Teaching and Learning in First Year Seminars

By Allsopp, Louise | Journal of Information Technology Education, Annual 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Teaching and Learning in First Year Seminars

Allsopp, Louise, Journal of Information Technology Education


The aim of this paper is to highlight a challenge faced by many university teachers and to consider a practical method of dealing with the situation. Biggs (1994) summarizes the problems faced by teachers in higher education. He notes that resources are constrained and hence class sizes are on the increase with the emergence of mass methods of teaching and assessment. Restrictions also exist in the structure of the degree programs themselves and the manner with which they are delivered. The end result is that many students have little contact with their lecturer and the lecturer has limited chance to assess the course and the progress of the students. Since little can be done to change the overall picture, the lecturer must work "smarter" and use the teaching time available in the best possible way. A weekly seminar in which the large lecture group is divided into smaller groups of fifteen students or less could hold the key. This provides an opportunity for the student to learn in a less formal environment than the lecture theatre. Furthermore, the lecturer has direct contact with the students. However, the pertinent question is, "How should the seminar be organized?"

There exists a vast literature in the area of education and while space permits the inclusion of a detailed analysis, Biggs (1994) provides an excellent summary of the competing models. He outlines the various theories of learning and notes how opinion on these has evolved over time. However, his most salient points concern the link between research and teaching. He notes the importance of a sound theory underlying the practicalities of teaching but also that the theory should be derived from the individual teaching context.

In light of this, the author compares the relative successes of three different teaching techniques in seminars for a first year university course in Finance. The aim is to deliver seminars that offer the students the best possible learning environment. This paper tests to see if there is one overriding approach that enables all students to learn effectively in the seminars of this course or whether different students benefit from different teaching techniques.


The author of this paper is neither a psychologist nor theorist in the area of education. Quite simply she is on the front line of teaching and seeks practical, sensible approaches to teaching seminars in a large first year university course.

At this stage it should be noted that the same arguments may be applied to courses in Information Technology. Certainly, there is growing demand for these courses in universities worldwide since companies demand graduates to be competent in the use of computing in the workplace. Hence the same problems of large class sizes are encountered. However, of equal importance is the fact that Finance and IT are inextricably linked (See the work of Penceck and Bialaszewski (2001)). Hence techniques that aid both disciplines would be welcomed.

This experiment is carried out on a subset of the first year Finance group at Adelaide University in Semester 1, 2001. It is based on a pilot experiment run on the same course in the previous year, the results of which may be found in the proceedings of the OOICTL Business 2000 International Conference, (2000). There are 450 students registered to take this course. They come from a variety of academic backgrounds and have very different requirements of the course. For instance, some will aim to major in a completely different area and hence choose Finance as a one-year option to get a basic overview of the subject. At the other end of the spectrum there are students who wish to major in Finance. It follows that the course must be relevant for those wanting a one-year option but also for those wishing to pursue Finance in later years.

In terms of course structure, each student faced two lectures per week for the duration of the twelveweek semester.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Teaching and Learning in First Year Seminars


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?