The University Seminar as Contact Event: Facilitating and Developing Productive Talk

Tuesday 11th June 2019, 12.30pm to 2.00pm

Speakers: Dr Ben Poore, Department of Theatre, Film and Television
Location: Room P/T/111, Physics library reading room, Campus West

Workshop Summary

In 2017/18, I received support from the University’s Strategic Learning and Teaching Projects Fund to explore the theme of staff-student contact in seminars. Seminar teaching is the most common contact event for a number of essay- and presentation-assessed modules on our BA programme in Theatre: Writing, Directing and Performance, yet it is unusual for new students to receive any explanation of what a seminar is, what staff expectations are for students’ conduct and participation, and how seminars are meant to enhance learning.

Inspired by a Learning and Teaching Forum workshop by Dr Jan Hardman, I proposed an action-research project where I would record seminars across an introductory first-year module in Autumn Term.  During the term, I applied dialogic pedagogy methods in order to build student confidence and autonomy in responding to and organising talk in the seminar. Reviewing the recordings, I regularly reflected on the quality of talk in seminars with the students, with colleagues and in a journal. As well as being mentored by Dr Hardman, I also mentored a Teaching Fellow, who took over the teaching of introductory modules in the Spring and Summer Terms while I observed and advised on her application of dialogic methods. While we anticipated that this way of introducing students to seminar learning in the first year would have benefits for inclusivity, widening participation and student voice, we also wanted to see if a link could be established between a focus on oracy in seminars and improved argumentation in written work.

In this workshop, I share the results of my action-research on dialogic pedagogy, as measured by student attainment, by patterns of participation, and by the students’ perceptions of their own learning and agency in the learning process. I highlight some of the wider lessons about assessment, module design and the student experience that I have drawn from the data, and explain how we have worked as a programme team in the last academic year to embed a dialogic approach in learning and teaching beyond the seminar model.

 To book a place on this workshop, please use the booking form.

Admission: Tea and coffee will be available from 12.15; please feel free to bring your own lunch

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