Workshops were held for each of the disciplines, History, Geography, Literature, Politics and Sociology. A brief description of each part of the workshop is provided here to help anyone who wants to run a similar workshop.
The introduction helped participants to understand the current higher education scene and the place that Threshold Learning Outcomes play in the Higher Education Standards agenda. Participants were also asked to think back to their first year and to their experiences of first year in their discipline. They were asked to choose their most memorable moment and think about what inspired them to continue studying in their discipline. They then discussed this in groups.
DISCUSSION OF DISCIPLINE THRESHOLD LEARNING OUTCOMES (TLOs)
Our reference group members who had been involved with the development of the TLOs provided insight into the TLOs and how they were developed. Participants were able to discuss the TLOs and ask questions of the developers. This was followed by a session from one of our team on lessons learnt about assessing standards from the 「After Standards” History project (Brawley, Clark, Dixon, Ford, Ross, Upton & Nielsen, 2013).
Brawley, S., Clark, J., Dixon, C., Ford, L., Ross, S., Upton, S. & Nielson, E. (2014). Learning outcomes assessment and History: TEQSA, the After Standards Project and the QA/QI challenge in Australia. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 2013 12: 20 originally published online 10 October 2012 DOI: 10.1177/1474022212460745. Available here.
THE STUDENT VOICE
We had undertaken surveys and focus groups with students to try to determine what they felt they needed in first year and any misconceptions that they might have.
FIRST YEAR PEDAGOGY
Participants were asked to consider the six principles of first year pedagogy (Kift, 2009) and each table was asked to think about how they might apply those phases within the specific discipline. In the last two workshops this activity was undertaken during the Barriers to Learning session between the first and second stages in order to help people think about the techniques that they might use. The tables reported back with ideas to the main group.
Kift, A. (2009). Articulating a transition pedagogy to scaffold and to enhance the first year student learning experience in Australian higher education. Available here.
BOTTLENECKS TO LEARNING
We used the Decoding the Disciplines methodology (Pace & Middendorf, 2004) that has the following steps:
- Identify Bottlenecks.
- Define the processes that students need to master to get past the bottlenecks.
- Model these processes.
- Create opportunities to practice these processes and to get feedback on them.
- Motivate students to move through these processes.
- Assess student mastery of these processes.
- Share what has been learned.
We started by asking participants to identify the bottlenecks to students learning in their discipline. These were the skills first year students need to be effective learners in the discipline and the essential skills that students find difficult about learning in their discipline. Participants were asked to write down three statements on post-it pages. They were then asked to discuss and organise their thoughts in their tables. Poster pages were put around the classroom and they were asked to put their post-it notes under the pre-determined barriers or under a catch-all for OTHER.
Each table was then asked to apply the second to fourth steps of the decoding the disciplines methodology to one particular set of bottlenecks identified.
Pace, D. & Middendorf, J. (2004). Decoding the disciplines: Helping students learn disciplinary ways of thinking. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 98, San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
WORLD CAFÉ – USED IN THE LITERATURE WORKSHOP ONLY
The Literature Workshop used draft TLOs that had been developed by the Australian University Heads of English (AUHE). The World Café method allowed participants to provide feedback on the draft TLOs. Each table had one TLO. Each table had a facilitator and a scribe who stayed at the table throughout. Participants commented on the TLO at their table. After 5 minutes they moved to the next table. The facilitator would sum up what had gone before and then continue the discussion with the new participants. After 5 minutes they would move on to the following table. The scribe kept note of the discussions which were fed back to the AUHE group who are developing the TLOs. More information on world cafés can be found here.
A conversation map was used to help participants think about the skills and experiences that they could give their students in first year in order for them to reach the TLOs for their discipline by third year. A large piece of paper with each of the TLOs written in the centre was placed on a table. Participants were asked to read what was already on the page and add to the 「conversation” with their own additions, questions or comments in linked bubbles. The diagram below provides an overview of the conversation about the History TLO6.Analyse historical evidence, scholarship and changing representations of the past.
The following YouTube video gives an overview of the use of conversation maps.
McKenzie B. (2010) Conversation Mapping: An Overview. Available from here
Participants then filled in forms describing and discussing learning activities that worked very effectively with first year students. These resources were collected and are provided as a toolkit under each discipline.