Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2011

Summary of projects

Project title

Activate: Enhancing active learning and teaching in Design and Social Context (DSC) College large courses

Project leaders

  • Professor Barbara de la Harpe
  • Victoria Versteege

Project summary

In this project the issue of improving learning in large classes was addressed. The project was funded under the DVC (A) large course teaching initiative – an initiative that required the project team to commit to a target of a 15 percentage point improvement in CES GTS OR OSI scores in 2011; to embed long term sustainability of new practices in School/ College plans; and to report to the DVCA on these outcomes in 2012.

To achieve this, the project provided local in context and embedded learning and teaching support to five courses in the DSC Interior Design and Decoration Diploma program in the School of Design TAFE, where student feedback was identified as poor. Teachers were supported to:

  • Modify existing large courses/lectures to incorporate active/interactive learning methods by adapting the curriculum, learning and teaching activities and assessment methods, including the use of online activities in Bb;
  • Replace large courses/lectures with online learning activities in Bb; or
  • Move to the full Lectorial mode (depending on availability of collaborative learning spaces).

The project was focused on extending the boundaries of the student learning experience. Staff and students collaborated to create a rich and rewarding learning environment which encompassed the large lecture, the studio, peer and individual learning, and work integrated learning. The use of myRMIT (Blackboard), active learning strategies in class and innovative assessment and feedback was integrated across the whole of program. Staff embraced the challenge by developing and strengthening skills and exploring new ways of conceiving of, and facilitating learning. For students it demanded their attention and willingness to become independent learners. The project was successful, showing a marked improvement in both student overall satisfaction (which increased by 29%) and good teaching (which increased by 14%)’

  • OSI increased by 29% from a score of 38.5% to 67.3%
  • GTS increased by 14% from a score of 58.6% to 72.3%

With dedicated leadership, support and resources, the project has demonstrated what the new large class can be for all RMIT staff and students.


The project resulted in a number of significant outcomes, including:

  • An increase in student satisfaction between 2010 and 2011 of 29% on the Course Experience Survey (hereafter CES) Overall Satisfaction Index (OSI) and 14% on the Good Teaching Scale (GTS).
  • The extension of the boundaries of the large class to encompass all student learning activities including; online, studio, collaborative projects and exhibitions, individual and peer learning.
  • The creation of a ‘virtual classroom’ through blended learning to increase student engagement and course satisfaction.
  • The provision of just-in-time and just-for-me learning opportunities for students using contemporary approaches and paradigms that facilitate independent learning.
  • The use of mobile technologies (iPhone and iPads) for staff to provide rich resources for students, enhanced use of blended learning and facilitation of administrative tasks.
  • The use of innovative and deep assessment and feedback approaches to improve student performance and satisfaction.
  • The creation of a collaborative space for staff to explore and develop in class and online technologies.
  • An increase in the uptake and use of Blackboard (myRMIT) by the staff of the Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration.
  • An increase in staff and student awareness as to the nature and purpose of the CES.
  • A greater collaboration between staff to improve the organisation and management of the courses and program.

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