After Action Reviews (AAR) are knowledge management processes focused on ways to improve group learning. They are about asking the questions that get participants discussing ways to improve the program.
On the table were three basic questions:
- What was the plan?
- How and why did you deviate from the plan?
- Should these deviations reshape the program?
AARs do not necessarily focus on what’s wrong. They can help organizations by pointing out what’s going well and should be sustained.
More than 20 faculty, students, and representatives from the Learning Commons attended the session on Friday. All five course mentors met two weeks ago.
There were nine recommendations that emerged from these two sessions:
- Maintain the program’s sense of flexibility, or faculty discretion. Faculty appreciated the ability to modify prompts, timelines, and readings to match their seminar’s development and emergent interests.
- This discretion requires knowing the intended purpose or learning science behind each facet of the course. All believed our training, faculty development program, and regular communications/messaging were adequate to the task, but suggested we add a student guide book (based on the faculty guide book).
- That said, the Course Mentors believe that a short written reflection is a must for each attended activity, and that there should be a minimum of five in the first five weeks of the course.
- All agreed that we need to tighten the hiring and evaluation process to improve consistency and overall program quality. Specifically this included modifying the contract to require class observation by course mentors, the program’s leadership, and peer catalysts. The team recommended that the contract further stipulate that all faculty must participate in huddles and engage in a team of teams approach to teaching, namely collaborating with other FYS sections.
- The course mentors specifically want to see a rigid attendance policy in all FYS sections. They want to form a committee to adjudicate (approve or disapprove) any requests from faculty for deviation from this rule.
- We should de-emphasize a single guiding question in favor of encouraging students to entertain many questions. The poster conference should focus on one of these, but should not emphasize settling on one.
- The academic poster conference needs to be studied on its own with an eye toward improving student satisfaction.
- Using grand challenges as a kick-starter for Phase II – or for each students’ work – was well received and will be explored in greater detail.
- Study ePortfolio use on campus and determine if FYS should continue using it as “the” tool for portfolio assessment.