Adapting DAPL5S for large group teaching

Dr Ian Stimpson

School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, Faculty of Natural Sciences

CDF Framework:  Inclusive Learning | Technology Enhanced Learning

Project Summary

Geology students undertake a three-stage spiral of learning in writing skills. In the first year they are introduced to geological report writing and using reference material. The geology second year cohort build on this, undertaking a significant literature review as preparation for their independent geological mapping which is core to their final year dissertation. Revision of this literature review from the feedback provided forms a chapter in that dissertation. The second-year literature review is an ideal candidate to use the Developing Academic Practice at Level 5 (DAPL5S) approach, but the number of geology students involved would swamp that programme if they all enrolled on it, so the approach was adapted to work internally within our ESC-20083 Field Techniques module for the whole cohort using the KLE.

Developing Academic Practice at Level 5 (DAPL5S) is ordinarily a six-week programme of workshops for Year 2/Level 5 undergraduate students, offered by KIITE. The course aims to help develop good academic practices in the context of a student's subject, in collaboration with peers from a range of disciplines. Using feedback from previous assignments, peers and self-assessment, students inform their approach to studying and planning assessments. In addition, the workshops prepare students for undertaking their dissertation or a research project in the final year of their studies.

This project addresses the 'sophomore slump', the dip in second year engagement. In the first year the writing skills are new and in the third year they are treated seriously as part of the dissertation, but the literature synthesis in year two suffers from the perception that it is just another report, only longer. By adapting the DAPL5S approach for the whole cohort, new skills are introduced in the second year and engagement is enhanced.

The students developed an understanding of how a literature synthesis is produced, by deconstruction and then reconstruction. On a much broader level, but incorporating time- and project-management approaches, students learn how, what seems a very large and challenging task, can be broken down into a series of manageable sub-tasks spread out over the duration of the assignment, not just rushed at the end. This both increases the understanding of the process and leads to a higher-quality result, particularly important in the troublesome second year “slump”. Furthermore, the students acquire a toolkit that can be applied to not only literature synthesis type work later in their programmes, but an approach that can be equally applied not only to final-year projects but to masters’ dissertations and even PhD theses.

This case study demonstrates the adaptation of an innovation, the Developing Academic Practice at Level 5 programme, and how it can be more widely applied.

By using a literature synthesis as a vehicle for the project, this should be applicable to most disciplines. However, the documentation here does relate to the specific example of a geological study and the particular needs of that type of literature review. If this is adapted for other courses then the bespoke content would need to be changed to make it relevant to that particular cohort.

Geology Literature Synthesis Week by Week

Geology Literature Synthesis Week by Week (63 KB)