Your ASTP does indeed sound very good. I’d forgotten that you train future teachers, even though you had mentioned that in the last module (and of course you being in ‘The Faculty of Education’ is a dead giveaway!) Yes, future teachers will benefit from this practicuum training a lot.
You mention that attendance is low yet it is precisely those students who would benefit most from the programme. How can the benefits be made clearer to potential students to increase participation? In my university we don’t have trainee teachers, but we have an “educational support centre” aimed at low achieving students. We’ve made the classes (taught by adult teachers) credit based which has made the incentive to join the classes higher.
The classes themselves are, unfortunately, still taught in the traditional style. I say ‘unfortunately’ because I had tried to get the style changed two years ago. I made the argument that the low achievers were low partly because of the lecture style tuition they had received in middle and high school. In other words, they had failed in one educational system. To continue that style at university would just be an exercise in frustration and likely lead to more drop outs and low attendance. My prediction then has come true even with the offer of credits.
I offered to team teach a class in financial planning to low achieving students. I have a qualification in mortgages, pensions, insurances and savings, and I feel confident that I could create scenario based, task-based learning classes that would motivate students more, help them see the from their own life knowledge the meaning of financial planning and prepare strong schemata for technical information to be placed, i.e. increase the likelihood of that technical information being remembered. I showed my plans to the teacher in charge. He looked aghast! He said that if he didn’t tell students the information directly, they could never learn.
The teacher himself came from a background in financial planning, not in education. Like so many ‘teachers’, he was employed on the basis of his financial planning PhD, not what he knows about learning theory or pedagogic/ andragogic practice.
S, I have a question for you. In the last module, we had to read Moon’s (2005) article on epistemological development (ED) in which she expanded on the ideas of Perry (1968/70), Baxter Magolda (1992) and others. There are (using Moon’s criteria) four levels of ED: from absolute knowing, via transitional knowledge and independent knowing to contextual knowing (Moon, 2005, p. 8~9). Many of the teaching methods we espouse require (or at least presuppose the eventual development of) contextual knowing. Yet university students, your tutors, may not be developmentally ready to comprehend contextual knowing. How do you select tutors? Do you have a system of appraisal and use only advanced students as tutors, or is there some sequencing of tasks, information and so on, that aim to develop (for example) independent knowing students to the highest level? Or perhaps this kind of thinking is not addressed by your programme?
I’d like to get information about how the programme works and present it in my institution. There’s so much potential value.
Moon, J. (2005). We seek it here … A new perspective on the elusive activity of critical thinking: a theoretical and practical approach. Bristol: Higher Education Academy.