Archive for the ‘5/6 Peer observation’ Category

I was observed by my colleague, Carlo, delivering the second part of the Moving and Handling session. This part of the session was a practical workshop, whereby the students are taught safe techniques to use when out in practice, and have the opportunity to have a go with the equipment and practice the techniques within a lab environment, before actually using them within the workplace.

An example of the types of techniques taught in this session – hoisting:

Feedback and discussion

I felt that the session went okay – it wasn’t brilliant, and it wasn’t a awful. I struggle with the fact that it is difficult to be creative delivering such a session, therefore the the driver that makes the most difference within the classroom is me! Biggs (1999) talks about creating intrinsic motivation, that students need to value the topic they are learning about for its own sake, rather than because they are going to be assessed in it. He comments that teachers who love their subject and show it can be inspirational to students. If teachers percieve great value in the topic they are talking about, then this will have the knock on effect of causing students to be curious because they wish to seek some of that value. I do believe in the importance of teaching students about safe moving and handling, and I am committed to seeking out ways to deliver it in the most interesting way – but ultimately I hope that I am able to enthuse them.

I felt that the session was a little disorganised, as I split the bigger group into smaller groups and they rotate around the equipment practising new skills and techniques. I move among them, being available for answering questions and clarifying tricky techniques, as well as to observe and provide on the spot feedback to individuals and groups in action. When I met with Carlo to hear his feedback, he felt that the session did not appear disorganised. He thought that I came accross as ‘in charge’ and that I worked well with the groups. He acknowledged that the nature of the task requires students to take initiative, and he noted that they were working but looked relaxed. He gave some positive feedback about the way I handled a question asked by a student who approached me saying that she had what was probably a ‘stupid’ question. I reassured her it wasn’t stupid at all, and Carlo thought I gave an excellent reply, but he also liked the way I answered not just to her but to the whole class. This is one of the methods I always try to utilise to encourage contribution, and to get students to speak up. Another method I used during this session (in this and much of my other teaching)  is to encourage students to share their own experiences from work or practice, to try and give the subject some meaning. Light and Cox (2001) state that this is one of the elements of the deeper approach to learning, where students are able to relate what they have learnt to their own personal experience. They go on to note that an important aspect of learning is that experience is valued, particuarly for more mature students, of which we have quite a high proportion on the Joint Programme.

Carlo and I had a discussion about how one can assess what students have learnt in a session such as this? They are helping and commenting on each others practice within the group, plus I am available to support and guide if needed and assess at quite a superficial level, though not equally with all members of the group (A3). But ultimately it is hard to assess what people have learnt and this is problematic – furthermore, Moving and Handling is a good example of a skill that once learnt will be forgotten if its not being used regularly. Glasser (1988 in Biggs 1999) note that most people learn:

  • 10% of what they read
  • 20% of what they hear
  • 30% of what they see
  • 50% of what they see and hear
  • 70% of what they talk over with others
  • 80% of what they use and do in real life
  • 95% of what they teach to someone else

This list, although obviously providing approximate percentages as these will vary hugely from individual to individual, does give us as educators an idea of how people learn effectively and the strategies that need to be developed to support such learning. A practical session such as Moving and Handling, where students actually get to ‘have a go’ will hopefully aid learning. (A1; A2; K2; K3; K5)

Overall I enjoyed being observed, particularly by someone from a different discipline, as I appreciated the objective perspective Carlo would be able to bring to the exercise. I enjoyed the discussion afterwards where Carlo probed me somewhat, seeking clarification about why I did some things the way I did them – always a useful exercise in maintaining and improving quality. (K6)

Biggs (1999) Teaching for quality learning at university SRHE and OU Press; Bucks.

Glasser W (1988) quoted by ‘Association for supervision and curriculum development guide’ cited in Biggs (1999) Teaching for quality learning at university SRHE and OU Press; Bucks.

Light G and Cox R (2001) Learning and teaching in higher education: the reflective professional Paul Chapman Publishing; London.


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In memory of an inspiring young doctor who mused about life & death through her terminal cancer illness. Her husband, Chris now keeps the page updated.


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