The art of teaching innovative teaching techniques
Rebecca Hunter (research assistant and foundation skills tutor, Workforce Development Ltd) reflects on a recent authentic learning workshop facilitated by Adrian Woodhouse, catering lecturer, Otago Polytechnic. Adrian received a national Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award in 2008.
“As an educator I know a workshop has been effective when, at home that evening I work on assimilating the newly acquired knowledge into my courses. That’s exactly what happened following the authentic learning workshop run by Adrian Woodhouse at Workforce Development Ltd’s head office in Napier. I went home and unabashedly ripped off Adrian’s way of teaching ‘process’; applied his question dice to a plant identification game, and started creating a short relevant video resource which led to me filming students a couple of days later. And so far, feedback from students has been great!”
Adrian’s most innovative technique centres around creating relevant projects for students to take charge of; projects that easily incorporate a range of performance criteria from across the course curriculum, which include tasks that are real-life and readily assessed. He has a refreshing view about how to teach without workbooks, using instead a variety of experiential learning and other
techniques. The photo (above) shows how students learn about the chemical reactions in baking.
His enthusiasm and “can-do” attitude infused me with the confidence to “be wild” – to work within the prescriptive linear needs of the course design as required but also to extend outside of that at every opportunity.
Towards the end of the day, we broke into groups to “brainstorm ways in which the techniques we’d learnt that day could be applied in our courses”. My group included tutors who had already had those project ideas burgeoning in their minds; the workshop gave them the attitude and
confidence to work towards having their organisations support their ideas.
It was inspiring to be shown examples of the authentic learning experienced by Adrian’s students, many of which were from student-driven projects. I came away with practical teaching and assessment tools and enthusiasm for developing methods that allow students’ creativity and humour to come through!
As Adrian told us, “student’s ideas will be just mind blowing, and tutoring will be more fun and more satisfying, as a result”.