Developing a learning environment that encourages deep learning outcomes

Noel M. Meyers, Duncan D. Nulty, Bernard N. Cooke, John F. Rigby


In this paper we report on the development of an authentic learning environment, the tropical island of Lys, that we used to facilitate high quality student learning in a third year subject designed for environmental and ecological scientists (NRB572 ‘Terrestrial Ecosystems’). Lys provided the conceptual framework around which students engaged with web-based learning resources, lectures, practicals, paper-based resources (such as study guides and handouts), as well as a virtual tour of the island, and most importantly an integrated set of assessment tasks that obliged students to develop a critical understanding of fundamental ecosystem processes. Our students expressed conspicuous levels of satisfaction, enjoyment, interest and engagement from their learning experience together with significantly enhanced learning outcomes, which were both self- and formally identified. In this paper, we report on how we used several ‘principles’ of curriculum design so that others, irrespective of discipline, could use similar approaches to achieve similar learning outcomes with their students.

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