Teaching and learning online: engaging with the student voice

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This presentation reports the findings of a participatory action research project involving ITE lecturers and undergraduate students on a BA (Hons) Primary Education programme. The project set out to enhance inclusion and engagement through the application of strategies with a proven impact on metacognition (collectively referred to as ‘Thinking Skills’ strategies) into an online context, with a particular emphasis on supporting productive student interactions, and successful learning experiences using a range of online platforms.
There is significant evidence of the impact of ‘Thinking Skills’ strategies in a primary context (e.g. Hu et al, 2010;), with some evidence suggesting that the impact ‘is relatively greater than most other researched educational interventions’ (Higgins et al, 2005, p. 4). This project explored the impacts of these strategies on students’ learning experiences.

The current shift to online learning has prompted much thought around delivery of core content, yet the extent to which the experiences of students themselves have been considered remains unclear. There is some evidence to suggest that students can find the online learning experience disempowering and a ‘space of student surveillance’ (Costa et al, 2018, p. 140). By engaging students as equal research partners we hoped to gain an insider perspective of their experiences in order to co-construct ways of working that are ‘emancipatory in both process and outcome’ (Fielding, 2001: p. 124). Drawing on work by Levin (2000), this project adopted a participatory action research model to co-design the entire research process, including identification of pedagogic strategies, measurement of outcomes, and dissemination of findings.

Emerging findings relate to our developing understanding of student experiences of online learning, and – particularly for first year undergraduate students - the implications of a lack of existing peer-relationships for engagement in collaborative tasks. There is also some evidence of shifting dynamics in staff-student relationships as a result of the student consultation process, supporting the work of Ramsden (2003) who found that increased involvement/ownership in programme design, led to better outcomes and a stronger sense of belonging. We also consider the impacts of our newly established community of inquiry, including both colleagues and students, for our own future professional practice. The presentation will present an analysis of our findings to date, as well as making recommendations for future practice within ITE, applicable to both online, and face-face teaching and learning strategies.


Costa, C., Murphy, M., Pereira, A. L., & Taylor, Y. (2018). Higher education students’ experiences of digital learning and (dis) empowerment. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 34(3).

Fielding, M. (2001). Students as radical agents of change. Journal of Educational Change, 2, pp. 123 – 141.

Higgins, S., Hall, E., Baumfield, V., & Moseley, D. (2005). A meta-analysis of the impact of the implementation of thinking skills approaches on pupils. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/30050803_A_Meta-analysis_of_the_Impact_of_the_Implementation_of_Thinking_Skills_Approaches_on_Pupils [Accessed on: 28.01.2021.]

Hu, W., Adey, P., Jia, X., Liu, J., Zhang, L., Li, J., and Dong, X. (2010). Effects of a ‘Learn to Think’ intervention programme on primary school students. British Journal of Educational Psychology, pp. 1 – 27.

Levin, B. (2000). Putting students at the centre in education reform. Journal of Educational Change, 1(2), pp. 155–172.

Ramsden (2003) Learning in Teach in Higher Education, London: Routledge.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021
EventTEAN Annual Conference 2021: Celebrating the inspiration of the professional teacher educator - Online
Duration: 6 May 20217 May 2021


ConferenceTEAN Annual Conference 2021
Internet address


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