Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Initial reflections on Interviews filmed

Last week I interviewed 13 students in total.
I filmed them in groups or pairs, to make sure they were comfortable.
In fact, one of the students had to be filmed alone and that was the least successful.

For the most part each 20-30 minute interview was very interesting.
One of the principle challenges was keeping the student responses as broad as possible without focusing too heavily on individual lecturers.
But it seems when a group of students have had a bad experience they need to vent their frustrations, no matter how much they are steered away!
I guess its a testament to the relaxed nature of the interviews that the students found it a forum to air their views in such a full and frank way.

The questions i generated created useful prompts and kept the conversations steered in the right direction, so no one area of study became too dominant.  (Such as the faults of lecturers!)

Inevitably, when seeking personal perspective you will get a mixture of differing viewpoints and experiences, but equally there were some fairly consistent patterns that emerged easily.

For example, when talking about the "teaching persona" and specifically the qualities that students seek in their tutors, it seems the common element in all of the interviews was that students need a tutor to "care".   Expertise, teaching ability etc all come a distant second place to the idea that the students need that caring and nurturing atmosphere. To know their best interests are being taken of.
Students become almost hostile when they feel a tutor doesn't care or isn't invested in them, and this in turn affects attendance, engagement and their creative output.

There is a lot of material to watch and collate and then to place in a wider context, but its fascinating stuff.

One anecdotal response that came out of he interviews that made me smile, and pause for thought, was the fact that I fell victim thru trying to create my own teaching persona.
Apparently, the first year students had created a false impression about me due to the fact that I started the academic year in my new lecturer position wearing a tweed suit.  As a result, many of them were anxious and even disappointed that they had a "boring' or "square" lecturer.  
By trying to create a "look" as a lecturer I inadvertently sent out the wrong message to a class of first years who were already full of nerves and anxiety!

Lesson learned...

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