Academic staff induction and assessment on implementing experiential learning and reflective practice in the delivery of academic programmes at a New Zealand tertiary institution

Year: 2019

Author: Nistor, Vera, Maria, Samarasinghe, Don, Amila, Sajeevan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Background: Experiential learning and reflective practice are two effective key learning and teaching strategies that many successful teachers employ as authentic and learner-centred education practices. It has been proven that many students appreciate the meaningful learning received through a learner-centred classroom environment.

Aim: The aim of this paper is to share the findings of a trial induction programme focussing on experiential learning and reflective practice. The induction programme was designed to enhance the importance of changing teacher-centred practice into learner-centred practice, with the teacher taking on the role of facilitator. The objectives of this induction programme were to help staff in understanding and incorporating experiential learning models in their teaching practice, and to contextualise experiential learning within the learning and teaching framework at Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus.

Data collection: In the first part of the induction process, academic staff were introduced to experiential learning and reflective practice through an online Moodle course. This was intended for them to acknowledge the process and reflect on its importance by themselves. The following activity was a face-to-face reflective session with the experiential learning team to clarify any issues arising from the online Moodle course. Also, the staff were encouraged to come up with potential ways of incorporating experiential learning activities into their respective courses. In the second part of the induction programme, the experiential learning team evaluated the teaching performance of each staff member using a digital classroom observation tool for assessment.

Analysis of the results: The paper contains a qualitative analysis of staff perspectives on experiential learning practice taken from their answers to the questions in the online Moodle course. It also contains a quantitative analysis of the data gathered from the classroom observations.

Findings and conclusion: While theoretical knowledge about experiential learning and reflective practice is a step forward towards applying these in the classroom, more steps need to be taken for a consistent and proficient implementation of this practice. A more conscious incorporation of reflective practice by the academic staff in their classes, as well as a supportive attitude from the institution, are key requirements for this change in teaching practice to be successful. We believe that the findings from this study will be beneficial for tertiary education providers to bring about a higher quality learning experience for students.

Keywords: Experiential learning, Reflective practice, Learner-centred classroom, Staff induction programme, Teacher performance.