Student learning by Alan Williams

An investigation uncovering how students and tutors design learning objects for novice students to use when acquiring established resuscitation knowledge

My doctoral studies (Williams, 2018) investigated the design of learning objects by students and tutors in two phases:

Phase 1

A group of senior nursing students (n=7) and a group of tutors (n=6), were observed as they created a storyboard on how they believed established resuscitation knowledge was best represented. Both groups produced a learning object that could be used in Phase 2.

Phase 2

The effectiveness and acceptability of each learning object was tested when viewed by junior nursing students (n=119), randomised to view a student-designed or tutor-designed learning object.

This report focussed on Phase 1.


The student and the tutor storyboard creation workshop video were analysed to understand how each group functioned and what pedagogical factors were discussed by applying Tuckman’s stages of group development model (Tuckman, 1965) and the Learning Object Attribute Metric (Windle, Wharrad, Leeder & Morales, 2007), respectively.

To analyse each workshop in real-time would have presented methodological and logistical challenges. The Observer XT software allowed this process to be undertaken in a controlled manner at a later date. The Tuckman (forming, storming, norming and performing) and 12 LOAM pedagogical factors were integrated into the The Observer XT, allowing the researcher to review each workshop video and code each groups behaviour.


Analysis identified the student-designers spent significantly less time forming and storming and significantly more time performing than tutor-designers when their behaviour was categorised against Tuckman’s model and  suggested student-designers appears more focused when asked to design a learning object on established knowledge.

Perhaps tutor-designers were distracted by their clinical and academic experience, because they believed aspects not central to the learning outcomes were integrated into the resource? The discussion of pedagogical factors by student-designers and by tutor-designers identified student spent significantly more time discussion the navigation around a learning object and tutors, the objective of a resource, perhaps suggesting students still require support in how to use learning objects despite an assumption Millennials are au fait with technology?

By conducting the research in two phases possible advantages of a student-designed resource were evident as though both resources significantly increased knowledge acquisition and confident in knowledge acquisition, there was a significant difference in confidence favouring the student-designed resource. It may be a social constructivist approach to learning is most suited to learning in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Schwab, 2015) and student-designers (unknowingly) apply Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development theory as they are closer to the learners’ experience, having recently studied the established knowledge.

My thanks to my supervisors Dr Richard Windle & Professor Heather Wharrad, and to Dr Richard Lilley from Tracksys for training and subsequent advice.


Schwab, K. (2015) The Fourth Industrial Revolution; What it means and how to respond. [Online.] Foreign Affairs 12 December 2015: Available at: [Accessed 17 December 2017].

Tuckman, B. (1965) Developmental sequences in small groups. Psychological Bulletin. 63(6):pp.384-399.

Williams, A., (2018) An investigation uncovering how students and how tutors design learning objects for novice students to use when acquiring established resuscitation knowledge. Doctorate in Health Sciences. University of Nottingham.

Windle, R., Wharrad, H., Leeder, D. and Morales, R. (2007) Analysis of the pedagogical attributes of learning objects [online]. Available at: media-final.pdf [Accessed 29 November 2016].

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