What is it about?

We have developed a "Structured Active Learning" approach to teaching courses that mean students access some material but then need to do an activity with/about this to progress further. Material is usually in the form of videos of 5–15 min, with four to six released each week with supporting links, and reading material. Online activities include specific questions related to the last video, finding and commenting on an appropriate article, or discussing a scenario. Face-to-face activities include group work on scenarios, analysis of problems or application of understanding to a new problem. In Structured Active Learning the students must watch the short lecture component to get to the discussion point and then answer the discussion point to get access to the next piece of material. Their work over these elements contributes a small component of their final module grade, and they get feedback as they go. It works. The approach improves engagement with the active learning approach increased the proportion of students accessing the one topic's material from 28% to 84% and those contributing to the discussions from 21% to 76%. Student performance, with first and second class equivalents rising from 78% to 96%.

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Why is it important?

Students need to be engaged with the course material in order to learn. A structured approach helps with this, increasing the participation with online and face-to-face material and activities. This helps whether the course is entirely online or for a blended approach (some components online and some on-site). The activities themselves help with developing understanding and knowing how the knowledge gained can be applied - this is "active learning". The additional structure around it: the feedback, gamification of unlocking the next level, and the link to assessment substantially improves engagement with these learning activities, making "Structured Active Learning" the route forward.

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This page is a summary of: Just by being here, you aren’t halfway there: Structured Active Learning and its integration in virtual learning environments and assessment, Science & Justice, June 2022, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.scijus.2022.05.005.
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