As part of the Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) programme, participants are required to undertake a quality improvement project.
SET’s Professional Status team reviewed all 60+ Quality Improvement Projects submitted as part of the October 2020 ATS cohort shortlisting the top 12 using a scoring matrix, including the below from Gavin Knox, Teacher Educator and Learning Coach at Lincoln College.
This editorial provides an overview of Gavin’s improvement project which focused on how to develop learners’ 21st century learning skills through the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) tutorial model.
The move of educational delivery away from face-to-face to online platforms during Covid-19 has developed a space for educators around the world to find new forms of learning. Whilst some staff and students have flourished, others have floundered with digital capabilities and confidence (Jisc, 2020).
In attempting to address a gap in learners’ skills, knowledge and behaviours, I collaborated with a small team of teachers to create four lessons that focused on developing key 21st century learning skills – Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking, also known as the 4Cs (Joynes, 2019) – which would be delivered by teachers involved in teaching Continuous Professional Development (CPD).
It was anticipated that through engagement in the project, CPD teachers would develop their confidence in developing their own digital pedagogical skills. Around 80 teachers deliver the CPD curriculum at the college. There is a framework for the curriculum and most teachers deliver very similar topics. Typically, most teachers plan these topics in isolation. Working collaboratively would reduce planning time, enable the sharing of ideas and create a better learner experience.
The project aimed to improve the learner experience in CPD lessons by designing a series of lessons that supports learning to learn in the 21st century, with the following objectives:
Q1: How does learning to learn impact on learning in CPD lessons?
Q2: To what extent can learning to learn develop teachers’ collaboration?
Q3: To what extent can 21st century learning skills lead to better outcomes for learners?
The study also looked at two sub questions:
The research used a qualitative approach with a phenomenological methodology. A mixed method approach was used to collect the data:
This research was conducted in accordance with the BERA 2018 guidelines and GDPR.
The data analysis suggests some teachers have found the move to teaching online difficult. Consistent with Moravec (2013), one teacher felt they had not effectively adapted lessons to an online space and had tried to recreate classroom lessons. Some teachers suggested that they had not been given enough ‘training’ to teach online. This way of teaching and learning is a huge cultural shift. This shift will take time.
The data analysis identifies the creation and delivery of the 4Cs lessons have started to have a positive impact on learners. Some teachers commented that the structure of the 4Cs had allowed them to think more creatively about the delivery of online lessons. This has enabled learners to become more active in lessons. Teachers reported that some learners were responding more positively to questions and more learners turning cameras on. The links the lessons make to employability skills have helped some learners to recognise that learning in this way is developing vital employability skills for future careers.
The most significant impact of the project has been on staff. The creation of the 4Cs lessons, drop-in support and the Microsoft Teams Community of Practice has enabled all of the CPD teachers to connect and collaborate. The MS Teams group gave a space for teachers to share ideas about how they have adapted the 4Cs lessons. This has not happened before with this group of teachers. The impact of this collaboration has resulted in a more positive learning experience for learners as teachers have been learning with and from one another. It is important that teachers continue to collaborate and feel empowered to change curriculums and adapt lessons that are more conducive to the learning of their own groups.
The impact of this project has not gone unnoticed by senior management as the college. This has resulted in a complete rethink about the CPD curriculum. From September 2021, this curriculum will be built around the 4Cs. The wider college is now being encouraged to think more creatively about their curriculums and how they can embed key 21st century learning skills. Furthermore, this has led to me create a college-wide pre-induction learning package known as ‘Ready Set Learn’.
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