REFLECTING ON OUR TEACHING PRACTICE TO BRING ABOUT A MORE STUDENT CENTRED APPROACH TO LEARNING AND PROMOTE “DEEPER” LEARNING BY THE STUDENTS
The Dublin Institute of Technology is one of the largest multi-level higher education providers in Ireland, catering for over 22000 students annually. Under the 1999 Qualifications (Education and Training) Act, DIT became an awarding body in its own right. Programme provision covers apprenticeships, short continuous professional development courses, taught undergraduate and postgraduate, research MPhil and PhDs. The Institute’s traditional mission has always been focused on teaching and learning in the field of advanced technical vocational education and training (TVET), and one of its current agendas is to foster and encourage changes in teaching practice and methodology in order to enhance the student learning experience.
Research was carried out, focusing on sample groups of Apprentices in Carpentry and Joinery, in the latter stages of their apprenticeship. The study was conducted among staff and students to examine the teaching and learning taking place. With the students in mind the teaching practice was reflected on. The aim was to ensure that any new teaching methods employed, improved and moved the teaching to a more student centred approach, and that there was a mechanism for student feedback, something which the current system does not particularly allow for.
The current teaching of the Carpentry and Joinery apprentices appears to be flawed, as it is shaped by the assessment system. In the written theory papers, these assessments promote a surface learning approach and the student has ‘slipped into’ the characteristics of this surface learning. A sole aim is to pass exams, recall given notes, passively accept notes given out and focus on the important elements only. A culture of expectancy has developed among the students where there is too much dependency on lecturer help. The current lecturer pedagogic practice shapes itself towards the assessment. We feel a change in teaching practice is required to promote learning to higher levels in each domain of learning.
Through our research we hope to be able to highlight our concerns to the relevant authority and help bring about a change in Apprentice assessment system that will stimulate the current pedagogy from its current closed state.