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Teaching Intensive Classes

There is a time for the intensive week or two weeks of classes. They have a fierce reputation. What makes for a good intensive learning experience?

Here are a few thoughts (from a teacher’s perspective, taking on board student experience):

Use intensives when:

  1. Needed for student access (work, location, commitments)
  2. Part of flexible offerings to allow easier access from different student groups
  3. Timetabling needs this to maximise use of resources

Avoid intensives when:

  1. The learning process requires major paradigm shifts
  2. A new skill set needs to be learned, refined and practised
  3. Students have less well developed learning skills

Include in your intensive:

  1. Feedback on early assessment tasks (If students have 25% or more of the final marks “in the bag” at the end of the intensive, they are more likely to complete)
  2. Planning for major assessment tasks (so that in two weeks when they return to this the students don’t feel like they are starting from scratch.
  3. Fun.
  4. Group work if you can, to build some connections between students.
  5. Food and celebration.

Evaluating your intensive:

1.   Did you see the students come to sharing the unit learning outcomes with you?
a.   What helped them to do this?
b.   How did you intentionally share this through the unit?
2.   Did the students come to see the assessment tasks in light of the unit learning outcomes?
a.   What helped them to do this?
b.   How did you intentionally share this through the unit?
3.   What were you doing when the “lights came on” for the students?
4.   What feedback have you received during the unit that you need to recall?  (Write it down!)
5   (Especially for an intensive) Did the timing of assessment and learning tasks work well?  How might it work better?
6.  Start, Stop, Keep…  What would you:
a.  NOT do again?
b.   DEFINITELY do again?
c.  Maybe ADD next time?  (what would you drop to make space).
7.  Any general reflections?  What did you learn about yourself as a teacher?  (How did you manage your energy, connection, reflection within the unit)  Are there skills to develop or consolidate, and if so, how might you do this?
I hope that this proves useful if you are planning to teach (or study in) an intensive unit. Please respond with any ideas that have worked well for you.
I am indebted to Revd Christy Capper for asking me to provide the evaluation list.
Feature Image copyright Kasia Bialasiewicz  Used by permission.

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