Analysis, Pages 5 (1003 words)
The curriculum is not centrally organised but individual tutors take the responsibility of developing the units they are timetabled to deliver. This sort of curriculum development is generally delegated to experienced staff and those that are willing to take on the heavy workload. Much of this development is actually undertaken in the tutor’s own time the desk duty hours are often taken up sorting out day-to-day problems and covering for other staff sickness and absences.
In the instance of the development work included for this assignment there are no formal external exams but within the scheme of work short recap quizzes are used to check that learning has taken place.
The unit however is externally marked and as the one I am delivering is the only one that is externally marked then there is more pressure to get things right. For this reason I am being sent on a one day course in Manchester to try to understand the awarding body’s requirements of marking the units.
As I am in the process of embedding key skills level 2 and level 3 into the BTEC assessment process I am working closely with the Keys skills tutor to build up a port folio work for key skills assessment. The key points from a PGCE observation process was to chunk the sessions more so that students are more likely to be kept on track and spend more time at the beginning of each session recapping on the previous learning and consider different techniques for recapping i.
e. question and answer verbal and written. This I am trying to incorporate into the weekly lesson plans but I often find that the massive volume of work (I am also developing 3 other units) means that I often feel that I still do not do this enough as it takes longer to develop new strategies rather than stick with those I have used before.
There is a fixed scheme of work that demonstrates the planned student learning although this is flexible and on several occasions has been changed to meet the requirements of the students. The BTEC group consists of 14 students, who are on the whole show little sign of having little self motivation and are sometimes slow to respond. Individual questioning shows some students were either reluctant to answer, were unsure or had failed to grasps the concepts. I feel that in future I must develop new and varied ways of recapping particularly after a break, maybe stressing at the previous session there will be a short question and answer session on the first session back which, may motivate students to be more prepared.
As some students have struggled to learn the software I have tried to demonstrate specific elements of the applications by demonstrating to the whole class whilst at the same the students used the software application themselves. Demonstrating software is not always my strong point as sometimes I feel I am concentrating too much on navigating the software that I loose the student’s attention. This I have overcome in some sessions by requesting a student to work the keyboard whilst I instruct. However in some sessions I have managed to demonstrate without a student helping and it has gone reasonably well with students maintaining their interest.
I feel the overall the curriculum has been well prepared and includes varied learning materials, good individual student support and encouragement, good differentiation between those lagging behind and the students who finished quickly by introducing them to more complex features of the software and tasks. Generally students at AVCE level do require a great deal of help and support with only a very small minority displaying any independent learning skills. In this particular group there are three or four students who are competent with their assignment work but I do like to take time out with these students to share with them complexities of the subject matter and discuss how they can improve on the analysis and evaluation of the HCI they have developed.
The PowerPoint I delivered and the handouts I have created been well received although mainly students have preferred I preferred to access the information on ‘Blackboard’ so I never insist they take away a hard copy (save the trees!!) Blackboard also helps student work from home, they can log on and check if they have missed anything if they have been absent or recap on the learning that has taken place.
Overall the curriculum development has been a valuable experience and has made me understand how much work has to be put in to deliver a good session and to meet the unit objectives and the learning outcomes. On average the amount of preparation I need to undertake in order to plan, research and put together learning materials for a 2-hour session is more than eight hours. This has then to be multiplied up, over usually 16 weeks that the course runs. As we do not have the luxury of having spare time to do this in college hours much of the development work is done at home at weekends.
Personally, I therefore feel that I have to cut corners and some sessions are not as polished as others. The other great difficulty is that when a session has been delivered there are many times when I think that a part of the session could be improved, unfortunately I return to the staff room, drop off the course file and have to dash to the next lesson. There is just not time in the day to make the amendments, as I have to prepare for the next class. This leads to frustration and sometimes inefficient and ineffective working practices.
Abbott, I. & Huddlestone, P., 1995. The Development of Business Education: Change or Decay, Paper presented to International Conference on Development in Business Education, Liverpool, 18-20 April. Anon 1, 2000. Curriculum Development and its Organisational Context,PGCE hand out, Module DFE522 Curriculum development, Part Two as Curriculum developer DJC 2000 Apple, M., W., 1990. Ideology and Curriculum, 2nd Edition, Routledge, London.