Edinburgh Napier University: ENroute Yearbook 2018 Edition - Page 12

ENroute Yearbook 2017-18 Context is Key: Engaging Learners Sean McKeown, School of Computing, Associate Fellow Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand. Xun Kuana There are things I remember learning in high school, largely mathematical, which were promptly forgotten as quickly as they were acquired. On reflection, I realised that things are easily forgotten when they are divorced from the context of their use, or why they are actually of interest in a larger knowledge space. It’s easy to forget, or avoid learning, things which don’t appear important or have seemingly dubious intrinsic value, or utility. It’s also too easy to regurgitate material, rather than actively engage with it, which does everyone involved a disservice. For these reasons, I do my best to involve students in their own process of learning, seeing my role as a facilitator of their journey. Perhaps the influences of my Philosophy undergraduate degree imparted a subconscious affection for the Socratic method, but I find it useful to ask students why they think something is done the way it is, or why it is important. Fortunately, for the material I teach, I have personal experience which I can relate to, and use as a platform for describing why things are done the way they are, or where this part of the curriculum fits in with the real world. I feel that it’s important for students to foster a deeper interest in the subject of their study, so that they’re actively inclined to pursue materials which are not part of the coursework. It’s easier said than done, but I find that simply having an enthusiastic conversation during a lab can get them interested in aspects of their study which they may have glossed over previously. 10