Professor Guy Brown, Deputy Head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield, tells us about a new project which has been developed with support from the Engaged Curriculum initiative.
In the Department of Computer Science (DCS), we’re excited to be starting an Undergraduate Ambassadors scheme with the assistance of the Engaged Curriculum Fund. Our aim is to develop a new third-year module that gives undergraduates in DCS the opportunity to develop and deliver computer science teaching in local secondary schools. It will provide valuable experience to students who are considering a career in teaching, whilst also providing much-needed support to schools in the delivery of new GCSE and A-level Computer Science curricula. The module will be closely based on the one currently run by the School of Mathematics and Statistics, which has organised a successful “maths ambassador” scheme for several years.
We expect the first cohort of students to start in September 2015. The Autumn semester will be used for preparation, including a whole-day crash course in secondary school teaching run by the Division of Education. During this semester, students will plan a project that they will do in the school, in consultation with their school liaison (e.g., focusing on teaching a particular computer science topic, or a student group with particular needs). In the Spring semester, students will visit the school for half a day a week to deliver teaching, provide training to teachers and complete their project work. They will be assessed through a report and presentation.
We hope that this new module will embed engaged learning activities in computer science into the secondary school curriculum in a sustainable way – not just by direct contact with students, but by developing new teaching materials which will continue to be used within schools well beyond the involvement of a specific student.
Sheffield schools have been contacted about the proposed scheme, and we have received an enthusiastic response. We already have strong connections with three schools (Handsworth Grange, Westfield and All Saints) through an outreach scheme run as part of the Cutler’s Made in Sheffield initiative. We expect the new Undergraduate Ambassadors scheme to allow us to strengthen our relationship with these schools, and also widen our connections to many more schools in the Sheffield area.