Friday, 1 August 2008

Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, and Inclusive Learning and Teaching

Willy and I have come from a day of TASH meetings, which we will blog separately over the coming days. The first was with Elena, who many of you will know from her work on the Inclusive Learning and Teaching project, her leadership role in Mechanical Engineering, or indeed her indefatigable energy for other projects and innovations. It was great to get her experience of developing an institutional project, especially one that's been so successful in engaging students, and to learn more about what's worked for her in terms of developing and sharing best practice. The main message I took away from the meeting was about the centrality of students, keeping them as the focus of developmental process and end product, and this led to several specific points to take forward.

If we are specifying skills that students should be developing, then we should simultaneously be providing tools for academic and support colleagues to facilitate this development. It's always been imagined that TASH will have a tutor-facing angle, and that this to some extent might overlap with the Case Studies project and other institutional developments. However, talking things through with Elena made it clear just how generous this overlap is, and how many of the institutional projects - ILT, Internationalisation, Graduate Professionalism, to name only the big hitters -are trying to achieve similar things. As Elena put it, we're all trying to improve the student experience, and it would be more effective both for those project teams, and for students, if we were pulling together in some areas. So we're now prioritising the exploration of links with other projects, and trying to identify areas where we might work most effectively together.

Another aspect to this is something I've banged on about before, namely getting a student focus group together at this early stage of the design process. We're now one step closer to making this happen, through another of today's meetings with Tash Semmens. Through the exciting work she does on Understanding Law, she has a team of student tutors, Level Two or Three students who lead tutorials with Level One students; this group have shown great enthusiasm for involvement in module design and consultation processes, and might well be up for sharing what they wish they'd known at the start of Level One. This cohort, plus the Medical and Dental students we've already talked to, and the CILASS student ambassador network (especially given the quality of their new webpages) would form a neat focus group, which we could run before the start of the next session. Today's meeting with Elena, given her success in getting over a hundred students involved in the Inclusive Learning and Teaching project, was instrumental in raising this as a priority; so our thanks to her for this and everything else.

1 comment:

Steve Wise said...

Involving students at an early stage is a really good idea - I've involved our CILASS student ambassadors in our CILASS project and their input has been very helpful - so using the CILASS student ambassador network is a really good idea