Friday, 27 May 2011

And so .... the end is near.....

I have finished teaching for the year and am now on the home stretch as far as marking is concerned.

The reflective assignments from the 3rd year social work students were a revelation. I will definitely re-run this group project next year.

Despite some gripes about the project not being assessed (I am reconsidering this) the level of engagement with the project and with the reflection was tremendous.

Some students clearly started out on this project and on the formation of their groups with the view that the whole process was "fake" and that putting together an online presentation over 9 weeks or so was going to give them very little insight into how groups work "in the wild". Their reflections tell a different story and the sophistication with which some of them have applied theories of group dynamics, team roles and motivation theory has been quite inspiring.

What is more, the projects themselves have provided a legacy - a set of resources about the art and craft of leadership which are going to be invaluable not just for future students, but for me too!

I also feel really inspired by the students' ingenuity - the range of TV programmes and films studied (from Toy Story 3 to Hell's Kitchen) as well as the platforms used (Facebook, Wordpress, Powerpoint) has been enriching and the freedom to be creative is something most embraced eagerly in the midst of a heavy final year.

Some have been troubled by the need to wrangle the technology but the exercise also produced some real "stars" in terms of getting to grips with the on-line platforms.

So what will I do differently next time?

Probably introduce some form of credit for the work actually produced and reduce the amount of reflection to be done alongside the presentation.

Instead, reflection on the group process could be an option for their exam (I HAVE to give them an exam, apparently).

Give them a free choice of platform, film, and even topic (leadership, motivation, group process, team types, organisational culture etc.....)

What I won't do - but would love to - is give them one another's reflections to digest.

The variety of perspectives was dizzying at times and that would be the real way to learn about teams.... however they would (I would!) write very differently if their work was going to be reviewed by peers. But maybe there should be some part of the process where they ARE encouraged to do a group reflection?

Maybe actually all teams should do this from time to time....?

So if you'd like to see the student's work,(with their consent) here are a couple of Facebook Pages (The Beach) (Hell's Kitchen) and a Wordpress site. I'll be adding the Powerpoint presos to Slideshare shortly....