Alison Le Cornu: My dream: Learning design project proposal
Improving a 1hr15m face-to-face session
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Alison Le Cornu
11 January 2013
Describe a learning situation you are involved in, a change you would like to see in that situation, and how you think you can bring about that change.
I am one of the core tutors on an MA in Consultancy for Mission and Ministry which is run through York St John University. It is a part-time MA and the students get most of their content through paper-based distance learning materials. Alongside that they attend three residential schools a year. Intake is approximately 10 students a year. They register for the PG Dip in the first place, and then go on to do a dissertation if they want to, but at that stage they no longer attend residentials. This means that there are two year groups which attend each residential.
I teach two principal areas on the residentials. Firstly, I teach Practical Theology, which has an emphasis on theological reflection, and secondly, I teach research methods. Both are with the second year cohort. After every residential I find myself reflecting again and again on the balance between the content and new material I need to give the students, and the practice they need to have in using it. Rather oddly, it is the research methods session which I find more challenging. Since each student is planning an individual dissertation, they tend to interrupt and ask questions that are very specific to their own needs and concerns, and the session can often shift to become a poorly-structured, conversational hour and a quarter, at the end of which I feel I have not achieved my aims or objectives, nor have the students achieved the learning outcomes for the session. I have a number of questions about this:
- Is that as big a problem as I feel it is? Surely allowing students to (in a sense) take over the session and have their questions answered is quite a good thing, even if we don't achieve all that I had set out to do?
- What techniques might I be able to build into the design of the session that might meet my own aims and those of the students in a half way house?
- Do these challenges actually suggest the course team needs to revisit the content of the paper-based module materials so that more of the questions which arise can be addressed outside the residential school in their own private reading and study?