Model: ‘Reading course’

Description

This model is an example of teaching in the blended learning format. The student group is divided into two subgroups so that the course units can take place on site in an alternating way: In one week, group A attends on site, in the other week group B. The contents taught are the same for groups A and B. 

During the weeks in which, for example, group A does not have a course unit on site, the students of this group prepare the course units by completing literature assignments in small groups. Since both group A and group B attend an on-site course unit only every two weeks, they can acquire more theoretical and background knowledge through self-study and peer studying. Under these conditions, it is particularly important that the on-site course units are reserved for student questions and discussions.

Procedure in a course unit

  • Before the course unit: The students receive texts to read, a concrete assignment and an introduction to the texts, e.g. information about the author, a historical or theoretical classification or definitions of key concepts. This introductory material can be other texts, videos, audio files, glossaries (available in German), etc. The students complete the assignments in small groups (e.g. in ‘rooms’ of the video conferencing tool) to present them during the on-site course units.
  • Beginning: The teacher introduces the text and presents the objective of the course unit.
  • Interaction: One or more small groups present the results of their work to the rest of the students. The results are discussed and the students receive feedback from the teacher and from other students (available in German).
  • End: The teacher summarises the results of the work and provides an outlook for the next on-site course unit and the associated reading assignment.

Student engagement

  • For example, by asking for the students’ impressions: How did they perceive the text? Where were challenges? What was easy? What information surprised them? This way, the course can be adapted to the students’ needs. To save time during the on-site course unit, the students’ impressions can also be enquired about before the course unit by means of a poll, a quiz or other classroom assessment techniques (available in German) in Moodle.
  • Students who do not hold a presentation can give their fellow students feedback on specific aspects of their presentation or prepare questions/counter-arguments.
  • Reflection at the end of the course unit: What are the key arguments and concepts? Why is the text important for the subject? How does the text relate to the other texts of the course? Which reading strategies worked? Which of them do the students want to try the next time?
  • After the course unit, the results should be documented in Moodle, e.g. in a wiki (available in German) or glossaries (available in German) for concepts.

Please note

  • In this model, the students work asynchronously most of the time. Helpful in this regard are precise assignments, including an indication of the required workload, and a clear structure in Moodle (available in German) that leads the students through the course (e.g. by making contents available step by step (available in German)). Since the students can only contact their teacher personally once every two weeks, we recommend setting up a forum in Moodle (available in German).
  • In addition, this model builds strongly on peer learning in small groups. To make sure that the students work well in their small groups, it will be necessary to support the group building process, especially in the beginning of the semester.
  • Information about how to include students who only participate in the course via a video conferencing tool is available in our article about the model ‘Lecture with video conferencing tool’.
  • For digital meetings of the small groups (up to 12 persons), the students can use the Jitsi tool of the University of Vienna (jm01.univie.ac.at). The initiator of the meeting needs a u:account. The other participants access the virtual conference room via an invitation link. The students should use a session name that is as unique as possible (only letters and numbers, no spaces or special characters) and protect their virtual room with a password.

Required technical equipment

  • Moodle course
  • If students cannot attend the course on site (e.g. if exceptions apply for risk groups, international students): PC in the course room with webcam and microphone

Grouping the students

Two alternating student groups

Possible form of performance assessment

  • Formative assessment through regular tests
  • Summative: grading of a final paper, an essay, a wiki article (available in German) or an exam