I have been somewhat vocal about how I never wanted to do this module. When I was given it, I was pretty annoyed and tempted to swap it immediately. However, after much consideration, I decided that I would go to the first session in order to get the information needed to convince the department to let me swap. After the first lecture I was left even more unimpressed and had the view that Jesse was being lazy in not giving us structured lectures. I also questioned the value that Jesse seemed to put on independent learning. Was it really going to be beneficial for us to create our own topics with such little guidance and information? What on earth would my peers be able to teach me that would not be better coming from an experienced lecturer? Surely a few blogs and comments is going to be far too easy to result in a meaningful module experience?
I am happy to say that I was completely wrong with these opinions. I have arguably learnt more in this module than all of my other modules combined and it has been one of the most valuable experiences in my education to date. In this reflective blog, I am going to address each of my previous misconceptions of this module and note how this module has enabled me to learn more effectively than the standard assignment and exam framework.
I guess the first misconception will be pretty brief – Jesse is lazy. I feel quite bad about this one, particularly seeing as it is so far away from the truth. I have now have no doubt that if Jesse had felt that we would have benefitted more from being taught about the science of education through lectures taken by him, he would have done so. Additionally, the marking that Jesse had to do as a result of the use of blogs and comments in this module was probably hugely time consuming. I am pretty sure that marking 54 blogs, plus around 324 comments, a week demonstrates Jesse’s commitment to providing the best possible education for all of us, regardless of the extra work that this means for him.
The second misconception was the notion that independent learning was a waste of time and that choosing our own topics to debate would not provide us with sufficient information to become well informed in the area. Independent learning has been a welcome change to the mundane regurgitating of information that clouds the majority of our other modules. After all, if any of us want to go into the big wide world of research, then this is something that we will have to do on a daily basis – experience of this search for our own information now will aid us greatly in the future. Furthermore, the research of the benefits of independent learning is abundant in the literature and over the past few months I have learnt that this promotes intrinsic motivation and therefore results in students working harder and achieving better grades. My grades and work ethic in this module supports this notion. Although I am generally quite a hard worker, the amount of work I have put into this module is incomparable to my attitude towards work in other modules, other than perhaps my dissertation. I think this is partly due to our constant deadlines, but more for the notion that we could investigate pretty much whatever we wanted to, providing that it was directly related to education.
The third misconception was my opinion that others in the class would not provide myself and others with the required information to have a full understanding about the science of education. I focussed on the area of reinforcement and punishment in my blogs however, through reading and commenting on others I have learnt about the self-determination theory, the use of grades, labelling and stereotypes, special education, the influence of wellbeing and mindfulness, and the importance of a healthy diet and physical exercise to name a few. It is unlikely that the sheer amount of topics addressed in these blogs would have been able to be covered in the traditional lecture setting without the exclusion of important information. Furthermore, I was impressed by the quality of every single blog written and commenting on others work has allowed me to critically evaluate debates that I would have never had the opportunity to do without the provision of blogs.
My final misconception of the module, and arguably many others who are not taking it, was that a blog and a few comments a week was going to be simple. I am sure that every student in this module would agree that this was not the case. The sheer amount of time that the blogs and comments took up was, at some points, exhausting and the amount of publications that I had to read to produce blogs that I was happy with was even in excess of the research that I put into my dissertation. As a result of these time commitments, I feel well informed on the subject and if someone was to ask a question on any of the topics discussed, I feel that I would be able to offer a coherent argument that would not be possible with our levels of research in other modules.
It is also important to note the values of blogging in general. Prior to this module I did blog on a fairly regular basis, but with the time-constraints of participant testing, dissertation writing, revision and assignments, and extracurricular activities, was unable to continue this in the first semester of this year. This module has allowed me to continue blogging without it affecting my studies. I feel that blogging is important mainly due to the potential employment opportunities that it can promote. Blogs have become an important tool for many researchers, journalists, and even those with a slight interest in the topic discussed, in order for them to produce good work that can be viewed by others. This, combined with the ability to link blogs to social media websites such as Twitter and LinkedIn, ensures that a wide audience can access your own work, thus providing various networking opportunities.
Another benefit of writing blogs is that in these blogs I have been able to say far more than I would have ever been able to do in an assignment. This is due to the fact that during the topic blogs, we were encouraged to expand on the topic every week – an impossible task for traditional assignments. As a result, new research or articles, perhaps not available at the beginning of our topics, could be detailed at a later date. Furthermore, for the first time in my education, I have been able to comment on my own experiences. Detailing personal experiences in areas of psychology is generally frowned upon in other assignment writing however, the opportunity to comment on why and how the school education system seemed to fail myself and others was extremely worthwhile. Hopefully, in seeing how the education system has failed some, combined with the research demonstrating that the system needs to altered, successful changes will be put in place to benefit the teachers, students, and the wider community.
In conclusion, this module has not only taught me a great deal in the areas discussed, it has provided me with the much needed practice of writing coherent arguments about areas in psychology in which I am passionate. I used to loathe the topic of education; now I feel that research in this area is vital – perhaps one day I might even investigate it myself. Thanks Jesse for creating such a great module and to the rest of the class who have provided me with an insight into their opinions and beliefs about education.