(Session) Accidentally on purpose: an adventure in programme-led innovation

Sam Kelly and Errol Rivera (School of Arts & Creative Industries)

This session explores the joys and risks of involving students as co-creators in curriculum design. When we decided to restructure the Creative Writing MA to address a specific problem, we invited students as partners in the thinking. The process revealed new questions: finding the answers involved a radical re-imagining of the MA, from the inside out. This journey of student-led invention continued; re-articulating the programme’s LTA ethos, reinventing its community of practice, and developing the role of research/teaching assistants in the University’s first Teaching Internship Scheme. The initial problem was solved, with the added benefits of transformative outcomes unforeseen by the programme team. Delivering the new programme vision brought challenges which needed the commitment and resilience of the whole team to overcome. As part of a funded research project, we are now considering the wider application of the outcomes.

Immediately after the presentation, we intend to invite participants to form small groups for the quickfire invention of disaster scenarios, in response to the question: “if you started a process of open reinvention in partnership with students on your own programme, what’s the worst that could happen?” Flipchart paper will be provided, and there will be a prize for the most challenging disaster. There will be time for a brief Q & A after this, and a show of hands to see who thinks they would give student-led programme redesign a shot. Finally, we will invite participants to join a mailing list, so we can convene a discussion group once our research is further developed.

Theoretical underpinning

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Lyotard, J. F. (1984) trans. Bennington, Geoff and Massumi, Brian The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge Manchester: MUP

Neary, M. (2010) Student as Producer: A Pedgogy for the AvantGarde; or, How do Revolutionary Teachers Teach? Learning Exchange,Vol 1, No 1.

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