Launched in 2014, the KickStart project has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 12 months. Brainchild of Prof Leigh Wood, Associate Dean L&T (FBE) and project managed by Dr Yvonne Breyer, L&T Director (FBE) the project started off with a two pronged objective: firstly, to allow students to get a feel for what they will be studying for the next 13 weeks; and secondly, to build connections between their prior knowledge and the course content, allowing them to contextualise the learning outcomes. The KickStart motto is: Plan – Prepare – Participate.
“After my class I was walking with some of my students back to my office. On my way there they were telling me how they had understood the model that I showed them in class when Mary, a PAL leader, had explained it to them. Perhaps it was because Mary explained it better than me, or perhaps it is because it would have been the third time the student had heard an explanation about the model, or maybe it was just the PAL classroom environment that had helped. Something there helped! Knowing this I thought it would be a good idea to then have the PAL leaders explain the model, I would film this and then make it available on iLearn. I then made an announcement to all my students telling them that I had made this video available. I am hoping that the explanation in the video would have helped them understand this concept”. (Dr. Mauricio Marrone, Unit Convenor, Accounting Information System”).
An undisputed highlight of this year’s Learning and Teaching Week was students Daniel Sturman, Rochelle Martin, Cindy Huang and Timothy Zhang taking the stage for the Merit Scholars Panel (chaired by Georgia Scapens). Taking their cue from a recent ‘social investigation’ of student engagement at Macquarie, the four Merit Scholars spoke persuasively and candidly about what worked for them – and what didn’t.
Here are some of their most memorable insights for Macquarie academics:
Have you heard about KickStart, the new program developed by FBE and rolling out in trials across the University? During Learning & Teaching Week 2014, Yvonne Breyer and Mauricio Marrone will be walking you through the project, discussing their efforts to engage students right from the beginning of their course and give them the best possible start.
Why do some of our most exciting learning and teaching initiatives fail to gain traction, despite the thorough research, creative design and best efforts of talented people? It could be because we often forget to include the students in the planning process. This blog post by Sherman Young proposes that we acknowledge our students as partners and co-creators of their own learning in order to increase engagement.
To get the ball rolling we recruited four Merit Scholars, each from a very different discipline and background, and sent them on a social investigation to gather thoughts about student engagement at Macquarie. They came back with an enormous bank of ideas, examples, and challenges from students relating to their experience at Macquarie, and the following themes resonated throughout:
Availability. The very best learning experiences these students have had stem from a single teacher being available to their students, maintaining an approachable nature and adopting an accessible style of communication and discourse. The prevailing sentiment was that the availability of these teachers seemed driven by a genuine passion for learning and teaching.
Communication. The students unanimously agreed that the driest of subjects can be brought alive by a good lecturer, and it doesn’t have to involve cutting edge learning technologies or soaring levels of creativity. In fact, the students said that they would trade in all the extra stuff for a teacher with great presentation skills and a penchant for the material.
Connection to the outside world. This presented itself in a few different forms – students value industry connections, tangible job opportunities, and PACE units – but most simply, they value the sense that we’re learning with purpose here at Macquarie.
We will be exploring each of these themes, and others, at a panel discussion during L&T Week and will welcome questions and debate. We invite you to come along and gain some honest, candid insight into the student experience at Macquarie. Registrations are essential – more details are available using the link below.
One of the key components of a learning and teaching framework is how we think about student engagement.
The most recent examinations period has seen Faculties reporting some issues in this area – with concerns about indicators such as lecture attendance and assignment submission.
Already in train are a number of projects looking at student engagement in learning and teaching (as well as the broader student experience) but I think we need to make a coherent statement about how we wish to engage with students at Macquarie. Following some broader consultation, and drawing on literature and experience such as this, this and this, I’d like to suggest that we consider that we adopt, and build on the following principle:
Students are partners and co-creators of their learning.
- Our students will be partners, change agents and leaders in their learning; across the formal and informal activities of the University;
- Our approach will focus on active learning, emphasising collaboration and the co-creation of knowledge;
- Our students, staff, alumni and industry and community partners will be connected to unlock their potential.
Again, any comments are welcome.
As you (hopefully) are aware by now, iLearn is in the throes of a face lift. If not, catch up here.
While there are benefits for staff, what are the benefits for students? Here’s our top 5…. Continue reading iLearn’s facelift – benefits for students
Is a question posed by Clayton Christensen and colleagues in a 2011 report, Disrupting College: How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education. Disruption has since had much attention in the media and literature; the hiring function somewhat less.
So why do students hire their chosen universities? In a recent Gallup-Purdue study of 30,000 U.S. graduates it was found that which university you attend (large, small, elite or not) makes little difference to your workplace engagement and overall well-being. What matters is the experience you have – or not. Continue reading Why do students hire us?
Have you heard of the Faculty Partnership Program? We are currently inviting applications from interested parties to conduct a 6 month project with the Educational Design and Development group at the LTC.
These short intensive projects provide opportunities to try new approaches to learning and teaching by incorporating learning technologies with the aim of improving student engagement.
One recent project has been investigating the introduction of more interactive tools (wikis, chat, RSS feeds, Blogs, Twitter feeds, different forms of video to include conferencing) and aligned student activities to enhance a 2nd year undergraduate unit in European languages. The Academic Lead, Blanche Menadier says “I am enjoying the FPP despite the fact that it is requiring more work than I had hoped for because I can see that what we are doing is transferable to other units and because the people I am working with are extremely helpful and user-friendly”.
Application closing date for the next round of projects is Friday 30 May. For more details on the program and information on how to apply, contact your Associate Dean, Head of Office or see the LTC website.