning. These may include theories relating to culture, identity, affect, motivation and self-efficiency as well as those addressing conceptual or cognitive development;
•       Develop knowledge and skills to plan and conduct a robust small-scale design experiment that tests a new hypothesis drawn from or inspired by the literature;
•       Develop knowledge and skills to plan methods that indirectly measure underlying learning processes;
•       Understand the ethical requirements for research projects involving the study of human subjects.

Outline Of Syllabus

Each session 2.5hrs
Session 1 Introduction to design based research. Overview of module structure and assessed outcomes. Introduction to e learning.
Session 2 Theory as a lens-orientating frameworks.
Session 3 Theory as a lens-grand theories.
Session 4 Ethnographic perspectives on investigating learning processes.
Session 5 Qualitative and quantitative analysis of video data-workshop.
Session 6 Quality and ethical issues in design research.
Session 7 Surgery - students present their designs and any preliminary analysis of data.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1140:00140:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture31:304:30Session 1,6&7 - 2.5hrs each Session 2,3&4 - 1.5hrs each (these lectures incorporate 1hr workshops)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture32:307:30Session 1,6&7 - 2.5hrs each Session 2,3&4 - 1.5hrs each (these lectures incorporate 1hr workshops)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:302:30Sessions 2,3&4 = 1hr each Session 5 = 2.5hrs (This entire session is a workshop)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops31:003:00Sessions 2,3&4 = 1hr each Session 5 = 2.5hrs (This entire session is a workshop)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery51:307:30Precede each session 2-7
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision251:0025:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1160:00160:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures provide the students with the necessary input and guidance in defining the focus of the study in order to conduct a small scale design experiment in their chosen domain of interest. The taught sessions combine lecture style input with practical workshops to encourage critical engagement with the empirical evidence and research methodology in the chosen field of interest. Each session is preceded by an informal drop in to take place during the hour before teaching is timetabled to start. These can act as a surgery or take the form of a seminar, depending on the wishes of the participating students. Supported self-study materials provided will include interactive electronic elements and guidance on fieldwork in educational contexts. Individual tutorials address the particular needs of students which can be conducted physically or via email.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Portfolio1M1008000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The prospective and reflective aspects of design experiments constitute an iterative design for the development and refinement of new learning theory. As conjectures are generated and perhaps refuted, new conjectures are developed and subjected to test. The use of the portfolio as a means of assessment is designed to make this process visible to students as a mechanism for professional learning. Components within the portfolio demonstrate the ability to students to synthesise theory and research in a given domain of practice and, on this basis, design and carry out small scale empirical research that demonstrates academic rigour.
The components of the portfolio are:
Task 1- case study of learning context to be researched along with aims and initial hypotheses.
Task 2- E searching for related empirical studies. Producing a summary table mapping the theories and methods used in two key empirical research papers that relate to the domain of interest accompanied by a critical commentary.
Task 3- an overview showing how orientating frameworks including behaviourist, cognitivist and constructivist perspectives relate to the domain of interest. Identification of a grand theory that will be used to inform the design.
Task 4- outline of proposed design including sample materials, framework for action and analysis plan.
Task 5- a critique of the proposed data collection methods for the design experiment, including ethics.
Task 6- review and analysis of the design experiment data.
Task 7- a reflective commentary on the outcomes of the experiment, next steps and limitations.
Task 8- a critical reflection on the way that learning processes in the domain of interest are researched, including the (potential) contribution of design based research to this canon. This task expands on the critical analysis of papers in Task 2 (min 2000 words).

Reading Lists