Ways of thinking using CLARA (Image credit: learning emergence)

Over the summer session 2016/2017 I talked to my first year engineering students about their learning using the CLARA framework. Students completed the CLARA survey questions and received their learning profile diagram. This diagram indicates their relative strength in eight aspects of the CLARA framework: mindful agency, sensemaking, creativity, curiosity, belonging, collaboration, hope and optimism, and openness to learning. The aggregated results showed that as a cohort they rated highly for hope and optimism which was a positive to feed back to them. The aim of using CLARA was to be able to establish a language to use to talk about the way they approach learning in their subjects, and it achieved this aim.

My favourite technology is…

SPARKPLUS (not surprising I suppose). I use it to collect responses to questions in preparation for classes so that I can make decisions about which problems we work on in class based on which concepts/topics there appears to be most confusion about. I use it in class to run collaborative quizzes. Students can input their group members’ names and collaboratively answer questions. In the multiple choice/multiple attempt mode the software will indicate if they have given the correct response or not – if not, the group can have another think about what the answer is and why. Although I’m not using it in my classes at the moment, I also really like the benchmarking tool which allows students to benchmark their judgement against the academic’s judgement – this is useful for helping students understand the assessment criteria for a task.

The thing that gives me the most joy in teaching is…

It is students that give me the most joy in teaching (sorry colleagues). I feel my job is worthwhile when students say that they now understand something or can do something that they couldn’t before. Sometimes this happens during the semester that I have been teaching them and sometimes it is after the semester. Earlier this year at HSC Information Day I had three student helpers talk to me at different times and mention how they still remembered how I had helped them understand something and how that had helped them do well in subsequent subjects. I feel that this was the universe repaying me for coming in to Information Day.

The FEIT Faculty Learning Precinct. Image credit: Anna Zhu.

One thing I would recommend to my colleagues to improve their teaching is…

If I had one thing to recommend to my colleagues in Engineering and IT it would be to spend an hour or two per week of semester (same time every week) in the Faculty Learning Precinct. Just being there gives students an opportunity to connect with you in an informal setting and, most usefully, you get to see and hear how students are responding to the various different types of activities that they undertake in the range of subjects in FEIT. This is extremely useful information in designing your own learning/assessment activities.

The best coffee around campus is…

The best coffee and the friendliest baristas (as opposed to barristers) are at Penny Lane in Building 11.

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