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(Document started on 7 Aug 2009.)
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How to refer to it.
Web site logical path:
Nick Bowskill and his PhD work:
Department of Psychology,
University of Glasgow.
Bowskill's Induction Through Reflection And Mentoring Process:
This page is a placeholder / link list for Nick's work.
The heart of his PhD work is an intervention consisting of sessions (at the
start of a year) in which student concerns about a course or programme as a
whole are elicited, shared, discussed; and possible solutions too are
discussed, suggested by student mentors who have completed the course.
It is thus a student-generated approach to PDP (Personal Development
Planning), which in turn is an important aspect of induction and transition.
More technically, it uses (or stimulates) reflection and mentoring to do this.
My personal short rough overview
What's good about Student Generated PDP
- It prompts reflection on being a student on this course.
From this viewpoint, the benefit is for individual students, but applied in a
mass (cheap) intervention.
- It produces shared information about the class and their concerns as a
whole, so that each individual can locate their own experience and fears in
relation to that. This may be a relatively deep way of promoting "social
integration" (Tinto's term) by making visible not just
things they have in common, but a representation of the amount and kind of
diversity. Thus for each issue, everyone is now aware of its presence in the
class, and also knows that everyone else is aware of it rather than assuming
everyone else is like themselves. Currently, this is directly about "concerns
in doing the course" which is often about finances, amount of work, and so on.
But it could also raise issues like "worried about being the only male in the
class". And in future one could imagine a little shaping might extend this to
- By being open to observation by heads of year / programme or course team
leaders, it gives them valuable feedback on what the actual student problems
are; and/or allows them to show the students more convincingly what they are.
(While many of the issues will already be known to staff -- so the value
there is that having students come up with them is much more convincing to
them as in the first point above -- there will often also be issues new to
staff, so this is a source of learner -> staff feedback.)
Educational processes / themes it could be used for
Transition This relates to the issue of school-university
PDP It could also be seen as addressing the aspects of
to do with self-management and the skills of being a student; but doing so not
by experts lecturing, but rather by eliciting student concerns, and student
Induction The start of a new institution or year or course is a
particulary useful time for a student to be reviewing and perhaps modifying
their motives and study habits: so this aspect of PDP should be directly
Reflection This process might be used for those subjects where
reflection is a required part of the course content e.g. teacher training.
Course feedback (from learners to teachers) The concerns elicited
are obviously also important information for the course leaders. Their
particular extra value is that here, concerns will be mentioned that are not
about direct course concerns (quality of lectures or course documentation),
but about money, anxiety about fellow students, etc. that affect
dropout and learning attainment but are not usually asked about in standard
- Level 2 session: elicit their retrospective and prospective concerns
(about the year they just completed, and the new year starting); and their
ideas about solutions.
Keep a few volunteers on to orient them for meeting level
- Level 1 session: elicit their prospective concerns, and possibly thoughts
on finding solutions.
- Joint meeting: go over the concerns, and the level 2 mentors comment on
the solutions they favour for each.
Nick's old page 1
Nick's old page 2
Nick's new page 3
Print all Nick's pages in one go
PDP (Personal Development Planning)
General pages about PAL (peer assisted learning)
Pages about PAL at GU
(electronic voting systems in lectures)
Possible names / buzz words in Sept 09
Our preferred name for this intervention, this learning design, is
However Nick likes to call it "shared thinking" even though that in my view,
that term doesn't describe what is being referred to.
It is unrelated to:
Possible names / buzz words in Nov 09
PDP and induction are applications of it. But how to describe "it"?
Group construction of common ground on group-relevant and significant
- Common ground: it establishes a set of things that the class of learners
now knows they can refer to because they know all the others know what is
being referred to. Which makes it very much easier to chat about them rather
than having to find out if this topic is OK to talk about.
- It is clear that it is important to the learners that they themselves
created the list of "concerns". It is not so clear whether this is learners
not teachers doing it; or that their own personal concern made it to the list;
or that their own suggestions were put in and visible at least briefly by all,
even if not adopted as one of the main ones.
- The topics matter, as opposed to being incidental common ground like the
colour of the room, or what was on TV last night. It is not clear whether
they are "emotional", or just significant (relevant to values, to their
- The topics ("concerns") are not personal to their lives away from being a
student (e.g. "my wife died") but relevant to what the group is about: being
- We wonder if it is essential that the EVS displays show not just
consensus (the main shared concern) but the degree of consensus (90% vs. 40%
have that concern), and the diversity (the range of other concerns).
- We wonder whether a graphic display of this (currently produced and
projected by EVS) is essential, or whether any method of establishing the
common ground would be as good.
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