Students in Criminology were presented a case of a body found in the home of a popular musician. After reviewing some of the evidence presented to them, they looked at those potentially involved in the death. Based on skeleton information from the parties of interest, students created questions to ask these individuals, before concluding who should be investigated further and taken to court for murder.
At the ‘court case’, the students were split into two groups – the prosecutors and the Jury, with the Foundation Year Tutor being the defense and a guest tutor from the Department of Criminology as the judge. Students were given the opportunity to develop further evidence, argue their case and draw their conclusions together. The Jury reviewed both sides of the argument and came to a verdict. After the court case, students had done further research into similar crime cases and highlighted what the outcome of the verdicts were.
Education Studies and Primary Teaching students were given the scenario of working in a new Primary school in Hull, and OFSTED were coming in to inspect the school. Students were tasked to look at previous OFSTED reports from local schools around Hull and discussed the outcomes of these and their thoughts. They then hypothetically created ‘sessions’ and considered resources they would need. Students then went into groups based on the OFSTED themes and identified key questions that the inspectors could ask them, and created their responses would be to those questions.
After the ‘inspection’, the students reflected on what the rating would be from OFSTED, which they rated themselves as ‘Good’ as they felt there was more development required to establish the School.
Students in all three subject workshops reflected on how their study skills would come into play in their disciplines and were able to demonstrate the following skills:
- Critical thinking
- Research skills
- Time management
Delivery during COVID-19
At the time of the module, we were in the middle of COVID-19. Whilst these sessions were face to face, social distancing was required and there were some students watching a live online stream of the workshop via Teams. This was indeed a challenge, however this was achievable by facilitating discussions using Mentimeter, so all students were able to contribute whether they were in the room or not. There were some challenges, such as not having the appropriate equipment so the students online could hear the full discussions. This was a barrier to them; however, it did not stop them from interacting within the sessions.
As students were tasked with homework, they were encouraged to continue further discussion on Teams in between classes which not only allowed an opportunity for socialisation but created familiarity for students on how to use Teams or other platforms. Whilst it was not a formal group work, these tasks saw high engagement for these workshops, with good attendance and continued conversations between sessions.
At the end of the five weeks students were asked to offer informal feedback on the sessions. Feedback was very positive, with many saying they gained a lot out of the subject workshops and could see how basic academic skills can be transferred into their disciplines, particularly with the scenarios. Students also felt that they were able to share their personal experiences and contributions in the scenarios in a welcoming environment. In addition, the Module Evaluation Questionnaire demonstrated qualitative evidence that students found the scenarios both beneficial and enjoyable.
“As a criminology student, I thought Emma's idea of creating a crime scene scenario was perfect for all the group to communicate and get together to chat about what I'm sure we all love!” – Anon Foundation Year Student (Module Evaluation Questionnaire response 2020)”
Recently, when I asked students in their one to ones about their highlights of the Foundation year, a proportion of them reflected on these sessions and stated how they enjoyed these. From being on campus to meeting others on the course, it is evident that these workshops gave them a chance to not only have a taste of their subject, but to develop opportunities to create a sense of belonging.
During these workshops, I was delighted to see how the Foundation Year students were progressing and settling into University within these five weeks. Though we faced challenges due to COVID-19, this has also been a learning opportunity for myself; through designing and delivering fun and interactive sessions for students, I have also been able to consider how to make these accessible and inclusive for all students, whether they are face to face or online.
My advice for anyone looking into scenario-based workshops is to consider ways for students to exercise their academic study skills in discipline practice and create opportunities for students to interact and engage to create a sense of belonging at University.