Embedding digital literacy
Part of the coordinated ‘first-year core units’ focus in the BComm, MMK101 Marketing Fundamentals uses a multi-pronged approach to building students’ digital literacy, and is achieving impressive student results.
The MMK101 Marketing Fundamentals ‘focus literacy’ is digital literacy. The curriculum builds around students’ research into an authentic marketing work integrated learning (WIL) scenario. Students’ assessment tasks are based on students’ successive research reports for this marketing project.
Sponsor/year: Faculty of Business & Law, 2014 – 17.
Project leads: Michael Volkov, Kerrie Bridson, Sharon Chua, Simone Tyrell, Jean Gaspar, Vittoria Grossi, Leanne Ngo, Micaela Spiers.
Aims: Review the unit and improve assessment, and curriculum to improve outcomes for students who struggle in the unit.
- Authentic learning: website with explanation of authentic learning, examples.
- Teaching for quality learning at university: what the student does: authoritative text on constructive alignment.
- Teaching and Understanding: video introduction to principles of constructive alignment.
- Effective teaching and support of students from low socioeconomic status backgrounds: website with resources and link to comprehensive report on study into successful teaching of LSES students.
- The ‘academic literacies’ model: theory and applications: article explaining the concept of academic literacies.
- Digital literacy module: Students have been found to quickly develop the digital literacy skills they need to complete their assessments in an interactive scenario-based online module developed by the Library, which makes up their first assessment task. Students must pass this module to be able to access the remaining assignment dropboxes for this unit.
- Authentic tasks: Students say they appreciate the authentic tasks, which are absolutely contemporary and make it clear how their work would be applied in real life-situations.
- Synchronous learning: The unit is team-taught with synchronous online and face-to-face cohorts in a weekly one-hour class and two-hour seminars, which students say increases flexibility when they cannot get to a class, and also includes cloud students in wider cohort activities.
- Group work: Teaching methods emphasise active, group-based learning with regular student presentations and lots of feedback from both teachers and peers. Students say this increases their confidence. It also increases social connection, and opportunities for individual guidance.
- Expert support: Librarians and Language and Learning advisers take sessions face-to-face early in the trimester and before each assessment, as well as hosting Q&A via discussion threads in the cloud unit site. They also provide contextualised support resources in the cloud unit site for the assessment tasks.
- Student support: Staff focus on clarifying expectations of students, including identifying at-risk students and sending reminder emails at key points of the trimester.
- Effective feedback: Staff provide high quality feedback on assessments with an emphasis on ‘feeding forward’ to improve students’ performance in their next assignment (which is designed to build on their work in the preceding assignment).
- Staff teaching and learning support: Staff are supported with 12 hours of paid meetings or professional development each trimester, in which they learn and share inclusive teaching strategies and contribute to ongoing improvements in the unit. Professional development includes a workshop on giving effective feedback, provided each trimester by a senior Language and Learning Adviser.
- Action research approach: The unit chair uses an action research approach to continue to improve this unit. These features are all products of ongoing cycles of reading/talking with experts, exploring the needs of this unit’s various groups of students through examining SIPU data and eVALUate reports, trialling cutting-edge strategies and rigorously evaluating outcomes against baseline data.
- Collaboration with professional staff: Library staff and Language and Learning Advisers are deeply involved in the design of assessments and learning materials, as well as in supporting students in this unit. This enables them to share research into good practice, and trial new methods.
An alternative format may be downloaded here: MMK101 unit success (DOCX 14KB)
- Improved student success: In Trimester 1 2017, LSES students’ success rate was 78.5%, only 1% lower than that for all students. It was 10% higher than for T1, 2016. LSES students’ mean grade of 60 was the same as for all students, and 3 points higher than in T1, 2016.
- Student focus groups conducted at end of 2016 found that students were much more aware of the relevance of marketing skills, and considered the authentic tasks to be relevant and engaging. They developed confidence from the group work and regular presentations, as illustrated in the following student quotations:
'I think that one good thing in this unit compared to some other units I’ve done is that the way that the assignment sheet was set out is so much clearer, there so much detail and because it’s a report they literally tell you what they want in each element of the report. And because it’s a first-year subject it’s really good to be able to refer back to that and to break it up to how many words you should allocate to each area'.
'I really enjoy how in every seminar we have a discussion or little activity we had to do and it was always to do with a real company and we had to sit in groups of four and go the website to research and everything and I really liked that and I feel like the marketing seminar was the only one that I actually made friends in. We had to be in groups and go up the front and present. We presented what we’d found and I felt like it took a lot of people out of their comfort zone. I think that’s a good thing. I really enjoyed the seminars'.
'… it helped me dramatically. Especially when it comes to Harvard referencing and everything. I’ve done a lot of research. This unit and this assignment helped me to learn how research properly, how to use the Library, how to cite correctly. What else? Referencing, writing skills that’s for sure. How to write it all in a … business report. It was really helpful in developing all these skills'.
- Ngo, L, Tyrell, S, Mitchell, E, Orme, T, Minkiewicz, J & Volkov, M 2016, ‘Embedding digital literacy in a course: Upskilling the millennial workforce (PDF 416kb)’, presentation to Deakin Learning and Teaching Conference, Deakin University, Burwood Campus.