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This issue of CDTL Brief features articles on Collaborative Learning and Other Methods of Meaningful Student Engagement, including discussions on combining experiential learning with community service to enable service learning, giving students the chance to exercise their critical thinking skills by letting them build their own mental frameworks for a module, and a reflection on the merits as well as challenges of assessing class participation.

September 2010, Vol. 13 No. 1 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
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Reframing Mental Models: A Different Approach to Summarising A Module
Ms Chua Siew Beng
Human Resource Management Unit

It is common to hear some students exclaim in exasperation that they have sat through a module for an entire semester and yet, could not make sense of what the module was all about. Through my observations and conversations with them, I have found that this knowledge gap happens when students do not take ownership of the knowledge being disseminated in a module. The pragmatic approach most of them adopt to fulfill module requirements have resulted in many of them relying on their lecturers and instructors to provide the framework for studying a module. This reliance has in turn led to students cultivating a habit of accepting knowledge as it is presented.

In order to encourage students to “claim ownership” of the knowledge being disseminated in the module HR2002 “Human Capital in Organizations”, I experimented with an approach which departs from the traditional way of summarising a module at the end of the semester. Traditionally, a lecturer holds court during the summary session—revisiting learning objectives, fielding questions, clarifying doubts and yes, providing information about the exam. In this particular approach, I take the “back seat” instead.

This activity is called “Understanding Competencies & Reframing Mental Models”. The exercise encourages students to ref lect upon the concepts and theories covered in the module; it also provides them with an opportunity to exercise their critical thinking skills as they build their very own model or framework that would articulate what they learnt in the module. In addition, it helps them to make sense of the issues and challenges raised during the lessons.

In order to engage every student, the activity brief, which also includes a reading list of three related articles, was distributed to the class two weeks before the module’s final session. Each student was tasked to think about his mental model of relating and interacting with people, a key emphasis of the module. The students then formed small groups in which they could pool their ideas together. Each group had to come up with one PowerPoint slide to articulate their model or framework, and they had to do a five minute class presentation.



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Inside this issue
The Collaborative Learning Model
Merging Service, Teaching and Problem-Based Learning in a Hands-on Design for Sustainability Course in Industrial Design
Grading Class Participation
Reframing Mental Models: A Different Approach to Summarising A Module