Certain flavour modules within a higher education degree programme will by their very nature contain genuinely multidisciplinary content, which is drawn from a wide range of core disciplines, from physics to sociology. Such modules are often made available as optional courses for level five and six (and also seven) students studying for both humanities/social science-based (e.g. BA) and science-based (e.g. BSc) degrees. As such, by the very nature of the scenario established, students on the humanities/social science-based programme tend to feel more comfortable with, and historically perform better in assessment centred on the more humanities/social science-based content of such multidisciplinary modules, and conversely students on the science-based programme tend to feel more comfortable with, and historically perform better in assessment centred on the more science-based content. Consequently, there tends to exist a gap in comprehension and confidence between individuals from different degree flavours when studying different elements of multidisciplinary modules. One technique that could be employed to help ridge these gaps, is blended learning in the form of the flipped classroom, whereby bespoke, targeted videos and associated on-line quizzes are provided to students prior to a lecture to help prime them for the content delivered in -class. As such it is proposed to introduce a targeted programme of the flipped classroom into a pre-existing module that has multidisciplinary content and to assess its effectiveness in terms of students’ perceptions of their own level of understanding and confidence.
The proposed project will be based on GY336 Air Quality Management, a historically popular module offered to both BSc students (on Earth and Ocean Science, Environmental Science, Physical Geography, Physical Geography and Geology, Geography with Archaeology and Geography with Geoinformatics degree programmes), and BA students (on Human Geography and Environment and Media degree programmes) within the School of Environment and Technology (SET). To fully understand and be able to apply Air Quality Management in the contemporary world, it is necessary for students to study the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere at the heart of our air pollution, it is likewise necessary to study the engineering behind our required measurement techniques. However, it is also vital to understand the historic and present-day national and international policy and law that govern the state of the air we breathe, whilst to obtain a full picture of the issue it is equally necessary to understand the impacts of air pollution on the human body and our environment. Furthermore, to make progress in elevating the air pollution problem we need to be able to develop and apply mechanisms to mitigate the problem, which involves understand public perception and investigating how we can encourage the required paradigm shifts in societal behaviour. In summary, to provide students with the best possible education in air quality management, it is necessary for them to study topics from a diverse range of core disciplines, some of which they will not be familiar, or comfortable with.
To help me begin to understand and address the issue of ensuring best possible teaching practice and application of optimal delivery mechanisms to maximise learning for a mix cohort group studying a multidisciplinary module, for the 2016 – 17 GY336 cohort a small amount of blended learning, in the form of the flipped classroom, was introduced. Within this small trial the students were encouraged to watch a short bespoke video prior to certain classes and answer a short online StudentCentral quiz afterwards. It was intended that these activities, prior to contact-time, would prime the students with basic principles to help them feel comfortable with content delivered within the class and to help maximise their potential to understand topics based on disciplines with which they were not familiar. Formative feedback from the 2016 – 17 GY336 cohort suggested that the flipped classroom in this instance was extremely helpful in their learning journey and that it would be highly beneficial to students to include more of it. As such it is now proposed to extend pre-lecture flipped classroom content for GY336 to include bespoke videos to cover a module introduction and four separate topics, two traditionally considered in the domain of the BA cohort, and two in the BSc cohort, and to include StudentCentral quizzes for all topics.
The flipped classroom in this instance is intended to help bridge potential gaps in comprehension and confidence between individuals from different degree flavours when studying different elements of such a multidisciplinary module.