STRIDE – Supervisors and students share dissertation process insights
http://www.youtube.com/strideproject or go to YouTube and search ‘dissertation’ ‘hertfordshire’
Type of snapshot
- provision in the curriculum: skills/literacies addressed in topic module
- ‘learner-led’ provision, e.g. formal and informal mentoring, buddying, skills sharing
What was the context for this snapshot?
As module leader for the 60 credit Practice Based Project (Dissertation) module on the Continuing Professional Development MA/MEd programme in the School of Education and a dissertation supervisor for MA/MEd and BA/BEd students, Joanna Teague was awarded £3K from the university Learning, Teaching and Development Fund and the university BLU-Sky fund (BLU=Blended Learning Unit CETL) for the project named ‘Students’ and Tutors’ Reflections and Insights into the Dissertation Experience’ (STRIDE). The project aims were to: (A) create recorded interviews with supervisors and work-based students sharing their reflections and insights on the dissertation experience and (B) incorporate extracts of these recordings in pilot flexible learning activities for blended learning in a variety of ways across UH. The STRIDE resources are aimed at reducing the sense of isolation and heightening motivation to complete the largest piece of academic work students have tackled to date. These resources were collaboratively design with students and academics to enhance the support for learning over the year-long Practice Based Project/ Dissertation module; a time when students sometimes feel stretched for time, isolated and at a low ebb.
What kind of learners were involved in accessing this provision or support?
Professional and work-based learning are key elements of the learning that takes place in our School. Our part-time MA/MEd mature students in the School of Education mostly work full-time as teachers, trainers, mentors and managers. They attend our university in the evening and at weekends for sessions, supervision meetings and to use the Learning Resource Centre. Many juggle these commitments with the demands of being parents and carers. This student profile is likely to become increasingly common across the sector. Different cohorts of these learners were involved in collaboratively designing the interview questions, contributing to the video recorded interviews, evaluating the pilot interviews and using the resources for their own learning. In addition to these students, students from other programmes across the university and BA students have also been evaluating these resources and using them for their learning, as this project was designed to be valuable for the wider learning community.
What skills or literacies were particularly being addressed?
There is no shortage of new publications on how to write your dissertation. But watching someone talk about their own experiences of this process can be motivating and comforting in a more accessible and immediate way. The register, tone, pace, accents and gestures captured on video, make this support for learning come alive. Therefore, the academic & digital literacies associated with the STRIDE project include the following: critically using video for active learning, time & project management, designing a research question, critically and systematically reviewing the literature, data generation and analysis methods and approaches, process writing and working effectively with a supervisor
Who provided the support? How was support provided?
Joanna Teague, an academic, designed and managed the project, filmed and edited the materials, designing the learning activities and uploaded them into YouTube and the new university streaming video server. Videos feature past students: Christine Booth, Jeffery Quaye and Jo Lyness. Academics: Adenike Akinbode, Hilary Taylor, Jenny Blumhof, Joy Jarvis, Lance Johns, Mary Rees and Roger Levy from the School of Education and the Learning & Teaching Institute. Students and staff from across UH and, in particular, the School of Education, BLU and LTI gave feedback on pilot materials and pilot interview questions. Anne-Maria Roikonen, a student mentor, assisted with uploading video into the university streaming video server.
Benefits, outcomes, and lessons learned
Feedback on the pilot STRIDE resources: The learning materials designed for the STRIDE project have created an enthusiastic sense of excitement and anticipation with staff and students alike. Users particularly valued tips from supervisors and past students who spoke directly and clearly about personal experiences in an informal spoken genre, students could ‘relate to’ the interviewees and were keen to see ‘the supervisor’s point of view’. Students were keen to be able to have STRIDE resources which they could look at ‘when they were at a low ebb’, ‘again and again’, when they were ready to consider each different stage of the dissertation process and have these on the university streaming video server, on DVD (for those who prefer to work off line, don’t have access to the internet or have dial up access) and on YouTube. Students say they appreciated the materials for ‘reassurance that they were all in the same boat’ and responded that these resources helped them prepare for a meeting with their supervisor in a more proactive manner, encouraged them to seek appropriate support and gave them direction and encouragement ‘to do things earlier’ and ‘keep on track’.
Future student feedback: A survey with students who have used STRIDE resources as part of the module will take place in May 09 as this will be the first cohort to use these resources.
Additional feedback: Academics attending ALT-C Sep 08 and ELESIG July 08 indicated that STRIDE resources (just being developed) and approaches would be used to enhance learning on BEd, MEd and EdD programmes, both nationally and internationally.