The IKEA Approach to Teaching or “Leave the Kids Alone”
The large increase in UK higher education tuition fees is expected to lead to more emphasis on students as consumers. Jones (2010) has already described the gap between expectations and deliverable in Higher education and the need for each university to provide detailed metrics on teaching provision, most notably contact hours.(QAA, 2011) Contact hours may be seen as a measure of Value for Money, however the authors report that in some contexts less may be more. The quality rather than the quantity of the contact may be more important. The Authors describe an attempt to improve the engagement of students in a course. As a last resort the conventional lecture and seminar approach, involving 24 formal contact hours, was abandoned in favour of an Inquiry Based Learning approach supported by online materials and just two hours of formal contact time for each student. By moving responsibility for learning onto the student the resultant learning was greatly improved. Students were happy to engage with the process of inquiry, with the acquisition of the required “body of knowledge” coming to them naturally as they researched. Tutors were there to support, explain, give pointers and directions to sources as well as to facilitate shared discovery of resources. While a few students missed the social quality of lectures a similar small number resented having to come into the University just for those two hours.