Reflective Blog Part 3 ( widening participation)


interesting how coincidences happen !! I have recently had a bit of a hard time from management on why my module ( along with many other modules) have high non submission rates, currently 25% for a cohort of 270 students. Even the external examiner made the comment that the majority of non submissions were due to repeating students. I had these terrible statistics hurled at me as if I was a rogue lecturer, one member of staff commented that I should have redesigned the assignment so that they did not run away. However technology is truly wonderful and I have religiously kept on-line registers and can monitor engagement via Vista. I can clearly see that they have not even seen the assignment never mind read it !! So whats going on ?

I know that I have been asked by students to give them more conventional seminars during laboratory time in the PC labs instead of point them to the multitude of learning objects I have created using Camtasia ( I sweated blood over those !!). I spent a great deal of time putting together the WebCT Vista VLE with all the information required in a structured format with Learning objects to support my lectures, yet all they want is someone to talk to !! ie Synchronous communication.

I know that some students don’t attend because they have work commitments and because they have so much information on Vista, do these able students need to come in ? Why can’t they stop at home and use their own personal machine and come in if they need help ?

 I know that managemnt now review modules as well as courses, they have already axed a number of poorly performing awards, it looks like the poorly performing modules are next. I just wish they would look at the story behind the statistics. I know our University is very aware of any poor performance and makes sure we maintain standards. We have had a number of QAA reviews that have been very favourable so we must be doing something right. I just hope that the changing face of HE takes note of widening access and the pressure on staff to perform.

 The comments in last weeks Telegraph made thoughtful reading.

 Uk HE retention no better than 2002 even though £1billion had been pumped into supporting students from poorer backgrounds.

So can technology reach out and help these students who don’t want to come in and submit ? I am not sure, its all about committment, maybe the assessment design could be on-line for the first week ie a skills audit and use this as a basis for generating an initial mark to determine which students are engaging and which ones are not. Immediate action could then be taken to chase up and help these students.

I have enjoyed our on-line seminars on WP and there is much useful discussion that can point to the right direction.




One Response to “Reflective Blog Part 3 ( widening participation)”

  1. Christina Says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for inviting me to comment on your blog. I’ve enjoyed your thoughtful contributions in which you reflect on a number of relevant concerns in your own teaching drawing in some of the conversation and readings we’ve had in our module as well.

    You have also made links between the instructional design of our module and how this might apply to your own approach and which you intend to implement. In future posts you might want to analyse more critically the observations you are making/ the experiences you are having just now. This would supplement the largely reflective nature of your blog to date well. For example there are some points you make about technology in your own teaching that are worth exploring. The Camtasia tours you have created that students don’t seem to be engaging with is a good example of the affordances of narrated screencasts that aren’t being realised-why? Or why and where do you expect audio to improve your module? How has the WP debate affected you in your thinking around the quality assurance activities currently carried out at your uni or about the poor submission rate? The assignment you report that hasn’t been submitted-might it be worth describing and reviewing it’s relevance? Etc.

    In other words the blog is an area for reflection which you can now follow up with posts in which you take a more critical/analytical stand as well and where links between the readings/discussions/module activities/podcasts are made more apparent to your thoughts/own teaching practice/institutional changes. You are well on your way, however, as everything you describe in your own special reality can be linked to some aspect of the issues covered in the first 6 weeks of the module which will either underpin what you are experiencing, inform what you plan to do, or stand out in stark contrast! But that’s ok as long as it takes your own thinking further.

    Let me know if you have any questions at all aound the assignment.

    Cheers and Happy Easter!


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