Tuesday, June 05, 2007

UWE seminar (3)

This is the 3rd and final post on the seminar at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol. In the afternoon, Marcus Lynch, from the Faculty of Environment and Technology, talked about his Creativity and design module. A lot of interesting ideas emerged, for example:
- the idea of researching the nature of a diary, log or journal as part of creating it, with students having to justify the final format of the journal
- a “Desert Island disks” activity, use as a way of surfacing the notion of “criteria”
- bringing in magazines and articles for students to scan through, cite and tag.
He has a blog at http://marcuslynchatuwe.blogspot.com in which he blogged regularly about the class.

Marcus (and Praminda Coleb-Solly who taught the class with him) also brought in their learning diaries - physical diaries which they used (I think Marcus’ was red), and reviewed periodically. Ursula Lucas also talked about how she kept a log to parallel the learning diary that the students were required to keep. She mentioned that she used time in which the students were working on tasks in class.

This reminded me of the blog that colleagues in English (at Sheffield) kept in WebCT whilst they were collaboratively teaching a class, and obviously of the blog that my colleagues and I used (and still do, a bit) whilst teaching “Inquiry in Information Management”. One idea is reflect on your own experience, just like you are asking the students to do. It brings home how difficult the activity is!

I want to give students more guidance on reflective writing next year and both Ursula and Marcus mentioned books by Jennifer Moon*, which I’ll have to get hold of. Ursula also made a telling comment about how students can be “good at picking up a surface approach to reflection” i.e. learning the sorts of things that lecturers want to read in reflective work! She described an exercise in which students had to turn descriptive statements (e.g. “The workshop was fun and quite interesting”) into reflective ones. Another exercise which I’d like to incorporate in teaching next year is one on “How am I doing” in relation to the module learning outcomes. There is always the danger of learning outcomes being ritual statements paraded at certain points in the class.
* Learning Journals: A Handbook for Academics, Students and Professional Development &
A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice
Photo by Sheila Webber: Victoria Square, Clifton, Bristol, June 2007.

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