I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn

Albert Einstein

Earlier this year, Beata Francis (FEIT) and Dimity Wehr (IML) shared the learning journey of engineering students, academics and other staff in FEIT as they developed Summer Studios. Previous posts in this series include:

As summer studios continued and were transformed into mainstream offerings, some shining lights and success stories began to rise to the surface. Here we showcase some of these successes and offer an opportunity to further explore each one.  

Group work, collaboration skills and feedback literacy

In her undergraduate second-year studio subject 41186 Social Impact of IS Studio,  Amara Atif guided and encouraged students to critique the work of their groups and that of other groups in the studio setting. This activity aimed to enrich students’ understanding of feedback literacy with a practical opportunity, providing a different interpretation of group feedback. Students responded positively, indicating that the level and depth of critical feedback opportunities enabled them to be more introspective and reflective in their work.

Read more on Amara’s process: Developing students’ feedback literacy via peer feedback in FEIT Studios  

Another group-based success story comes from Associate Professor Valerie Gay (School of Electrical and Data Engineering) in her experience in the Data Engineering Design subject and the Health Innovation junior Studio. Valerie conducted successful collaborative and group activities online, where she explored and promoted the use of MS Teams to students. This environment created a safe, interactive platform for students who communicated with each other in successful collaborative activities.  Pitching opportunities and peer review were two examples of how the platform was successfully utilised.

Empowering student decision-making

Like other modalities, studio teaching has been shaped by technology, with opportunities for remote engagement and more flexible learning. No two studio-based classes are exactly alike, and some success stories have been built on student input and the flexible use of tools to ensure the high level of interactivity that studios can offer. 

In his games industry-based studio Jaime Garcia Marin asked students to contribute to the selection of technologies by considering how they needed to work to engage with the material, submit assessments and create opportunities to play test games. Students were empowered by this choice and the flexibility to attend, remotely synchronise, or catch up on the recordings at a later stage. This opportunity to be a part of the decision-making process gives students agency and the encouragement to be responsible for their own learning, which aligns with FEIT graduate attributes and the MIDAS perspective

Blending learning with large student cohorts

One of the challenges studio-based academics may deal with is a large cohort. Gavin Paul’s studio-based class Introduction to Mechatronics Engineering is growing fast, from 100 students last spring to an expected 300 in the coming semester. Gavin sets tasks that are individual and rely on students using available resources; students take responsibility for their own learning, creating rubrics, selecting software and hardware, even self-motivation!

Whilst online has been a key focus over the past few years, the next intake will also make use of the large collaborative classroom space, with an online option available. Tutors are fully involved in planning, and this semester some of the students from the previous session will co-facilitate. Mentoring students is a large part of the success of this subject, which is truly a team effort. 

Take a look at some of the project designs from past sessions in the short video below:

Similarly, Associate Professor Asif Gill from the School of Computer Science moved his in-class and blended modes to teach fully online for more than 200 first-year students with his large undergraduate software development class. Asif’s challenge was to humanise the online experience, an authentic reality that many face and will face in their student and working lives. Asif relied on the students being prepared by running pre- and post-class active learning experiences. One of the importance facets of this work is the importance of teacher-student engagement and the difficulty of facilitating this in digital contexts.

Learn more about the ‘perfect blend’ from Asif and other teaching staff: how UTS academics delivered blended learning in 2020

We’ll be back to share more on the experience soon, this time from the students’ point of view!

Feature image by Meriç Dağlı 

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