The report from the LLAS Subject Centre National Student Survey project last academic year is now online. In the project we focused in on eight of the 22 questions. Whilst many of the questions were found to be problematic, this one was especially difficult to unpack.
Question 19: The course has helped me to present myself with confidence.
From the report
When answering this question, many students initially thought about giving oral presentations. It was also linked to employability and interviewing skills, but the question of whether this was about personal confidence or academic confidence was unclear. And where students reported an increase in confidence, was this down to the skills their course had given them, their year abroad, their work placements, or was it just part of being four years older?
One member of staff observed that the NSS is carried out at a time where students are at their most anxious, perhaps looking for work, perhaps worried about the future. In languages it was suggested that this question might be thought about in the context of L2 competence or confidence in dealing with people from other cultures. ―It’s a bit of a weird question said one student. ―It really wants you to say “yes”, because if you say “no”, you‘re saying something bad about yourself.
Some further thoughts here. Some a little pedantic maybe, but that’s what happens when you start to unpack the question with students and lecturers.
|What this question might mean
Doing oral presentations
Feeling confident in person
Able to express opinions without fear.
Able to challenge the opinions of others.
Students can stand up for themselves
Students are confident they will get a good job.
|Students were unable to present themselves with confidence at the beginning the course.
Confidence comes from going the course.
Presenting oneself with confidence is a good thing (some students might benefit from being less confident)
A course which does not help students present themselves with confidence is not a good course.
The student who answers this question in negative might have been better off doing a different course or studying at a different place.
|Confidence might come from sources other than the course e.g. student societies, increased age, work experience, time spent abroad
Does a negative answer to this question suggest that the course was in any way inadequate?
Some evidence of students thinking about L2 language confidence, but this question was for students of all disciplines.
Students who answer this in the negative are saying something bad about themselves.
Student anxiety or lack of confidence indicates poor teaching or course design.
Delivery: The action of handing over, or conveying into the hands of another; esp. the action of a carrier in delivering letters or goods entrusted to him for conveyance to a person at a distance (OED).
I know that I am not alone in my dislike of the word ‘Delivery’ in an educational development context. Delivery requires no knowledge of what is being delivered on the part of the deliverer. As a schoolboy I had a part-time job delivering newspapers. I would go down to local newsagents, he would give me the newspapers and a list and I would deliver the right newspaper the to right house. There were some basic skills or course -- I needed to know how to read the list, know where I was going and have the ability to ride my bike around my route. However, I required no knowledge of the media industry or the events being written about in the newsletter. At no point was I asked my for my opinion on world events. My job was to carry a physical object (a newspaper) from one geographical location (newsagent) to another (the customer's house).
I refuse to therefore to suggest that I deliver ‘training’, ‘development’, ‘a/ the curriculum’, CPD, courses etc. To deliver means to hand over a product from one party to another – a teacher/ lecturer/ educational developer needs to understand the content, be able to answer questions about the content and know the content well.
Our first event of the ‘new LLAS’, Thriving in the New World of Higher Education: a workshop for heads of department and leaders in languages, linguistics and area studies took place yesterday. We had an overview on the state of Modern Languages in the UK from Jim Coleman (Open University and Chair of UCML) and Pam Moores talked about the resources developed as part of Shaping the Future, a project set up in response to Michael Worton’s report into Modern Languages in English universities. Our Director Mike Kelly had some good tips on managing relationships with senior managers in the university, and on the importance of understanding your university’s mission and making sure you know who you should go to for what.
My own contribution was in the form of role-play exercise in which participants ‘played’ a Head of Languages meeting her/his Dean to discuss either a faculty reorganisation or a curriculum change programme. I enjoy role-play as a way of learning, but I realise that not everyone does. However, it seemed that most people enjoyed the exercise and benefitted putting themselves in the position of another person. Some of our HoD’s are very good actors it seems.
As the author of the role-play scenarios, it was interesting to observe the numerous directions in which a situation can play out. The briefs for each role included a section entitled ‘What is on your mind’. It was interesting to see the ways in which people used or did not use this information to their advantage (some of the items were put in as deliberate distractions, e.g. your feelings about other people). I will write more about using role-play in this context at a later date.
For me the key lesson from this event is on the importance of working relationships. In these uncertain times for higher education, how we manage our relationships is more important than ever.
Over my summer break I pondered upon how much learning I have done online. I’m not talking about learning relevant to my job (but I have learnt a lot online which has helped me in my job), but about learning not directly related to my job. The fixed wheel bicycle conversion I posted about a couple of days ago was possible through what I had learnt online. I bought most of the parts online. I read fixed wheel websites and forums to find out what I needed to do. Whenever I had questions or difficulties I found that other people had had these same experiences and had posted about them. I doubt that I could have achieved this in the pre-internet era. Moreover it was Sheldon Brown’s website that first got me interested in the idea of riding fixed in the first place.
I also look online when it comes to home DIY projects. I wanted to know how long I should wait before applying paint to the new plaster in my hallway. My plasterer said a few days. Online the answers varied from a few hours to about six months. And then there was the question of preparing the wall prior to painting. My plasterer said to use a cheap white emulsion with about 10% water. Online some said you could use 50% water. Others said to use PVA. The emulsion people angrily responded that this is the last thing you should do. It’s unsurprising that there are differing opinions out there, but the passion with which opinions of how to prepare a newly plastered wall are held astonishes me. For the record I went to my plaster’s advice and it seems to have turned out ok. This case is different to the fixed wheel conversion in that in the pre-internet era I would have just done as the plasterer said the first place. Online learning offers the access to doubt as much as it offers the possibility of answers.
I know far more about computers than I ever planned to. But thanks to the internet I’ve been able to fix computer problems. I’ve even opened up the case to upgrade the memory. Similarly, when I couldn’t get the iplayer to work on my freesat dish, I spent much time looking online. Sometimes I don’t always find a solution to my problems, but to know that there were people out there with the same problems is some comfort.
- Makes me want to do things I didn’t even know about.
- Makes me want to check what I have learnt ‘face-to-face’.
- Offers a second or third opinion.
- Answers my questions successfully.
- Offers good advice.
- Offers bad advice.
- Helps me to doubt expert opinion.
- Gets me to buy stuff I need
- Gets me to buy stuff I might need
- Gets me to buy stuff I don’t need.
Last year I sought parts for my 1989 Dawes Horizon. No ‘off the peg’ rear wheel will fit into my 126mm drop-outs, at least not one which can take a 6-speed block and I quickly realised, after seeking advice, that bringing this bike back into action as a touring bike was likely to cost a lot of money (new rear wheel, plus cassette, plus new gear levers—I can’t believe how much gear levers cost!). It wouldn't cost much more to buy an entry level touring bike. But the Reynolds frame is in good condition so I wanted to do something with it.
Over the past year I’ve been doing all my cycling on my Giant hybrid, a bike I got in order to ‘do everything’. However, I increasing became curious about the possibility of converting my Horizon to a fixed wheel, thanks to the late Sheldon Brown The Giant has 27 gears, but I only use about six of them in Southampton. I finally decided to go for it over my summer break.
I only finished it a few days ago, but I’m hooked already. I bought a wheel with a flip-flop hub (fixed one side, free the other) a new bottom bracket, some bottom bracket spacers, anew chain and a new chainset. Not the cheapest way to covert a bike to a ‘fixie’, but one within my abilities (I was particularly not keen on redishing wheels). I have removed the pannier rack and mudguards (this is a big step for me).
To cut a long story short I love it so far. I have a bike which seems to weigh about half that of my hybrid and I am able to go so much faster. It is exhilarating not being able to freewheel. It was 'interesting' going over speedbumps whilst continuing to pedal, but I'm getting the hang of it. I regret that I rode in on my hybrid this morning—it feels so slow.
Back into the office after a three week(!) break. Just going through the email. Spotted the following on the SEDA list and through them worth a mention. Useful for new and experienced academic staff alike.
1. Preparing to teach An introduction to effective teaching in higher education by Graham Gibbs and Trevor Habeshaw now online.
2. Also, a useful bibliography from Mick Healey on
The following bibliographies have been regularly updated since 2005:
1 Active learning and learning styles: a selected bibliography Active learning and learning styles bibliography
2 Discipline based approaches to supporting learning and teaching: a selected bibliographyDiscipline-based approaches Bibliography
3 Linking research and teaching: a selected bibliography Linking Research and Teaching Bibliography
4 Pedagogic research and development: a selected bibliography Selected references on pedagogic research
5 The scholarship of teaching and learning: a selected bibliography SoTL Bibliography
6 The scholarship of engagement: a selected bibliography The Scholarship of Engagement – a selected bibliography
7 Dissertations and capstone projects: a selected bibliography Dissertations and Capstone Projects Bibliography