Writing my thesis
Many lecturers seem unaware of the very different orientations held by their students, and so, as we saw in Chapter 1, tend to blame students for laziness (or lack of motivation). They thus assume that there is a single reason for being at i need help writing a compare and contrast essay university or college — to obtain the highest level of qualification. The Open University provides degree level education for adults studying j part-time writing my thesis at a distance. The teaching j materials consist of specially prepared correspondence texts, television and radio j broadcasts, supported by face-to-face tuition at the local level. It was little discussed and largely unstudied in any systematic way. Broadly speaking, that situation no longer obtains.
The prospect of academics thinking as hard about their teaching as they do about their research may remain a distant one (Becher, 1978), but the closed doors which Layton saw have been gradually eased apart by empirical enquiry and open debate. The study of teaching has become accepted rather than exceptional, and there are growing signs that writing my thesis the traditional reluctance of lecturers to engage in self-evaluation and appraisal, though still widespread, is not universal. Most colleges and universities mount staff development activities of some kind or other to help academics to reflect on and improve their leaching. Yet while teaching itself has writing my thesis begun to be more vigorously and openly examined, the teaching- learning process as it is experienced by students Hus remained hidden from view. It derives from the vantage-points which they occupy and it is concerned in the main with the activities in which they — rather than their students — -are engaged. The first of these is quite simply that while our knowledge of lecturers and of the part they play in teaching has grown substantially, students have remained shadowy and insubstantial figures, part of the background rather than the foreground of discussion and debate. In short, the experience of students has been taken for granted rather than systematically explored. Indeed, teaching expertise has been primarily associated with accomplishment in the lecture-hall or the seminar room, and staff development initiatives have tended to be directed towards improvement of this aspect of teaching performance. The problems of how or what students are expected to learn from lectures, seminars or practicals — and more particularly, of how students might be helped to maximize what they might learn in such situations — have remained largely unexplored or unaddressed. A further and linked consequence of an emphasis on what we might call direct teaching situations has been a corresponding lack of emphasis on learning activities in which academics are only indirectly engaged.
Such activities include background reading, report and essay writing, working through set problems, note-taking and revision. But the chief responsibility for carrying out and learning from these activities is considered to rest with students. Such activities are thus widely viewed as playing an auxiliary rather than central role in the teaching-learning process, at base reinforcing and extending what students have assimilated from more formal teaching encounters.
It is therefore important to recognize not only that a knowledge of students and of learning has been substantially lacking, but also that this has meant that assumptions about what teaching entails and what the roles and responsibilities of a teacher in higher education are have sprung from a less than complete view of the teaching-learning process.
In one sense, then, the present book can help to close the gap by offering an understanding of what it means to learn in higher education.
But in an equally crucial respect, the unaccustomed vantage-point which it adopts also serves to challenge prevailing assumptions about teaching and learn- ing.
If our conception of learning is transformed by new knowledge, then our conception of teaching must also undergo metamorphosis. The purpose of the present chapter is to sketch out the foundations and implications of an experiential conception of the teaching-learning process, i.
A comprehensive review of the findings writing my thesis of earlier chapters will be undertaken in Chapter 12. Here the aim is to highlight main themes which spring from the findings, to suggest what these imply for our thinking about the teaching-learning process, and to illustrate the kinds of initiatives which might follow in consequence. Teaching for Understanding A signal feature of higher education institutions is the great and growing diversity of undergraduate courses and of the disciplines in which these arc steeped. In each discipline, distinctive conceptual frameworks and procedures of analysis are brought to bear on a specific domain of subject-matter. No analysis of learning and teaching should fail to recognize this diversity and distinctiveness: the pedagogical problems of any one discipline are in certain respects unique. Equally importantly, nonetheless, if an analysis of learning and teaching is to have any general Validity, it cannot remain landlocked in a specific subject domain. A core of mutual concerns and perspectives must be sought which arch across the disciplines and are applicable, to greater or lesser degrees, to most if not ill of them. Chapter 2 provides telling illustrations of this issue in its most Significant form: the search for criteria which capture qualitative differences in what we have called the outcomes of learning — in other Words, what it is that students have gained from the experience of higher iducation. Chapter 2 shows how the uniqueness of course content must be recognized. The precise subject-matter of a learning task is confronted in arriving at a full description of learning Outcomes.
On the other hand, differences can be identified which have Wider relevance.
A distinction can be drawn, for example, between Outcomes which merely describe the content of a text or mention isolated Pirts of it, and those which are founded upon a recognition of the relationship between the evidence presented and the conclusion which the ivldence was intended to support. More generally, and most fun- damentally, we can differentiate between outcomes which represent understanding and those which do not. This concern with understanding, allied to a sensitivity to subject- patter, has been a thread which unites the various contributions to the patent book. In different ways, each chapter has sought an overarching Criterion of what students have learnt in the distinction between learning Which represents the memorization or reproduction of discrete pieces of information, and learning in which meaning has been grasped in a Complete and holistic way. Others, however, may I perceive the lecture content in a predominantly unreflective and extrinsic i way, as something which has to be retained for assessment purposes, i Similarly in Chapter 5, we saw how the meaning of a text may not be I grasped because of a failure to perceive the interconnections between the j specific content of the text and the overall message which its author was l attempting to convey.