“Asking the right questions: A study to explore the means by which professional dialogue between learners and teachers can inform new course design” (Area 7)

Karen Blackmore and Michelle Rogers (IoE)

In an environment of rapidly evolving and competitive Higher Education, it is vital for institutions to be flexible in their provision (Alexandra, 2014). This project aims to support the creation of new programs by raising awareness of existing best practice, and augment this with a “learner centred” perspective. The researchers endeavour to discern the key elements of successful program design using a dialogic approach. Our thinking has been influenced from several theoretical perspectives including self-determinism theory (Ryan and Deci, 2006), which describes how adult learners require a degree of autonomy and opportunities to demonstrate competence, through to grounded theory of high quality leadership programs (Eich, 2008). By analysing empirical research data from interested parties (in the form of semi-structured interviews and questionnaires), we aim to design a suite of questions which can be used to prompt discourse surrounding new course design. The study draws on the work of Dolenceon, 2014 who created a structure to guide dialog and enquiry about curriculum. He identified seven key elements of program design and highlighted questioning approaches that could be used to interrogate these components, e.g. “What objectives do the learners seek?” helps to identify the motivations and learning experiences required by learners. “Who are the learners?” attempts to identify to what extent reciprocity exists between these two delineated roles. It is anticipated to use the findings from this study to inform successful future course design.


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