Conference Update (Day II)

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The complexity of the discussions has gone to another level on the second day of this residential seminar.  It seems as if after having had enough time to generate  questions based on the impulses offered in the presentations on Day 1, participants were ready to engage with the most relevant issues.

In my presentation, for example, the contributions of the audience were very useful in terms of helping me to critically question and expand on how I had previously thought of approaching and initially engaging students with a portfolio-based approach to reflective learning and the way in which I would research and observe this process.  Of particular interest, was the use of Appreciative Inquiry to draw out what works well within a system.

The sessions which followed, all brought out further key themes in this context particularly those related to allowing students to have more control (whether it be through defining threshold concepts which could be supported in an electronic environment or providing „just the right amount“ of scaffolding to give students enough structure and guidance for their journey).

The extent to which students can articulate how they are developing in this reflective learning mode or how we teachers can sensibly assess learning process skills were also items for discussion.

For me, the most important aspect of the seminar, was the acknowledgement that we are not promoting a ‚magical‘ tool, but rather creating spaces (with authentic learning tasks) in which students can develop the qualilites representative of a graduate of higher education fit for employability.   Additionally, I was able to appreciate the need for us to dialogue with and support students in truly effective ways.

 In the final sessions of the day, 2 ideas which struck me as being a neat summary of the essentials of our task as teachers in supporting our students in their development were:

1. „Teaching“ translating itself into „inspiring learning“; and

2. „Supporting“ as helping students to take inventory of themselves: their strengths, weakness, understanding, on a meta level, their learning and being able to learn from their experiences inside and outside of the classroom environment.

As the conference approaches Day 3, I continue to benefit from the interaction and the scholarly atmosphere of the event as well as the refreshing ambience of the centre.         

Tanyasha Yearwood.

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