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  • 1. Evaluating the ‘Teach Smarter’ Initiative in Law Mr Warren Barr & Dr Robert Stokes
  • 2. Overview  Background: The ‘Teach Smarter’ Initiative  Module Design  Two Examples: Equity& Trusts, Commercial Law  Evaluating the Initiative  Internal Processes, CLL Project  Potential and Pitfalls
  • 3. Background: The ‘Teach Smarter’ Initiative
  • 4. Traditional ‘Law’ Delivery  Professional Subject  Required Modules – 7 subjects (225 credits)  250+ students per required module  100+ for optional modules  Traditional Delivery & Assessment  24 Lectures + 5 Small Group Teaching Tutorials/Seminars (12 per group)  Traditional Assessment Methods  Issues  High volume of repeat teaching  Lack of student engagement (preparation, participation)  Feedback Issue
  • 5. No Single Model Adopted ‘Teach Smarter’ is a change in ethos not a single blue-print for module design or delivery
  • 6. ‘Teach Smarter’ Initiative  Rethinking Delivery  Structured and more engaging learning: • E-support and e-tasks • Emphasis on collaborative work (e.g. group work) • Emphasis on student engagement • Structured learning – pre- and post- delivery engagement • Improved feedback  Staff Workload Benefits: • More research time through less repeat teaching • More engaging delivery
  • 7. Module Design: Two Examples
  • 8. Example 1: Equity (Required)  30 credit module (‘long, fat’)  48 lectures + 10 tutorials for 250+ students • Repeat Teaching  Groups of 12 students = 21 tutorial groups  Delivery Hours: 105 per Semester = 210 hours  Directed reading and lecture slides available on VITAL  Tutorial Preparation: • Students Conduct Individual Preparation and Participate In Interaction With The Tutor  Feedback: Informal, and Formal on Assessments  Assessment: 25% coursework (Sem 1); 75% unseen examination
  • 9. Example 1: Equity (Required)  48 lectures + 6 seminars for 250 + students • Repeat Teaching  Groups of 30 students = 9 Seminar Groups  Delivery Hours: 54 per Semester (2 hr Seminars) – 108 hours  Directed reading, pre- and post- group work (in, podcasts and other e- learning support materials on VITAL • Students Prepare Directed Reading • Split Into Sub-Groups of no more than 6 students • Prepare unseen questions in group • Write up a question as a group after completion of Seminar  Additional Feedback: • Group Essay Feedback + Guideline Answer per Question • MCQ Self Test Feedback  Assessment: 25% coursework (Sem 1); 75% unseen examination
  • 10. Change in Learning Ethos TTutor T
  • 11. Example 2: Commercial Law (Optional)  Different Approach: • Comparative Delivery Savings over of 1/3rd  Module Delivery: • No lectures • 10 Hours Seminars replace 5 hours Tutorials  Retains emphasis on group work • Extensive support materials, including Seminar Podcasts and MCQs per topic and follow-up exercises • Feedback: Podcasts (on seminar performance); Group Work Feedback, Marked Formative Essay, Assessed Plans
  • 12. Evaluating The Initiative: Internal Processes & CLL Project
  • 13. Internal Processes  Student Surveys 2009-10  Equity & Trusts • Positive reception to new model • Improved engagement • Too much content • Group work problems  Commercial Law • Positive reception to new model • Seminar materials praised • Positive response to feedback • Group work problems • Lectures popular
  • 14. Evidence – Equity & Trusts  Over 93% of respondents felt that VITAL was well used, particularly in providing sources for seminar study and in supplementing lecture provision “Very useful and found them a lot more helpful than tutorials that occurred for other modules. Learnt a lot more in seminars from discussions with others in the seminar and also in sub group work” “the seminars do work very well - I have found them rewarding, and they have helped to clarify areas I was still hazy on following lectures and reading” “the level of feedback given far surpasses that in any other module, and is helpful”
  • 15. Evidence – Equity & Trusts  Some criticism:  “There are too much to cover in one seminar with a high speed train rushing through the session. Why cover 3 chapters when one is more than enough”  “If group work is preferred, punishments should be given to those who were not involved. Penalty seems too lenient, many got away by saying they are down with swine flu but I saw my group mate attended the lecture!”
  • 16. Evidence – Commercial Law  90% felt seminars made a contribution to their learning beyond that of private study  93% felt that the seminar materials were either good or very good  86% were either very or fairly satisfied with the feedback they received.
  • 17. Evidence – Commercial Law  Some criticism: “However, the seminars were pretty good. If possible, I would just add lectures to the current seminars, then it would be simply great module to study” “The feed back to the only formative assessment essay was extremely poor and I was highly disappointed after putting work into it not getting a detailed personal feedback” “I strongly believe having lectures will help students connect with the module much better” “If there were no lectures, my tuition fee's should have been reduced.”
  • 18. CLL Review  Methodology  Student Focus Groups: Nominal Group Technique  Online Survey (student)  Online Survey (staff)  Staff Interviews
  • 19. Preliminary Observations  First Year Feedback  Enablers • Importance of directed reading • Opportunity for engagement • Structured learning  Disablers • Tutorial atmosphere • The free-loader problem • Unrealistic reading lists
  • 20. Preliminary Observations  Second Year Feedback  More fractious than Year One  Concerns over feedback and communication  Problems with collaborative work  Support for structured learning and new forms of feedback, e.g. podcasts
  • 21. Concluding Remarks Potential and Pitfalls
  • 22. Potential  Real Savings In Delivery  Gains not in the first year but in subsequent years  Should definitely be a pay-off in freeing up research time, important for early academics  Better Student engagement  More directed and effective  Increased transferable skills  Staff benefits from learning ethos  Better learning atmosphere – collaborative learning  Better knowledge of students and student performance
  • 23. Pitfalls  Entrenched attitudes  Front loading  Too easy to underestimate workload involved in preparing materials and rethinking delivery  Role of individual tutor  Feedback, Quality, Approachability  Group Work and Communication  Know What They Have To Do  Better Guidance
  • 24. Conclusions  Too early to be sure  Potentials seems to outweigh pitfalls  Students not harmed  Final assessment results are on a par or better than in previous year  Student Experience Will Improve As Progresses  Provisional View: Qualified Success

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