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Honours Workshops

Tutorial support for most Level 10 and standard Level 11 Honours courses is now in the form of "Workshops".

The "core" Y3 20-point courses will have weekly workshops (weeks 1-11 inclusive). The 10-point courses and "thin" 20-point courses have workshops in a semester, either in even weeks (2,4,6,8,10) or odd weeks (1,3,5,7,9,11). 

Workshops are generally timetabled in larger rooms, often in the Teaching Studios. There will be a "Supertutor" (ST) present (usually the course lecturer) who will run the session augmented by added staff according to the following scheme depending on registered students expected in the session:

Class Size Staff numbers in addition to ST
20 or less ST only
30 or less ST plus 1
40 or less ST plus 2
55 or less ST plus 3
72 or less ST plus 4

Attendance should be taken at Workshops and reported to Year Secretaries who will record it - course secretaries to provide sign-up sheets for this. We should convey a clear expectation to students that attendance and hand-ins are expected. It is NOT the intention that particular students should have a fixed tutor, but rather the ST should ensure that the team in the Workshop are covering all tables on a given session.

Year Secretaries will arrange sign-up to sessions (necessary only where there is more than one workshop), produce sheets for recording attendance and marks and distribute work for marking to the workshop teams.Self sign-up to groups created in Learn is one way to manage group sign-up, an alternative is the "Physics sign-up tool".

Marked Work

  • The default assessment weighting for weekly/fortnightly hand-ins is 5%. This low amount is intended to emphasise the formative purpose of the hand-ins. 
  • Lecturers may submit a short case to HPC for having hand-ins worth 20%. The case should explain how consistency is to be obtained in marking in cases where there are multiple markers, and how the possibility of plagiarism is to be monitored. At the 20% level it would be inappropriate to set identical questions in consecutive years, particularly if model solutions were provided.
  • Classes without a CA component should set modest quantities of work to be marked by the tutoring team (including the Supertutor). Course secretaries will divide collected work between the members of the workshop team and distribute it to them. We should not expect the team to be marking for more than one hour per contact hour. The intention is that marked work is to provide feedback to students on good presentation of mathematical arguments and so a small amount of material that will then be carefully marked is the ideal. It is suggested that the hand-in could be something that was worked on in the tutorial. NOTE: HPC decided that marking schedules should always involve most or all tutors in marking every hand-in. (Whilst a schedule where tutors take it in turns to mark the whole submission are efficient and address the consistency issue, it does not ensure that tutors are up to date with material.) 
    • As always, we must be sure to explain to students that the hand-in is a small proportion of the problems and exercises that we expect them to do. 
    • Timing of hand-ins: This needs to be clear to students. It is suggested that a collection day is fixed in a lecture a few days prior to workshop day, and marked work returned in the Workshop.

Study Materials for Workshops

We should expect full commitment from our students in the form of engagement with studies. In return, we should think carefully about our teaching materials and make sure they are engaging and purposeful. We should try and avoid Workshops being just a selection of relevant (according to our viewpoint) exercises on recent work. Rather we should think in terms of particular "Learning Outcomes" of a session: what exactly do we hope students will be able to do or understand better after it? We should have these things in mind ourselves, AND make sure we communicate them.  At the very least, heading a worksheet for a workshop with a statement about what is supposed to be learned in it is good practice.  

Workshops are intentionally scheduled in venues that facilitate group work.  It is recommended that a good proportion of material for workshops is designed with group working in mind - for example, problems where two or three related situations are investigated and the results compared can work well.  

Lecturers have a choice about whether to ask students to work on the material before the session.  If one is going to ask them to, then there needs to be a clear expectation that it is actually done, and some mechanism for dealing with students who nevertheless turn up having failed to do it.  (One suggestion that has been made is to group seating on arrival according to preparedness - it's not clear how well that would work.)

The Tutorial Working party provided some examples of worksheets for workshops as examples:  Group theory, Discrete Maths, Open Sets.

The above is not meant to be prescriptive, and it is probably a good idea if all workshops are not the same.  A "revision workshop" as the last for a course might be useful.  Some sort of ice-breaker activity at the start which makes students talk to the rest of their group could be an idea, even if it is just: "name one thing in the course you are finding particularly hard (or interesting or easy or....)".   Consider other activities like peer marking, or asking students to mark an (anonymous) answer from a student in last year's exam.   

The year 3 courses will change next year, and preparing materials is time-consuming.  We hope all workshops will produce some dedicated materials of the sort described this session, with the intention that within a year or so they will be universal. 

Role of the Supertutor

The Course lecturer is usually the supertutor for workshops and so they will have designed the materials and should regard themselves as running the sessions.  The rest of the workshop team may need to refer questions to them.   In a large group they are recommended not to assign particular tables to themselves but to circulate and drop in on different tables thus getting a feeling for the progress of the class as a whole and allowing all students some interaction with the lecturer. 

Workshop Teaching Advice

A few ideas for those not used to teaching in the workshop environment. The most important thing to bear in mind is that the principal purpose of tutors is not to deliver material but instead to facilitate students' in the process of building their understanding.  

  • If the Supertutor takes along a few sheets of A3 paper for each table it facilitates group work.
  • Where possible sit down with the students rather than looming over them.
  • Give students time and space to think for themselves.
  • Spend at least as much time listening to the students as you do talking to them.
  • Encourage groups of students (e.g. Teaching Studio tables) to function as a group, and to ask each other for help and advice. 
  • Avoid, at least as a first approach, simply telling students "the answer" but rather ask them to explain their thinking on the problem.  Encourage other students in to the conversation too.  The ideal is the student solving the problem or gaining the understanding with the tutor providing that little bit of necessary scaffolding.
  • Try and keep your pen in your pocket.  Resist the temptation to be regularly showing students how to do things. Remember that if you write something for the students they may nod politely but if they write it they have in some sense understood something.
  • Encourage questions: remember "Every question is a good question."
  • Active learning is better than passive receipt of information.
Last direct edit: 10:41, Sunday 3 September 2017, by Toby Bailey. (Feedback? Please contact the page owners)

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