Tag Archives: plurality

291 – Course diversity: best practice is not good practice – Neil Challis, Michael Robinson

Presenter: Dr Mike Robinson (m.robinson@shu.ac.uk) and Prof Neil Challis (n.challis@shu.ac.uk) Strand: Course identity Anticipated outcomes: A better shared understanding of lessons drawn from the More Math Grads project and experience with our own Mathematics course. Session outline:  Every course is different. Subjects are by their very nature different. The students they tend to attract have different outlooks – as do staff who teach on them.  Few would disagree that this diversity is a good thing. At course level, subject-specific diversity can be reflected in all aspects, and as professionals and experts in our field, we try to match the requirements of our subject, the needs and motivations of our students, the skills and motivations of our staff,  to every aspect of our provision: timetable, teaching and learning styles, assessment types, course management, online presence… Such careful course design leads to a good course, which works well, and which students appreciate (and rate highly). Students understand why their course is different from others; far from denigrating this, they often wear it as a badge of pride and as part of their sense of course identity. Inevitably, successful ideas are shared;  copied, adapted, modified, developed. No-one could possibly oppose the spread of good ideas… until someone, somewhere decides it’s officially “best practice”. Instantly, development of ideas stops. New ideas are killed at birth; because they’re at odds with “best practice”. Modification to individual circumstances is severely restricted – meaning that what was once carefully constructed to meet individual needs is now “one size fits all” and suits almost no-one. The irony is that every part of “best practice” began with someone trying something different, at odds with their institutional norm, and ends with stifling the innovation which keeps it fresh. True good practice recognises this, and encourages and celebrates the diversity

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