Students learn new content by summarising topics on white boards in teams and teaching fellow students

Author(s): Petri Vesikivi

Affiliation(s): Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Date of publication: June 21, 2016

The Educational Problem

During the past few years it seems that students’ willingness to concentrate on lecture type of content has been decreasing. Furthermore, the trialogical approach on learning puts the project on “center stage” and leaves little energy for more boring, but still important means of learning like lectures. In our university, classrooms have been modified to facilitate trialogical learning. We have changed the traditional computer classrooms into team workspaces with tables organized in teams of six students and got rid of teacher’s table in the front . While new classroom setup enhances team work at the same time it makes harder to concentrate on long lectures.

The Solution

Therefore, we decided to change the structure of sessions so that the lecture part would be limited to 20 minutes leaving a lot of time for learning by doing the project and working in teams. At times the twenty minutes seemed to be a too long a time. Thus we came with the idea that why don’t we split the topics we’d like to cover into six and give each table a topic, on which they would create a briefing for their fellow students. We typically give an hour or two for digging up the facts and asking questions about the topic. After the time is up, each team would construct a “fact sheet” on a whiteboard and prepare a 10 minute presentation on the topic. Once the presentations are finished, students would be split into teams so that each team would have a representative of each topic team. After this, all these new teams would rotate through all boards giving everyone in a topic team the opportunity to speak on their team’s topic as well as for each student the opportunity to listen in and ask questions about all topics.

This worked better than lectures as it forced the students to leave their computer and project work for a while and concentrate on more theoretical topics.

The Context

The approach works well in classrooms where there is a possibility to use multiple white boards for the presentations. White board is good because it makes easy for the teachers to constantly check that the content is of adequate quality. It probably works best on courses that utilize the trialogical learning concept.

In order for this approach to work well, students should possess solid skills in finding information and being critical about the information they find. This could also be used as a learning opportunity for critical information analysis.

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