Reflections on participating in our annual Learning & Teaching Showcase (you will find the poster on page two).
Prevent students from developing bad habits. That is pretty much the aim of my 1st year academic development module. For my poster I used the cliché of ‘long thin induction’. Clichés have the advantage that at least everyone within a prescribed cultural setting knows what you are talking about. So it saved a lot of text on the actual poster. In my paper I call the module ‘integrated sessions’, this is because I strongly align content with the course curriculum, so every single session is timed and aligned to the syllabus.
As the academic year progressed we covered topics from ‘learning to learn’, ‘note taking as exam preparation’, over ‘critical thinking’ to ‘developing arguments’ only to name a few. The pedagogy behind the approach is rooted in my PhD research, where I found that the most crucial parts for a successful learning experience are relevance and ownership of the learning process. This means the actual learning needs to make sense in the students’ realities. It needs to link to their experiences, establish a link between academic activities and professional development, and learning needs to have a ‘real life dimension’—e.i.: ‘Who has tried out New Year’s resolutions?’*
I aim on using learning and teaching strategies that encourage students to take ownership and control of their learning. For some students taking this ownership is sitting back, observe, think, while others virtually (and sometimes literally) roll up their sleeves and get involved in activities. Most of the activities I post in this blog are based on these principles.
My first attempt in gauging the impact of the first year academic development module, was with a standard course evaluation. Asking students about their perceptions, and felt confidence. Initially more than half the students felt lacking in confidence to some degree when it came to academic work; after the module most of the students felt the module had a positive impact on their studies. This is why I aim on a more thorough impact analysis this academic year.
The next page shows the poster I made about the module evaluation.
*This was to explain vague, unachievable goals versus ‘SMART’ goals using the smallest common denominator of why New Year’s resolutions don’t work. It also offers a conversation piece for students from different cultural backgrounds.