Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What motivates your students?

It's time for another cohort of students into the revised Bachelor of Nursing programme. The March intakes are always smaller - about 90 students. ECDL has been left out of this 'Cardiff Nursing Futures' curriculum and so I came up with the UniversIT Information Fluency Portfolio, launched it last October. What's brought me back to blog about it is the reflection that not many, if any, students from the September '12 cohort have engaged with the UIT portfolio. That's in spite of the fact that there are lots of ways we've embedded digital literacy into the curriculum. Students have to create a leaflet individually for one module, for another they work in groups to present a wiki-based health informational Website, we're doing D@SH.
This time it's different though.
Over the last years I have observed that students are motivated by various things. Assessment is of course the major one. But you cannot assess everything (unless you went to a type of 'Community Equity'ish way of assessing micro-contributions, as per my presentation at NLC2012 - link to blog entry ;).
CelebrationsOur students have to sign registers since the governing body requires them to study for a recorded 2300 theory hours. The tweak that I think has changed engagement this time, although it's quite early to be certain, started with a conversation with the programme manager. We agreed to dedicate one of the last days on the timetable for hours representing effort students expended completing their UIT portfolio. If they complete it to my satisfaction by then, they can get these 6 hours added to their total. If they do not, as you may have guessed, they have to make up the hours by completing their UIT portfolio, and there is a deadline for that. I'm laying on face-to-face sessions, notes of which are being posted in their group wiki (CampusPack) where I'm also listing the group names so that I can indicate which of them has finished their UIT portfolio. When they have all done that I will create a group-based certificate for them, I may even include a picture of the group if they can supply a suitable one. There is no deadline for the certificate, so that groups do not miss out if one member is late completing. In these ways I am keying into various types of motivation that stop short of the sharp stick compulsion of summative assessment but which will, I hope, reach deeply enough into the students' minds and lives to promote connections and build working knowledge. Did I mention that there's chocolate at my IT sessions? Strangely enough, the library's sessions with these students are also featuring chocolate this time around...

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