Case Study 1

The Learning Development Service (LDS) at the University of Casterbridge developed a non-credit bearing skills development module for its first year history students, of whom there are approximately a hundred. The module, which consisted of 10 weekly taught workshop sessions, ran during the autumn term of 2008/09. It was designed to address general study skills as well as more specific subject-related skills such as historiography and historical research skills. The module was content was designed in close collaboration with academic staff from the History department who were keen to support the development of their students’ research, critical analysis, writing, and presentation skills. It was agreed the module should take an active learning approach to skills development and that materials and exercises should relate directly to the mainstream curriculum. It was also agreed that sessions would be co-delivered by members of staff from the LDS and the School of History. Delivery The taught sessions on the module were built around activities, co-facilitated by academic and LDS staff. These activities included: • • • • essay question analysis and essay planning exercises based on titles from first year modules; secondary-source analysis exercises in which students discussed the merits and limitations of a particular argument; debates in which students argued the case for competing interpretations of historical phenomena; paraphrasing and quoting exercises – again based on secondary source materials - in which students compared their interpretations of texts and choices of illustrative quotes.

However, despite these efforts, and the consistent attention to subject specificity, student feedback, in certain cases, appeared sceptical of the module’s value and relevance. The following comments appeared on the feedback for the module: “I learned this stuff at A-level. If I didn’t know how to write an essay, I wouldn’t be here would I?” (Gabriel Oak) “I felt a little patronised during some sessions – as if the assumption was I couldn’t cope with studying a degree.” (Eustacia Vye) “I came to University to study history, not to learn how to do essay plans.” (Jude Fawley)

“I resented spending time on ‘skills’ when I could have been getting on with my degree. It wasn’t even assessed so we got nothing back for our time.” (Bathsheba Everdene) Discussion questions

• •

What reasons might students have for perceiving the module in this way? What action could be taken in future to address and challenge these perceptions?

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.