Courses: Applying Behaviour Science to Create Change Micro-credential

Role: Digital Education Specialist

Completed: 2020

Background & Purpose

Micro-credentialing is a core strategy in Monash University’s Digital Education Direction Statement 2018-2022, which stipulates that “All on-campus undergraduate and postgraduate courses will include options for fully online units and/or smaller skill-based modules that lend themselves to micro-credentialing”. The strategy speaks to the overall goal of digital education at the university, which sets to “provide Monash the opportunity to enhance exceptional learning experience, provide flexibility and nimbleness, as well as attract more students from non-traditional backgrounds”.

At Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI), the introduction of micro-credentials fully aligns with its organisational goals and it plays a pivotal role in forming and enhancing the suite of educational programs offered through the institute. The Behaviour Change micro-credential will be the first of several planned micro-credentials offered to the mass market.

The micro-credential is designed to enhance participants’ understanding of the key drivers and processes that influence behaviour and provide engagement with the tools and methods to apply behavioural science concepts to tackle global and local sustainability challenges. The course encourages participants to evaluate various behaviour change strategies and interventions and equip students with the skills to design and implement their own behaviour change projects. These skills will enable participants to work more effectively and become leaders in deploying useful, yet under-represented, behavioural-focused solutions to complex issues.

Course Design & Pedagogical Approach

The micro-credential design follows a best-practice, integrated approach to online learning. The micro-credential course structure interweaves theory, practice and example to create a meaningful learning experience. The focus is to provide participants not just with knowledge and understanding, but with the ability to apply the theory, tools and methods derived from behavioural science. The program outcomes are to assist participants increase their value in the workplace, and build an understanding of their own decision-making and behaviour.

This micro-credential will fully utilise the functionality of the Learning Management System (LMS) through carefully selected and well-integrated online learning and communication tools. The content and activity design involves self-directed learning through engagement with a range of methods. These include a series of videos, related readings, exercises and quizzes with facilitated learning opportunities through online discussions, Q&As, problem- and case-based learning, and assessment. The program design emphasises interactivity, peer learning and educator moderation to ensure active participation.

The course consists of 8 content modules, delivered over 10 weeks. Three assessment tasks, in the format of written report, emphasises the authenticity of the tasks by using a variety of professional formats including policy brief, briefing document and intervention proposal, which participants are likely to encounter in the real world.

The 5E (namely, Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate) is the adopted pedagogical framework:

  • Each module starts with an animated video to set the scene and to engage learners
  • Activity and content allow learners to recall and connect with their prior knowledge of the topic and encourage them to share it with other learners for peer-based learning
  • Concepts, theories, text and readings are aided by examples and practice exercises, presented in multi-modal fashion to maximise engagement and learning effectiveness
  • A case study is introduced after exploring concepts and exercises to enhance learning in an applied context
  • Learning checkpoints and reflective discussions assess learners’ progress and provide opportunities for formative feedback.

The online experience is further enhanced by three live sessions at the start, mid-point and towards the end to provide opportunities for recap, in-depth discussion, Q&A and social connection.

Visual Design

The look and feel of an online course is where participants’ first impression is formed. Study shows that online design that incorporate aesthetics can create a positive effect on learning. In the micro-credential, visual engagement is achieved through the extensive use of graphics, visuals and icons.

For example, the use of two themed colours and icons evokes a sense of consistency acorss the Course Homepage, readings, and Fact Sheets. Some static images are redesigned into interactive graphics where learners can slide to highlight different pieces of content.

Multi-Modal Learning

The course embraces the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principle of multiple means of representation by providing a multi-modal learning experience via visual, auditory, reading/writing means:

  • use of both educator-led videos and animated videos
  • use of diagrams to explain complex concepts
  • podcasts
  • readings for in-depth understanding
  • case studies for understanding in applied context

Learners find diverse learning materials engaging, from a multimedia principle, presenting texts with graphics is instrumental to learning

Social Learning

Earlier feedback from participants showed that online learning can be a solitary experience. To tackle this issue, we designed some additional social elements that provide opportunity for social learning

  • Padlets: provides drop-in social interactions through short responses
  • 3x meetups: opportunity to connect with other learners synchronously online, additional opportunity for learning and social connection.

Digital badging and Auto Certificate

Auto certificate was implemented from Day 1 as we know we are going to work with large cohorts and want to make sure that the process for certification is automated. Auto certification is configured based on learners meeting certain completing criteria. For unassisted students, this requires completing a minimal set of activities. The course is proud to an early adopter of Digital badging. Once configured, the badge contains all essential verifiable meta data. Learners can share on their social media, which helps to promote the course.

As MSDI’s flagship online course, the Behaviour change Micro-credential consistently receives positive scores on the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Learner feedback has validated our design decisions but also thanks to the excellent teaching team at BehaviourWorks who make this happen.

The slide deck, presented at 2021 Monash University Learning & Technology Conference, is prepared by Bowen Yang and Filia Garivaldis from Monash University.

Monash University and Monash Sustainable Development Institute reserve rights of the Behaviour Change Micro-credential product and content. © 2021 Monash University

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