Tag Archives: theory

Democracy in the Classroom: the Importance of Environment and Attitude in Student-Led Seminars

David Koehler

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.9

Short Abstract
This presentation builds upon previous empirical research into the effectiveness of student-led seminars for teaching critical theory. This paper presents reflections upon the success of this format, drawing upon the educational philosophies of John Dewey and Carl Rogers to explain how and why this format is successful.

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Detailed Outline
This presentation builds upon previous empirical research into the effectiveness of student-led seminars for teaching critical theory, which used focus groups to compliment the standard module evaluation questionnaires. In the previous research, feedback showed that creating a democratic learning situation helped students to engage with difficult theoretical texts. Students at Coventry University were asked to give 10 minute introductory presentations and then participate in a 40 minute group discussion as part of a second-year Democracy and the Media module.

The current phase of this research includes subsequent experiences at Birmingham University leading seminars on Modern Social Theory and Global Sociology. Here a slightly different format was used where students break into small discussion groups for 25 minutes, then present the results of their discussion to the rest of the class, and finally a plenary discussion is held with the class as a whole. Again, student feedback has shown that this student-led format is a successful way to help students engage with difficult texts.

This paper briefly presents the results of these experiences and reflects upon the success of this format, drawing upon the educational philosophies of John Dewey and Carl Rogers. John Dewey is useful for drawing attention to the role of the environment in creating a successful learning situation, and Carl Rogers draws our attention to the importance of a teacher-facilitators attitude in fostering a positive relationship with students. This paper will argue that these aspects of teaching are often underplayed, yet are crucial in the success of creating a democratic classroom, which is arguably the principle for student-led learning.

Engaging practice-based learners

Aileen Watson, Andrew Fowler & Jacky Burrows

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.8

Short Abstract
This session will consider the design and delivery of an academic module studied by volunteers working for Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability. Our aim is to explore the use of blended learning in engaging practice-based students utilising our own experience and student feedback.

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Detailed Outline
This paper will explore the challenges of engaging practice-based learners in a blended learning experience, with specific reference to a joint project between Sheffield Hallam’s Department of Law and Criminology and Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability (YHCOSA). This project involved a group of YHCOSA volunteers engaging in a standalone academic module entitled ‘Working with Sex Offenders’, which aimed to improve their volunteering through integrating theory and practice. Students completed the course by engaging in one face to face session and twelve online lectures delivered by Sheffield Hallam, and four face to face sessions delivered by YHCOSA. The project had a number of specific challenges including the wide geographic distribution of students, the range of their previous academic experience, and the challenging nature of the subject material and volunteers’ specific roles; however the paper will also address broader issues relevant to blended learning including establishing course identity, sustaining motivation, and maximising potential. It will therefore consider the specific learning needs of practice-based adult learners and maximising the effectiveness of the blended/hybrid of model of face to face teaching and technology-facilitated learning for them, as well as ways of increasing motivation and student satisfaction such as formal and informal reward and recognition and ensuring adequate support (see for example, Ausburn, 2011).

The blended learning approach can be regarded as both a practical solution to the learning needs of geographically diverse, practice-based learners and a theoretically sound mode of engaging adult learners, especially those learning for practical application. The authors take the view that the project’s blended learning approach fits well with Knowles’ model of androgogy (see for example Atherton, 2013) and in particular allows students to learn in a constructivist manner, thus facilitating deep learning (e.g. Sharpe, Benfield, Roberts, and Francis, 2006). The paper will therefore consider blended-learning through those lenses.
The paper will conclude with ideas for future directions including the role of evaluation for transformative practice and the increasing focus on blended learning as part of the wider agenda of ‘flexible learning’ (HEA, 2015)
References
ATHERTON, J. S. (2013). Learning and Teaching; Knowles’ andragogy: an angle on adult learning [onlline] Last updates 10 February 2013 http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/knowlesa.htm
AUSBURN, L. J. (2011). Course design elements most valued by adult learners in blended online education environments: an American perspective. Educational Media International, 41, 327-337
HEA (2015). Flexible Learning [online]. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/workstreams-research/themes/flexible-learning
SHARPE, R. BENFIELD,G,. ROBERTS, G., and FRANCIS, R.(2006). The undergraduate experience of blended e-learning: a review of UK literature and practice.

305 – Professional Identity of Social Work – Chandi Patel

This paper is concerned with academics, students and key stakeholders experiences of social work courses particularly in relation to professional identity, professional practice and employability. Periodically social work education has been criticised for its failure to prepare students for the real world of social work practice. The arguments being that there exists a gulf between academic teaching and actual practice. It has been suggested that this impacts on service user experiences and the employability of social work graduates. The paper will explore the development and the consolidation of professional identity of students during the course of their journey from admissions to graduation.   Practice education will be explored as a key area in social work as it is designed to bridge the gap between the theoretical world of academe and the real world of professional practice. This comprises 50% of curriculum time and provides students with the opportunity to apply validate and integrate what is learnt in the university. How students engage with the practice components and make links to theory is a critical area that needs addressing. The further development of practice education also leads to better partnership working between students, employers and higher education institutions and in the enhancement of the quality of Social work programmes. The needs of the service users (clientele) will be examined within the context of their involvement in the student journey from admission to graduation. Currently service users are involved in the recruitment of students, the design of the curriculum and its delivery, the assessment of students and quality processes.  This paper has been developed by the Head of Department of Social Work, Social Care and Community Studies, in conjunction with key stakeholders including students, practice assessors and service users. It will be jointly delivered with a student and service user/lead.