Academics at Varsity College
At Varsity College we have made a deliberate move away from the ‘traditional lecturing’ method where students sit passively, listening to a subject expert. This method of teaching is today believed to be the least effective.
The Varsity College teaching philosophy of “Quality Teaching for Quality Learning” aims to make your academic life as interesting and participative as possible. Learning, we believe, is a dynamic two-way exchange. Our unique, collaborative approach means you get to participate actively in your studies, engage with subject material, build understanding and develop critical thinking.
A major contributing factor to the good pass rates at Varsity College is the strong emphasis on teaching and learning excellence in the classroom. We see our lecturers as interactive facilitators in this learning process, there to meet the different learning needs of a diverse group of students by adopting the most relevant, engaging and effective teaching practices. The diagram below clearly illustrates that the most effective teaching methods are interactive and participative.
The Learning Pyramid
Attributed to National Training Laboratories Institute for Applied Behavioural Sciences, Bethel – “Edgar Dale’s “Cone of Experience” commonly referred to as Learning Pyramid.”
OUR ACADEMIC STAFF
At Varsity College our lecturers are highly qualified and are – in many instances – active in their professional field. Having lecturers with industry experience gives you insight into current industry practice and brings your subject theory vividly to life, stimulating discussion and creating a sense of what’s in store for you out there. It’s all about having a finger on the pulse of your chosen career.
But if our lecturers are sourced directly from industry, how do we ensure they are equipped with sound teaching practices?
Lecturers at VC are guided by a support structure designed to equip them – on an ongoing basis – with relevant and up-to-date teaching skills. Each campus has at least one Academic Development Co-ordinator, an education expert who keeps academic staff up to speed on the best teaching methods, based on the latest international trends. Lecturers also attend skills development workshops throughout the year and are further supported by a peer review system: a measure that ensures all teaching methodologies result in quality learning.
Investing to such an extent in our academic staff might seem like a lot of effort. It is. But the education we offer is only as good as those who deliver it. So we make it our business to ensure that VC lecturers are as qualified and equipped for the role as possible – whatever it takes.
THE LITTLE THINGS THAT MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
Another key aspect to our academic approach is the size of our classes. At Varsity College we keep our classes small, ensuring that you don’t become an anonymous face in the sort of 500-seater auditorium that is typical of traditional institutions. By contrast our classes hold, on average, 40 to 50 students, with the largest class less than 100. The aim is to encourage you to develop a relationship with your lecturers, creating a warm, intimate learning environment where you are confident to ask questions, formulate arguments, express opinions and develop the skill of critical thought.
TAKING IT PERSONALLY
In keeping with this personalised approach, your progress at VC is monitored by a Programme Champion, a lecturer who keeps an eye on your overall academic performance and ensures you receive the support you need, should you encounter difficulties. Simply put, your Programme Champion is there to make sure that nothing stands in the way of you and your success.
KEEPING YOU ON TRACK
In order for us to be sure you’re keeping up, we constantly monitor your understanding of subject material. This means that over-and-above formal tests and exams, your lecturers will assess you on a continual basis. This may sound a little intimidating but really, all it means is that we are able to check that the correct learning is taking place. It also means that if you’re having difficulties with a subject, your lecturer will pick-up on it before you fall too far behind and give you the extra attention required to get you up to speed.
PUTTING IT INTO PRACTISE
Many of the programmes provide students with the opportunity to apply newly acquired skills through the Work Integrated Learning programme (WIL). This programme gives you the opportunity to step out of the lecture room and gain insight into the real dynamics of your chosen field of study. There are two components to WIL; a simulated activity and working in industry. Students are guided and supported through this process by their lecturer.
It is common for students, who have gone out into industry on WIL, to be offered a permanent position with these same companies once their studies are complete.
UP TO SPEED
At Varsity College we are mindful of the need to stay abreast of developing technologies and innovations that will assist us in taking our students' learning experience to the next level. The use of technology in the classroom is a current area of growth at VC, as is the creation of virtual learning spaces on our campuses.
Our lecturers understand the benefits of using technology to enhance the learning experience. As educational consultant Heidi Hayes-Jacob, Executive Director of the Curriculum Mapping Institute argues, “Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought or an event.”
As all our campuses become wireless internet hotspots, more lecturers will incorporate media-rich text, video and audio clips and podcasts into classes, as teaching aids.
Currently technology is also enabling us to provide academic support outside the classroom; increasingly lecturers engage with students through their own blogs or communicate more directly via email, SMS and Twitter.
VC students are all supplied with an email account and will soon have access to the Varsity College Student Portal on our integrated academic management system, allowing access to timetables, programme information, financial statements and facilitating communication between students and lecturers through online discussion forums.
A WORLD OF KNOWLEDGE
The Varsity College campus libraries, as part of the wider IIE library, provide access to a wide range of hard copy and on-line books, periodicals and journals. The libraries are part of SABINET, a network that provides access to the resources of all campuses as well as those of other private and public institutions that are part of SABINET. The online database, Ebscohost, provides access to millions of full text academic articles while the Jutastat database covers case law material. Additionally some campuses have affiliations with particular libraries in their cities.
While our libraries offer extensive access, it is the service that defines them. Focus is placed on a support system that enables students to develop academic literacy. Our Librarians, together with our Academic Development Coordinators, educate students on how to research effectively and reference correctly. Information literacy sessions are timetabled to ensure that all students acquire this important skill.