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Title: Differences in individual speech when learning through PBL discussion
Author: Haines, Catherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 4006
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2017
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BACKGROUND: Problem Based Learning (PBL) facilitators have sometimes sought to motivate learners to ‘talk more’ in order to ‘learn more’ but there has been little work to differentiate through differences evident in their speech behaviour during PBL discussions and to identify which differences are associated with successful learning. Corpus analysis is a useful tool for probing students’ speech in PBL, providing a quantitative basis for examining student talk. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to create a speech corpus of at least 100,000 words, which identifies each individual student’s contribution to a PBL discussion of the same case at the same time within six randomly selected, gender-balanced PBL groups. The study then uses corpus analysis to explore the nature of the speech of individuals and their performance in learning. A statistical analysis was designed to triangulate findings through measuring and analysing underlying factors thought to influence the speech behaviour of individual learners, such as gender and personality type and to identify correlations with educational attainment. METHODS: Wmatrix3 was used to identify significant differences in frequency, parts of speech and semantic category usage from verbatim transcripts of the same three session cycle of PBL. SPSS analyses identified significant differences between learners’ speech behaviour, personality type, gender and attainment in the first year. RESULTS: Multiple and simple linear regression analysis demonstrates significant correlation to a moderate degree between certain data points. In summary, the calmer, more conscientious, lower openness to experience learner, with a high GAMSAT score, achieved significantly higher MCQ scores at the end of year one. Introverted students spoke less frequently, but with longer utterances. Male students spoke significantly more frequently than female students. More emotionally reactive (neurotic) students achieved significantly lower scores on knowledge tests at the close of year one and their talk focussed their own performance. Corpus analysis demonstrated statistically significant differences between personality, gender, high and low test performers. Lower performers frequently dwelt on ‘what’ and ‘why’ and more general technical terminology. Higher performers used ‘when’ and ‘how’ and highly specific technical vocabulary more frequently. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that corpus analysis of PBL transcripts provides rich evidence of significant differences in individual speech behaviour whilst learning through discussion. The results broadly replicate well-established findings about gender communication styles and personality difference. This suggests that there may be a utilitarian case for enhancing the approach of PBL facilitators and learners to individual differences without resorting to the overgeneralisations of stereotyping. For example, male and female learners often demonstrate different communication strategies, which may potentially limit the breadth of their future clinical communication skills. Facilitators and learners may use this awareness to explicitly encourage both male and female learners to adopt the full range of communication behaviours. It is important for facilitators to model best practice in their own communication in the initial sessions. By making such language patterns evident, it becomes possible to ensure that PBL groups become more skilled in initiating spontaneous contributions from introvert and female learners, in encouraging longer contributions from extraverts, more factual statements from female students and more varied types of speech from male learners. Learners who identify themselves as emotionally reactive (neurotic or volatile) could productively seek to moderate unproductive anxiety from an early stage through adopting excellent study habits and attitudes, particularly with respect to assessments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: W Health professions