Adapting teaching and learning initiatives to keep assessments on track

Pauline Bremner Web
Dr Pauline Bremner, Teaching Excellence Fellow and Head of Year Four of BA (Hons) Fashion Management within the School of Creative and Cultural Business, writes about how she had to alter teamwork within her teaching to reflect recent challenges.

Rising to the challenge can be hard for many students on their degree journey, but COVID has made this particularly difficult this year in many ways, notwithstanding the teaching and learning initiatives staff at RGU have had to implement to keep assessments on track for the students. 

As part of the Global Fashion Strategy module’s assessment, students work in teams adopting a ‘communities for practice approach (C4P)’ to manage their project.  They have to select a fashion company and propose a short, medium and long term objective for the business which are creative and innovative. This ends with a presentation with a question and answer session, which is under normal circumstances in person.

As part of the C4P initiative students identify their Belbin role, initiate a contract, and adopt roles of the junior board members of the company in question to make the assessment more work meaningful. In addition, they consult the teamwork module on the RGU Ehub too and meet with me in class to discuss the project and issues. 

However, this year adaptations had to be made and it was interesting to hear what the students thought of this new approach and new way of working.  Each team had to set up their MS team to work in, meeting regularly through the medium, and use the storage options to share and work on files to create their presentation.  Teams were a mix of online/offline students, some from Italy, Spain and some in Aberdeen and together they prepared their work, recorded it online from separate areas for submission and then attended a virtual online question and answer session with myself. 

In asking them to reflect on how they felt this went a resounding theme emanating was the fact of how convenient it was to meet up online through MS Teams, with the ability to meet when it suited them and not per timetable. 

Secondly, despite the fact it was an assessed piece of work the students really got behind the use of MS Teams identifying quite quicky that being ‘virtual’ as such was developing competencies our post COVID-19 workplace will want.  They noticed they would be able to take an interview online, communicate effectively through the medium and indeed grew in confidence and their capability for sharing. 

At times conflict was an issue but being in each MS Team allowed me to oversee things.  On producing their reflective statements for their assessment all students felt more work ready.  This is so key to Robert Gordon University’s approach to developing our students as graduates of tomorrow and in keeping with our values of Authenticity, Innovation and Collaboration.

Many initiatives have been taken by staff at RGU during this time and I am sure we will hear of more of these.

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