Allen, Claire (2010) Encouraging and nurturing student initiated collaborative and multi-contributory projects. In: AISHE-C 2010: Designing & Delivering Curricula for the Future, 26-27 August 2010, Dublin City University. (Unpublished)

Student collaborations are an invaluable learning experience and give the student a greater understanding of the real life working environment. Team projects and collaborations not only develop understanding of team roles but can give the student opportunity to reflect on their own skills and how these contribute to a greater project outcome. It is widely accepted that innovation and creativity flourish in collaborations between different expertise. Here lies the teaching challenge of how we bring together two or more groups to work in a more collaborative way. Team projects are set by most undergraduate courses, but come with challenges for both student groups and tutors. Often the focus is on the team roles and dynamics than real consideration for the contributory skills of the individuals and this is certainly the case with in-course team projects. The findings presented are based on the supervision of a number of final year student projects that include self-initiated collaborations. The projects themselves have been confidently developed but with varied contributions.

The paper presents an evaluation of the teaching and learning conditions that have contributed to creating and fostering a more collaborative culture. It reviews both the student and the tutor roles in the process of developing projects from embryonic idea to final outcome. The projects reviewed range from straight forward skills trading and outsourcing to multidisciplinary partnerships. It presents a critical analysis of the assessment framework and tutoring process that has supported the collaborations along with the monitoring process of multi-contributory projects that critically informs to the final assessment. The research reviews the evidence presented by the student of the management process they have employed to control their multi-contributory projects and make clear their own role and contributions to the final project outcome.

The purpose of this paper has been to reflect on the teaching structures that have contributed to creating an open environment where students feel confident to discuss ideas and challenge the previously determined dictate of the major project. It also considers the students learning experience throughout the undergraduate course that has contributed to developing their knowledge, confidence and skills to manage a collaborative approach.

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