Within the computing department there are many creative and innovative approaches utilised during teaching and assessment. The approaches include independent yearlong student projects, external employer’s projects and mock interviews, games demonstrations and exhibitions, paid work experience placement within industry and overseas including Prague and China.
Many of the independent yearlong student projects have provided some amazing results; a former project was a virtual reality system for a local Museum. This project resulted in the student taking ownership of the project as it was something he was interested in due to his past experience, this provided huge levels of enjoyment and engagement far beyond any other assessment completed by the student. Student engagement is a “student’s willingness, need, desire and compulsion to participate in, and be successful in, the learning process.” (Bomia, 1997, p. 294) After completing the assessment the student toured technology shows with the virtual reality system and received numerous job offers as a result of the real life excellent experience the project offered. Another benefit of the project is that the teaching establishment has received a large amount of publicity with it being featured in local newspapers, etc.
There are some negatives to a project of this kind, the teaching organisation needed to purchase a large amount of equipment for the project. This could have been a waste of money if the student was unable to deliver a project of a suitable standard. The student involved in this project was so engaged and enjoyed the project to such an extent that other work was not completed to his normal standard due to being distracted. Another negative is the requirement of staff to manage this kind of project, the experience and expertise required can be difficult to obtain, especially as students can select a project requiring a wide selection of expertise.
Another creative and innovative approach is a game exhibition where the students demonstrate games they have created over the last 3 months. The feedback provided by the exhibition visitors can be used as evidence within the student’s assessment. When students are informed that their games will be demonstrated to visitors, it increases the level of engagement within lessons and provides a higher level of focus, as it is not a normal assessment where a handful of lecturers will view the work completed. This does provide a negative in that some students find this incredibly stressful, however, participating within the exhibition is not mandatory. As the student will be expected to stand alongside the game they have created it forces a level of ownership over the game they create. This project often has an impact on students’ self-esteem, as hearing that a game is good from an exhibition visitor is far more effective than a lecturer saying it. Another benefit is that the games demonstrated are often featured on students and visitors social media accounts, providing publicity for the teaching organisation.
Projects of this kind make the course far more interesting for students and allow them a level of flexibility so that they can pursue the goals they are specifically targeting, while achieving a qualification and potentially building a portfolio of work.
Bomia, L. B. (1997). The impact of teaching strategies on intrinsic motivation. Champaign, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.