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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Exploring students? experiences of Curriculum Innovation modules

Julie Wintrup and Kelly Wakefield are currently leading a research project exploring students' experiences of the Curriculum Innovation modules.

Our research explored students' experiences of taking the Curriculum Innovation modules.  We collected 399 surveys (pre, mid and post-module) from a potential 800 students across all CI modules. We also conducted 47 semi-structured individual interviews and five focus groups, meeting 73 students in total.  

 

Our findings show that: To those early CI adopters, taking a module outside of their programme was an opportunity to learn in completely new ways, broaden understanding and stretch them in a different direction. This was felt to be advantageous for a number of reasons such as: being able to speak more knowledgably and confidently on issues outside their discipline; being seen as having broader interests rather being seen as narrow and specialist; having an opportunity to learn about things they had never had a chance to learn about or might not in future. This was often linked directly to attending interviews and being able to show flexibility and the ability to view their own discipline critically and from new perspectives.

Students selected modules thoughtfully and strategically, looking at the assessment early on and basing their decision to proceed on such considerations as: whether the assessment process itself looked interesting and offered a learning opportunity in itself; whether the module and/or assessment offered new skills such as teamwork, presentation or data gathering skills ('assessment for learning'); whether the module offered a specific contrast to their degree programme, such as lab work, or complemented their studies, offering an opportunity to deepen a particular interest. Exams were seen by many to be a very traditional and uninteresting form of assessment.

The 'passion' of lecturers for their subjects and for teaching was remarked upon often, and a focus on early explanation and integration of assessment was greatly appreciated. Portfolio-type assessments were popular with some while others were puzzled by new descriptions of assessment processes and wanted much more detail of just what the commitment would mean, how such approaches would be managed and what was required in terms of reading, group work and course work.

Learning alongside students from other disciplines and programmes was popular and friends were important sources of information, often influencing decision making.

In September we took three UG students, Marcus Burton (English, 3rd year), Mohamed Ibrahim (Geography, graduated 2013) and Love Oyeniran (Politics and International Relations, 3rd year) to the 3rd RAISE annual conference in Nottingham.

The students facilitated a workshop to give the audience the opportunity to talk to the students about their motivations and experiences of taking one or more of the Curriculum Innovation multi-disciplinary modules.

The students were funded to attend the two-day conference by the Curriculum Innovation Programme. 

Julie Wintrup and Kelly Wakefield

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