Saturday, 2 August 2008

Seeing double: when TASH met Tash (Semmens, that is)

The third of four very successful meetings yesterday was a "working lunch" with Tash Semmens from Law. It was a little galling, on Yorkshire Day, to find the University Arms all sold out of Yorkshire puddings by 1pm, but your correspondent allowed himself a bitter shandy to celebrate instead (strictly in the interests of modelling real world Friday-lunchtime graduate professionalism, you understand).

Like Chetna and Elena beforehand, it was really encouraging to find Tash also full of enthusiam for the project, and offering a series of perspectives and suggestions which clearly complemented those previously put forward by Zoe Ollerenshaw, some of which were previously blogged here. In this earlier posting, we've already flagged up the valuable insights Law can offer in relation to scale, international taught PG students and graduate professionalism (through the LPC) amongst other things. In addition, Tash points up the distinctive aspects that the department's BA in Social Policy and Criminology (shared with Sociological Studies) brings to the mix, and the broader range of social science research skills which these UG students are encouraged to develop alongside the common focus upon problem-solving and analytical skills which they encounter in the law modules which they take. One area in which this manifests itself is the analysis of crime statistics - both quantitative measures of reported crime and more qualitative measures of perceived exposure to crime - and plans are afoot to twist Tash's arm just enough to help us develop a little exercise for the hub looking at some of the issues involved in relation to Sheffield post-code areas, for example, and which can be used as one way of getting students to think about visiting the MASH and other resources if the process of translating figures into words and arguments, and back again, is an uncomfortable one for them ... I'm pleased to report she seems very willing at present.

Other more concrete outcomes from yesterday:
  • Tash is keen to explore the possibilities of embedding aspects of the TASH resource within the core first year UG module Understanding Law 1, which has already benefitted from close collaboration with the Library and their Information Skills Tutorials, and we will be very happy to keep this dialogue open;
  • As reported by Tim below, Tash will be contacting second and third year UG mentors who may be willing to help us with a student focus group, tentatively timetabled for Friday 5th September; we hope to haul along some Medics, Dentists and SAN reps too - if you know of any students at a loose end in early September who may have a view on what TASH should contain, please do let us know or encourage them to get in touch;
  • Tash is also looking to conduct a small piece of research as part of her CILASS academic fellowship looking at (something like) student perceptions of self and their developing status as learners/professionals, which may very well tally with our academic literacy and personal/inter-personal skills categories (and indeed ideas around self-efficacy too, perhaps?) - the idea is likely to involve holding a series of student focus groups which TASH may be able to help facilitate/learn from.
Finally, it is worth noting perhaps that, not for the first time, discussions also touched upon the possibilities of TASH becoming a useful vehicle for embedding elements of skills enhancement exercises into (newly revamped?) PDP strategies - another way in which TASH can serve in time to assist academic colleagues' efforts to support student's individual academic and personal development; and something else to add to the list of cross-institutional initiatives to bring to a project cross-pollination and resourse sharing/pooling meeting?

1 comment:

Willy Kitchen said...

By way of clarification/addition, Tash herself notes that Law in fact offer "... two degree programmes with Criminology - the BA SocPol/Crim and the LLB Law/Crim.

The Soc Pol students do a lot of the sociology stuff in the Soc dept as you say, and we give them the crim. They do not do any law at all.

The LLB Law/crim students get extensive social science skills 'in house' (quant and qual research skills, theory, stats etc etc) - we don't use the sociology dept for this - as well as the standard legal skills (it is a QLD).

Also worth noting, a large number of our 'straight' LLB students take crim modules as part of their third year options. In order to do most of them, they have to take the 'foundation' crim skills mods as a pre-requisite.

So, we really are in the business of teaching multiple skills sets to all (not just lawyering skills to the majority)."