What students want

It’s the final teaching week of the semester here at Surrey, so it’s wrapping-up time.  As well as trying to get students to connect their class-based work with events in the wider world, I was also interested in using the final session with them to get some constructive feedback on changes for the next time I teach my module on negotiation.

I’ve talked about the A-B-C feedback system I use before, so I’ll concentrate on what they’ve said.  Essentially, students are asked to suggest one thing to abandon, one to begin and one to continue.

If we remove what might be politely termed ‘outliers’ (e.g. classes in the pub, no assessment at all), then it is very interesting to see what came out.  While each of the individual games I ran had at least one student wanting to abandon it, there was a big group who liked the range provided, especially since it allowed them to practise a range of skills.  Similarly, opinion appeared to be split on the use of a reflective portfolio for the assessment, with some students wanting more structure to it, and others liking the flexibility.

In short, it shows that Lincoln’s adage about pleasing people is just as true in this context as any other and that even in a very student-led learning environment, it is essential for the teacher to provide direction and guidance.

Having said this, the session did bring forward one very good idea that had previously only nestled, half-formed, in the back of my mind.  This is simply to link together all the games into a coherent story (or arc, as I think we have to refer to it now in the age of the box-set), so students can develop into roles over time.  This would neatly solve the disjuncture between games, improve the capacity for preparation, bring out issues of iteration and, as such, was enthusiastically received by the class when we talked about it.  Of course, it also implies another complete re-write of my materials, but that might not be a bad thing.

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