The unexpected benefits of collaboration

What do you get when you cross an architect and a peer learning educator?

Nope, not a joke, just a ridiculously fun and collaborative experience.

 

It seems odd that someone who ran screaming from the technical drawing classroom in year 8 at Melrose High (yes, that’s an actual Australian high school) would be working with an architect. Yet, here at UTS, the opportunity to collaborate and help to further develop the already excellent peer tutoring program running in architecture studios was one I couldn’t pass up.

And what has it given me? Firstly an appreciation of the beauty and joy of architecture, the idea of space, and context, but secondly also the understanding that architecture academics are concerned with the same things I am – that students experience and learn and grow under their care.  I’ve found the desire to help students transition from the HSC learner to the professional graduate is just as strong.  And that the opportunity for friendship with someone in a design discipline (typically not my field, as I also ran screaming from art and woodwork in high school) is also wonderful. Looking up to design excellence from a naive and amateur space, I can appreciate design in a way I’ve always run away from.

Similarly, my work space is very collaborative. I’m now part of HELPS and so am learning heaps about helping students learn English, and a what a complex, mixed up, tricky beast English can be.

UTS is great at networking events, and it’s one of the things I love about working here.I worked with a colleague who once scoffed at networking events as pointless. But I would argue differently – e.g. from the Bluestocking Choir, I’ve made good friendships with women from around the university, who I otherwise would never have met.

And the other thing about collaboration – it’s fun! We spur each other on in our creativity. We build the deeper learning environments from collaborating. Vygotsky’s work shows that by collaborating we get richer understanding and his work is one of the embedding principles in peer learning.

But why should it just stop with students’ peer learning? I say everyone should collaborate!

 

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About Georgina Barratt-See

Georgina manages the UTS U:PASS (UTS Peer Assisted Study Success) program, which assists students in 50 first and second year subjects with study sessions run by trained student facilitators. Georgina has 14 years experience in the Higher Education sector with interests in student leadership, mentoring, first year experience, teaching and learning.

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