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Autonomous CARS: Transforming a Compulsory, Introductory Unit through Adaptive Learning Technology and Interactive Case Scenarios

Ms Katie Mills, Ms Sarah Cesare, Mr Ferg Roper, Dr Justine Maldon, Ms Stephanie Davenport, Ms Kate McVey, Ms Vanessa Varis

University of Western Australia

In 2018, the University Library, Educational Enhancement Unit and STUDYSmarter departments at the University of Western Australia undertook a collaborative project to redesign a compulsory, online unit for all undergraduate students. Communication and Research Skills (CARS) is completed by around 5,000 students annually; however, since its inception in 2010, it has been an ongoing challenge to appeal to a broad range of skill levels, prior knowledge, preferred learning styles and subject areas whilst developing skills and maintaining engagement and value. The decision to transform the unit using adaptive learning technology and interactive case scenarios was made in order to increase student engagement by personalising the instruction and customising the content displayed based on the student’s decisions.

This approach gives students the opportunity to apply and practise their communication and research skills in realistic scenarios they are likely to encounter at University. This new approach to the learning design and delivery of the unit was facilitated through the use of adaptive learning technology (Articulate Storyline 360 and LMS), as well as best practice learning design principles (customisable content and self- assessment pre-test tools), with the aim to significantly increase levels of engagement amongst students, in addition to deeper learning and practical skills development of the communication and research skills required for success at University. Focus group, survey and user testing feedback which was gathered from students in the early stages of the project has supported this approach as it made the content and learning experience more relatable, engaging and intuitive. This paper will describe the steps involved in redesigning the CARS unit to take an interactive, scenario-based approach, and examine the student and staff feedback received during the review, development and launch stages of the redesign project to demonstrate how this feedback influenced the use of the adaptive learning technology and the unit’s design and delivery.