Author – Dr Rachael Field, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
Rachael is a senior lecturer in the QUT Law Faculty. She has been involved in Faculty teaching and learning policy development, innovative learning and curriculum design, and particularly in a commitment to First Year transition pedagogy and practice. Rachael is currently developing an effective learning environment for FY law and justice students that promotes student engagement by combining Laurillard’s conversational framework, a commitment to active learning, and a blended delivery method (face-to-face and online). The pilot model that she is working on has been identified as appropriate for an expert commentary in the Fellowship Program because it is an example of intentional FY curriculum and learning design that embeds a commitment to facilitating the engagement of FY students with their learning through an acknowledgement of transition issues. The model also offers an appropriate and scaffolded approach to learning and assessment design that is focused on graduate capabilities and skill development.
Further information is available from the QUT Law Faculty.
First Year Curriculum Perspective
The focus of this commentary on the first year case studies is engaging pedagogies (pdf 1.69MB). The author argues that engaging pedagogy is particularly critical for the first year learning environment, where issues of engagement are inextricably linked both to making effective learning possible for students (Ramsden, 1992, 5), as well as to ensuring retention of students (AUSSE Report, 2008). The far-reaching significance of engaging students is reflected in the AUSSE Report’s comment that: “The concept of student engagement provides a practical lens for assessing and responding to the significant dynamics, constraints and opportunities facing higher education institutions” (2008, vi). Further, from a pedagogical perspective, it has long been acknowledged that it is critical to ensure that our approaches to learning and teaching engage student interest and energy: “‘Student engagement’, defined as students’ involvement with activities and conditions likely to generate high quality learning, is increasingly understood to be important for higher education quality” (AUSSE, 2008, 1).
The author uses the scholarship of engaging pedagogies to construct a framework through which she considers the seven curriculum case studies. Aspects of each case study are used to demonstrate engaging pedagogies through each of three categories identified as effective in supporting cognitive and learning engagement: they are
- motivation of student learning,
- a focus on learning activity, and
- provision of a learning environment that supports student engagement.