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Research Open Science Open Research Award

Winner 2023 - Open teaching practices foster an understanding of Open Research practices

Anastasios Sarampalis (BSS)

Open Research objectives/practices

- Using open materials to decrease the cost of education.
- Capitalising on the unique open aspects of open educational resources to reinvent course design, empower learners, and apply innovative ways of teaching.
- Introducing Open Research concepts and practices into teaching and learning, including teaching about Open Research, and making teaching material openly available.

Introduction

Opportunities for positive change come in many different forms. In my course Research Methods: Theory and Ethics (a course for Psychology students in the second year of their Bachelor programme), I have been teaching about Open Science principles, practices, and values for years, but have been disappointed with the lack of available open sources on the subject matter. Nevertheless, a few years ago I was faced with the task of a complete course redesign a month before the course was due to begin, because the publisher of the textbook I was using decided to pull the book from the shelves. What I had dreamed of for years, but struggled to find time for, may have happened by necessity, but the benefits were reaped just as well.

Even though there still exist no appropriate open textbooks on the subject, I created a syllabus of material on several topics, consisting entirely of open-access or CC sources, spanning the 1950’s all the way to, very literally, present day. The material offered to students (for each topic) consists of two types of sources: open-access academic articles and book chapters form the backbone of their reading, while a rich collection of before-you-read and extend-your-knowledge material is organised, contextualized, and offered to students for enrichment (these are anything from open-access primary sources to news articles, videos, and podcasts).

In addition to this, every year, students themselves add to these resources through assignments meant to improve their understanding AND help their community of learners (resources are shared among them).

Motivation

The motivations for and benefits of creating a rich syllabus of open resources are manifold:
- There are clear financial benefits for students
- A practice-what-you-preach approach to open practices helps demonstrate the value of Open Science, one of the core aims of the course
- Flexibility and opportunity for continuous improvement and adaptation, including students’ co-creation practices through assignments in an innovative assessment scheme. I can, and frequently do, respond to students’ needs as soon as they appear, because of this flexibility (and through strong and continuous communication with them). This was especially valuable in the COVID-19 years.

All of this has been noted in students’ evaluations through the past few years and teaching awards that resulted from them.

Lessons learned

This has not been an easy journey and remains difficult in a number of ways. Many important and relevant sources continue being inaccessible openly and, when they are, links change or break or material disappears entirely. We currently have a list of sources that numbers in the hundreds (they’re not all mandatory! Students choose what is appropriate for each of them), increases every year, and is time-consuming to maintain. Nevertheless, the educational benefits vastly outweigh the costs and in collaboration with the students, the task remains manageable. Student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and the biggest take-home message is that, despite the complexities and difficulties of the subject, students feel empowered to navigate it with openness, curiosity, and hope.

The biggest upcoming challenge will be to make this an open resource for everyone, not just the course’s students. This is this year’s aim and any support in the form of this Award would go towards this aim (hosting and support from a TA).

Last modified:01 November 2023 10.08 a.m.