I am working on a 4 day Level 1 Paddlesport coach award course in Norwich this week. I am the tutor working alongside a Course Director who has control over the course plan and overall delivery. I have delivered several of these courses with this person in the past to a variety of people. The course has a maximum of 12 people and this one has 11.  I know the course pretty well now although have yet to deliver every aspect of it. Today whilst listening to the Course Directors introductions and layout of the course, outcomes and assessments I was able to observe with the PGCE in mind. So thinking about laying out ground rules, agreeing an assessment plan, getting to know the students and making a formative assessment of their needs, considering their motivations for being here and whether their needs have been met to enable learning  to happen.

1, Ground rules: Our course director laid out the ground rules by example rather than actual statement. When a couple of the young people were talking over him, he made it clear that it wasn't acceptable and the consequences would be leaving the course. I wondered whether a clear statement that When one person is speaking everyone else should listen should be written out and stuck to the wall. Since all bar one of the students are from a local college and know each other and the course director I was surprised at how little respect they seemed to display, led in particular by one individual. Rearranging seating helped and moving on quickly to a new task which involved movement. It is always hard in the first day, because we need to cover quite a lot of material, but also get to know the students.

2. We have a sheet of agreed assessment tasks and how these will be achieved in the course. Students and Tutors sign this document. This was done with in theory plenty of time for the students to read them, but wonder whether they did. However verbally & during the presentation the assessments were given as well. I know we will get questions throughout the course about the assessments and that it all becomes clear in the end. Some students just don't get it until they are doing it!!

3. Making formative assessments of the students needs is always interesting. I know that I have formed opinions about individuals learning styles and also their keenness and motivation. I am not sure I can write this down though or even remember all their names. How do I do this? At the end of the day we used a spider diagram to get students to assess their knowledge on the topics covered today. I often think this reflects confidence as much as knowledge, because you can think you know enough with confidence and not do (you only know what you know ... you don't know what you don't!). When I have used similar things on 1 to 1 sessions I have also made the same assessment and found where the student differs from the coaches assessment that is where discussion lies and can be useful!

In addition we tutors have a "contract" with the students to provide a service (the course in question) and when you know that someone is not motivated or thinks they know everything and declares they are bored, how do you then engage them. We have a quality assessor coming on Thursday (an assessment day 3) and it would be easy for this student to say he is bored even though we have tried to engage him and encourage thinking when you identify a need. However so far he has rejected this offers of support stating that we are "having a go". It suggests some underlying issues about learning per sa and other issues, which we have had to refer to his college tutors and they have even talked with his parent! Time will tell of we can engage him.

4. Motivation ... most of students seem to be enjoying the learning the more active they are. There is a lot to do and this course front loads a lot of theory before they get to "have a go". I think seeing them tomorrow will be interesting because they get an evening to think about it (or not) and sometimes that helps the brain to establish concepts and links that they may not have made before. Perhaps even some reflection!
 



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