As an experiential learning exercise, my Foundations students worked with Human Anatomy students to create learning resource for anatomy that would ultimately be shared with the ‘wide world’ outside their classroom. My students were the experts on learning, and the anatomy students the experts on content. As we reach the end of the semester, here’s my thoughts:
One of the biggest fears for me was getting my students to buy into the idea of acting as ‘consultants’ for another class – to make it work and not be a loss of learning time (I used 5 full classes for this project). To tie the activity to my course content, I used the experience to ask students to reflect on group work strategies and giving and receiving feedback. Aside from the usual ‘we don’t know them’ discomfort from the students, my students also expressed a very real fear of not being ‘qualified’ to provide feedback on learning. The logistics of meshing two different classes with two different schedules together was also a challenge – but I had a great partner!
What was exciting? After the first meeting, even though they had only been in class 3 weeks, my students realized that they actually knew quite a bit about how to learn. A WOW moment for me was after the second group meetings that week when my students said the discussion went better because they ‘figured out how to ask better questions’. This was one of the strategies we were working on! The second set of meetings in November were so different from the first. The students (both classes) were much more talkative. The PHED 201 students obviously had pride in their projects, and were eager to solicit more feedback from my students on how to improve their learning resource. After reading over the draft projects, my students expressed concerned that the anatomy students were lacking a tool (Bloom’s taxonomy), so they took it upon themselves to bring copies with them to the meetings to share.
What have I learned? Best laid plans… the project changed dramatically from the first iteration. I had to pull back on how much I initially thought my students could complete. The entire process was experiential for me; continually reflecting on how activities went, and then adjusting – most of the time on the fly!