Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Second International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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Pedagogy for Conceptual Thinking in the Digital Age: Enhancing Learning Outcomes with Meaning Equivalence Reusable Learning Objects (MERLO) Formative Assessments
Masha Etkind, Uri Shafrir, Ron Kenett, Leo Roytman

Last modified: 06-06-2016


The research presented in this paper is the fruit of an ongoing international collaboration with the goal of enhancing students learning outcomes by implementing and sharing a novel pedagogy for conceptual thinking, and use of an innovative didactical and methodological tool: Meaning Equivalence Reusable Learning Objects (MERLO) that provide student-centered, weekly formative assessments for exploring and discussing conceptual situations in small groups. It was developed, tested, and implemented in Canada at University of Toronto and Ryerson University, as well as in Israel, Italy, Russia, and Australia, in different knowledge domains, including: physics; biology; mathematics; mathematics teacher education; teacher training; developmental psychology; English as a second language; architecture; management; business; project management. Statistical analysis of MERLO data collected since 2002, shows that conceptual thinking enhance learning outcomes and deepens students’ comprehension of the conceptual content of learned material.  Conceptual thinking is learnable, and provide metrics to document continuous increase in higher-order thinking skills such as critical conceptual thinking, transfer of knowledge, and problem solving. Pedagogy for conceptual thinking is currently implemented with Brightspace (http://www.brightspace.com/), Integrated Learning Platform (ILP) offered by D2L (http://www.d2l.com/) that supports customizable online pedagogy.

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