This isn’t the end of self-directed learning, it’s just the beginning..

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So this post is going to be a review of how I felt about the Science of Education module.

If I’m honest, when I first started the module I was terrified. I didn’t think I would be capable of formulating novel ideas every week. The initial shock and inexperience of being in charge of my own learning choices was quite overwhelming, particularly when deciding which routes to take.

However my nerves were quickly settled. Sitting in one of the very first talks I began to realise the value of being able to choose your own area of interest to explore. The diverse range of talks produced was fascinating, and I began to formulate ideas for further blogs whilst listening to others’ talks. This module encouraged collaboration amongst us, where we could feed from each other’s ideas to develop new ideas.

For anyone that assumes a module without exams would be easy, think again.  The amount of hours I have put into researching and writing my blogs, producing comments and preparing my speech has exceeded the amount of time I’ve put into any other module throughout university. This may not necessarily be a requirement of the module, and students could probably achieve an average grade through spending an hour or two on their blog, and putting little effort into the speeches (which are exemption marked). However the structure of the module motivates you to want to try that little bit harder. The talks in particular are always of a high standard, despite the fact they’re not marked. We’re passionate about the things we write about; therefore want to express them in our talks in a way that does them justice.

For the last few weeks we had to specialise our blogs. My topic blogs were based on the idea of removing grading entirely from education. As a student who ordinarily places a lot of emphasis and value on the grades I receive, it was interesting for me to consider an alternative perspective. I began by discussing some disadvantages to grading. However as the blogs progressed, I became more involved in the idea, and now actually believe that a system without grading would create a more effective, creative education. The controversial edge I took on this topic encouraged other students to argue against my idea in their comments, and interesting discussions were generated.

As I continuously argued throughout my blogs: education should be about facilitating the innate passion to learn in every student. This module is a key example of how intrinsic motivation can be instilled in students if we are given the opportunity to learn, rather than regurgitate. I wish other modules could allow me to do the same. If second years are considering choosing this module, I would highly recommend it. As long as you are willing to put in the work (as it is a LOT of work), the ability to instigate self-directed learning is an invaluable experience. Thanks to Jesse and the other students for making this module so enjoyable :).

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12 responses »

  1. The point you make about people assuming that this module is easy, with no exam, is very similar to my experience. It is easy to think that writing a few hundred words on a topic of your choice each week, and writing some comments on other peoples’ blogs is easy. And I guess to a certain point this is true- writing about a topic you like comes a lot easier than writing about something you really don’t care about. The research becomes interesting, and you find yourself wanting to learn more- not something which I have experienced to the same degree in any other modules. The work load is big, but I think you only make it big when you are interested, because you have so much you want to write about that it becomes too much in such a short turnaround. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Like you have said, this module encourages you to explore topics which challenge views you never thought you would change, and I have found this to be very enjoyable. Like you say, a big part of the enjoyment of this module is seeing the work of others- which you very rarely get the opportunity to do in education- and being allowed to form and change your own opinions on it. This is something your blogs have definitely done, and I have consistently found them really interesting. Thanks Hannah!! 🙂

  2. I completely agree that the module require a lot of work, but we are all more than happy to put that work in, especially for the topic blogs. Once you start looking at a topic you want to look deeper into it and look at the more recent studies, generating ideas on how to build on theories.

    I also agree that this module has induced the most amount of collaborative learning I have ever been apart of, making this module a lot more enjoyable. Following each others topics and listening to their blogs, giving support and valued feedback has helped us work as one group. This is reflected through the theme of self-directed learning running throughout the majority of the classes blog topics. It is something we are all passionate about and give each other ideas on how this could be created within education.

  3. I believe that having the first two weeks where we were free to write a blog about anything within psychology and education was extremely useful, as this gave us an idea of what topic we wanted to research further into – and for those who already chose their topic, it gave them a chance to write about the background before going into further. Like you, I was apprehensive about writing a blog about the same topic for 4 weeks, but soon realised it wasn’t all that bad and it was actually very useful because it meant that I could properly research the topic and develop a strong enthusiasm for it. I also definitely agree that this module requires a lot of hard work, but the benefits definitely outweigh the costs, if you see hard work as a cost.

  4. I think your right that the one of the main points that make this module interesting is the freedom and ability to debate and discuss with other students about topics. In one of my blogs I deliberately took the opposing side to what I expected to find and present with out worry that I would be presenting a ‘wrong’ answer’. I wasn’t sure what I could write about for 4 weeks and still keep it interesting and a different spin on it each week but after the first topic blog and found more and more research into different aspects of ‘the arts’ in education I found so much evidence for different points. The module is a lot of hours but being able to see your grade week by week motivated me to spend more time and energy on it as I could see that my time was not wasted at all.

  5. I feel the same as you that “the amount of hours I have put into researching and writing my blogs, producing comments and preparing my speech has exceeded the amount of time I’ve put into any other module throughout university”, I did a word counting about the blogs I have wrote, which is more than 10000 words, I was so surprised that I could write that much of words for one module. However, students feel so motivated to work on our tasks, because we were writing something we interested, we were free to choose a topic to search on. Our blogs gradually contained more deeper information toward one topic, because we did more and more research on it. The alternative form of education encourage students to learn, to think, to analyze. I agree with you that freedom is very important in education, which can raise students’ motivation to learn.

  6. I can only reiterate the point relating to the number of hours you put into this module – although i could sit there for a few hours and not realise how fast the time had gone as i repeatedly stumbled across interesting articles. The comments i found somewhat the most difficult. Your own blog topic you become passionate about and are constantly researching the area. However, you can be new to the subject the blogger proposes and it can take a little while to find the relevant research.

    The only suggestion i would make (which may decrease the hours) is emphasis should be placed on the word count. While Jesse suggested a blog of 500 words, I found some were to long and not concise. When writing for science this is one thing all lecturers try and teach us. This may allow for more ideas to be generated for the blog comments.

  7. Once again, I agree with your blog. So many people assume this module will be easy due to there being no exams, when the reality is far from that. I think being given free reign with the topic plays a large part in motivating our work. We want to prove that what we are writing about is worthwhile, so we go the extra the mile to demonstrate it.

  8. I completely agree with you, this module really tapped into our intrinsic motivation and most of us went the extra mile with our blogs and our talks. I felt that as the module went on, the grade matter less to me and it was more about the experience. The real shame about this module is that it is so short. I would happily do this for the entire year. There are several areas I still want to explore, such as teacher cognition. The good thing about this module is that it has taught me to do this for myself so when I have a spare couple of hours, I shall be researching this.

  9. I agree with what you say about the quality of the talks. I think it is genuinely a good thing that they are only exemption marked. This allows you a bit of a laboratory to play around with ideas, as I did a number of times. I don’t know what people thought of my ‘All Roads Lead to Communism’ talk, where I offloaded my four week roadplan, but for me it was a time to experiment with and see how my theories hung with the rest of the class. Possibly not my finest moment, but but purposeful and informative.

    It was actually the same with the Raspberry Pi talk. It let me speculate and experiment, and realise that the raspberry pi, something I am enthusiastic about, applies all the principles we have learnt about.

    A bit of exemption marked ‘sandbox time’ was good for the module.

  10. I would say I have spent two or three times as much time working on this module than I have on my other one for this semester. Aside from blog grades, I have had no extrinsic motivation to string me along on this module, every hour of work I have put in because I wanted to. I specialised my blogs from the start, and have enjoyed every single one I have written and published. I’m receiving hits from all around the world, people in countries I’ve never even been to are reading my blogs, and learning from me. I never thought I’d have an experience like that in University, and am extremely glad that I’ve had the opportunity to be part of it.

  11. I enjoy reading your topic blogs Hannah. They are all impressive, well-structure and informative. Throughout the topic blogs, you have mentioned grading as a central problem in the current education system, and how we can resolve it. Besides, I agree with you that this module has successfully enhanced our intrinsic motivation (at least some of us, including me) in learning, that researching in topics that is important to me allows me to engage more in critical thinking. More importantly, this module elicits myself to re-think my future path, and as you have mentioned in your synthesis blog “what is the purpose of education?” Anyway, thank you for bringing me joy in reading!

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