Mixing Teaching Approaches to Maximise Student Learning Experiences

Charles LEMCKERT, Amir Etemad-Shahidi

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review

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CONTEXT Postgraduate student education is a highly dynamic environment that
experiences significant fluctuations in regard to the make-up of the student cohort and their educational expectations. Like all educators, we seek the best learning and teaching methods to maximise student outcomes. Therefore, the educator must be dynamic and embrace the notion that varying teaching and learning approaches may be necessary – even in the same course/subject.
PURPOSE The aim of this study was to examine how fee-paying coursework postgraduate students perceive different teaching approaches in a traditional-type of course/subject and, therefore, what approaches should be improved/pursued/adopted in the near future.
APPROACH Over a three-year period, a new postgraduate course delivered to cohort of students with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds was examined to see how different teaching approaches were perceived by the students. The course/subject is contained within a traditional chalk-and-talk program taken (mostly) by fee-paying (chiefly overseas) postgraduate students. Two approaches were used sequentially during the delivery of the course - the first was the approach of interactive lectures and supportive tutorials, while the second was based on problem-based learning and with supportive workshops. At the end of the course, formal feedback was obtained from students to see how they perceived the teaching approaches used, and where improvements can be made.
RESULTS Results from the formal student surveys indicated that students appreciated both methods of delivery, with high satisfaction results being achieved for both approaches. The students showed no preference of teaching approach employed, and their performance—as assessed through formal measures (assignments, exams, reporting and presentations)—again showed that both teaching approaches were successful. Informal feedback was also obtained, and it was clear that students felt that the professionalism and availability of the staff were factors that were critical to achieving high student satisfaction outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS It was concluded that the exact method of delivery of the course
components did not have a significant impact on the learning perceptions of the students, which was similarly reflected in their assessable items. Both methodologies, and their combined impact, proved highly satisfying to the students. It was apparent that the main factors influencing students were professionalism and accessibility to the staff which, while known, seems to be critical to the postgraduate cohort.
KEYWORDS Postgraduate education, learning styles, flexible delivery
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2017)
Place of PublicationSydney
PublisherAustralasian Association for Engineering Education
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780646980263
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2017
EventAAEE - 28th Annual Conference of Australasian Association for Engineering Education - Manly, Australia
Duration: 10 Dec 201713 Dec 2017
Conference number: 28th

Publication series

PublisherAustralasian Association for Engineering Education


ConferenceAAEE - 28th Annual Conference of Australasian Association for Engineering Education
Abbreviated titleAAEE2017
Internet address


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