By Dr Francesco V Ferraro (Lecturer in Sport Therapy and Rehabilitation)
A common challenge when teaching synchronous online sessions is student engagement and there are often difficulties with trying to get students to interact with the tutor and each other. This describes a success with using a semi structured Padlet tool to improve engagement with students learning online.
The students were studying Sports Conditioning (Level 6) with a blended approach, with several lectures online and only a few practical sessions on campus. In week 10, the students needed to recap what was done so far on the module. It was scheduled as an opportunity for the students to work together before submitting their coursework 2, which was a 20-minute group presentation. The session was organised so that students needed to engage and work together, since many recaps were already being provided at the beginning of each lecture. It was an opportunity for them to test their knowledge and understanding before the coursework.
What was done
Following the few weeks I had with the students on campus, I went back and studied the functionality of Blackboard and activities to see if I could address the challenges with online engagement. Hence, when we returned to the synchronous online teaching, I introduced a semi-structured Padlet. I organised the Padlet for each session so that the students did not have simply an empty Padlet to fill in but a semi-structured wall to complete (according to the Bloom’s taxonomy the main purpose was to re-call and remember what has been done on campus in the previous weeks). See the example below, in which each chapter of our module journey was separate, with a week number and title.
I was hoping that using a semi-structured Padlet would increase students’ engagement in online activities and would be an additional tool that might stimulate their willingness to learn and discuss. Potentially, the good results experienced with the structured Padlet to recall what has been done in class, can be considered in two pedagogic practices. The first, is the cognitive constructivism and the support that students had in working in a challenger environment with the aid of semi structured tasks. Secondly, according to Leenknecht (2021) learning can be defined by observable increases, decreases, or maintenance of identified behaviours, and these behaviours can be motivated with different practices. So it might be that a semi-structured environment produced in the student a gamification of their learning which then produced as an outcomes a high level of engagement.
In total honesty, I was not expecting much. Quizzes, Padlets and social media activities had not proved as engaging as intended. Why should this be any different? However, I was wrong! The use of a semi-structured Padlet motivated some students (more than 50%) to engage, and the cohort (i.e., 65 out of 85 students) remained until the end of the three hours. I was astonished to see them engage with the Padlet and fill in the areas discussed in class. I was not expecting such success, which motivates me to use this tool again in my practice.
Martijn Leenknecht, Lisette Wijnia, Martine Köhlen, Luke Fryer, Remy Rikers & Sofie Loyens (2021) Formative assessment as practice: the role of students’ motivation, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 46:2, 236-255, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2020.1765228