Spoon Fed Feel Lost At The Cutting Edge Analysis
Before arriving at university, students will have been powerfully influenced by their school’s approach to learning particular subjects. Yet this is only rarely taken into account by teachers in higher education, according to new research carried out at Nottingham University. This could explain why so many students experience problems making the transition.
Historian Alan Booth says there is a growing feeling on both sides of the Atlantic that the shift from school to university-style learning could be vastly improved. But little consensus exists about who or what is at fault when the students cannot cope. “School teachers commonly blame the poor quality of university teaching, citing factors such …show more content…
The students were asked about their experience of how history is taught at the outset of their degree programme. It quickly became clear that teaching methods in the schools were pretty staid.
About 30 per cent of respondents claimed to have made significant use of primary sources (few felt very confident in handling them) and this had mostly been in connection with project work. Only 16 per cent had used video/audio; 2 per cent had experienced field trips; and less than 1 per cent had engaged in role-play.
Dr Booth found students and teachers were frequently restricted by the assessment style which remains dominated by exams. These put obstacles in the way of more adventurous teaching and active learning, he said. Of the students in the survey just 13 per cent felt their A-level course had prepared them very well for work at university. Three-quarters felt it had prepared them fairly …show more content…
The answers reveal that the students felt most confident at taking notes from lectures and organising their notes. They were least able to give an oral presentation and there was no great confidence in contributing to seminars, knowing how much to read, using primary sources and searching for texts. Even reading and taking notes from a book were often problematic. Just 6 per cent of the sample said they felt competent at writing essays, the staple A-Level assessment activity.
The personal influence of the teacher was paramount. In fact, individual teachers were the centre of students’ learning at A-Level, with some 86 per cent of respondents reporting that their teachers had been more influential in their development as historians than the students’ own reading and thinking.
The ideal teacher turned out to be someone who was enthusiastic about the subject; a good clear communicator who encouraged discussion. The ideal teacher was able to develop student involvement and independence. He or she was approachable and willing to help. The bad teacher, according to the survey, dictates notes and allows no room for discussion. He or she makes students learn strings of facts; appears uninterested in the subject and fails to listen to other points of