Zero to Hero, Presenting my research!

This week I had the opportunity to present my research at the Science in Music Symposium. Today’s entry will be talking a little about how it went and the thought process behind presenting my research at a public forum.

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Presenting can seem like a daunting task, but I find it a really useful one. My mum is a headteacher and has always had an active interest (both academic and personal), she has always been giving me little quotes and phrases to keep in mind to improve my learning. One that really stuck out in my mind when reflecting on my work for the symposium was the old mantra “you learn 10% of what you read…” until you learn “X% of what you teach”. The thought process being that the higher your level of engagement with something, the more you learn about it (I will be visiting this concept in my literature review and investigating the truth behind the saying). So to put it simply, in order to present my topic at a symposium, I must first understand it which sounds simple right? Well for the last 2 months or so, my project has been floating around in my head and on various pieces of paper, completely unorganized and unquantified.

My presentation effectively forced me too summarize my project on paper. The idea has already been discussed on this blog, creating an interactive learning app, but I hadn’t really thought too far outside of “an app would be cool to make”, I had to give the how AND the why. This made me realize that I haven’t really addressed the need for my idea, why can’t people just go on as normal, they’ll be ok right? So far I have simply asserted that an interactive tool will be better. In terms of my own thought process, I would hypothesize that an interactive script would certainly perform better than a static lab script, I could measure this with student feedback. The process of outright proving an interactive labscript would be better than a piece of paper would be time consuming, it would easily fill out a masters thesis. But more importantly that isn’t actually what I want my project to be about at all, I went into this wanting to optimize the day 1 learning experience of any AMT student at York. This project then moves from the why into more of the how, in my literature survey I have already identified areas for improvement in the teaching process of programming (namely the visualization elements). I will be proposing that actually a good solution to these problems would be an adaptive learning resource, different learners are going to encounter different problems. What my projects serves to do is to identify the potential problems learners will have and assess their needs. It then takes all of this and concentrates it into a ‘fits any size’ instead of a ‘one size fits all’ approach in the context of an app.

With all this being said, I put all of the information into my presentation and I think it was well received. One of the questions asked also set me off thinking of the future place of such a learning resource. I was asked what the demand for an interactive lab script would be, I immediately thought of something I read a few years ago about the future of university learning. I don’t have the source to hand but it talked about how universities would adapt to increased pressure for value for money from students in light of the raising of undergraduate tuition fees from £3000 to £9000. The article talked about how universities would move from a teaching model based on mainly lectures to a more interactive and seminar, small group based approach. I thought that my work would be quite relevant to this demand because over the course of my project I can identify what learners require, and also measure the effectiveness of the app as a learning material (during the user testing stages).

So that is all from me this week, I am currently buried in a mountain of literature review so next weeks post will be something along the lines of what I have written about for that. You can find my previous post on the design behind an interactive learning system here.


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