1: THE CHALLENGE!

I am currently teaching a module on the history of archaeology at Australian National University. Students taking this course are 2nd year undergraduates within the Bachelor of Archaeology Major.  The size of the class is low (28) and this provides an opportunity to create an intimate format to lectures and tutorials. The current delivery of this course is face-to-face with the course coordinator uploading lecture notes, tutorial readings etc on to the Moodle site. There is currently no HTML site that allows students to control of the delivery (or continue discussing) their own ideas. This is directly aligned with two of the courses primary learning objectives:

  1. Evaluate individual contributions towards our current understanding of the past.
  2. Critically assess the relationship between archaeological practice and archaeological thought.

While the theme of each tutorial is chosen by the coordinator, the assessment (small group presentations and individual posters) challenges students to find out information outside the knowledge of the class (including the lecturer) about an individual of their choice. They are also given license to experiment with the format of presentation (e.g. one group adopted a talk-show approach, another individual provided an individual history through photographs using Prezi.com). Discussion is fundamental to this exercise with students (guided by the coordinator) using their readings to contextualise group presentations within a broader context.

I believe that these tutorials are effective in realising the course objectives. They have the advantage of encouraging students to actively engage with subject matter while also enjoying the research process. It is also important that they effectively flip the class room, allowing students to innovate and control (within broad boundaries) the format of tutorials. While it is difficult to substantiate this claim and I have no assessment results to present, the engagement of students during these tutorials is excellent. It has raised the niggling feeling that the discussion and student engagement is somewhat lost because there is no forum before and after the tute for students to upload their PowerPoint presentations/ photographs/ references etc and continue discussion. The information that is uploaded is usually sent to me and put up on Wattle. This has the draw-back of providing a very patchy overview of what was going on during tutorials. It also removes the student from dissemination of their own ideas research. considering I am looking to foster higher order thinking skills (and active learning) such as evaluation (see objective 1 & Bloom taxonomy) it would be useful to improve this situation.

 

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