Tutor experence of student diffculties

I have recently been considering the types of issues and problems students face when coming to university. There is some general talk that at present the school and college system doesn’t successfully prepare all students for the expectations at university level. While many courses design their first year to account for a wide variety of abilities and knowledge, considering many cohorts includes both mature and international students, there are still concerns that this is not as effective as it could or should be.

As someone who’s teaching experience is primarily from the student perspective I have been recently gathering data from a more experienced tutor. A colleague of mine, Tony Renshaw, has been kind enough to spend some time reflecting on his teaching experiences for me. He identified that there is a difference between the nature of the problems students face in their first and subsequent years. In the first year a number of students are experiencing independence for the first time. This means having to deal with many issues outside of University life as well, such as: learning and living space; new friends and old friends; responsibilities; a new job; working with teachers and fellow students. From an academic perspective students often find throughout the term at university it difficult to deal with: feedback; critical thinking; reading and writing; time planning; asking questions; and self-expression, verbal as well as written; and assessment processes and procedures.

In some ways a number of these issues are not much different to those we all experience when entering a new job or integrating with a new environment. I think the students they can become particularly prevalent problems because of little previous experience of coping with this process. There is also the added pressure from personal and family expectations regarding this being the first main step in their career. In asking Tony to reflect on his teaching experience is that I’m looking for some key areas to develop into a series of workshops for students that use coaching principles to enable them to raise their awareness, take ownership and develop confidence.

One area that has been highlighted during my discussions with Tony was that of assessment and how students approach this. I have asked Terry to reflect on this to see if there are any specific aspects I can focus on.

Using a coaching framework with Pupps

On Friday I met with Iwi Ugiagbe-Green who ran the Pupps pilot last year and is a frequent blogger on ALT issues. The conversation was around running the pilot again with coaching support from the PC3 project.

The general idea is to provide a self-coaching form set through PebblePad for students to work through as and when they need the support. Pupps used a self-assessed competency profile last year, as a means of gathering data at the beginning and end of the project. This provides a good start to using the sort of questions you would use with tools such as the wheel of life. Taking a low score and asking: What would a nine look like, what would the outcomes of being able to do X be? This enables them to understand their understanding of what a competency or role entails. The wheel of life process takes you through to actions on making a high score possible. These actions are identified by the student enabling ownership in moving towards their chosen career or life goals.  Well that’s roughly how it works.

Pupps participants are placement students who are required to produce a reflective statement about their activities. This is ideal for working with PebblePad. Iwi has also invited graduate trainees to participate this year which gives a nice link into CPD and work based learning activities. She thinks that the use of a coaching based profile will fit in well with their PDP when they come back to level 3 after placement. There is also the possibility of hooking this into PDP @ level 1 next year which would provide a nice counter to what we are currently doing with Nick’s team. Another thing we considered was getting some form of coaching and reflective process in at the placement decision making stage, which we might be a bit late for this year but could be developed for next year. The final thought, it was a busy conversation, thanks to Iwi, was using coaching to support buddying systems, peer coaching, level 3 informally supporting level 2 etc .

Coaching fitting in with CPD and PDP seams to be a recurrent theme at the moment. The next step is to identify some good coaching questions and create a structure within PebblePad for them. This will also feed into the work we are doing with Nick’s team and can be released as a general resource.

Potential Cohort with Mental Health

Today Janet and I had a productive meeting with Sarah Patrick from the department of Mental Health. We were looking at what aspects of the PLC module and coaching could be used to support a part time degree in this field. One of the problems that senior people in the health sector have is finding time for their own personal development and extending their specialities. Sarah’s team ran a series of modules that covered a range of highly specialised topics. The problem with running these types of modules for people with little time is that recruitment can be very varied, resulting in periods when they are not run at all. These modules are also subject to rigours standards from various accrediting bodies which mean they needs to be some sort of continuation to retain the endorsement.

Sarah is in the process of re-write a couple of the courses and looking at how the process can be improved. At the moment students are required to spend one day a week on campus which for senior practitioner is not always practical. She is looking at providing a more online alternative. The courses are also focused around a portfolio of evidence based on competencies and one has a number of choices the student needs to make regarding the specialist direction.

Our initial ideas is to run the PLC module as a long thin over a year period as a support process for choices, finding evidence and building the portfolio. Coaching linked into the profession development module as both a support mechanism and a peer support mechanism and providing a sense of why the students have chosen what they are doing. Provided the glue for a range of different modules where students are not working within a common cohort.

There is some work to do here, Sarah homes to have a more structured view of what she is a after early next semester. In the mean time we need to consider how coaching and the PLC module can be used to support CPD and PDP. Which fits rather well I think.

Update: validation, learning objects and roleplay

Just realised it is a couple of months since our last update – primarily a result of lots of activity leading to less reporting! So what have we been up to? We are essentially preparing for our first cohort – due to start at the beginning of March. Having decided to adopt a module-based approach to giving students access to personalised curriculum development we have had a lot to do: module validation (initially within an existing scheme called Leading Edge but we are now looking at a cross institutional validation), module design and content, as well as recruiting our first cohort and planning and designing our evaluation process. So a lot going on!

Our plan is to produce as much of our content as possible as reusable learning objects, making them available via our open educational resource repository. This is proving more tricky than we anticipated. We started using Glomaker as a production tool which is built around learning design patterns. We really like this model which embeds pedagogy into the design. However we found the components it currently offers too restrictive: without a lot of additional Flash development we were going to have difficulties doing what we wanted to do. So we moved over to CourseLab, which we are now trialling. However we quickly hit a snag with that too – unfortunately the scorm packages it produces do not display correctly within our VLE in any browser other than IE: not very open! So we are now initially preparing learning resources using our VLE’s learning modules, which will be converted to standalone objects for the repository where appropriate.

In the process of producing content, we have produced a series of role play videos to try to demonstrate the differences as we see them between tutoring, mentoring and coaching. These are in the process of being built into a learning object on the subject but are included here as many have asked for an explanation of this. Obviously these are somewhat stylised and caricatured to make the point but hopefully the differences, as we see them, will be clear! All three conversations tackle the same topic: giving presentations.

The Tutoring conversation: 

The Mentoring conversation: 

The Coaching conversation: 

Video update – October 2009

A brief video update focusing on our latest developments on coaching for the PC3 project.

Beginning the search for learning Objects

Having now designed a module structure and roughed out the content we need to a range of learning objects. As the focus of the project is on design not delivery we intend to minimise amount of LO creation that we have to do. Fortunately our world is packed with resources. Leeds Met’s own repository is starting to fill, thanks to the OER Unicycle project. The S4L (skills for learning) department have a very compressive site, full of those basic yet essential skills we all have to refer back to from time to time.

These are the two resources I have been exploring today, creating a map between resources and module content labels. Writing ideas and notes on how these resources could be incorporated. I have found some interesting diagnostic tools which might compliment the ones the PC3 team have recently experienced during our caching course. Aimed at developing an employment plan at the end of a degree, they are open enough in context to be adapted for initial exercises on self-understanding and action planning.

This is just initial forage, something to wet the appetite. I have many more places, such as Leeds Met XStream VLE, lectures private stashes, Jorum, YouTube and many more to explore. I’m also looking forward to the October program meeting where I will get the chance to network with the rest of the Curriculum Design group and also the Curriculum Delivery group, both are bound to have something for we can utilise. I suspect I will end up with more than we can teach, but choice is always better for students.

Running alongside this resource collection process, will be the development of a detailed module structure and plan. Each of the eight module topics now need to be broken down into content, activities and reflection. Identifying clearly where they link into the development coaching support and speculating on the types of outcomes and issues students may engage with. We also need to identify which technology to use and how it will support particular tasks. Although coaching, reflection and the ePortfolio will lie at the heart of the process, the content and activities need to be designed to integrate with this process and naturally spark of reflection and self-development. Any ideas? 🙂