Developing Academic Skills for Humanities Students
The course is solely embedded within WebCT so is not visible to those not taking the course.
Type of snapshot
Provision in the curriculum: separate skills/literacies module
What was the context for this snapshot?
School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, Level 7 course taken over two years, part of the School’s academic course provision (no additional funding) – course called Academic Skills for Divinity students and due to timetabling issues the course is presented solely online for students to work through the materials at their own pace. The purpose is to allow all the students in the School to obtain the skills they require to successfully carry out their academic work – including use of Library resources (both digital and paper based), writing essay skills, basic IT skills, preparing presentations, etc.
What kind of learners were involved in accessing this provision or support?
Students take the course over their pre-Honours years – our students have a range of backgrounds from traditional School leavers to mature learners (both returners and learners new to University study). Support is offered both online via the course (mail & discussion forum) as well as the normal School face-to-face support systems
What skills or literacies were particularly being addressed?
The course addresses the core academic skills required by our students:- Library use – both digital and paper Basic ICT literacy – particularly with the high student computer ownership to ensure that the students have the basic skills in assessing their needs (meaning of basic computer hardware terms like RAM, etc, maintaining and looking after their own machines (anti-virus software, etc) Essay writing – this includes basic word processing skills and required layouts for bibliographies, etc. Sections on plagiarism and other ethical issues are also included Presentation skills – the visual component Other skills/components will be added as required e.g. the inclusion of some language modules
Who provided the support? How was support provided?
The course materials are prepared by the School IT staff and Information Services (IS), New College Library staff with assistance from other IS staff. Within the course use is made of re-usable materials from the University’s ISIS project (http://www.tla.ed.ac.uk/interchange/spring2008/mogey2.htm) and the online materials available via the European computing driving license resources (students are encouraged carry on with the ECDL programme). Other resources from within and out with the University are used were are appropriate. The course is a non-credit bearing course and as such carries no formal assessment although small MCQ tests are included at the end of each module to assess completion of the work. Currently the course is not compulsory although all new entrants are enrolled on the course by default – future plans include making this course a compulsory component of the School’s degree programmes.
Benefits, outcomes, and lessons learned
The course is in its second round of running and is still under evaluation by the School. The non-compulsory nature of the course is problematic as students in their early years often do not see the benefit of obtaining such skills – this comes later when it is too late. We are also working in embedding the course alongside the academic curricula to ensure that the students do not see this as an “extra” but rather as a core requirement of academic study. However, comments to date have been favourable with students (particularly mature students) but it is too early in its implementation to see if the benefits are seen in the later years of study.