TDP: How do I help my LBM & MP Foundation students learn to become more effective LBM & MP Foundation students?
The main problem explored in the project came from the awareness that there was room for small developments in the delivery of the Lens Based Media and Media Production Foundation pathway. This awareness was obtained from the careful analysis of a variety of data gleaned from the teaching and learning environment itself – talking to and observing students and tutors. It became clear that some students seemed to find the acquisition of the necessary skills to grow, explore and flourish within the course environment (and thus, furthermore, beyond) challenging to the point of feeling lost and unfocused. I looked at the issue through the prism of Constructive Alignment theory (Biggs and Tang, 2007), by returning to focus on key verbs in the course Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs). The central axis which various aspects the issue seemed to circle was identified thus.
“… facilitating the students’ development towards degree and/or <<becoming>> professionals within the fields of film, animation, sound and photography”
It seemed that this crucial process of becoming and the process of development were key. Further information gleaned from research suggested a plan of action that focused on augmenting or supplementing the existing framework with activities to help enable this initial stage of becoming, and provide the opportunity for the necessary effective Foundation student Threshold Concepts (Meyer and Land, 2003) to be acquired.
Supplementing and driving this pursuit for areas of potential improvement there was also the knowledge that there is always room for development in the delivery of courses of teaching and learning. The variety of theories and ongoing research and development into Pedagogy tells us this regardless of which ideas and practices we adhere to and which we choose to leave.
Due to the fact that the study was based on my own teaching environment & practice, and was intended to result in tangible change to these, a research methodology of Action Research (Lewin, 1944) was selected as being the most appropriate.
My intervention occurred in two main stages; firstly as a planned series of workshops which were to be focused on directly tackling key areas posing the greatest challenge for students’ development and growth in the process of becoming mentioned earlier. The first workshop which was based on the subject of Effective Research Methods, went very well, though this line of enquiry was halted due to time restrictions in getting tangible results of the quality and depth of affect that I was hoping for. My focus was on effecting real, tangible and lasting change and the limited amount of contact time available to me on the course during the Spring term made this unworkable if to have continued with the workshop method.
The second stage, taking this and further research into account, led me to an investigation of the use of Social Networking sites as a teaching and learning aid, supplementing and extending the reach of the studio environment outward into spaces already frequented by students on a regular basis. It seemed that these spaces (currently unused by the LBM MP faculty) could potentially be used to aid in the creation of a more effective network of teaching and learning, with a particular view to stimulating and facilitating the sharing and exchange of ideas, advice and inspiration between the students themselves. This is after all one of the most valuable resources available and seemed to be key in achieving the successful fulfillment of the aforementioned development and becoming identified from the ILOs.
The result of setting up a Facebook page and providing a simple task to establish a culture of learning and exchange went extremely well, with students immediately engaging fully in both the search for and the offering up of knowledge, ideas and advice with the group. A student questionnaire brought back very favourable results, as did discussions with other tutors and the FE course leader, who were fully supportive and enthusiastic about the new initiative. It looks like this will become part of the permanent network of teaching aids used by the Lens Based Media and Media Production Foundation now, which is fantastic.