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Familiarity Breeds Contentment Sarah Cant

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Title: Familiarity Breeds Contentment Sarah Cant


1
Familiarity Breeds ContentmentSarah Cant Peter
Watts - 14th October 2009
  • Enabling student transitions into HE through
    taking a holistic approach to level IV delivery

2
Changing Students, Changing Contexts
  • Sector-wide
  • Massification of HE / increase in
    non-traditional students
  • Falling school roll drives recruitment of more
    mature / international students
  • Changes in the nature of secondary education
    (Elander et al 2009)
  • Engagement in paid work to support study (Jones
    et al 2004)
  • Post-1992 in particular?
  • Lower grades on entry
  • Recruitment through clearing
  • Students less informed about / committed to /
    prepared for study (Biggs 1999, Crozier 2008))
  • Economically deprived (Crawford et al 2008)
  • More local students, still living at home
  • Need to teach more students with fewer resources
  • Modularisation

3
Changing Students, Changing Contexts
  • Such factors lead to
  • mismatch between capabilities / expectations /
    aspirations on entry and HE actualities
  • diversity of capabilities / expectations /
    aspirations on entry
  • NB non-traditional is a homogenising concept!
    (Hockings et al 2008)
  • fragmented HE experience
  • serious challenges to academic and social
    integration
  • an HE level IV experience very different from our
    own!
  • Re-evaluation of what is reasonable to expect
    from students?
  • Re-evaluation of the academic role?
  • Particular issues and / or experiences
    in your discipline / at
    your institutions??

4
Transitions into HE and the Sociological
Imagination
  • Tinto Learning Communities
  • Learning involves shared experiences, shared
    knowledge creation, shared responsibilities
  • Wenger Communities of Practice
  • Learning moving from peripheral to central
    participation in the CoP
  • Key insight learning is socially situated and as
    such social factors are key to successful
    transitions
  • Implication that HEIs need to create
    circumstances in which LCs / CoPs are likely to
    emerge

5
Transitions into HE and the Sociological
Imagination
  • Nicol, Yorke Longden, Harvey etc. also draw on
    sociological ideas through concern with e.g.
  • academic integration (re formal and normative
    demands of the institution)
  • social integration (re developing good social
    relations with peers and staff)
  • Transitions also involve acquisition of tacit,
    embedded, practical competencies practical
    consciousnesses?
  • Practical and discursive consciousnesses
    (following Giddens, following Schutz)
  • To excel in HE you need to develop a discursive
    consciousness...
  • But to engage in HE in the first place you need
    to have the right practical consciousness
  • Traditional students came with this, new
    students do not?

6
Bourdieu
  • Distinction (1984), Outline of a Theory of
    Practice (1977), Homo Academicus (1990)
  • Habitus
  • an habitual disposition to think, act, feel,
    respond, know, learn etc. in given ways a way
    of being
  • acquired through early socialisation
  • shaped by socio-economic / cultural factors
  • largely non-reflexive (e.g. both a consciousness
    and an embodied state it is taken for granted
    / second-nature)
  • bestows forms of capital not only economic
    but cultural (knowledge / values), social
    (networks), symbolic (prestige), physical
    (bearing)

7
Bourdieu
  • Field
  • A territory of social practice (such as
    education)
  • Shaped by historically culturally contingent
    values power relations
  • Defines, constrains, values devalues certain
    actions dispositions
  • i.e certain Habituses fit certain Fields
  • The Traditional University a Field requiring
    a middle class Habitus
  • Mechanism of social reproduction
  • Having the right habitus helps you navigate HE
  • Having the wrong one can be a criterion for
    exclusion / failure for judging good and
    bad students?
  • Universities have their own institutional
    habituses
  • Diane Reay

8
What makes a good student?
  • Perseverance / longer term view
  • Valuing of learning for its own sake
  • Independence
  • Analytical / critical insight
  • Appropriate etiquette / deference
  • Competence with elaborated code
  • Asking appropriate questions
  • ...many University students especially in
    their first year struggle with the simple task
    of asking appropriate questions
    (Handley et al 2007)

9
Whos Obama?
  • Inappropriate Habitus ask out loud, in class gt
    loss of status
  • Appropriate Habitus keep this lack of knowledge
    to yourself know how to find out about it later
  • How do we respond?
  • Opens questions about tutor role?

10
What makes a good tutor?
  • Views on your own experiences of being tutored at
    university?
  • What should the contemporary tutor role
    encompass? What should it not encompass?

11
Transitions into HE and the Sociological
Imagination
  • Sociology of professions
  • Experts in modernity hold and mete out valuable,
    esoteric knowledge they write, they lecture,
    you listen!
  • Traditional authority (Weber)
  • Epistemology internal to the discipline
  • Recipients are deferent and grateful!
  • Use of arcane language etc. establishes and
    reproduces social distance fits with
  • Ideological function of university to reproduce
    social distinction?

12
Transitions into HE and the Sociological
Imagination
  • Sociology of Consumerism
  • Massification / marketisation of HE
  • Response to late-modern capitalism flexible
    specialisation
  • Epistemologies / expertise subject to external
    factors demand in the market, from the State
    etc.
  • Knowledge becomes to a degree public and
    contested / contestable changes relation of the
    lay public to knowledge performativity
  • Tutor becomes service provider, delivery becomes
    as important as the product
  • Tutors performance judged on retention, degree
    profiles of students rather than expertise per se
  • Ideological function produce good workers /
    consumers?

13
Transitions into HE and the Sociological
Imagination
  • Bauman the role of intellectuals
  • In late-modern world neither model is
    appropriate expert as legislator untenable,
    student as pure consumer problematic (Higgins
    2002)
  • Expert must become interpreter
  • ...the ordinary competence of otherwise
    knowledgeable members cannot cope without
    assistance... - therefore
  • ...experts, armed with specialist knowledge...,
    working within specialist arenas, are still
    necessary for engaging with / transmission of
    knowledge, but
  • Interpretation must make the interpreted
    knowledge sensible to those who are not
    inside... (199222)

14
Transitions into HE and the Sociological
Imagination
  • Bauman the role of intellectuals
  • The interpreter role
  • ...consists of translating statements, made
    within one communally based tradition, so they
    can understood within the system of knowledge
    based on another tradition ... this strategy is
    aimed at facilitating communication between
    autonomous (sovereign) participants. This
    involves maintaining... the delicate balance
    between the two conversing traditions necessary
    for the message to be both undistorted (regarding
    the meaning invested by the sender) and
    understood (by the recipient) (19875)

15
What is to be done?
  • A quick note about Bolt-on academic skills
    interventions - they
  • are deficit models?
  • fail to recognise that academic, social and
    cultural factors are intertwined?
  • absolve academics of responsibility?
  • alienate weaker students from their learning
    community?
  • fail to recognise the dynamic, socially mediated
    nature of the HE context?

16
Three premisses
  • Learning is socially situated- social and
    academic integration should be the focus of level
    IV provision, equal with content delivery
  • Mismatch between habitus of many non-traditional
    students and academic field - beyond social and
    academic integration, there is also a need for
    cultural integration?
  • Re-evaluate the role of tutor and the student-
    integration rather than assimilation implies
    movement on both sides

17
What we did
  • Three premisses
  • Learning is socially situated
  • Mismatch between habitus of many non-traditional
    students and academic field social, academic
    cultural integration
  • Re-evaluate the role of tutor and the student
  • What we didnt do (but might have)
  • Rely heavily on virtual resources (e.g.
    Develop Me at Bradford)
  • Isolate weak students for supplementary
    instruction
  • Provide separate basic skills courses
  • Establish student fora independent of teaching
    sessions / staff
  • Where did we start?

18
Characteristics of the Sociology Social Science
Programme at CCCU
  • Fairly large cohort (70-80 students)
  • Demographics - approximately 1/3 mature
    students 1/5 from low participation
    neighbourhoods 1/7 bottom quartile
  • Recruiting rather than selecting
  • Mean A level points on entry 12 (c/w 14 for
    post 1992 Universities / 19 for Old Universities)
  • Wide range of knowledge of / interest in the
    subject
  • Wide range of combination subjects
  • Approximately 1/5 single honours 1/3 joint
    just under 1/2 bias away from Sociology
  • Wide range in terms of both academic ability and
    study skills (appropriateness and quality)
  • Lowest HEFCE (Band D) funding per student

19
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Interventions
  • Welcoming activities key purpose less to
    transfer information than to generate rapport
    between students / students and staff
  • Cohort monitoring proactive, early warning
    system
  • Year long induction embedded in programme
    delivery
  • Regular, early low stakes assessment and
    feedback the portfolio (BIBB1)
  • Distinctive teaching style team-teaching,
    orientated to building trust relationships, front
    loading of staffing resources
  • Integrated individual and peer study

20
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Reconfiguring the field Tiered learning
  • A response to disparate student base, wide
    variety of levels of interest, ability,
    aspirations
  • Many students dont understand the need to read,
    and / or know what or how to read.
  • Sociology involves challenging theory no
    dumbing down here!!
  • Theory sessions have linked exercises on the VLE,
    each with 3-4 tiers of increasingly difficulty
  • tiers 1-2 covered the basics, higher tiers
    afforded more in-depth engagement if the
    student chooses

21
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Reconfiguring the field Tiered learning
  • Exercises make explicit the conceptual steps
    otherwise implicit in an academic habitus
  • Deliberate handholding regarding the process
    but not the content of theory e.g. through
    signalling appropriate questions to ask,
    highlighting technical uses of common words etc.
  • Do some background reading on hysteria so that
    you are clear in your mind of the difference
    between the commonsense way we use the term
    today, and the more technical way it was used by
    19C medicine
  • There are some other examples in your delegate
    pack

22
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Reconfiguring the field Tiered learning
  • Students attempt the exercises before the
    sessions
  • Students hear the lecture which recapitulates the
    material from the exercises
  • Students peer-review and rework the exercises in
    class
  • Students can revisit the exercises after class
    even some time after (consolidation weeks)
  • Finally completed exercises comprise part of the
    portfolio submission
  • Opportunity to move from periphery to centre, at
    students pace
  • The intention behind this initiative was to
    create a more focussed and structured learning
    experience for students, without compromising the
    self-reliance and independent learning ability
    that characterises University education (Cant
    Watts 2007)

23
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Reconfiguring the field Tiered learning
  • They have helped me to structure what sort of
    reading would be best to use so that I could
    understand. Also ... if the tiers have been
    done, I go into the lecture with an
    understanding, and it helps me understand the
    lectures in more depth
  • They are useful as structured pointers to
    develop understanding ... it was quite difficult
    to attempt them before the lecture ... and after
    the lecture I had more understanding.
  • The tiered learning I felt worked well in that
    it gave me ideas and the confidence to do my own
    reading and research as I tended to use it as a
    guideline for my own readings

24
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Reconfiguring the field
    Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)
  • PAL fosters cross level peer support
  • Five main aims to help students
  • Adjust quickly to university life
  • Acquire a clear view of course direction and
    expectations
  • Develop independent learning and study skills
  • Enhance understanding of subject matter through
    collaborative group discussion
  • Prepare better for assessed work in
    examinations

25
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Reconfiguring the field PAL
  • PAL is NOT
  • Teaching by students the PAL leaders role is
    not to impart subject knowledge
  • A means to reduce lecturer / student contact
  • A means to provide remedial support for weak
    students
  • A bolt on

26
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Reconfiguring the field PAL provided
  • an alternative, potentially less threatening,
    point of access to staff
  • social bridges between levels IV V, and a sense
    of belonging for new students
  • opportunities for both level IV students and PAL
    leaders to practice both the subject and
    independent learning
  • which foster tacit skills / knowledges /
    competencies associated with HE, but not on
    formal curriculum

27
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Reconfiguring the field - PDP / personal tutoring
  • University policy on PDP We see the link between
    PDP and the role of the tutor as a key strategy
    for engaging students and staff in recognising
    and meeting the changing needs of students and
    accessing appropriate resources and support.
    CCCU PDP Policy Document.

28
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Reconfiguring the field - PDP / personal tutoring
  • Formally introduced end of term 1, but groundwork
    laid in portfolio
  • Students asked
  • to reflect over Christmas on feedback from
    assignments / expectations and realities of
    University life / approaches to learning etc.
  • To write this up briefly (1 side of A4)
  • Each student allocated to a PDP tutor model was
    face-to-face personal tutorials, not VLE mediated
  • Students contacted (vigorously!) to set up PDP
    tutorials immediately on their return for the
    Lent term
  • Significant investment of staff time /
    effort

29
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Reconfiguring the field - PDP / personal tutoring
  • Made student voice audible in a new way
  • Got to know students who would not normally be
    visible to tutors
  • Facilitated a holistic appreciation of the
    students life world and how it impacted on their
    academic performance
  • Challenged our expectations and forced us to
    reflect on our own practice

30
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Life Outside University
  • Working hours
  • Social Responsibilities
  • Some serious social / material difficulties
  • Life Inside the University
  • Perceived overload (6 modules)
  • Concentrated timetables
  • Isolation / hoodlum friends

31
Holistic level IV delivery
  • Schism between taken for granted assumptions of
    staff and students normal students admitted to
    -
  • Never setting foot in the library
  • Taking a (literally!) last minute approach
  • Taking a pragmatic / instrumental / fragmented
    approach
  • Relying on pre-undergraduate learning skills
    (spidergrams!!)
  • Having a short concentration span
  • Not knowing how to read or reflect
  • Needing and expecting structure
  • Needing and expecting external motivation
  • Cutting and pasting from the web
  • Being bewildered by referencing (not how, but
    why?)
  • Being not bored, but petrified!
  • Being embarrassed about their lack of skills

32
Holistic level IV delivery
  • I started off quite dubious
  • I felt there was a barrier between students and
    lecturers
  • Although they said I could go and see them about
    problems, I didnt, I thought they were just
    saying it
  • a great way of being able to interact with the
    tutors and being able to look at what youre
    doing...
  • ...look at your work personally
  • Its good to learn about what youre doing
    wrong
  • It changed the rest of the year for me
  • much more confident
  • I realised I could actually do what Im asking
    myself to do

Amy and Joe Students from Level IV of the
Sociology Social Science Programme
33
Holistic level IV delivery
  • PDP Enabled students
  • To reflect on their progress (but they needed a
    lot of help!)
  • To recognise and enhance their existing
    capacities
  • To recognise their limitations / confusions
  • To develop a positive approach to learning
  • To begin to articulate and manage their personal
    goals
  • To recognise the value of PDP!
  • I started off quite dubious
  • I felt there was a barrier between students and
    lecturers
  • Although they said I could go and see them about
    problems, I didnt, I thought they were just
    saying it
  • a great way of being able to interact with the
    tutors and being able to look at what youre
    doing...
  • ...look at your work personally
  • Its good to learn about what youre doing
    wrong
  • It changed the rest of the year for me
  • much more confident
  • I realised I could actually do what Im asking
    myself to do

34
Holistic level IV delivery
  • PDP enabled the programme team
  • To provide targeted support
  • To appreciate the changing educational contexts
    from which our students come
  • To appreciate the diverse predispositions
    (habituses) the students possess on entry
  • To realise that a lot of our taken for granted
    assumptions are (sometimes) misplaced
  • Not all students knew how to reflect
    independently a fairly major hurdle for PDP!
  • What staff see as deviant learning behaviour is
    not shared by many students
  • To recognise the social distance between tutors
    and the students we can be frightening!
  • In short, to review the tutor role, in order to
    meet the changing needs of students

35
Sociology Social Science First Year
Party!
Icebreakers
Trip to Margate (2010)
PAL
Peer assessment
Group work
PDP
Portfolio assessment
Personal Tutor
Front-loading
Tiered-learning
Subject based study skills interventions
Team Teaching
36
Did it work?
  • Hard data
  • Attrition rates
  • 2005 22
  • 2006 24
  • 2007 (new first year provision introduced) 7.6
  • 2008...

37
Did it work?
The support is there for me and I am aware of
that
I like how we have two lecturers supports
understanding
  • Hearing students voices
  • Evaluations

I found that the assessment techniques helped me
discover my weak points and improve my skill
Very lively and exciting double act which kept
my attention
I found that there was a lot to take in, but I
found having the weekly task helped to manage my
time rather than leaving it all to the last week
Found there was plenty of clear, structured
support for this course
I thought the use of the portfolio for
assessment a good tool for ensuring understanding
of all the concepts / theorists covered rather
than just concentrating on one facet to pass an
exam
really good they chased up absences as they said
they would in the beginning
38
Did it work?
  • Hearing students voices
  • Evaluations
  • Real, live students!
  • Questions or comments?
  • Augustine House
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