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Published bySemaj Waker Modified over 8 years ago
EVIDENCE TO THE CR STEERING GROUP Dr Mark Young Centre for Learning and Teaching School of Biological Sciences
A CASE FOR RESIDENTIAL ‘FIELD’ COURSES Residential ‘field’ courses carry great benefits Topic-related material, like field skills, but ALSO A sense of identity and community Informal student/staff interactions A wider perspective on University life Un-distracted by normal social scene Opportunity for extended discussion/reflection Group working skills/ social skills Practice for communication [& other] skills Develops confidence and independence
WHY NOT MORE SUCH COURSES? Expensive and heavy on staff time BUT Excellent value for money Easy to fit into a flexible curriculum In the spirit of a wider curriculum “I learnt more in one week, than in a whole term!” “It was extremely helpful to my degree programme” “I enjoyed setting my own agenda in the project” “Why aren’t there more courses like this for everyone?”
A PERSPECTIVE ON NACs (with emphasis on the 1 st Year experience) Are they to benefit students in own subject area? OR, are they to benefit across Colleges? Are they to be compulsory, in some structured way? If many are placed in >one year, how will the ‘rules’ apply? Are they necessarily part of an 8 course 1 st Year? How will these issues influence existing curricula? All this may be under discussion BUT – Staff are already actively planning NACs, with detail included!
THE BIOLOGY 1 ST YEAR, AS A CASE STUDY The current curriculum –Biology 1Biology 2 –Chemistry Biology 3 –Choice 1Choice 2 Chemistry is a required subsidiary course Choices 1 & 2 may be a related subject, such as Psychology or Geography BUT Choices 1 & 2 are often a language or Arts subject SO: some students already follow a ‘wide’ curriculum
THE INTRODUCTION OF NACs The new curriculum Biology 1Biology 3 Biology 2Biology 4 NAC1NAC2 Choice 1Choice 2 Four Biology retained as main subject area, and to allow focus on student identity within wide curriculum If Chemistry remains a requirement then PS or GG, and/or Arts subjects are excluded If NACs are NOT from other Colleges, then curriculum is more focused, not widened
CONSULTATION IS MEANT TO CONSIDER SUCH ISSUES BUT – detailed curricula are already being discussed for NACs! We need ground rules to guide the use of NACs AND, we need a decision on the move back to 8 1 st Year courses OR, we may very soon end up with unconsidered consequences!
SOME POSITIVE THOUGHTS The spirit of curriculum reform includes a widening view This includes scientists having an appreciation of ‘arts’ and vice versa This suggests NACs being designed for those beyond their host College This also may suggest some sort of ‘direction’ to ensure students study outside their main subject Our previous ‘Biology for Arts Students’ failed from low demand and no direction
AND SOME MORE Could languages count as ‘honorary’ NACs? Could this apply to ‘Basics of World Religion’, ‘Reading Writing’, ‘Global Worlds, Global Challenges’, ‘Meteorology and Astronomy’ or similar existing courses? Using these, plus a few new NACs, within the existing curriculum design Plus some ‘direction’ to ensure a wider curriculum Can we achieve our desired benefits with little disruption and just some re-arrangement?
AND LASTLY ………. NACs (plus revised existing courses) may help us improve our provision of skills teaching –Using active learning and group project work –Flexible delivery and assessment methods –Supported by PDP and skills mapping Improved community and support may be possible –Using Peer Assisted Learning –Project groups made up of same degree students I welcome these opportunities but am anxious that unconsidered changes may be close unless some guidance comes soon
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