Late last week it was confirmed that a conference paper I was co-authoring has been accepted for publication and presentation at the 2017 FIE (Frontiers in Education) conference! Åsa Cajander (lead author), Diane Golay, Mats Daniels, Aletta Nylén, Arnold Pears, Anne-Kathrin Peters from the IT department at Uppsala University and Roger McDermott from the School of Computer Science and Digital Media at Robert Gordon University are the other authors on the paper. The title of the paper is “Unexpected Student Behaviour and Learning Opportunities: Using the Theory of Planned Behaviour to Analyse a Critical Incident”.
In the paper we are using the Theory of Planned Behaviour to analyze a critical incident that occurred at the end of a course at Uppsala University. The incident relates to students refusing to present at and participate in a voluntary “design final” at the end of the course, where an external jury should choose the best project. During the course, project groups presented their work a couple of times in seminar groups and after each presentation the groups were awarded points by both the peers and the teachers. After the last presentation, the project groups with the highest number of points in the respective seminar group (three in total) were given the opportunity to present during the final.
The main idea with introducing the point system and design final was to add an engaging gamification component, providing an extra incentive for performing well during the entire course. The reactions from students, however, were unexpected in that some groups refused to take part in the design final and quite a few students did not see the point of the gamification related components.
Here is the paper abstract, outlining our main approach in analyzing the critical incident (I will come back to this topic and write more about the results and outcomes when the paper has been published in the conference proceedings):
One of the challenges in being a teacher is to set up an educational setting where the students receive relevant learning opportunities for the specific course, the students’ education in general, and for their future. However, efforts to create such educational settings do not always work in the way that faculty has intended. In this paper we investigate one such effort seen from a critical incident perspective. Central to the analysis in this paper is how the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) can provide explanations for the incident. The critical incident can be summarised as students refusing to take part in a non-compulsory, but from the faculty perspective highly educational, activity. We describe the incident in depth, give thebackground for the educational intervention, and analyse the incident from the perspective of TPB. This paper makes two major contributions to engineering education research. The first is the development of a method for analysing critical teaching and learning incidents using the TPB. The critical incident analysisillustrates how the method is used to analyse and reason about the students’ behaviour. Another contribution is the development of a range of insights which deal with challenges raised by Learning interventions, especially those involved with acquiring hidden or ”invisible skills” not usually seen or acknowledged by students to belong to core subject area of a degree program.
The tension between the teachers’ expectations and the students’ reactions is very interesting from a pedagogical point of view. In this particular paper we analyze a critical incident using a specific method (Theory of Planned Behaviour), but we are planning broader articles on this subject as well. One interesting aspect to delve deeper into is the difference between universities – one of the main reasons why gamification was tested at Uppsala University was that it had been extremely well received by students at another university taking a very similar course with similar gamification components!