The IBL & Employability session held by Natalie, Ali and Claire was a very interesting session. I had heard about this numerous times at SAN meetings due to it having been conducted at different Universities. The aim of the session was to get students to think about the kinds of skills and experiences that employers are looking for. Unfortunately, the people attending the session (while also being few in number), were mostly staff members – not exactly the target audience. This really was a shame, because it was a useful session not only for final year students but all students of any year. Regardless, the girls did a good job running the session anyway and the staff members really engaged with it. The example used was the Co-op Graduate Scheme. Natalie, Ali and Claire handed out questions that were actually asked on the application form for the graduate scheme, to get us thinking about the kinds of questions that are asked for graduate jobs. I confess I’ve seen very similar questions in a lot of application forms so this was very relevant.
We took some time to think about the questions and formulate the answers. The thing that struck me was that we only really start thinking about a time when we influenced a group…or other such experiences when we have to write it down on an application form. This of course means that over time, we forget specific instances of when we executed a particular skill. What this session made me think about is how we need to document what we do as we go along – we need to always be thinking about how what we do helps us to develop in ways that increase our employability.
The other thing that struck me was that this session was an excellent way to ‘raise awareness’ of what students need to be thinking about as they enter their final year at University. It is almost useless to be drilling in the idea of gaining skills for employment, to students who are a couple of months away from graduating, have dissertations to do and no spare time to now take on extra-curricular activities. The message inherent in this session would be incredibly useful for students who are in their first or second years, with plenty of time and opportunity to still engage in activities before it is ‘too late’.
A final point. The delivery of the session was interesting, enjoyable and encouraging. The staff members also appeared to enjoy it although it was not relevant to them. The discussions that arose were interesting. Well done girls!
The ideas I presented from my “Small Changes Big Difference” project in the Sociology department were received with interest at this session. The attendees were keen to offer their own experiences and opinions about my ideas.
We spoke a lot about blogs in particular. An interesting idea that I hadn’t considered before was suggested: maybe blogs have gone out of fashion in favour of applications such as Facebook and Twitter. There were a number of people who saw blogs as too complicated and time-consuming. Also it was mentioned that students might see blogs as too official to write their thoughts on, they might believe they are being assessed.
There was some disagreement as to what a blog actually is, with some seeing it as more of a personal diary and others as a collaborative tool. It was also expressed that staff find it frustrating when they give students detailed resource packs and students ask obvious questions anyway. We thought it would be good if MOLE had some kind of search tool on it for easier access to relevant information.
In terms of reading groups we spoke about how students can often find it easier to talk to other students about things they don’t understand as they speak the same “jargon”. There was a lady from the library who was particularly interested in this session as she is looking at connecting university students and sixth form students and some of the ideas covered this area.
After the session I spoke to a gentleman from Manchester University and he said he was really enjoying the whole day and he couldn’t believe that CILASS didn’t have full funding for next year as it obviously does such good work!!
So, history – I don’t do it. I never liked it at school and doing it as soon as I could in year 9. But I learnt today that there may be a reason why I didn’t like it – because the teachers killed it.
It seems that it is hard to teach history when people don’t know much of the background or language of the country. This creates a lot of problems for the people who teach it – it creates more work – the teaching requires creativity, and time!
Without waffling on about history, and random snippets from the talk today there is one thing that interested me. Towards the end of the session it was mentioned that for an IBL module – specifically this Polish history one – there needs lots of engagement from students.
Can first year can students really be bothered to try that hard? Or do they think that as they only have to pass they won’t bother?
This linked with something interesting that Sabine said to me – 1st year students should not just learn, they should learn how they are expected to learn. If the university uses IBL in 1st year then it won’t be a shock when it is used at other levels, and students will be confident in the assessment methods used. So it is not about the amount of work the 1st years need to do – but what it will show them what to expect.
Students choosing how they get assessed?
This idea was mentioned in the key note yesterday. After thinking about it, and having conversations with a few people about the idea – I am not convinces.
There are a few points I want to mention. In the conversations I had ideas got confused – so I am going to try and keep it simple here. Here are a few reasons why I don’t think it should happen – please leave comments and let me know your thoughts.
1 – Surely the lecturers know better than I do how to assess something – they have done it longer, seen more students, and they have designed the modules.
2 – One of the ideas mentioned was that students would pick one assessment method they were good at and one that was going to challenge them. That will not happen – I will just choose what is going to get me a good grade. Sure, I am here to grow and learn new things – but if I get a bad degree how am I going to show an employer I have these skills. They won’t even look at my C.V.
3 – I think this is a big point. Is it not a cop out on the part of the institution for them to expect me to design my course? Students pay a lot of money to get a degree from Sheffield University. The university is meant to know how to make a good graduate, so why should I do their job?
I know a huge part of why I am here is to learn – but I am also here to be taught. If it was just learning I was interested in I would save the £12,000 and just get the books from a library.
I want my tutors to choose how to assess me – I want to it be varied so I learn lots of skills – but I don’t want to choose for myself. The idea seems wrong.
I am happy with the way it has worked in Biblical Studies, I have been assessed in different ways – but I have chosen modules based on the assessment. I have automatically not considered a module because it has more exams than another one which is more coursework.
I hope that makes sense, sorry if it is confused – at least you get my main idea.
Today we really enjoyed staging our workshop in Collab 2 (“Engage”) about inquiry based learning as it applies to language and idioms. As one of our participants said, “What this activity shows is that learning idioms and learning language is an IBL activity par excellance”.
We started with a brief introduction about our experiences in learning Japanese idioms, and our thought processes that led us to want to run the session. Drawing from Japanese idioms to do with body parts as examples, we staged an engaging activity asking everyone to match literal translations with their actual meaning – harder than it sounds! Next, we distributed English idioms such as “shoot yourself in the foot”, and asked everyone to explain the situation you’d use them in without actually saying the idiom for others to guess. It highlighted how complex they can be to explain if you don’t know the foreign equivalent, as well as the involvement with culture and context when learning them yourself – some idioms can appear “Football manager-speak” and so on so you need to be careful how you use them, and there are often similarities with similes. Therefore, we have learned that there is a great need for natural language to be learned through an IBL process of sharing anecdotes, asking questions and being creative.
We received really interesting feedback on how idioms should be classified for a reference system online, but ran out of time at the end, so thanks for your participation everyone and if anyone has any ideas to contribute, please let us know!
ryan and claire
The session ran really well, and brought up a lot of key ideas, such as the importance of students being engaged in modules, the value of increased confidence and how staff and students need to be inspired. An issue was raised that I found really interesting – an effective relationship does not necessarily have to involve face-to-face meetings. Students can feel that they are involved in a relationship if they have access to information from their tutors via discussion boards or regualr emails. Another key point was that students must show interest in their own learning, otherwise the best teaching possible could be taking place, but learning might not. Once students show interest and motivation, staff will respond, and in turn demonstrate interest and initiative. The session did go off on a slight tangent at one point, moving away from staff and students collaborating as part of an academic process, to a more personal partnership between staff and students. Two arguments were presented: students might not really want this, as it was felt that some like and rely on the hierarchy of student to lecturer, while other students want to know their personal tutor much better, even if it’s just to get a more personalised and meaningful CV. The thing that really caught peoples attention was the cycle between confidence and involvement, do students need to become more confident before they can get involved, or more involved to gain more confidence? But hopefully, once students do get on this cycle, they can work towards relationships with staff. Really enjoyable session!
Staff – student partnership is the theme of this conference and the keynote really highlighted what we have achieved together already, whilst also showing us the directions and opportunites that collaboration can have.
This is just a quick blog to say thank you to Tim Herrick and Kamal Bhana. We should all be reflecting on what staff-student partnerships are. What is a partnership? Is it a relationship? Where does the power lie? Prehaps the word ‘relationship’ may be more informal, but is it always balanced. What we should be aiming for is a balanced, developing and comfortable partnership. It is important to remember that there is no one way to do this and as they keynote stated, this will not happen over one conversation or module. Instead, a partnership can be formed from constant use and development of staff and student collaboration, preferably on an academic and more individual level.
Thanks again to Tim and Kamal, i hope everyone has a good rest of the day.
As you all know, today has been the third Staff-Student Conference on Inquiry-based learning. However, when I arrived this morning I never expected to be partaking in African dancing! In the Engage room, I attended a session called Mapping a New Research Project based on Interview material. It was taken by two dance students from York St John University, who told us about interviews and workshops they had taken part in with visiting well-known dance instructors as part of their Inquiry Based Learning, and then proceeded to teach us some of the dance moves they had been taught during these visits. As well as providing me with ideas for Inquiry Based Learning in my department, it gave the session a brilliant atmosphere and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The session was run by Emma Smith and Nicola Forshaw, dance research assistants from York St John University. As part of their project, they had interviewed two artists involved with Contemporary African Dance with the aim to have an article published.
They identified that by leaving them to their own devices and ideas, the tutor actually allowed them to make their own mistakes and therefore learn from their experiences. They now know that whilst it may be better to conduct interviews with specific areas/questions in mind, sometimes one must start out quite broadly. In this case their interview may have benefited from a few introductory questions, with the artist providing them with details of his background and influences since information about him was scarce.
Opinions arising from this session by participants were:
-Students should be involved in genuine research to advance discipline knowledge
- We need to learn that we make mistakes but must move on from them
-Let students have a go at finding things out for themselves before ‘stuffing’ them full of theory
The session, though only having 6 participants, was excellently run. Instead of having small group discussions, we simply shouted out ideas on how they could improve their research. The opportunity to actually partake in some African dance moves was enjoyable. I hope the session has aided both Emma and Nicola in their work.