The rationales for this initiative were as follows:-
To develop student centred learning.
The student evaluation forms provide strong evidence of the success of he class and, in particular, the validity and appropriateness of the overall objective of the class. To give one example, 96% of students agreed/strongly agreed with the statement ‘I would recommend this course to others’.
A sample of the relevant comments from the students indicates students’ appreciation of the pedagogical approach with a number of specific comments expressing support for the session and assignment in question.
I enjoyed the enthusiasm from Phil, it was also good to have a variation of guest lecturers to help keep me engaged.
It was kept interesting with different people, talks and tasks instead of just boring lectures.
Phil, he is enthusiastic about the class and helpful with all assignments. His lectures are very structured and easy to relate to. The group union rep meeting was very insightful.
The combination of theory and guest lectures with practice. The materials provided throughout were fantastic and invaluable.
Lecturer was very enthusiastic. Plenty of practical examples were applied to the theory.
Informative trade union panel.
Informative and comprehensive understanding of current employment trends.
Enjoyed the group work and speed dating.
The importance of trial and error and being able to make adjustments according to students’ needs during the session. In this case, it was necessary to shift from the speed dating format to a more conventional question and answer panel so that students were able to to learn from the interaction between reps/officers and their fellow students.
Perhaps the biggest challenge was re-assuring students in advance that this exercise would stretch them positively but would not prove over-demanding of them. This trepidation was exacerbated by the fact that this was an assessed assignment. Once the session was under way students’ fears were allayed. Thus, it was important for the lecturer to clearly communicate in advance what the session and the assignment would consist of.
There were 32 students in the class, There were no scalability issues although it was necessary, as indicated above, to switch to a more conventional panel format whilst maximising the level of student participation.
There is no question that the introduction of the ‘real world’ into the classroom is of enormous benefit for students. The testimony of informed stakeholders with a wealth of experience is an invaluable learning resource, particularly when it allied to the onus being placed upon students to inquire and investigate.