Knowing your students
The unit of study Knowing your students report is emailed to all Unit of Study Coordinators as close as possible to the start of each semester. The report provides an opportunity to orientate the unit of study to cater for a specific cohort.
Why do anything differently?
- Each cohort is different and people are individuals. Knowing the basic parameters of your student cohort while planning activities can be very helpful. It can be valuable and beneficial for students to shape how a Unit of Study is delivered based on backgrounds, experiences and existing skills of the students.
- Letting students know you care about who they are helps them feel included and respected as learners. In the first or subsequent lectures, you can use the information to show students you have taken the time to think about who they are and how you have used that information help make lectures, seminars or tutorials, group projects, case studies or assessments, more relevant for them.
- Students find learning easier and more enjoyable when they are able to relate to the material
The "Knowing your Students" report will provide information about:
- The diverse nationalities in your unit. This information can be used to design activities where country specific knowledge is an advantage or by including relevant international examples.
- What the students should already know. The units of study they are currently studied or have successfully completed will provide an opportunity to build on existing knowledge as well as focus on the unique content of the unit of study you are teaching.
- The age (and consequently experience) of your cohort. This allows you to design activities, which directly build on their experience. Asking more detailed questions in-class about the type of experiences students have will further enhance the exercises.
Examples of what can you do with the information:
- When organising groupwork tasks, knowing how many students speak English as a second language and whether many students share the same first language may influence group formation. A case can be made both for groups with mixed or same language in different types of tasks. Particularly diverse groups often benefit from support structures like discussion boards and time to work together in-class.
- Consider offering some self-reflective material or tests for students to discover more about themselves as learners.
- For publication: Used to contextualise teaching innovations in articles and conference papers.
- Creating relevance: Tailoring case studies and examples to the audience.
- Modifying assessment: Identifying significant clashes in assessment tasks and changing schedules where possible and appropriate.
- Planning groupwork: Using the data to work out how multicultural groups might be best be formed.
- Enhancing links: Identifying previous knowledge common across the cohort and building on it or identifying those units studied concurrently with your own and explicitly drawing on and connecting to that knowledge
- Knowing your students frequently asked questions
- Teaching@Sydney project spotlight: Using student demographic data for more effective learning and teaching
If you have any further questions or suggestions relating to the "Knowing your Students" report contact A Prof Michele Scoufis.