Testing pre-class learning – re-think needed

This has not been very successful, I must admit. The idea was that students would read and think about the set content for each week and then email me a comment, question, query about something they don’t understand or on which they would like more information. It worked okay at the beginning, then dropped off, made a short comeback and then disappeared. I did not want to make it attached to a mark as I was told students don’t need a mark for everything to collaborate and it means more individual assessment items when the faculty wants it limited to 3. However, it is affecting tutorial interactiveness since I am increasingly talking and filling up the space. I am thus switching tack to what I did last year: students each summarise a set reading and present it in class and send me the summary, which will be loaded up to a commonly accessible link on the WordPress site for pre-test study at the end of the semester. However, I am going to get 3-4 students to tackle the weekly readings and themes as a collective “package”: they will divide the weekly pre-class content readings labour and take charge of half the tutorial on that week’s theme, summarsing not only the readings but also the online lecture. We will experiment with this for the rest of the semester and I will survey them again. One issue will be: will the groups they are currently in to do their cultural case studies (just submitted last week), be the same? If not, I need to form different groups and student may not like the idea of having to join 2 different groups (even if one is for one week) and communicating outside the tutorial. In addition, I will have to give them a mark, which will make 4 assessment items, when we are supposed to limit it to 4 in the faculty. Hmm. Let’s see… Mid-semester Survey Monkey results are coming on. Summary and analysis to follow soon.

Group work update

Students are currently engaging in active, trans-disciplinary and collaborative learning projects in small groups around common research themes: creative cultural industries, shamanism, tourism, dictatorship, national identities, sport and nationalism, Church/gender/sexuality, gangs and narcoculture. Students chose their own group themes and are carrying out both studies of individual topics within the theme as well as a group project (a theoretical-critical overview of what is at stake in the general theme). They research together in tutorials, as well as online and in the library, and communicate both online and face to face. Group work requires them to be mutually supportive and solve communication and conflict issues (differences of opinion, workload sharing disputes, group work design, etc.)

Assessment activities are designed to have a self-reflective component both ‘during and after’ the submission of the assignment. This is achieved by encouraging students to request peer appraisal of their individual components of their assignments before submission. In addition, students will submit a half-page reflection on the tutor’s comments and mark on their assignment (thanks Simon) and their overall perception of the quality of their work. On the student side, then, teamwork and interactive interpersonal skills are key to success; on the staff side, clear guidelines and scaffolding techniques are necessary.