Friday, 25 July 2008

Update on the "seven sk/hills" framework

Following last Thursday's meeting (pictured above), the TASH team have begun to re-consider the seven skills / seven hills framework we've previously outlined. The discussions and feedback from that meeting was really helpful in clarifying our thinking, and allowing the structure develop. What this means in detail is:
  1. No matter how we divide up the particular academic skills students require for success at university, the final structure of the resource might look rather different - or to put this another way, the skills framework will be only one of several ways of navigating the resource. It won't be a closed, determining structure, but instead a means of helping the developers and users of the site think about what they're doing.
  2. The structure of the site should usefully integrate with other frameworks significant within the University, most notably, the concept of the Sheffield Graduate. For example, it's clear that TASH has foregrounded the need for graduates to be able to "communicate effectively, orally, in writing or by other means as appropriate"; but has it equally emphasised their need to "recognise their responsibilities as active citizens"? This comparison and benchmarking process will be one of the priorities for the TASH team over the summer.
  3. We also need to check out our perceptions of skills against other sources, in particular how other educational organisations carve them up (such as the Learning Areas outlined by the Learn Higher project), and against the perceptions of students. Again, these will be priorities in the next few months, and we're already working with CILASS and the Union of Students to maximise student involvement.
  4. Finally, we picked up one specific point from the July 17th, about potential overlap between the "Problem solving and data handling" and "Analytical skills" categories. We are now now considering reconstructing them as "Research and data handling" and "Problem solving and analytical skills". This way, we hope to be able to draw a clearer distinction between different stages of a process whereby we move from defining the question/hypothesis, to designing a research/problem-solving strategy, to gathering the resources and data necessary to implement that strategy, to analysing and interpreting what the data suggests in answer to our real or constructed problem, and back again to consideration of what underpins different types of research questions and strategies to engage with them in the first place. This takes us back to point (1), that the final labels aren't that important - what matters is bringing in students and tutors in such a way that they can find everything they need.
So, to recap; our seven skills for the moment look like:
  • Academic literacy
  • Personal and interpersonal skills
  • Research and data-handling
  • Problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Written communication
  • Oral and other communication
  • Reflective learning
And we'll be running these past a range of other sources, and keeping them under constant review. Your contributions are essential to this process, so I'd welcome comments, feedback, and emails!

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