I’m looking at making one of my first year courses, Psychological Skills Training 1 (PST 1), a first year sport spychology course more, ‘flexible’.
Please note that although I will be making greater use of electronic media in order to make PST 1 more flexible in design I will be prepared to provide hard copy resources to students should they not have sufficient electronic access (i.e., they don’t have internet access) or, alternatively, do whatever it takes to enable potential students to learn any time, any place, anywhere.
Initial contact/block course
Although it will not be possible for all students to come this might be a good icebreaker and help develop a sense of ‘group’ within the class. Information covered in the contact/block course will be available in other forms (e.g., written, discussed on Eluminate).
Students could firstly identify why they are studying
The course could begin with a brief overview of what sport psychology is, which is important as sport psychology is often misunderstood. This way everyone will start off on the same page.
In an effort to develop autonomy and ‘buy in’ throughout the class, the next step could be to have them contribute to the design of the course by identifying common topics that they would like to know more about. Perhaps I could offer a range of different topics which would best fit with the aims and learning outcomes of the course and the students could vote or discuss and agree upon which one’s they feel will be of most value to their learning or sporting performance, or most interesting.
When the content of the course is established the next step could be to identify the preferred methods of assessment for the course and dates by which assessment tasks should be submitted. Again, this strategy may assist in the development of a sense of autonomy and help to create ‘buy in’ to the assessment strategies.
Lessons on how to use Moodle and Eluminate will also be provided during the contact course.
Main teaching strategies
At this stage I see the main learning material being provided on Moodle in the form of presentations with voiceovers. The information will also be available in written form for those without internet access. It may also be possible to make class material available on podcasts and down loadable from Moodle.
Note: It is important that this course remains more than just being about information transfer. As such, students will be challenged on a regular basis to consider how the information applies to their sporting experience, and how they can utilize the information in a practical sense. .
I will be available to answer questions via e-mail and telephone on a daily basis.
Also using Moodle -
‘Discussion’ boards could be organized and could be used by students and myself to ‘discuss’ questions that arise throughout the course. These could also be used to discuss current events in sport that relate particularly well to sport psychology, and anything else that students want to discuss.
Weekly Eluminate sessions could be used for tutorial purposes and could cover similar material to that covered in discussion groups.
Face to face lectures would be available on a regular basis in order to meet the needs of students who enjoy contact time.
By using Moodle, Eluminate and face to face sessions I will be able to keep track of the students and get a feel for who is ‘engaging’ in the course.
Students will also be made aware of suitable resources both electronic and hard copy that may assist in their learning including textbooks, journals, CD ROM, blogs and websites.
You Tube - With there being so much information available on You Tube these days I could provide links to relevant interviews or situations that link back to course material.
In lectures I use quite a lot of video footage from recent sporting events as examples of where, when, how sport psychology knowledge or lack thereof can influence performance. Such footage could be viewed in a contact/block course.
Lesson – Massey University used to send out DVD’s with video footage on them, however they reportedly found this to be quite expensive and have since reverted to showing video footage in extramural contact courses.
Please keep in mind that the majoirity of students studying PST 1 are between 17 and 18 years of age and are involved in their first year of tertiary study. The value of being able to run flexible courses cannot be denied, the ability to reach more students is likely to be good for all involved. However, looking back through my previous blogs (May 6th) reminds me how challenging flexible study and self-directed learning can be.
In order to succeed students must develop the ability to monitor and control their study habits. Without this ability, no amount of flexibility in learning and teaching is going to enable the student to achieve.
I have some concerns…
I am concerned about the capability of younger students (i.e., 17 – 19) being able to self-manage their studies. Although I am not yet aware of research looking at this issue (perhaps someone could lead me in the right direction) my concerns stem from a variety of experiences including:
1. My own experiences as a student around that age (“motivationally distracted”!)
2. My teaching experiences with students in this age bracket – many, especially young men, appear to struggle with time management and commitment to study responsibility, as did I.
3. Reports from colleagues in other institutions that student self-management appears to have become worse in recent years. It has been anecdotally suggested that this is at least in part due to recent changes in high school teaching and assessment structures.
In an effort to help my students overcome such concerns I will need to come up with strategies to help them get and remain on track.
Getting and keeping on track
In a previous blog (May 6th) I discussed the personal value of an exercise that involved me analysing my reasons for wanting to get and remain involved in my studies. This is why I will utilise a similar exercise in the initial contact/block course so that students are clearer as to what they want to achieve from their studies. If the students can identify such reasons they may be better placed to push through the ‘challenging’ times.
In addition to the exercise above, which relates back to both the students study and sporting performance I will make use of other strategies (see initial contact/block course, main teaching strategies) to, hopefully, both aid their studying and help keep them ‘on track’.
Well, that's a start, constructive comments and feedback on these ideas would be greatly appreciated.