This paper describes a method intended to advance students along the path to independent learning. The method is consistent with the principles of enquiry-based Learning. It involves restructuring student contact class time into a single three-hour block, and dedicating the majority of this time to working in small research project groups. Non-punitive, formative feedback is provided continuously on student work through the semester. In order to gain insight into the student experience of the design, a qualitative study using focus groups was conducted across two consecutive semesters. Reflection on the teaching experience in light of the student responses provides insight into aspects that have worked well, particularly the nature and channels of support provided to students. Despite the students’ unfamiliarity with the unit design, the contact structure and the group work has been popular and has been perceived as contributing to the students’ learning experience. The levels of support and feedback made possible through the unit design have also been very positively viewed. However, interesting questions are also raised. The first is regarding the balance between encouraging independent learning and the provision of structure and support by staff. The second is related to going beyond student perceptions and reliably measuring changes in independent learning abilities.
Recommended CitationZutshi, Samar; Mitchell, Matthew; and Weaver, Debbi, Undergraduate Student Acceptance of a Unit Design for Developing Independent Learning Abilities, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 8(3), 2011.