Entry: Minutes from Cohort1 meeting Wednesday, December 01, 2004

These are the minutes written by Ken from the cohort1 reps phone conference meeting on 23/11/04

Field Pathway Meeting Cohort 1 Draft Minutes

Tuesday 23rd November 2004

Present: Stephen Powell, Ken Allen, Lesley McGuire, Peter Lilja, Denise Binks, Andy Roberts, Lisa Munton
Apologies: Colin Elsey, Jane Down, Maureen Slack, Linda Hartley
1. Introductions

Stephen Powell – Project Leader
Ken Allen – Quality Assurance
Lesley McGuire - Module Leader
Peter Lilja – Researcher Representative
Denise Binks – Researcher Representative
Andy Roberts – Researcher Representative
Lisa Munton – Researcher Representative

2. The purpose of the meeting explained

The purpose of the meeting was to review the cohort 1 researcher experience over the summer trimester 2004 and currently for this semester.

3. Strengths of last term and this term identified
a. The calendar of dates, module details and resources for the year being ready at the start of the second year has been appreciated and a help to many researchers. Some researchers however have found that this has increased the sense of pressure. On the whole it has been viewed as a positive development.

b. The increased number and regularity of hotseats this semester is an improvement. Not all the hotseats will be of equal interest to all researchers but there is scope for researchers to chose the hotseats they are most interested in and only view the others if they have time. Some researchers would like to see the hotseats running for a longer period of time, they feel this would help them think through their questions and the implications of the hotseat answers to their work place. It may not be a good idea to have a hotseat when assignment deadlines are near since researchers attention will be focused on assessment submissions.

c. The merging of some First Class communities has helped the vibrancy of discussions particularly in the new learning community. The reduction in the overall number of discussion threads has also been beneficial. Some communities are still very quiet though.

4. Weaknesses of last term and this term identified

a. In First Class communities contributors tend to be a limited number of the same researchers. Overall there needs to be more researchers contributing. As the course progresses it becomes more imperative that researchers share their work with their fellow researchers for peer review. The redesigned action enquiry tool will allow researchers to annotate one another’s work.

b. There is a lack of clarity and consistency of approach about agreeing the ILM contract with researchers. Some researchers are not clear when their plans have been agreed or what to do with the agreed plan when it has been finalised. The agreement procedure needs to be improved.

c. There is concern about inconsistencies of approach and advice from different facilitators. There needs to be a place for definitive answers to key issues.

d. A completion date for the completing an ILP is felt to be helpful together with a more consistent signing off procedure.

e. The overlapping of module start dates and finish dates is confusing some researchers and the resulting multi-tasking is adding to the levels of stress. Many would prefer one module per half term but this would require the return to trimesters since there would not be enough time to cover all the necessary modules.

f. There is a considerable feeling of pressure currently amongst researchers.

g. It is not clear to researchers what the changes are to the start date in the Action Enquiry module.

h. Some researchers have been confused by the move from trimesters to semesters. Some researchers feel that they need to make use of the whole year to study. Unlike face to face students they are doing a full time job and can’t afford to follow the traditional university holiday model.

i. Many researchers prefer the modules to follow sequentially rather than for modules to run concurrently.

j. The long module needs more clarification and guidance as to when researchers should engage in this and when they can safely put their emphasis and attention elsewhere.

k. More help would be appreciated pastorally for some researchers. Unlike a face to face degree there is a greater degree of isolation and it therefore makes pastoral issues more acute.

l. The availability of facilitators needs to be clarified. Particularly when a facilitator is on holiday researchers need to know this and what to do in terms of getting advice.

5. Future recommendations

a. Improve communication particularly making it more consistent between different facilitators and researchers.
b. Take steps to actively encourage the inactive First Class community members to engage in their online communities.
c. Explore ways of reducing stress particularly in terms of multi tasking, overlapping modules, assignment deadlines and holidays.
d. Develop a stronger system of pastoral care for researchers.

6. Other issues

a. How can we fulfill the assessment criteria relating to 'using appropriate techniques to communicate' in other ways if we didn't post our work to communities? Why aren’t all researchers posting work in First Class for peer review? Some people feel strongly that all researchers should be doing this. In discussion other points were raised that looked at problems if this happened. It could overload the communities with multiple drafts on researchers work and numerous feedback comments. Much peer review is happening outside of the First Class communities. People with different learning styles need different ways of sharing their work. The newly developed action enquiry tool will allow researchers to peer review one another’s work.


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