Continuing the learning
Many teachers often say they are often students of learning, and while I admire that philosophy, the only true method of maintaining a student's perspective is to actually be a student.
For the past three years I have been studying a Masters, and will complete this (*pending results*) around February next year. I have loved this degree and found so many of the aspects to be absolutely fascinating. I have however, not been overly impressed by the method of delivery for many of the individual subjects.
As a high school teacher we are constantly encouraged to provide a high quality teaching, the NSW Quality Teaching Model describes three key aspects of this - intellectual quality, a quality learning environment and significant in the work. The extract below explains this:
Not only are we encouraged by our employer, but we encourage each other, are encouraged by parents and sometimes even by politics and the media.
The universities I have studied through, which I will purposely not name, have had no issue meeting two of those three criteria - the first and last. They are great at promoting high intellectual quality, and exemplary at utilising significance in the various courses of study. Both however, have failed miserably at providing a high quality learning environment. My experiences as a student, while also being a teacher have given me some profound insight into exactly what students want. Most notably I must admit, it's through negative reinforcement - whenever my uni lecturer did something that annoyed me, I made it my mission never to do that to my own students.
A common example would be not returning assignments back in an acceptable time frame; I once waited four months to get a uni assignment back. As a student, this drove me insane - how am I suppose to learn from my mistakes, if you won't tell me what the mistakes are! Needless to say, I would have appealed this grade if I was unhappy with it. As a teacher, I strive to ensure my students always have assignments back in quick succession. Not only does this support their learning but it helps to reinforce good management techniques for myself around reporting timeframes.
Another frustration I feel as a student, is when I get the assignment back, with little or no feedback. As example from just this year is when I received 19/20 for a task with written feedback saying "Good job". Don't get me wrong - the mark is good, but seriously, what did I lose the one point for? If it really is a good job, why is it not worth 20/20? To this day, I still have no way of knowing what it was I did that was incorrect. Once again, I find this form of feedback very unhelpful, and so make every attempt to avoid it with my students. One of the most effective methods of removing any doubt about where points were lost, is to construct an assignment with explicit marking rubrics or criteria such as the ones I have used for my juniors - see IST for the assignments.
What to do now?
There are plenty of other examples I could list as to how I think universities are doing the worst type of educational modelling, but I don't really want this to sound like a rant. I'm more inclined to say it's learning I did through experience. If not for my decision to continue post graduate education while working full time, I might never have become the stringent assessor and meticulous person and teacher I am now, so in the end it's all positive.
I am curious however, does anybody wish to share a similar experience?
A Computing teacher with a passion for collaboration and open source teaching.