All Ireland Society for Higher Education (AISHE), AISHE-C 2010: Designing & Delivering Curricula for the Future

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The Student as Teacher - what a first year reflective journal can tell us about the student learning experience.
Siobhán Dunne, Vera Sheridan

Last modified: 2010-10-13


Traditionally third level curricula have been designed solely by academics. However, designing a curriculum for the future requires a more diverse educational input from a number of stakeholders. For the purposes of this paper, these include academics, librarians and students themselves.


The BA in Contemporary Culture and Society is an innovative, interdisciplinary degree programme delivered by DCU’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Information and Study Skills is a core module on this programme.


As part of their assessment for this module, students maintain a reflective journal which asks them to provide a weekly synopsis of their goals, the resources they have used and the activities they undertook in relation to their learning. Students also have to outline difficulties encountered with research; they include feelings about their learning with particular emphasis on differences with previous learning. Finally, they have two sets of reflection to carry out; one being a general reflection on their experiences and the other an occasional but significant reflection on the reflective process itself.


This paper will pinpoint how the reflective journals have:


- helped students to cope with their changing information environment

- encouraged faculty staff to collaborate more closely with library colleagues on skills development 

- enabled academic and library staff to develop a flexible teaching programme responsive to the specific needs of first year students.


Overall, the journals have provided a unique insight and understanding into what students think about their learning experiences. They have provided the rationale for implementing changes into what is perceived as a traditional standalone study skills module. The journals indicate that designing curricula for the future comes firstly, from being open to new forms of collaboration across a university, and secondly, providing routes for incorporating student feedback meaningfully into this process.


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