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Reflecting on our teaching practice to bring about a more student-centred approach to learning and promote “deeper” learning by the students

Authors: Alan O'Donnell - Niall Delaney


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3.2 The Lecturer Strategy

Within each of these strategies our teaching improvised to try and promote the student centred learning. A reflective diary was kept and the experiences logged in a structured manner, using Gibb’s reflective cycle (Gibbs, 1998), for a future reference. We wished use reflective practices to aid our own development. (Loughran, 1996; Campbell and Norton, 2007). The various models of reflection (Kolb, 1984; Gibbs, 1998) all refer to a cyclical pattern of learning whereby you complete an experience, think about what you did, and then think about how you would do things differently and start again. In this way you are constantly challenging established ideas to try to come up with a “best practice”.

4 Limitations to the research

The research is based largely on the feedback forms and interviews of two focus groups from different semesters. The wider assessment research had a larger sample, but it was within the focus groups that we experimented with different teaching styles. The findings are based largely on the opinions of the authors and draws upon writings from their reflective log. It is also relevant that much of this teaching was conducted towards an alternative assessment, and that this alternative would not in any way influence the prescribed exam format. The primary limitation of the research is the time constraints. The apprentice students attend the institute, full time, for a period of ten weeks, having worked in industry for a period of a year or more. The student attends classes 35 hours in the week, combining taught subjects such as theory, maths, technical drawing and practical work. The course content is very large, always leaving the delivery of the subject matter tight for time. The student has very little time for self learning and indeed imposed a strain on the project volunteers. Volunteers for the project attended extra tuition and sat extra exams outside of class time. Also, the curriculum is prescribed by an outside national body for which we are the providers. As such we are unable to change the curriculum and assessment at local level. The ultimate goal of the student was to pass these prescribed exams. This consideration must be taken into account when reflecting on the learning and teaching taking place outside of normal structured lessons.

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