Transcript ‘Introduction to EBL’
I do enjoy the style of learning. I feel that it’s a good change from the usual lecture style.
You can use the ideas of other people and their knowledge to help you.
It gives you more independence; I’m not set to a structure, I can work whenever I want.
We have a go at what’s being taught, so it’s very kind of hands on.
Lectures tend to be rather one way in their focus; people transmitting knowledge or somebody transmitting knowledge to the audience. Enquiry based learning, on the other hand, is very much a two way process; it’s a conversation. It’s a conversation between learners and between tutors and learners.
You feel like you’re actually getting involved, so it’s better than just listening or getting bored in a lecture theatre… not that I get bored!
The hands on activities are great because you’re interacting with the group of people around you. And also – as someone training to be a teacher – it gives you a lot of insight into ideas and ways that things can work in the classroom.
The thinking behind it is that in order to learn in a deep way and to really change your understanding of your subject and of the world you need to be actively engaged cognitively. It’s not just about soaking up knowledge and regurgitating it at exam time. It’s about changing understanding. EBL is not really a new way of educating students; I think that universities have been using Enquiry Based Learning ever since they were invented, actually. But I think that what’s different is that they’re now much more aware and much more explicit about the fact that this is what they do, and that’s important because I think the way people learn in schools in the UK has perhaps changed a bit in recent years; students aren’t being challenged to think critically at A-Level quite as much as they have been in the past.
It’s very important at this stage in the education system to enable students to develop confidence in evaluating the world around them. I don’t tell the students what they should expect or what they should find, but any questions that I pose or any experiences that they’re put in are really designed to enable them to come to their own conclusions, so to speak.
I’ve learnt from feedback I got several years ago now, when I delivered a lecture course that didn’t give a single lecture, and the students thought it was great! And building on that, I’ve realised that when I’m talking at the students there’s very little learning taking place. In this particular exercise it’s all about the students interpreting a brief and engaging with the learning, going off and doing their own self-motivated research, perhaps coming back and asking for help.
I feel you’re more proactive when you’re learning. You’re more controlled, so you can learn about the stuff you’re interested in, and it’s a good experience.
Yeah, that’s one of the things that this kind of session really helps you on, like, later years. You kind of build up slowly all your different research skills, you learn to use all the different resources. Like, use the library properly, use all the different scientific based websites, you get used to looking at journals and trying to pick out the relevant information, which is something completely new from, like, A-Levels, so it really helps you build up for later years when you’ve got to do more of your own research.
Of course, Enquiry Based Learning – although it’s been common across Higher Education for a long time – doesn’t have to be done on the same way in all the different disciplines; it can be case studies, it can be problem solving, it can be looking at textual evidence and drawing conclusions from that, looking for similarities and patterns and so on. So though it takes lots of different forms it’s likely to be practiced in one form or another in various disciplines.
It is a very good way of getting to know all the students and their strengths and weaknesses, and it’s rewarding in that sense because you have to go round and talk to them all as individuals, which is very difficult in a lecture setting, and you get that opportunity to just push their learning that little step further.
You’re either in a lecture with four hundred people or you’re doing your own self-directed learning, so it’s quite nice to actually work with a small group of people who you get to know quite well because you’re with them all year.
This is such a good break from lectures. I mean, lectures are good to a certain extent, but these kind of put everything we’ve learnt from lectures into practice.