At Central Institute of Technology, Community Learning and Partnerships Portfolio, we have a growing group of young people who have disengaged from the school education system and joined us in the TAFE system to continue their education.
This cohort has challenged our staff to come up with ways of engaging these students, managing behavioural problems and focussing energy in a way to promote a positive learning experience.
Our students are aged between 14 and 18 with the average age of 15 years. All students have left the school system for one of many reasons. Some of these are:
- Depression and anxiety (this group is the largest)
- Family issues which have resulted in lost school time
- Bullying (either as the bully or the bullied) and
- Drug and alcohol issues (either their own or in their family)
Given the wide range of negative experiences these students have typically faced, we work hard to try to make their experience with us here at Central, a positive one.
Our programmes are learner focussed and learner led, based around projects the students identify as a group. The focus is on positive involvement and the empowerment of the individual, encouraging each student to take responsibility for his or her own learning.
This is challenging our lecturers to come up with a range of engaging ways of deliver the curriculum.
|One of the first of our project based learning activities was based around the “pop up” idea. This involves creating a “pop up” whatever for a one off use. Some examples of pop ups are a pop up restaurant, that appears, is set up, delivers a meal and then disappears again, a pop up market that creates a market place for a day and then disappears, a pop up concert etc.The first pop up one of our Youth classes undertook in Term 1 2012 was to organise and run an Easter Fair at a local kindergarten.
This project covered up the units listed below.
VBQU143 Implement & review a project
PUATEA001B Work in a team
VBQU152 Investigate and interpret measurements & related formula for everyday purposes (part)
VBQU153 Investigate, interpret and produce measurements & statistical information (part)
The project involved the students working through a number of steps over about six weeks to achieve the final outcome which was to run a two hour Easter Fair for 3 year olds at a local kindergarten. These steps were:
- Organising themselves into a project team, selecting and nominating roles of Project Manager, Finance Controller, Marketing Team and small Activity based teams.
- Producing marketing materials including requests for donations towards a raffle to generate funds for the materials needed for the activities they were going to run at the kindergarten.
- Organising and conducting a series of meetings with the Manager and Class teacher of the kindergarten to discuss and finalise dates, times, activities etc.
- Researching costings and materials needed for activities
- Managing donations and money as it came in to the project
- Organising and running the raffle to raise funds
- Purchasing the materials needed for the activities
- Conducting risk analysis and contingency planning
- Preparing the activities
- Running the Easter Fair
- Reflecting on the success of the fair and each individual student’s input to the project.
The process of the project was the most important part, as it was through each of the steps listed above that the lecturers covered off the competencies around which the project had been built. The students understood the process and were active participants not only in the learning process but also in the assessment process. This was done through using self reflection and peer assessment and feedback techniques, as well as the lecturer’s assessment methods and tools.
The six weeks were fairly intensive work for the students because in the process we were dealing with team work activities and skills development, maths skills development and guidance, project based work requirements etc.
In order to model some of the process, our lecturers used clips from “The Australian Apprentice”. The students really clicked with this and could see how various skills were useful and implemented before they had to replicate them in their project.
||The day of the Fair there was both excitement and nervousness in the air, but the overall feeling was confidence and control. It was great to see and to be involved. The students ran a number of fun activities including face painting, biscuit decorating, Easter Basket decorating and Bunny ears making!!The students loved both the process, the feeling of empowerment they felt in carrying the project, and the final Fair. The children at the Kindergarten loved the afternoon too. All in all, the project was interesting and engaging and a pretty seamless way of clustering a group of units together for this target group of students.
The beauty of it is that you can use various units at both Cert II and Cert III level when working with project based learning. We have tried to ensure that from planning and choosing the project (sometimes with our guidance of course!) through to cleaning up afterwards and reflecting on the successes, difficulties and changes they would make, all was in the hands of the students.
It took a lot of work by our lecturers, both before the term began in planning and preparing assessment tools, mapping tools to ensure all elements, performance criteria, etc were covered, and then in guiding students through the project steps. It also took a lot of effort by the lecturers to work together for a common final outcome. All in all it was a great project – one we will repeat.
Our other teams worked on other projects and I am happy to write on some of them at another time.
If you wish to know further details about how we went about specific parts of the process I am happy to answer questions through the Google Groups CGEA Network.