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My MOOCing Journal

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Kathy Jackson
13 January 2013

At this point, I was hoping I would have something insightful to add. But so far that isn't the case. I seem to lag when it comes to getting involved in an endeavor like this one. My intentions were to do more at the office, but then new expectations came my way and it didn't happen. I will do what I can to hurry up and jump in!

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I just read that I was to introduce myself. Hi. I'm a senior research associate at Penn State's Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence. My days are spent thinking about teaching and learning and assisting faculty as they plan and deliver instruction. I also work with them on scholarship of teahcing and learning activities. One neat research project that I am working on with two others looks at the impact of fun on students' perceptions of learning. It was a hurdle just to be able to opertionalize the term fun and once we came to terms with that, we created a questionnaire that has been taken by approximately 800 students. Data analysis is our next step. I am fortunate to have a job like I do and to be able to work at a fine university among many thoughtful thinkers. 

Kathy Jackson
22:59 on 13 January 2013

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Frances Deepwell
12:34am 15 January 2013

Hello Kathy - just came upon your posting by chance. I'd love to hear how you 'operationalised' fun in learning and what some of your headline findings have been so far. 

Frances (educational developer, UK)

Kathy Jackson
4:09pm 15 January 2013

H Frances,

Good to hear from you you. We are slowly making progress on our fun study. What we have so far is a questionnaire for faculty that addresses classroom practice (I try to make learning fun, I take pleasure in teaching, I incorporate elements of fun into the class, etc. ), personal attributes (such as excitable, serious, unpredictable, etc), and instructional techniques (hands-on, discussions, team building, etc). The students are given a questionnaire that addresses classroom interactions, variety in the classroom, course content, instructor characteristics, instructor classroom practices, instructional techniques, attitudes and feelings toward this class, and course attendance. We are in the process of analyzing the data and once we have that done we can get closer to operationalizing classroom fun. Given that fun is multidimensional, we are looking at these three aspects of fun: instructional design elements, instructor characteristics, and peer interactions. Our search for empirical evidence on fun in classroom instruction didn't find much, but there is some on workplace fun. Our hope is to look at fun through student and faculty perceptions of it and then to try and see if fun has an impact on learning outcomes. Does this help?

Best, Kathy

Frances Deepwell
3:52pm 18 January 2013

Thanks Kathy, that sounds a very good way to go. I'm working on building an online staff development course and I would really welcome a healthy dose of fun into the mix. Can you point me to any workplace fun references that might be transferrable to higher education teaching/learnng in or beyond the classroom?

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