Meta-Learning

Having started teaching at Brookes this week, and concurrently, having started a teaching course, I’m very conscious of the myriad ways in which one can (effectively) teach a given subject or skill, and my approach to the teaching of it.

My teaching this week has been for Masters students . Preparing for that, in itself has been a challenge, since I have relatively little experience, beyond the teaching on my own Masters course, of teaching postgraduates. I was more than a little apprehensive when I entered the classroom this morning.

firstlecture

I was nervous, mainly because I hate standing at the front for two hours talking at students (as much as I hated that approach when I was a student) and was keen to avoid that – the caveat being that anything else won’t work if the students aren’t happy to engage with the learning activities, the class, or the tutor. I was also concerned not to patronize students who had a Psychology background and professional experience that would outshine mine.

On that score at least, I needn’t have worried. The students *did* engage with the class activities and began to see the flaws in the theories I was presenting to them (the grasp of which was the core aim of the seminar).

But now, having been to the course this afternoon, and learnt about learning, I’m thinking of all the different ways I might have taken the session, and wondering if any of these would have worked better. What if I’d asked the students in pairs to read about and present one theory and its critical evaluation to the class, to cover each of theories, rather than getting them in pairs to think about each of the theories in turn? What if I’d asked them to prepare a presentation along those lines ahead of the session? There was no audiovisual stuff in the seminar (a video of one of the studies would have been good, maybe…). There was no definite consolidation activity in there, beyond the application of learnt criteria to a different theory. And – a really good idea – I didn’t ask them for any feedback (one point on a Post-It note at the end of the session would have been cool).

But, as it was, I finished at 12.03pm. There was only so much I could fit in. And without knowing a great deal about the students’ background and past academic achievement, I’m not sure how to choose among the options….how do others decide?

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