Enhancing Student Learning: PG-led Workshops for Undergraduates

Senior postgraduate Hannah Grenham writes for the School of History on the Workshops for Undergraduates scheme.

For the past two years, postgraduate students in the School of History have been developing a programme of workshops designed to help undergraduates learn the key skills for studying history. The programme tackles issues such as referencing correctly, finding and using primary sources, and engaging with historiography, and aims to serve as a means of enhancing students’ development as historians outside the time constraints of weekly tutorials. They also offer students the chance to engage with postgraduates in the School in an informal and relaxed atmosphere, allowing them to ask any questions they may have about essay writing or academic history in general. At the same time, the postgraduate students who lead the workshops benefit from the opportunity to develop their own lesson planning and teaching skills.

The programme has been devised and coordinated by Hannah Grenham, Eilidh Harris, and Kimberley Knight, while individual sessions are organised and presented by postgraduate students from across the School of History. Workshops are divided between Mediaeval and Modern History in order to cater to some of the differences in each of the degree prorgammes, and are generally focused towards sub-honours students as they transition from secondary education to the more specialist requirements of university-level history. In each workshop, students are encouraged to engage with sample material, work through practical examples, and discuss any particular difficulties that they have.

The workshops have been well-received by students, who have praised the sessions in feedback as ‘really useful’ and ‘always super helpful’. ‘I feel more relaxed about writing an essay now,’ one student responded, while another thanked workshop leaders for ‘making sources much less daunting’. The programme as a whole is developed in line with the feedback received from students, in order to tailor the workshops closely to students’ needs.

This year, the workshop programme is financially supported by the School of History, and has recently been awarded funding under the Scotland-wide Enhancement Theme scheme, as part of the current theme of Developing and Supporting the Curriculum. This funding will allow for the production of higher-quality materials as well as the chance to compile a portfolio of material to enable the continuation of the workshop programme in future years.

In 2014, there are plans to run workshop sessions on topics including postgraduate study and using the University’s Special Collections. It is hoped that the workshop programme will become an established part of the School of History and that it will continue to develop and grow, creating links and establishing a sense of community among undergraduate and postgraduate students in the School.

About standrewshistory
With over forty full time members of staff researching and teaching on European, American and Asian history from the dawn of the Middle Ages to the present day, the School of History at the University of St Andrews has one of the finest faculty and diverse teaching programmes of any School of History in the English speaking world. The School boasts expertise in Mediaeval and Modern History, from S cotland to Byzantium and the Americas to the Middle East and South Asia.Thematic interests include religious history, urban history, transnationalism, historiography and nationalism. The School of History prides itself on small group teaching and tutorials allowing for in depth study and supervision tailored to secure the best from each student. Cutting edge research combined with teaching excellence offer a dynamic and intellectually stimulating environment for the study of History.

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