Teaching Stories

An American Indian Holocaust?

Sam Hitchmough, Director of Teaching and Senior Lecturer in American Indian History

Historians of any field constantly grapple with a thorny mass of official histories and unofficial/vernacular histories, histories that are constructed, invented, exaggerated or politicized, narratives and counter-narratives, memories, hagiographies, teleological narratives or triumphalist epics, even when the events are relatively recent. Often, history is rescue work, uncovering voices and perspectives from the past that have previously been lost, disassembling and reforming our understandings. Historians are, as a result, regularly accused of re-interpreting past narratives from modern standpoints with active agendas, of retro-fitting, or else attempting to re-engineer our societal foundations and ‘re-remember’ events in certain ways.

Teaching American history is one such minefield: frequently a triumphalist history, a story of empire, destiny and progress. A predominantly white, male, Euro-centric narrative has been rightly challenged, particularly in the past 50-60 years, and whilst this has resulted in important revision, the way that American national history is presented and taught is still problematic at many levels. Amongst the most overlooked histories (and indeed communities) are American Indian, and when we give due weight and space for discussion to arguments forwarded by scholars of American Indian history (both American Indian and settler) the challenges to the celebratory narrative of the American national project are numerous and robust.

There has been a steadily growing body of academic work that makes the case that American Indian experiences in the U.S. should be discussed with reference to the terms ethnic cleansing and genocide. Whilst not making significant inroads into school curricula, these arguments have nonetheless gained widespread traction in academic circles as well as growing references in popular culture. There is, however, another layer of argument that is fearsomely controversial and is a debate that many historians have preferred not to engage with at all.

Can, and should, American Indian experiences be referred to as a Holocaust? Some argue that this should encompass over 500 years of interaction since 1492, whilst others focus more directly on 19th and 20th century experiences of successive U.S. administrations. The implications of this argument are profound and the debate around it fierce.

There is not a consensus on this amongst scholars of American Indian history, and it also creates debate amongst scholars of the Holocaust, with one prominent Jewish historian, for example, suggesting that we should ‘dare to compare’ the two experiences, whilst others claim the Holocaust in the Nazi era is ‘phenomenologically unique’ and resists all comparison. The comparisons explored involve apparent similarities between the American ideology of Manifest Destiny and the Nazi ideology of Lebensraum, both giving rationale for the annexation of land for a perceived to be superior race, the official Removal policies of successive U.S. administrations and the forced marches in Nazi Germany, and terminology utilized in the U.S. that frequently and openly called for extermination of ‘inhuman savages’. Whilst this already carries some pedagogic challenges, some have gone a step further and suggested that closing the door to comparisons, those that wish to conceive of the Holocaust as unique and that the term remains exclusive to events in wartime Europe, are actually committing the great crime of denying a holocaust elsewhere.  

How can this debate be utilized as a lens through which to explore the teaching of difficult topics? More broadly, how can we use cases like this to effectively share experiences and strategies that can be adapted to make a whole range of teaching difficult subjects less daunting?

I can share some reflections on the way that I have taught the question of whether the word Holocaust can or should be used; I have taught this using a debate format for nearly ten years in two different universities.

Focus on the question comes roughly half way through a course on American Indian history from the 1830s to the 1950s, so the first few weeks deal with context and major emerging themes in terms of American Indian ideologies and U.S. policy. Arguments around ethnic cleansing and genocide are introduced and scrutinized in order to broach issues of applying modern terminology to past events.

Two weeks are typically set aside for a debate about whether the word holocaust should be used to describe American Indian experiences. One or two further weeks are used to reflect on the debate, largely online so that other topics can be moved onto.

Key staging posts:

Length: These are 2-hour sessions

Debate: Should the word Holocaust be used to refer to American Indian experiences in the U.S.?

Form: 2 groups, one arguing that it should, one that it shouldn’t.

First session:

  1. ‘Space.’ It’s been useful having short discussions about the nature of academic learning spaces (in addition to the introductory session that talks about learning expectations and the adoption of a shared learning model), including freedom of expression so long as doesn’t cause offence, the validity of opinions that might be different to our own.

    We’ve also discussed the importance of the art of argument: this is an exercise that reveals how effective arguments are constructed, nuanced and critiqued. As such, students are reminded they may wish to engage with the debate as devil’s advocates (for some students in the past this seems to have offered a degree of objectivity that they’ve preferred)
  2. Why do students think this is an important question to ask? Are there aspects of the debate that students imagine will be difficult or controversial? This can be a short written exercise that is useful post-debate, and I’ve also read some of them out beforehand.
  3. I’ve often asked at this point how students feel they most effectively learn about difficult subjects, not necessarily to get fully-formed responses but to encourage them to think that others may learn differently, and to prepare them for the range of tasks involved in reflecting on the debate.
  4. Knowing the debate question, the group is split into two by sign-up. If the numbers are uneven then any absent students are added to the smaller group.
  5. The groups spend some time discussing their possible arguments, assign reading to do over the week.
  6. I show groups the VLE pages dedicated to the debate – online discussion pages for each group, suggested readings, and a whole-group discussion forum. They are encouraged to communicate with each other over the following week.
  7. The ‘architecture’ of the debate is discussed. Depending on the size of the group, various roles are sometimes introduced: ‘debate facilitators’ (one student who acts as a ‘chair’ if discussion needs to be re-focused) and student ‘scribes’ (one or two students who take fairly detailed notes that capture key points, to be made available to entire group afterwards).
  8. ‘Conduct’ is discussed and earlier points reiterated about the nature of academic expression, that debates flourish when multiples voices and perspectives are heard.

Second session:

Ensure that the space is appropriately configured so that students don’t need to raise their voices and don’t have defensive lines of tables/desks in front of them.

  1. The first 30 minutes is used for the two groups to reconvene and run through their arguments. They are reminded to present two or three short and precise points that act as springboards for discussion.
  2. A coin toss to see who starts. One side then forwards its two/three key points, the other side does the same, and then it’s an open discussion that usually uses the points as hooks.
  3. The debate itself has around 60-65 minutes to run.
  4. I’ve found it important that the debate doesn’t run up to the end of the session – some sort of reflection is crucial. Each side is asked to reflect on how they felt it went and to identify three points that the opposing side made that they found persuasive.
  5. Discussion of what the most challenging and difficult questions/points were – what did they think were the best ways n which to tackle these?

Possible related tasks: in the past I’ve asked students to create posters that reflect the debate, write up reviews of the debate for fictitious magazines or newspapers that can either require objectivity or else op-eds work well. Students have also engaged in a post-debate online discussion forum.

I’m particularly interested in how we teach difficult subjects, the kinds of pressures and challenges (and often pitfalls) that they create (to the extent that in some cases we can become relatively vulnerable) and how these subjects affect the learning environment and the student learning experience. In the case-study here I’ve known that many students will be upset by the topic, some will get angry, and that some have had relatives who died in, or survived, concentration camps. In some cases I’ve followed up in the next session with a silent debate for around 30 minutes. This is an opportunity to have students in smaller groups, of around 4 or 5, focus on specific points from the previous week’s full debate and explore them further. These are often the most contentious or controversial, and it’s interesting to use the silent debate format as an alternative as it often allows students who might have been frustrated or subdued during the debate to have an opportunity to express their opinion in a different setting.

I’d be very interested in talking with anyone about the challenges of teaching difficult subjects, perhaps with a view to writing up a number of case-studies that might prove useful to colleagues across the university.

News

BILT welcomes colleagues to the team

With the new focus on curriculum development, BILT has expanded its team!

Firstly, we have two new members of the core team. Amy Wilson has now been made permanent BILT administrator, and Dr Ash Tierney has joined the team as an Education Developer.

BILT has also joined forces with the Educational Development Team from Academic Staff Development, which includes Louise Howson, Emilie Poletto-Lawson and Julian Kendell.

We also welcome Dr Mohammad Golam Jamil and Dr Isabel Hopwood-Stephens as TESTA researchers, who will play a key role in the implementation of TESTA across many programmes in the University.

Professors Paul Wyatt and Nigel Savery have also joined BILT in part-time seconded roles as Senior Academic Developers, assisting with curriculum transformation project.

We are also being joined by four new Student Fellows, who will be starting in October. The students will be working on projects aimed at improving the student experience, including: wellbeing in the curriculum; active, collaborative learning; challenge-led, authentic learning and students as researchers. Their names are Toby Roberts, Emily Kinder, Owen Barlow and Marnie Woodmeade.

News

Introduction to 2019-20 from Sarah Davies, BILT Executive Director

Welcome to a new academic year! BILT are expanding our activities this year, while building on key areas of existing work. We’re hard at work planning how we continue to support you and build a community of practice at Bristol around learning and teaching innovation and enhancement.

With Tansy Jessop, formerly BILT visiting professor, joining the University as Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, we’re sharpening our focus on research-informed teaching and evidence-based practice, and will be building links with and between existing faculty-based educational research communities to raise the profile of evidence-based teaching practice across the institution.

We’ll be continuing to champion students as co-designers and partners in their educational experience, building on the work of our BILT student fellows and our summer hackathon. If you haven’t already, do have a look at the outputs from our 2018-19 student fellows (links available below) – their short video round-up is a good place to start. We have four new BILT student fellows starting in October, and I’m really excited to see what they achieve.

The BILT hackathon, during which we brought 8 students together for a four-week period in June-July to explore, and design solutions to, some key educational challenges facing the university, was certainly one of my highlights of last year, and we want to build on this approach going forward. This year’s hackathon outputs and lessons are available in this short report (UoB only). We’re also raising the profile of students as researchers at Bristol, and will be supporting students to submit abstracts for the British Conference of Undergraduate Research in Leeds in April.


Assessment and feedback has always been a key theme for BILT, and this year we’ll be working with a selection of programme teams to review their students’ programme-level experience of assessment and feedback, through the TESTA process. TESTA was developed by a team including Tansy Jessop, and has been used nationally and internationally to improve assessment patterns to foster deeper learning. We’ll also be working with programme teams across the university who are reviewing or redesigning their programmes, including in support of the Temple Quarter initiative.

We’re also very excited that the CREATE team within academic staff development are moving into BILT, so that we can work together to provide a joined-up staff development offer on learning and teaching for both new and more experienced staff. We’re also reviewing how we can best support individuals and teams through guidance and resources – whether text-based, videos or our new podcast series – so if you have a question or challenge about learning and teaching, do please let us know, so we can shape our resources around those real life challenges.

On top of all that, staff across the university continue to work on our funded projects and fellowships, and will be reporting progress, findings and recommendations through our blog. My thanks go to those staff who have recently completed their BILT fellowships and have been publishing on the blog – a selection of their reflections can be found below .
We look forward to working with you in 2019-20!

A few of the Student Fellows outputs
Zoe Backhouse created a zine about assessment.
Johannes Schmiedecker undertook research on learning analytics and big data.
Lisa Howarth produced a video series on learning spaces.
Phoebe Graham and Corrie Macleod started the ‘Humans of Bristol University’ blog series.

A few reflections from our outgoing Academic Fellows
Tensions with Programme-Level Assessment‘ by Helen Heath.
Summary of a team-based learning masterclass from Paul Wyatt.
Should all assessments be inclusive?‘ by Emilie Poletto-Lawson.

News

Blogs 2018-19

We’ve pulled together all the blogs that we’ve published and organised them into five categories: teaching practices; event summaries; musings; interviews; musings and introduction.

Teaching Practices
Event Reflections
Interviews
Musings
Introductions

Teaching Pratices

Five Things to try in your Teaching Next Year

Assessing Celebrity Cultures

Week Three of the Student Hackathon: Six Takeaways

Wellbeing in Education – what if building flourishing institutions was the answer?

Gamifying Histology

Should we go ‘The Whole Hog’ with programme-level assessment?

Student Voices: Learning Analytics

Introducing Student as Producer: A Bristol perspective

Teaching Stories #8: James Norman

Teaching Stories #7: Aydin Nassehi

Teaching Stories #6: Ksenia Shalonova

Teaching Stories #9: Erica Hendy

Teaching Stories #3: Lucy Berthoud

Teaching Stories #4: James Norman

Teaching Stories #2: Ann Pullen

Students Talk Spaces

Is there any link between design thinking and essays?

Three visits, three takeaways

‘myopportunities’ and the launch of the Bristol Futures Engagement Opportunities badge

Informal exploratory writing: three activities you can try with your students

Teaching Stories #1: Rulers for all

Update on the ‘Rethinking Spaces’ theme

University of Bristol Teaching Space Principles

Implementing a Mental Wellbeing Toolbox: Reflections on integration into the veterinary curriculum and identification of opportunities for wider application

MAP Bristol

The LeapForward Project

Developing a guide to support the use of video in undergraduate assessment

Building Confident Engaged Researchers Through Active Partnership and Problem Based Learning

Testing the use of digital technologies for field based education to enhance graduate confidence and preparedness

Evaluation and benchmarking of the new Biochemistry MSci Research Training Unit

Event Reflections

Team Based Learning Masterclass

ABC Learning Design: Presentation and Q&A at UCL

ABC Learning Design: Workshop at UCL

Embedding Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in the Curriculum – Advanced HE Workshop Reflection

Bristol Teaching Awards 2019

Learning Games #3

Photos from BILTs Pedagogical Pub Quiz

#Digifest19: The technology conference encouraging more human interactions

Insights from attending UWE’s Festival of Learning for an afternoon

Getting Creative in the Archive – University of Bristol Theatre Collection

Bristol Conversations in Education: Does School Design Matte? 16/1/2018

Learning Games #2

Event Summary of ‘Making IT* Happen: from strategy to action’ at the University of Leicester

Reflections on Dorothea Smartt and Travis Alabanza events

On attending University of Bristol’s Gender Research Centre and Centre for Black Humanities joint seminar: A conversation with Dorothea Smartt

‘Why is my curriculum white?’ Towards imagining what our curriculum might look like were it researched, taught, and learned from Black Queer-Trans perspectives

Using Games in Teaching

Easing the transition of undergraduates though an immersive induction module

Exploring Microsoft Office 365 for Teaching and Learning

Interviews

Humans of Bristol Uni… Lizzie Blundell

An interview with… Lisa Howarth

An interview with… Alan Emond

Humans of Bristol Uni… Walker Grevel and Patrick Shannon

An interview with… John Gilbert

Humans of Bristol Uni… Dr. James Norman

An interview with… Bruce Macfarlane

In conversation with a fourth-year Liberal Arts student

An interview with… Alex Forsythe

Humans of Bristol Uni… Damien McManus

Humans of Bristol Uni… David Bernhard

Humans of Bristol Uni… Emma Robinson

Humans of Bristol Uni… Bex Lyons

Humans of Bristol Uni… Thomas Jordan

Humans of Bristol Uni… Mark Schenk

Humans of Bristol Uni… Tricia Passes

Humans of Bristol Uni… Jez Conolly

Humans of Bristol Uni… Alix Dietzel

An interview with… Chris Adams

An interview with… Michaela Borg

Musings

My Retirement from Competitive Baking

Snow days and the death of lecturing

Our Yearly Round-Up and Key Student Lessons

Our time with BILT: Empowering Students to Impact their Learning and Teaching

Strategic Students and Question Spotting

Confessions of an Engineer

Hackathon is go!

What’s in a grade?

Bristol wasn’t B(u)ilt in a day: On Learning and Building

This is why I teach

Teaching Space as a Teaching Lab

Understanding technology horizons in a new context

Why I am making a Zine about Assessment

My Flirtation with Dungeons and Dragons: Musings on Leaving

Surveying the Students

No lecture theatres? No problem!

Should all assessments be inclusive?

Time for a new approach to our generational differences?

The A-Ha Moment

What exactly is Bristol Futures and what does BILT have to do with it?

Tensions with Programme-Level Assessment

The Gap between Pedagogy and Design

Utilising Student Voice in Learning Support and Transition

More good news for Education and Pedagogy Researchers in SSL!Introduction to 2018/19 from the BILT Director

Introductions

Meet the Associates… Ash Tierney

An introduction from Tansy Jessop, our Visiting Professor

Meet the Student Fellows… Corrie Macleod

Meet the Student Fellows… Lisa Howarth

Meet the Student Fellows… Johannes Schmiedecker

Meet the Student Fellows… Zoe Backhouse

Meet the Student Fellows… Phoebe Graham

Meet the Associates… Sam Hitchmough

Meet the Associates… Humphrey Bourne

Meet the Associates… Fabienne Vailes

Meet the Associates… Amy Walsh

Meet the Associates… Sian Harris

Meet the Associates… Imogen Moore

Meet the Associates… Steffi Zegowitz

Meet the Fellows… Zoe Palmer

Meet the Fellows… James Norman

Meet the Fellows… Christian Spielmann

Teaching Stories

Five Things to Try in your Teaching Next Year

We sent round bookmarks to academic staff outlining five new things they could try in their teaching – this post includes more detail about those things and where you can get support to try them.

1. Get Moving – Spend five minutes of your session moving the furniture around to create a more dynamic learning environment and energise your students.

2. Live Lecture Polling – Introduce online polling for instant learner feedback and to encourage active learning.

The Digital Education Office exist to support with this sort of activity – get in touch with them to find out more here.

This comprehensive bibliography on classroom responses systems includes subject-specific examples.

3. Start a Podcast – Create informal engagement with your subject by starting a podcast and invite your students to take part.

We can help you set up your podcast using our equipment and advise you on any purchases you may want to make, as well as how to make the podcast available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. We can also put you in touch with staff who have set up podcasts for their subject to provide additional support.

4. Explore the City – Students love to feel connected to our city and it makes learning memorable when concepts are connected to reality.

The Engaged Learning team exist to support academics in partnering with community organisations and businesses.

There are many examples where academics have used the city and its history to connect learning to a space. Two excellent examples are the MAP Bristol project, undertaken with a BILT grant in 2017/18 by Chris Adams, and the Bristol Futures open units.

5. Gamify Learning – Whether it is a points-based system for engagement or a tailored card game, games can make difficult content more accessible and enjoyable to learn.

Suzi Well and Chrysanthi Tseloudi run a ‘Learning Games’ event, where staff come together to discuss their ideas and examples of game-based learning. Any upcoming events will be shared in the BILT Briefing.

The BILT Discretionary Seedcorn Funding is available for staff to apply for small amounts of money (up to £1500) – last year three games were developed from this funding.

500 Words, News

My Retirement from Competitive Baking

Yesterday, after an excruciating three-week wait, it was the Education Services Charity Bake Off Final. I had made it through to the final after winning my heat (cheese and rosemary scones, if you must know) and I had been practising for my chance at winning the title ever since.

I was as happy with my cake as a novice baker could be, having opted for a chocolate and passionfruit cake, and eagerly awaited the results as the morning went on. By the time it came to 1pm, when colleagues from across the office gathered around waiting our Director to announce the winner, I was actually nervous.

I didn’t win. I didn’t expect to win – there were some amazing cakes on offer from some equally amazing bakers – but no one likes to lose do they? I spend the afternoon texting my husband about how I was never going to bake again and fanaticising about throwing my rolling pin away when I got home.

And I don’t plan on entering another baking competition; I didn’t like the waiting around for weeks not knowing what the result is going to be – yet this is exactly what so many 17 and 18-year olds are going through today.

Having sat their exams months ago, they have spent their summer nervously awaiting the results that will determine their future. Whether they go to university or not, and whether, if they do choose on university, that university is their ‘first choice’, or whether they have to go though ‘clearing’ (an awful process and even more awful word to use for it – surely there is a better way it can be done?*).

But there is no option for a university student to ‘never bake again’ – doing a degree is like a three-year baking competition. For the few students who do well in all of their assessments this is fine (read: smash the soufflé), but for the majority of students who struggle though at least some of their degree, the process of endlessly awaiting the next result is hugely detrimental for their wellbeing – and yet we continue to assess in this way.

As an adult, we don’t experience this same kind of stress. The wait to hear if you’ve been accepted for a mortgage, or if your latest paper has been accepted in to journal, is about as close as we come. But these are annual occurrences at best and, as adults, we have the experience of know we can always resubmit a paper or apply for a different mortgage. I wonder if we experienced the continual insecurity and nerves that students face around assessment that we would still choose to assess in this way?

One way to reduce this insecurity could be a move towards more formative assessments and less summative assessment may be one approach, or a move away from numerical grading may be another, but it is difficult to know what balance could be reached between keeping students motivated while still removing the carrot of a grade they are happy with.  

So, while I’ll be hanging up my apron for the foreseeable future, I’ll be thinking of all the students starting in September (and coming back) who will be facing another year of blind bakes and wondering what we can do to help reduce the anxiety around results and assessments this causes.  

*If this area interests you, I highly recommend this WonkHE piece on making university admissions truly inclusive – including two very viable recommendations.  

Amy Palmer

Teaching Stories, Uncategorized

‘Snow’ days and the death of lecturing…

The following post was written by Alison Blaxter, a BILT Associate and Clinical Teaching Fellow in the Vet School.

It’s August and bright sunshine but time for reviewing my teaching year.  I was remembering the ‘snow days’ we have had over the last few years. The vet school in the heart of the Mendip Hills briefly closed its doors for business and students because of snow at the end of January. Those of us providing animal care stayed to deal with emergencies but I was also due to lecture that day and the undergraduate students missed my well-crafted lecture on reproduction in cats. Instead I recorded the lecture on mediasite at my desk and it was up on Blackboard the next day. In the case-based session at the end of the cat and dog reproduction course the students didn’t express any significant difficulty with the material, nor were there a disproportionate number of questions from the content of that lecture in comparison to the others in the series.

This and a fascinating keynote speech on the formation of memory at the VetEd, the veterinary education community’s annual symposium  (https://vetedsymposium.org/) by David Shanks at UCL started me thinking about the benefits of lecturing. Lectures are a way in which we can decide as instructors what knowledge our students need and deliver it in a relatively quick and easily produced way to classes of infinite size. We also know that students who have a learning style where listening is key to their development of memory and understanding this form of knowledge transfer may be highly appropriate.


However, we also know that active learning where the learner is engaged in activity associated with the material is a better model to aspire to. There is evidence that  such an approach improves, among other attributes, critical thinking, decision making and creativity (Freeman et al. (2014). My understanding from David Shanks keynote address is that memory formation and the ability to apply information increases where testing is an inherent part of the learning process, Fascinatingly, testing before, during and after novel information transfer improves memory formation.  (Yang C., Potts R., and Shanks D.R. (2018))

 We now routinely use audience response systems such as ‘Turning Point’ and ‘Mentimeter’ to deliver in-lecture quizzes, we use case-based-learning in medicine and veterinary medicine to apply knowledge immediately to specific professional contexts, we promote ‘flipped classroom’ teaching with students preparing in advance for whole cohort interactive teaching and team based learning where peer interaction is pivotal to the learning process or other forms of peer assisted learning are celebrated. Our new accelerated graduate entry programme for the vet course (AGEP) has adopted case-based learning with an emphasis on active participation in a self-directed environment as its core. Do traditional lectures still have a role?

There is also the issue that I don’t always enjoy lecturing. The majority of my teaching is in the work-place where I am fortunate to mentor and teach veterinary students at the end of their undergraduate career on a one to one basis. Dealing with illness and health in real patients, with all the uncertainty this entails is an exciting and stimulating teaching environment. When I lecture the sound of my own voice for a long period of time can feel tedious and I get bored without the great stimulus I get from face to face teaching, so I plan active participation throughout the 50 minutes and my ‘lectures’ can be  noisy and chaotic.  

So my vision of the future involves lectures being pre-recorded, perhaps divided into smaller chunks of material and delivered in the context of a whole variety of resources to a student – videos, audio, text, quizzes and tasks.  Once established our face-to-face time becomes available to guide and mentor students by cultivating their curiosity, facilitating creative application of knowledge and engaging them in a more direct and personal way.  Could lectures as we understand be obsolete?

Freeman et al. (2014), Active learning increases student performance in science engineering and mathematics PNAS 111 (2) 8410–8415

Yang C., Potts R., and Shanks D.R. (2018) Enhancing learning and retrieval of new information; a review of the forward testing effect. Science of Learning 3(1).

Meet the BILT Student Fellows, News

Our Yearly Round-Up and Key Student Lessons

Throughout the year, Student Fellows led a variety of events through 4 Projects on Assessment, Big Data, Study Spaces and Student Engagement. Phoebe Graham and Corrie Macleod led ‘Empowering Students in Their Teaching and Learning’. Their goal was to engage staff and students in casual conversation about pedagogy, engagement and university life…

This short video shares the main lessons we’ve taken away from students this year. We also wanted to celebrate and showcase the fantastic projects led by Student Fellows (and friends) Zoe Backhouse, Lisa Howarth and Johannes Schmiedeker. Our position as Student Fellows was an enriching and valuable experience we will all fondly look back on. We’ve learned so much from staff, students and the BILT team throughout this creative and collaborative process.

We hope you enjoy our final little showcase and we can’t wait to see what the next generation of Student Fellows come up with…

News

Team Based Learning Masterclass

Dundee, 26th June 2019

There were two masterclasses running in Dundee – an introductory and an advanced session.  This was the advanced session.  Although the number of attendees was small at around ten, everybody had some experience of running team-based learning. 

All the activities and discussions of the day were run in a team-based format and this included the usual items such as:

  •   Individual readiness assurance test
  • Team readiness assurance test

Having read papers about this approach to teamwork it initially seemed unnecessarily complicated to me but, now that I’ve been through it a couple of times, I can see the value in it.  It’s actually very straight forward in practice.  In all cases the tests have been quite challenging in that they ask for the best answer when several of the answers could be correct.  This prompted discussion in the teams (and it meant we didn’t get everything right first time).  This made me think about my own approach to teamwork questions and how valuable this aspect is.  The ‘appeals process’ was then a discussion about our thoughts before moving on to consider how to address team-based situations like the same person verbalising a team’s answer and different methods for students to evaluate each other.

As is often the case with these sessions, it is the people you meet who are often the most interesting part of the day and their experiences gave me some ideas for the upcoming team-based work we will be starting in the School of Chemistry next term.  One colleague talked about how she got the students to give their team a name and draw up a social contract.  I’d been thinking about how we would need an introductory session to the team-based format and these seemed like great ideas to help cement a group together. I’m going to incorporate these ideas this year. 

Several resources from the Masterclass are included but additionally here is some useful info:

www.teambasedlearning.org

This website has all sorts of information and resources for team-based learning but needs a subscription to access most of the materials. 

Dr Simon Tweddell is a National Teaching Fellow and Consultant-Trainer in Team-Based Learning. Contact him on: s.j.tweddell@bradford.ac.uk

Other class organisers were Dr Prabha Parthasarathy from Imperial College and Joy de Vries-Erich from University of Amsterdam

Further resources on team-based learning can be found here.

Paul Wyatt, July 2019.

Meet the BILT Fellows, News, Student Voice, Teaching Stories

Our time with BILT: Empowering Students to Impact their Learning and Teaching

With their graduation on the horizon, BILT Student Fellows Corrie Macleod and Phoebe Graham reflect on their collaborative project, centred on empowering students to impact their learning and teaching at the university.

Humans of Bristol University

The main aim of our BILT project was to bridge the interpersonal gap between academics and students, a rift often caused by an educational environment dictated by  high academic workloads, large student numbers and often low contact hours.

We devised ways of tackling this kind of alienation at university; we decided to create a fun and informative platform that students could access in order to get to know their fellow learners and teachers alike, beyond the boundaries of their own department.

Humans of Bristol University takes inspiration from the internationally renowned online platform, ‘Humans of New York.’ We used audio, videos and photographs alongside text in order to tell the stories behind the faces of the university community. We began by interviewing the Best of Bristol lecturers in support of their annual lecture series. We then expanded wider and curated stories from library staff as well as students, covering topics from student engagement, mental health, and university accessibility. You can find the array of interviews here.

BeFunky-collage

Education Forum

We had a fantastic time facilitating workshops and activities for the Student Union’s Education Forums, working with over 40 students from across the university.

We had students writing poems about their pedagogical experience, making a washing line of what they had learnt at university, shooting videos on teaching spaces and talking about big data at Bristol.

The Education Forums are key in getting a wide range of students together in order to discuss how to improve educational practice and policy at the university, and we were thrilled to be involved.

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Coffee and Conversations

Throughout the year, we have had so much fun going into the heart of campus to meet students, share coffee, take surveys and talk about their educational experience across various departments.

We have compiled and presented this data into an infographic video, to give a flavour of the intricacies of student satisfaction, and what they think can be done to improve teaching and learning practices at the university.

IMG_2756

Pedagogical Pub Quiz

To celebrate the end of the academic term, we ran a pedagogical pub quiz with plenty of pizza and food for thought in the White Rabbit. We made a space where students could come and relax amidst the pressures of the revision period, reflect on the year gone by and take part in activities designed by the BILT Student Fellows and their respective projects.

Our rounds were designed to stimulate curiosity in and around teaching and learning practice at Bristol, including a good old general knowledge round, identifying spaces and notable alumni of the university, as well as songs relating to education.

The pub was full to the brim with people, pizza and thoughtful discussion.

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We have really enjoyed working on the many facets of our project this year, and we hope it has demonstrated that pedagogy at Bristol University is at its strongest when the dialogue between students, staff and academics is democratised, interpersonal and collaborative. Being a BILT Student Fellow has been an absolute highlight of our university careers, and we will dearly miss working for the Bristol Institute for Learning and Teaching. We look forward to seeing what the next cohort of Student Fellows will get up to next year.