All 3 entries tagged Teaching

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December 12, 2010

Seminars and students

In my 3 years working as a tutor for various courses here at the University of Warwick,  I have noticed that most students don't really take the seminar classes or the tutors seriously. 

The exceptions are when they need to work out exercises that might come out in the exam or when they need to work on teams for a group project (which will be evaluated).

Usually the first year students are quite diligent but once they enter the 2nd year, somehow they kind of change. 

It used to be worse but somehow improved after it was required to take attendance for seminars with a minimum required attendance. However, it seems that they are taking it less seriously now.

I heard some talk that were not really happy with the fact that PhD students were taking the classes. The thing is that this is a common practise all over the World especially in the US. Furthermore, many PhD students have years of working experience (sometimes more than the lecturers themselves) that students can benefit from. 

I was wondering whether the students would be more serious about their seminars if they were aware that in many cases (not all), their final exam answers and assignments would be marked by the seminar tutors as well. 

November 05, 2010

Group dynamics in seminar classes

This term I am in charge of a few seminar classes for an international business course for 2nd year Undergraduate students. I have been quite impressed with the quality of the discussions most of the time. Contrary to the views of many people outside the University, that boozing and partying are all University students ever interested in, I found most of the students to be quite serious with their studies - many coming to the class prepared. 

Most of them are highly intelligent anyway - the fact that they got into Warwick is proof of that.

You might notice that I use the word "most" and it's quite interesting to observe the group dynamics of the various seminar groups. I was quite surprised to see how one or two enthusiastic students could animate the whole class and enliven the proceedings. I wish I had more of these guys in all my seminar classes.

July 15, 2010

Are academics hindering blended learning uptake?

I recently attended the Fifth International Blended Learning Conference, which was organised by the University of Hertfordshire, UK. 

Some speakers mentioned that a major challenge in implementing blended learning strategies in their institutions were academics who were reluctant to use blended learning for a number of reasons. Some thought that they were not technology savvy (maybe related to a reluctance to learn new technologies or fear of technology), or don’t want to share the resources which they have developed (in other words, they were worried about the intellectual property issues) or they saw BL as an extra burden.

Many lecturers still preferred the old face-to-face style of classroom interactions.

And many just fulfilled the minimum requirements - to tick boxes – eg., uploading their notes to their online portals with no form of avenue for interactions. 

This indicates several underlying issues:

- That the academics were not convinced of the value of the blended learning strategies or

- May indicate a lack of motivation or

- It may simply be an indication of a lack of awareness (how the exisiting systems could be used for blended learning).

Several speakers also emphasised the importance of support of the top managers towards any BL initiative.  “To walk the talk”.  One presenter talked about institutionalised problems – about a top down only culture. 

Problems also arose where the top management showed a lack of support – for example, low attendance in workshops which had an adverse knock down effect down the ranks.

Would love to hear what you think?

Dilip Mutum

This blog records some of the thoughts and experiences of Dilip Mutum at the University of Warwick. He has been blogging since 2003 and this is but one of his many blogs.

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