Below are a set of incidental observations I made throughout the year when teaching first year students on the Graphic Design course.
- Random groups work, but the ability to meet regularly in those groups is crucial in terms of enabling students to monitor progress.
- Sessions must be planned but allow for flexibility—feedback sessions usually depend on turn-up and poor attendance usually leads to a weak class.
SEMINARS and WORKSHOPS
Full freedom is detrimental at first year level. Students respond much better if guided through. Timing tasks, restricting thinking time and scaffolding tasks throughout the day without giving it all away maintains good engagement.
- Lectures need a very clear structure and a clear relation to their projects.
- Students appreciate theoretical sessions if interrupted by active participation.
- They commit to workshops that are active and purposeful in relation to the assessed task. Value must be made explicit.
A word on my approach to learning:
Whilst the dangers of homogenized teaching and the benefit of delivering for learning styles are common knowledge, I believe they must be taken with pinch of salt—the learning style, similar to deep/surface approaches to learning are not inbuilt or fully defining attributes, but rather fluctuating and habitual states. Students must develop multimodal approaches in order to expand their area of observation.
More conducive to effective teaching I found is an awareness of the processes of understanding students undergo when faced with new knowledge. This has impacted the way I react to student behavior in class and shed light on characteristics that whilst potentially frustrating are but normal states towards understanding, i.e. silence could be a normal step in assimilating knowledge.