Putting student work (both individual and group) at the centre of the York Pedagogy identifies student activity as the defining process of learning, rather than classes or summative assessments. This approach is inspired by educational research which shows that increasing student time on tasks and active student engagement in their learning maximises educational gain. The York pedagogy requires programme design to give explicit attention to all aspects of student work which supports learning ie independent study as well as contact with teaching staff.
Research shows that the effectiveness of student private study is correlated with learning gain, highly variable between students, and often capable of significant improvement, even for the best students. Students often use inefficient private study methods such as re-reading and massed practice. By contrast, carefully-designed student work can yield deep learning by demanding sustained effort, spaced and interleaved practice, retrieval of previously-learned material, structure building (extracting salient ideas and constructing a coherent mental framework), collaboration and development of transferable skills (Gibbs, 2007; Roediger et al, 2012). With sound learning methods embedded in student work, students who study for longer learn more. In addition, forms of student engagement such as peer tutoring, peer assessment, planned debate tasks and problem-based learning can facilitate the type of cooperation highlighted as one of the seven principles of good quality higher education (Chickering and Gamson – see Resources).
Designing student work therefore involves designing independent study and formative work which demands engagement of a high standard and draws on appropriate resources to propel student learning to the achievement of the PLOs.
Student project work is deemed to be work undertaken by students, typically over an extended period of time (an academic term for example) for the purpose of assessment (summative or formative), that does not simply result in the submission of a piece of written work in a typical essay format.
An example of student project work: a student group work project that results in the submission of a video file.
There are many ways you can use online platforms (or software) to support students undertaking project work. In many cases it may be that use of such tools is actually an underlying learning outcome, developing student transferable skills and modelling ‘real-world’ activities for example.
The examples, information and resources linked to below, draw upon projects implemented by staff in various departments across the University of York and cover how both you and we (the Programme Design and Learning Technology Team) can support students undertaking such project work.