Taking stock: have we failed to define and measure learning gains?

In the last three years substantial efforts have been made by a vast number of researchers, teachers, and higher education institutions in the UK to define, conceptualise, and measure learning gains. The concept of learning gains, briefly summarised as the distance travelled by students, has been hailed by some as an opportunity to measure “excellence” in teaching. Simply formulated, good to excellent teaching will help students to achieve higher learning gains, and thus measuring learning gains could help policy makers to determine which institutions provide the best value for money. As highlighted by recent articles in Times Higher Education as well as a special issue in Higher Education Pedagogies, the jury is still out whether (or not) we can actually define and measure learning gains.

This wine and debate knowledge exchange event will bring together some of the leading scholars and practitioners from the 12 learning gains projects supported by HEFCE/OfS. Join us at the Open University, Jennie Lee Building, Milton Keynes, on Tuesday 13 November 2018 from 1600-1900 to contribute to our interactive debate. There are a limited number of free places available, which can be booked here.

Confirmed panel speakers/debaters (last updated: 17-10-2018)
Dr David Baume (University of London, independent consultant)

Dr Heike Behle (Warwick University)

Dr Simon Cross (Open University UK)

Prof Allison Littlejohn (Open University UK)

Dr Simon Lygo-Baker (University of Surrey)

Dr Sonia Ilie (Cambridge University)

Dr Maria Pampaka (University of Manchester)

Prof John Richardson (Open University UK)

Prof Bart Rienties (Open University UK)

Dr George Roberts (Oxford Brookes University)

Dr Ian Scott (Oxford Brookes University)

Prof Rhona Sharpe (University of Surrey)

Prof Denise Whitelock (Open University UK)

 

 

Recordings and slides from “Using data to increase learning gains and teaching excellence” event

Thanks everyone for your excellent contributions and insights from our “Using data to increase learning gains and teaching excellence” event. If for some reason you missed the exciting @LearningGains @HEFCE event @OpenUniversity, or want to rewatch some of the presentations, you can rewatch the entire day with amazing presentations from @rjsharpe @SurreyDhe @SimonJCross @LegacyLGproject @soniailie @FabioArico @dermott_paul @ @HeikeBehle @FiCobb and discussions on Youtube.

  • The lightning presentation slides and morning session slides are available here
  • The afternoon presentation slides are available here
  • All tweets of the event are available #learninggainsOU
  • Pictures from the event are available here

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ABC Learning gains presented at ESRC Belfast conference

Jekaterina Rogaten from the OU gave a ESRC Festival public talk aimed at academic and non-academic audiences about the future of HE and research on learning gains that is done as part of the ABC learning gains project The discussion was centred around topic of Big Data in education and how it shapes the future of higher education in UK. The session was interactive with participants invited to debate what is good and what is bad about using Big Data in education, and what learning gains we expect HE students to make. The talk covered how learning analytics can be used to predict someone’s success or failure and how universities can use this data to advance students’ learning. Using learning analytics we can predict how well students will do in their courses and identify students who need a helping hand to progress and achieve their academic potential. Learning analytics can also help us to design better educational environment that is effective in facilitating knowledge, skills and abilities development. The talk also covered how we can as HE providers use learning analytics to the advantage of teachers, students and policy makers.

ABC project presenting at SRHE 2017 conference

The ABC learning gains project will present their research at the SRHE 2017 conference as part of the two symposia on learning gains. The symposia will highlight substantially different learning gain experiences and practices, whereby a complex understanding of measurement of learning gains is needed to unpack the intertwined, dynamic, disciplinary-sensitive, and non-linear development of students in higher education. At SRHE, we set an evidence-based agenda and will discuss the affordances, lived experiences, limitations, and caveats of using different measurements, conceptualisations, and methodologies for assessing learning gains.

Aims of the ABC model of learning

An evidence-based approach of learning gains can be applied across Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) would be of value to students, institutions and national organisations.

Most studies of learning gains have focussed solely on cognitive learning gains (Bowman, 2010; Liu, 2009; McGrath et al., 2015). In line with well-established educational psychology principles and recent learning analytics approaches, which enable greater insight to be achieved from large data sets, we propose an Affective-Behaviour-Cognition (ABC) model of learning, to broaden the concept of learning gain, and – more importantly – to develop, test, implement and evaluate a range of measurements for learning gains at each of the ABC levels.

A Higher Education Challenge

One of the challenges facing higher education is in understanding what counts for an excellent educational outcome, how students’ learning can be measured effectively, and how these measurements might be used to guide current investments and inform future developments.

While there is a substantial body of research examining learning gains in the USA and in the Netherlands (Bowman, 2010; Pascarella, Blaich, Martin, & Hanson, 2011; Tempelaar, Rienties, & Giesbers, 2015a), recent review of the learning gain literature by McGrath, Guerin, Harte, Frearson, and Manville (2015) indicated that approaches to measuring  learning gains are in their infancy in higher education in England.