In tune with the theme of the previous post of nothing staying the same – I am approaching Building Pathways to Academic Success and the new academic year with some trepidation.
I can never leave anything to run the same – always have to tweak and experiment. So sometimes the balls in the air hit the ground. I don’t have any disasters to report yet but am in a state of high anxiety. Pathways is a programme started by my predecessors in the job. By all accounts they were both brilliant at it, the job and running Pathways. What it is is a programme run in tandem with Orientation that gives newly enrolled students a bit of a heads up for the new experience. It specially targets those with a low OPs (school leaving score) and the previous stats show that those students who attend Pathways do significantly better than those who don’t.
I have introduced some good stuff but have made other choices that have brought some criticism down on me and the stats for 2010 do not look as good as previous years. Oh Dear. Of course there are differentials that might give me comfort but hard to find it right now.
Perhaps my feelings are a bit affected by what I sense as a bit of an air of desperation in our sector… Government funding had become generous under Labour but they are now in a slightly tenuous position and propose to cut funding to one of the best structures set up to promote learning and teaching in HE the ALTC – to re-direct money to post-flood reconstruction. Hope this is not a taste of things to come. Smaller Regional universities are always going to feel nervous about funding as there is this tension between the government’s goal of boosting numbers of graduate percentages in the population and the difficulties of recruiting and graduating grossly underprepared and marginalised school-leavers as well as those who have been away from study for some time. With support such students generally do pretty well but intensive support costs serious money!
At my place many of the academics are very serious about their teaching and look for ways in which they can achieve the best learning in their students and that is exciting to me. We work collegially. I have been feeling more of that sort of mutual respect recently. Learning support separate from the lecture rooms and tutes is always going to be seen as a bit like First Aid I suppose so I am always happy when I am invited to run academic skills workshops in the actual courses. Not that I am dissing the sort of one on one support I provide for students in need… not at all. that has its own place and value but I am reminded of my choice made 30 plus yers ago in South Africa to work in the public sector – reach more learners that way and then the move into teacher education, reach even more that way – so big irony now to have the bulk of my time spent in one on one support!!!
Enough of this – heading for church now – can’t go on Sunday!