Passing it on: How Postgraduates can help undergraduates to develop research projects.

Collins, Marcus, Booth, Alan, Ingham, Deena, Carpenter, Katie, Townend, Jenna, Mali, Sofia and Jinks, Sean (2015) Passing it on: How Postgraduates can help undergraduates to develop research projects. In: International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 27 - 30 October 2015, Melbourne Australia.

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This symposium will assess the rationale, methods and initial outcomes of ‘dual mentorship’ in the setting of a history dissertation workshop staged at Loughborough University in spring 2015. Second-year undergraduates about to embark on writing their final-year dissertations (aka Honors theses) were provided with guidance from postgraduates trained in peerassisted learning techniques by educationalists and historians. Dual mentorship therefore involves an inclusive form of leadership, in which academics cede control of the classroom to postgraduates, who in turn share their research experiences with undergraduates in a collaborative manner. Feedback from undergraduates demonstrated that the workshop fulfilled its objectives of providing them with intensive small-group teaching, honing their dissertation proposals and increasing their confidence. By the end of the workshop, they felt better prepared to undertake the hardest intellectual challenge most of them will encounter in their educational career. Moreover, the postgraduates recruited from seven institutions learnt as least as much from the workshop as the undergraduates. They received the relatively rare opportunity to share their expertise in research skills and to reflect on the fundamentals of research design while immersed in writing their own dissertations. The workshop asked them to devise sessions collectively while deciding individually how to deliver these, leading to instructive comparisons of teaching methods. The mentorship of postgraduate students by academics within their own discipline is comparatively infrequent, since most pedagogical training takes place in cross-disciplinary settings and postgraduates are seldom observed for several hours of teaching. Recruiting postgraduates from different universities and a range of related fields also fostered new networks in the often solitary work of dissertation research. The Loughborough scheme developed new communities of history practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991) involving PhD, undergraduate and academics. The mutual benefits gained by undergraduates and postgraduates suggest that workshops of this kind should be considered within curriculum design alongside other methods of dissertation preparation (Lavender, 2010) and that in the face of calls to diversify final-year projects (Healey et al., 2013) ‘the standard 8000 to 12000-word dissertation remains a valuable and viable exercise for all history students. Following correspondence with Joanne Rae, the symposium will be transmitted from Britain using WebEx video conferencing. It will present different perspectives on ‘dual mentorship’ from four participants in the workshop: a history lecturer (Collins), an educationalist (Ingham), a history postgraduate (Carpenter) and an English postgraduate (Townend). These four views on the same workshop will allow us to consider its efficacy from those inside and outside the discipline of history, from a practicing teacher and a trainer of teaching, and from that of established academics and those beginning their academic careers.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Depositing User: Dr Sofia Mali
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2019 10:50
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2019 09:42

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