Take5 #10: What makes an excellent lecturer or teacher?

Sebastian Boo, a former LondonMet student, shares his current LSE-based research into student views of excellent teachers. Yes – they mention clarity, voice, passion and performance… BUT there is also great emphasis on CARE and KINDNESS… Have a read.

Students’ views of excellent teachers
Who were your best teachers or professors? I remember my primary school teacher, Mr Johnson, for his captivating storytelling, my secondary school biology teacher, Dr Higby, for his knowledge and enthusiasm; and my physiology professor John Stevens’ ready wit and humour.

Research indicates that teaching quality is the single most significant factor in determining student achievement (Mincu 2015; Biggs 2011; Looney 2011 & Goe 2007). Helping teachers excel is therefore important.

There is no shortage of advice educators can turn to for tips on how to develop and hone their craft. Nonetheless, most teachers do not achieve excellence. According to a survey of 219 university students at three London universities the proportion of their teachers who were perceived as ‘excellent’ was, on average, a mere eight per cent. However, the students felt that the vast majority of their teachers were ‘good’. The 2015 UK National Student Survey indicates that 86% of UK students are satisfied with the quality of teaching in their university. It would be great if all that satisfactory or good teaching could be transformed into excellent teaching!

The LSE Study
In order to find out what distinguishes the very best teachers from the merely good, 110 students at the London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE were interviewed and asked two questions:
If you do have, or have had, an excellent professor/lecturer/teacher please describe what makes him or her an excellent professor/ lecturer/teacher? and What advice would you give to professors/ lecturers/teachers who want to be rated as excellent by students?

The students interviewed were all registered with the LSE Neurodiversity Service. Neurodiversity is an umbrella term for conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and attention deficit disorder. The term is used to emphasise that whilst neurodiverse students may process information and learn in different ways to neurotypical students, these differences should not be construed as deficiencies in academic potential and intellectual ability.

Due to the typical challenges neurodiverse students face, such as keeping up with note-taking in lectures because of slow handwriting speed and sustaining prolonged concentration, they are likely to be particularly responsive to teaching quality and highly aware of what in their view constitutes excellent teaching.

The transcripts of students’ responses were analysed for themes by two qualitative researchers working independently. Initially 81 themes were identified. These were condensed into a list of 35 main themes and subsequently reduced to list of ten core themes, which were finally distilled into three meta-themes.

The themes
Clarity was the first meta-theme, which was subdivided into four domains:
First – a clear structure to lectures, including simple-to-follow slides and handouts, as well as signposting throughout the lecture.
Second – easy-to-understand examples and explanations. One interviewee stated:
He did not use complicated language. He took us through the topic in a step-by-step way. He used a lot of simplified examples. If we did not understand one way, he would explain it in another way…
Third – the questioning and challenging of students in order to check their comprehension. Fourth – vocal clarity.
There is nothing particularly unexpected in these answers which, in aggregate, represented 48% of all the themes that appeared in the transcripts.

Care and Kindness
Care and kindness was the second meta-theme, representing 30% of all the themes in the interview data. This is a little more surprising. One can understand university students valuing clarity in their teachers, and one might assume students would also welcome expertise, enthusiasm, energy and humour; but care and kindness, although less obvious, are valued greatly.
Students described excellent professors and teachers as people who displayed three attributes:

First – interest. They understood students’ concerns and were genuinely interested in, and ambitious for, them.

Second – respect. They treated students as equals and created an environment in which it felt safe to take intellectual and emotional risks. One study participant said:
Being treated as an adult and as an equal was important. You felt like you were on his level. He did not make you feel put down for not knowing stuff.

Third – time. The final attribute in the care and kindness meta-theme was time. Students felt that excellent teachers made time for taking questions during class, without students feeling rushed; as well as being available after class for questions.

Passion and Performance!!
Performance, the third meta-theme, represented 22% of the themes identified in the interview transcripts. This encompassed the teachers demonstrating energy, enthusiasm and passion, using humour and story- telling, and being authentic. Students used descriptions such as:
the excellent teachers I have had have got a passion for their subject and this is really clear in their teaching because they are enthusiastic when they talk to you and explain things. And so often as well you can see their personality really coming through. They are really alive.

In Conclusion
These findings suggest a model of excellent teaching in which the performance aspect of teaching initiates emotional engagement from students, who engage both with the teacher and the subject matter of the class. The clarity aspect promotes students’ intellectual engagement with the learning material. Finally the kindness and care aspect promotes sustained emotional engagement with the teacher and course over the longer term.

The research has prompted two future projects. The first will investigate whether there is a difference between neurodiverse and neurotypical students in their views of excellent teaching. The second will assess whether a short course designed to help teachers enhance the clarity, performance and care aspects of their teaching has an impact on how their students rate those teachers.

References

Biggs, J.B., (2011). Teaching for Quality Learning at University: What the Student Does. London: McGraw-Hill Education

Goe, L., (2007). The Link between Teacher Quality and Student Outcomes: A Research Synthesis. National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality. Available at http://www.gtlcenter.org/sites/default/files/docs/LinkBetweenTQandStudentOutcomes.pdf (accessed 22nd October 2015)

Looney, J., (2011). Developing High-Quality Teachers: Teacher Evaluation for Improvement. European Journal of Education 46, 440–455.

Mincu, M.E., (2015). Teacher Quality and School Improvement: What Is the Role of Research? Oxford Review of Education 41, 253–269.

Pollak, D., (2009). Neurodiversity in Higher Education: Positive Responses to Specific Learning Differences. London: John Wiley & Sons.

Take5 #9: It’s Autumn 2015/16 – and we’re getting creative with Chrissie Nerantzi

Welcome back to Take5 – the user-friendly staff development blog from CELT at London Metropolitan University.

This autumn we are launching Take5 by joining in with Chrissi Nerantzi’s open course: Creativity for Learning in HE. Like everybody else we are much too busy … BUT if we don’t make time for some creativity – then what’s it all about anyway? So – we are sharing this invitation with you and hope that you too will make the time – take the leap – and join us… Come on in… the water’s lovely!!

Tips:

  • If you are from LondonMet and would like to join in a real life group to focus on this course – do email s.sinfield@londonmet.ac.uk and let us know that you are interested.
  • Why not blog about your engagement with Take5 and with #creativeHE:
    • Blog posts need only be 300-500 words long – be swift and reflective.
    • Your audience will be other staff, just like you – so write your posts for them: why will they be interested in what you have done or learned? What will you want them to think or do after reading your blog post?
    • Blogs are less formal than essays or articles – find a writing style that works in a blog.
    • Add pictures (photographs or drawings) to make your blog more user-friendly and readable.
    • Read other blogs – each time you read someone else’s blog – ‘like’ it – leave a Comment. The point with the blogs is to create a friendly dialogue about what we are doing.

NOW – Here’s Chrissi’s invitation:

“Dear colleagues,

The Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom will be offering the open course Creativity for Learning in Higher Education. I’d like to invite individual colleagues from across the HE sector and groups of colleagues from the same institution and their tutors to join this course as part of their CPD given them the opportunity to spice up their teaching.

We will explore the following themes:

    • Conceptualising creativity in higher education
    • Enablers and barriers of creativity in higher education
    • Learning through play, games, models and stories
    • The role of curiosity and other intrinsic motivations for engagement
    • Developing creative methods and practices
    • Evaluating a pedagogical innovation.

This course will be used as a case study for my PhD research in open cross-institutional academic development, with a focus on collaborative learning and I would like to invite learners to participate in this study.

The open course site for Creativity for Learning in HE can be accessed at:

https://courses.p2pu.org/en/courses/2615/creativity-for-learning-in-higher-education/

The facilitated online part of the course will be offered over 8 weeks starting on the 28th of September 15 until the 20th of November. Participation is flexible and can be fully tailored to personal and professional circumstances and time available. Collaborative learning opportunities will be there as an option for those who wish to learn with others.

I hope this sounds interesting and useful for you and colleagues. Please share this invite with others who might also be interested …

To get started access:

https://courses.p2pu.org/en/courses/2615/content/5638/

Connect with other learners in our online community at:

https://plus.google.com/communities/110898703741307769041

Really looking forward to seeing you there.

Please note, ethical approval for this study has been granted by Edinburgh Napier University and further details about the project will be shared with group/course/module/programme leaders who are considering joining us with a group of colleagues.

Thank you for considering this. Best wishes,

Chrissi (Nerantzi) from CELT, MMU”

Take5: Blog#8: Digital Storytelling

The digital age is predicated on the notion of student as producer (of knowledge) – as opposed to earlier education ages that appeared to position the student (only) as a consumer of knowledge. If helping your students to become digitally capable and proficient, why don’t you set students the challenge of making digital artefacts and/or telling digital stories? Here are some strategies for developing Digital Storytelling that we have used.

SEE: http://edtechteacher.org/tools/multimedia/digital-storytelling/ – for school examples to inspire and resource your own practice.

Join #ds106 and sign up to the teaching blog roll
DS106 – or digital storytelling 106 – started as a MOOC, massive open online course, which created an international community of practice of educationalists interested in developing their and their students’ digital capacities in engaging and dynamic ways. The tutors have curated the website and its tasks and resources so that it continues to act as a meeting point for digitally developing edu-cationalists. #DS106 has Quickstart Guides, Assignments, Handbooks and Daily Create challenges – and you can use them yourselves or require your students to use the resources to become more active and powerful in digital media. Tip: Sign your class up to #ds106 and enrol their blogs on the blog roll: http://ds106.us/teaching-ds106/

Design engaging assessments: Digital Artefacts
For certain assignments or parts of assignments, rather than writing an essay or report; require students to produce a digital artefact that sums up their learning – or to produce a teaching and learning resource that would convey learning about the key issues on the course. To assist with this we have built the AniMet Challenge: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/animation/ – please use it if you feel it would be useful.

Resources from our PLN
One way that we inspired our students to get digital was to show them the follow-ing digital artefacts – and then ask them to ‘Develop a Digital Me’. That is, we asked them to set their own short digital project where they used an artefact to tell a story about themselves or about studying. The final activity on the Project was that they had to design a Poster for an Exhibition that would showcase their learning.

Join in: Make an Artefact
Before you ask this of your students, why don’t you explore the following arte-facts. Choose one – and create a short ‘story’ about any aspect of learning, teaching or assessment that particularly intrigues or engages you. Post the link to your artefact in your blog – and add the link to the Comments part of this one!!
 Terry Elliot’s Zeega: http://zeega.com/162387
 #ccourses collaborative poem: https://titanpad.com/sXgaTJMniP
 Alan Levine’s (cogdog) You Show project: http://cogdogblog.com/2014/12/15/you-show-show-notes/
 Angela’s thinglink: http://www.thinglink.com/scene/360982057624535042#tlsite
 Fran Monaghan’s VoiceThread – beautiful, gentle and a sort of low-tech, high-tech: http://voicethread.com/?#q.b4186028.i21377601
 And Ess Garland’s timeline – and now for something completely different!
http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/101035/Edmooc-Digital-Artifact/#vars!date=2013-02-28_06:07:26!
 Theo Kuechel’s PinBoard – if an ‘essay’ is a form of curation about the learning on a course –this is a very different form of curation:
https://pinterest.com/theok2/education-and-digital-culture/
 David Hopkins’ Prezi – brilliant images – excellently chosen clips! http://prezi.com/e9y6ipsovanb/digital-artefact-edcmooc/
 And his whole blog on the topic: http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/elearning/digital-artefact-for-edcmooc-wk-5/
 And from #edcmooc 3: https://storybird.com/books/what-may-be/

LOOK HERE
This is what our students produced when teaching themselves technology with the tools of their choice: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/posters-digital/ .
Have a look – explore the Posters and artefacts.
WE WERE VERY PROUD OF THEM!

Resources for the Future
Alan Levine is one of the leading lights of #ds106 and has curated these didacti-cal tools for developing our practice and our competences:
http://50ways.wikispaces.com/
And here is Alan Levine’s older iteration of that site: http://cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/StoryTools

Take5 – Post7: It’s March – coming in like a lion: designing new assessments and classes!

What do you do when designing a new course or developing a new assessment or assignment?
How do you check that you are working with your own education philosophy rather than against it?
How do you prevent yourself from trotting down the same old path, not challenging either yourself or your students?
How do you offer students assessment choice?
As Howard Rheingold said on #ccourses (http://connectedcourses.net/) – if we aren’t falling off – then we’re not dancing on the edge! So, for this post I am mostly re-posting a blog from Jesse Stommel – on Twelve Steps for Creating a Digital Assignment – or a Hybrid Class. The whole post can be found here: http://www.jessestommel.com/blog/files/12-step-digital-assignment-hybrid-class.html – and it is well worth going straight to Jesse’s post itself – where you will find a useful PPT illuminating all the issues – and a video discussion on this topic – which is a whole 54 minutes long!

In the meantime, here’s what Jesse says:
Digital Pedagogy is a recursive process, a constant interplay between building and analyzing what we’ve built – between teaching and meta-level reflection on our own process. While step number 6 below explicitly suggests bringing students into the process, I would advocate bringing students into the conversation as early as possible, even from the outset – helping to build the syllabus, outline the objectives of the course, design activities and assessments, etc. I always start my planning for the semester or quarter at the end of the previous one by asking current students to help reconsider and redesign the course for the next term.
Questions I ask myself when creating a digital assignment or hybrid course:
1. What is my primary goal for students with this course / assignment?
2. What is my digital pedagogy? How does my goal for this assignment intersect with my broader teaching philosophy?
3. What tools that I already use (analog or digital) could help me achieve these goals? (It is often best to use the tools with which we are already familiar, rather than turning to the shiny and newfangled.)
4. In order for this activity / class to work, what gaps do I need to fill with other tools / strategies?
5. Is my idea simple enough? What can I do to streamline the activity?
6. What is my goal beyond this assignment / course? How will the activity (and my pedagogy) evolve? (In other words, don’t feel like you have to meet all your goals during the first attempt — think of the process, from the start, as iterative). Think also about how you can bring students (their feedback and the fruits of their work during the first iteration) into the continuing evolution of the activity / course.
7. Go back to step 1 and work through these steps (and likely several times).
________________________________________

The next steps are pointedly “below the fold” and outside the first recursive loop, because assessment should never drive our pedagogies. Rather, good assessment is driven by good pedagogy. Thus, I continue by asking myself:
8. Does this activity need to be assessed? Or does the activity have intrinsic value? We should never assess merely for the sake of assessing. As I’ve said before, teachers often grade in many more situations than grading is actually required, but we should avoid with a gusto any impulse that turns students into mere columns in a spreadsheet.
9. Is there a way to build the assessment into the assignment? For example, can I have students reflecting on their process inside the activity itself? Can my assessment arise organically from within, and as part of, the learning activity?
10. What additional assessment strategies should I use? (These might include peer-assessment, self-assessment, narrative feedback, peer review, points, a rubric, letter grade, or some combination.) External summative assessment should be a last resort, a necessary evil (in some cases). I firmly believe the goal of education should always be better learning and not better assessments.
11. What is my goal in assessing student work?
12. Go back to step 8.

Take5_Post6: Are you frustrated with education only for employment?

In our last post we suggested that you had a look at Hybrid Pedagogy’s #moocmooc on Critical Pedagogy. This week they are discussing the limitations of an education system totally geared to employment – and ask whether it is possible to create educational alternatives. This is what they say:
MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy is a six-week exploration of critical pedagogy. During this fourth week of MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy (MMCP), we will be discussing Jeffery Shantz’s essay, “Spaces of Learning: The Anarchist Free Skool” (chapter 7) in Anarchist Pedagogies and considering the impulse to dissent as seen in Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience.” Feel free to read as much or as little of these selections as you are able. We promise there will be no reading quizzes.
Schedule of Events:
• Wednesday, February 11 at 5:00 pm EST – #MOOCMOOC Twitter chat
• Friday, February 13 at 8:00 pm EST – live, digital roundtable featuring the author of this week’s reading, Jeff Shantz.
• Ongoing – Participant blog posts, casual conversation, and questions shared on the community hashtag #moocmooc.
________________________________________

Critical pedagogy asserts that learning is an act of freedom, the practice of becoming free. And, yet, the education system, of which we are all products (and which many of us continue to participate in), is a highly regulated and structured environment. Students, teachers, support staff, and administrators all lack the personal autonomy they deserve and are therefore often limited in their actions. Anarchist educators, working both within and beyond the formal education system, resist these limitations, seeking to maximize personal freedom and autonomy.
This is no easy task.
The current shift in education toward an emphasis on job training and employable skills interferes with the practice of critical analysis. It perpetuates the myth of an American meritocracy based off formal credentials. Young people are told that a college degree, not critical faculties and autonomy, is the key to success; and this “success” is defined in terms of capital, the value one’s life contributes to GDP. Popular discourse and reform efforts dismiss the effects of race, class, and gender on one’s future prospects. Without the crucial space to practice critical analysis, many students are left without the skills necessary to challenge and disrupt the oppressive reality. Free Skools and other counter-cultural institutions that engage in anarchist practices often try to reskill participants in these often forgotten areas of study.
While contemporary schools prepare students to productively contribute to the current social structure, anarchist learning promotes critical engagement with society. The former builds social stability while the latter encourages dissent, critique coupled with direct action. Many anarchists contend that to comply with a broken system — one founded largely on race, class, and gender disparity — is to strengthen it. We must act in defiance to the systems which oppress us, and in doing so, establish radically different ways of structuring (or unstructuring) society.
This is possible through anarchist educational practices. According to cultural critic and radical educatorJeffery Shantz, anarchist pedagogies work toward building “infrastructures of resistance” where participants may “learn and practice skills which are undeveloped in authoritarian social relations” (125). An anarchist pedagogy, then, “aims toward developing and encouraging new forms of socialization, social interaction, and the sharing of ideas in ways that might initiate and sustain non-authoritarian practices and ways of relating” (126).
Social structures embody a particular sort of character or ethos that emphasize and reinforce certain beliefs and behaviors. Chain charter schools are in the habit of directly announcing these core beliefs. Other schools may promote certain characteristic more subtly, or even unconsciously. Regardless of the type of education, however, contemporary American schools regularly reflect and encourage the values strengthening global capitalism by reinforcing beliefs and behaviors that would benefit an individual participating in this economic superstructure.
But the primary aim of education, especially an anarchist education, isn’t economic.
The values learned in schools shape our social behaviors. Thus education holds a deeply civic purpose. Education teaches us how to act. Yet, today, many graduate feeling a lack of agency, an object to be traded on the global marketplace. And this feeling is anything but new.
Henry David Thoreau critiqued American’s passivity and compliance in his 1849 essay “Civil Disobedience,” suggesting that “those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform.” And when the government proved itself to be an unjust machine, as Thoreau often believed, he encouraged citizens to “let [their lives] be a counter-friction to stop the machine.”
Anarchist pedagogies promote the critical skills necessary to be that counter-friction.
So let us come together and discuss how to build alternative education structures, both within and beyond traditional learning spaces, that challenge and subvert the dominant education paradigm here-and-now. Let us discuss education as a site of resistance, a space of unlearning and reskilling. On Wednesday, February 11 at 5:00 pm EST, students, teachers, parents, activists, and concerned citizens are encouraged to participant in a #moocmooc chat on how to shift educational values towards social justice. Check outworldtimebuddy.com to see when to join us in your time zone. In this conversation, we will consider questions such as:
• What are the aims of education? Ideally? In reality? Now, speaking from your position and experience within and beyond the education system, what is your role in defining these aims? What social structures and institutional systems limit our ability achieve these aims?
• How would you describe the character or ethos of your school or institution? What values do they promote and how does the institution describe these values? What does the institutional narrative hide?
• In your local community, where would you go to learn skills not taught by formal education institutions? If you have participated at these countersites, consider your experience learning in this alternative environment. Was it effective? What worked, and what didn’t? Thinking beyond what you’ve experience: what do you imagine these infrastructures of resistance could look like?
• How can you act as a counter-friction to oppression structures? In what ways can you meaningfully dissent, defy, and resist harmful educative forces? Where are there opportunities to build countersites in learning? What are the risks of doing so?
Secondly, a live, digital roundtable using Google Hangouts on Air featuring the author of this week’sAnarchist Pedagogies chapter, Jeff Shantz, will occur on Friday, February 13 at 8:00 pm EST. Joining Jeff in this conversation about countersites in learning will be three educators dedicated to idea that education is a means of social justice. While all four speakers share a commitment to the values described in this article, each participant works within a different educational context.
If you cannot join us for our synchronous chat or viewing the roundtable live, feel free to post your thoughts throughout the week on the #MOOCMOOC hashtag or in the comments below. The video will be archived for future viewing. We’ll also be curating highlights from the community’s blog responses on the MOOC MOOC: Critical Pedagogy homepage, where you can also find the schedule for the rest of the MOOC.
Their post can be accessed here: http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/announcements/mmcp-countersites-learning-constructing-anarchist-educational-alternatives/
AND – there are online discussions Wednesday and Friday in which to participate.

Take5 #5: on critical pedagogy, MOOCMOOC & 19/01/15

In UKHE a significant aspect of the work of central Educational and Learning Developers is to help university staff develop their pedagogy and their curriculum practice. We work with staff to help them become educationalists – to teach and assess more effectively – and to develop their practice to tackle emerging changes in society, in educational policy – and in the aptitudes and attitudes that they encounter in the students before them.

Our work involves change: in our practices – of our resources – to our ways of thinking about teaching and learning. Change can provoke disquiet, unease and even resistance. Comfortable with the role as subject expert or academic researcher; the role of teacher or facilitator of learning can leave us exposed, vulnerable and in dangerous academic space. Becoming a ‘teacher’ rather than a lecturer moves us from positions of power to positions of danger and risk. Embracing our agency with respect to the successful university experiences of our students can leave us exposed to criticism from management and students alike – no more evident than in the constant big stick of NSS!

So – if you want to think about your practice in an exciting and stimulating online collegiate course – why don’t you think about joining Hybrid Pedagogies MOOCMOOC on Critical Pedagogy? Check out their curriculum and sign up for the MOOCMOOC from here:
http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/mooc-mooc-critical-pedagogy/

Texts that will be covered and that you can discuss with other online participants include:
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, chapter 2
Emily Dickinson, “From all the Jails the Boys and Girls”
bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress, chapter 1
Henry Giroux, On Critical Pedagogy
Anarchist Pedagogies, chapter 7 “Spaces of Learning: The Anarchist Free Skool”
Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
Henry Giroux, “Rethinking Education as the Practice of Freedom: Paulo Freire and the Promise of Critical Pedagogy”
Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society, Ch. 1: “Why We Must Disestablish School”
John Dewey, “Creative Democracy—The Task Before Us”
Ricky Lee Allen, “Whiteness and Critical Pedagogy”

I hope some of you join in with this MOOCMOOC – and Good luck!!

Take5#4: Tackling Academic Reading

So – there we were W7 – and there they were, 63 first years, giving Poster Presentations to an audience of 70+ people. They had explored ‘learning spaces’ and constructed great arguments that referenced the reading (Thornburg and Giroux) and dazzled us with their Posters, their Prezis and their animations… It was thrilling

How did we reach this lofty pinnacle of academic practice?

Well – a couple of weeks before the Poster Presentations we prepared text-scrolls of just two key articles with which we wanted the students to engage:

Giroux’s article on lessons to be learned from Freire:

http://truth-out.org/archive/component/k2/item/93016:lessons-to-be-learned-from-paulo-freire-as-education-is-being-taken-over-by-the-mega-rich

And Thornburg on metaphors of learning spaces:

http://tcpd.org/Thornburg/Handouts/Campfires.pdf

We chose these to seed thinking about the pedagogical and physical spaces necessary for University teaching and learning – and as a prequel to the students’ own participant observations of the University’s formal and informal learning spaces.

Did you say Textmapping? Huh?
Textmapping (http://www.textmapping.org/index.html ) is an active reading strategy that involves using a text that has been turned into an A3 scroll. As a group, readers collectively mark up the text to show structure, content & relevance to their assignment. The fear of academic reading is broken down in the collective action on an enlarged text (yes – the big-ness is part of it) – and the point of reading is perceived when the texts are obviously relevant to an activity.

Seeding Poster presentations

Once our students had marked up their scrolls – we had them illustrate them – bringing the ideas alive with pictures and cuttings from newspapers and magazines. Thus, each group turned their reading notes into a poster-like collage – and subsequently presented their collage to the class.

That was W4; W5 they roamed the University in investigative groups… W6 we looked at presentation techniques and W7 – those wonderful Poster Presentations… and the surprising joy of hearing the seed articles used brilliantly to make sense of their mini-research projects.

If you are wrestling with Academic Reading, this textmapping really works – students start to see the point of reading – they lose their fear of reading – and they become successful at reading – what more could we want? 

Here’s what the Take5 website has on Promoting reading:

We know that academic reading is part of being a University student and that students must read. However, typically students resist and even fear academic reading. Do support academic reading with in-class activities – and possibly by setting ‘reading’ assignments: make some class time for students to learn how to read ‘academically’. 
See Study Hub:

reading: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/studyhub/reading.html

referencing: http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/studyhub/referencing.html

Here are some activities that have worked with us:

Textmapping

Textmapping article on Formative Feedback

Compile annotated bibliographies

Real reading

Visual reading

Reading Dossier

Subject Dictionary

1: Textmapping:

Introduce students to the concept of active notemaking and reading (do use the Study Hub – and/or ask CELT for PPT sessions to teach from).

In groups: ask students to annotate A3 scrolls that you have prepared from articles that are interesting and challenging but quite short.

After they have been annotating for about seven minutes – feed in an assignment question that they should answer using the article. Tell them they have X-minutes to prepare a three-minute presentation. The notemaking should change quite dramatically – for now they are focussed and have a clear and urgent reason for the reading.

Each group presents – there is discussion.

Meta-reflection: How did the notemaking change when the assignment topic was introduced? What does this tell us about successful academic reading…?

2: Textmapping of Academic Writing article: Set students to read, annotate, engage with: Wilkinson S (08) ‘Optimising teaching and learning through the use of feedback on written assignments in History’ in Investigations Vol 5 (1) pp30-35

In groups: Produce 50-word essays on Either: Successful University writing Or Successful University reading.

Peer review essays, revise – post to own blogs… Reflect on the session… 

3: Compile online annotated bibliographies using Social bookmarking sites like Diigo or by using FaceBook as a Reading Journal.

4: Real reading: set students the task of finding a fresh, relevant journal article pertinent to your subject. After justifying their choice – each student has to produce a formal, short review of the article – pithy and well-written enough for publication. Publish the reviews in a class website.

5: Visual reading: set students the task of turning a relevant article into a comic book: for other students; for non-initiates; or for their auntie… (See https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Notes+as+comic+books&espv=2&biw=1152&bih=755&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=dUgQVI-rI9Lb7Aa3mICADg&ved=0CDEQsAQ )

6: Reading Dossier: set students the task of compiling a Reading Dossier or Journal wherein they make brief notes on ALL the reading they do for your course. Items recorded must be pertinent, adequately recorded for future referencing – and should be pithy (key words – not sentences); made memorable in some way (highlighting, mnemonics, illustrations); and hopefully should be tied to your assignments. Tip: Award prizes for the best Journal/Dossier.

7: Subject Dictionary: Especially suitable for first year students – in one specific module – or across a suite of modules – require students to produce their own Subject Dictionary for the people, theories, concepts that they are learning in your subject. As with a Reading Dossier, items recorded must be pertinent, adequately recorded for future referencing – and should be pithy (key words – not sentences); made memorable in some way (highlighting, mnemonics, illustrations); and hopefully should be tied to your assignments. Tip: Award prizes for the best Subject Dictionary.