Teaching and Learning Strategy
Each student group is responsible for the delivery of a Research Report on an environmental or sustainability project for a client. The client may be either inside or outside the University. The projects prepared by each client are an example of work practice - they are real projects that the client wants done to advance their environmental or sustainability practice in one way or another.
Each student group will act like a professional in all of their relations with the client and in all activities undertaken on their behalf. The teaching and learning strategy includes:
• three skills workshops (1.Information session on the unit expectations and key considerations in undertaking a consultancy; 2.Successfully managing a research project; 3. Report writing for clients and ethical behaviour in the work place) ;
• self learning resources on handling group work and consultancies;
• regular group mentoring meetings on managing team processes, project management, and substantive components of the task with the convenor/ mentor;
• group interaction, dialogue and problem solving in a participative way;
• through class interaction, practice of presentations;
• learning to give and receive professional feedback from peers and mentors;
• reflection on your own professional practice; and
• feedback from clients.
As students are involved in a real life situation it is valuable to keep an individual log of hours and task completed. Also there is an expectation of self reflection to assess own performance in client and team interaction and to assist in writing the final professional reflection on experience. Some guidelines are set out below to help student groups in their relations with, and activities for their client organisation.
Relations with the client
Whenever the group meets with the client, each member should be appropriately dressed (smart casual) as becomes professionals. In order to manage the client-consultant relation it is advised to schedule at least four formal contacts between the group and the client representative or representatives (can be online meetings). These should be planned and agreed upon with the client at the first meeting.
1. Client Briefing: An initial meeting to define and scope the project. The unit staff will have already met with all clients to do preliminary work towards this and will accompany each group at the first meeting to give advice as necessary.
2. A progress meeting (or report without meeting) in about the sixth week of semester. At this point the group should indicate clearly to the client whether all planned outputs will be achieved and any necessary modifications to the contract put forward for agreement by both parties.
3. A findings meeting (draft report) to the client before the presentation and formal submission of the final report to foreshadow the key findings.
4. A final reporting meeting at the end of semester for the group to present their final report to the client. Some clients will only be prepared to commit to these four meetings, but others will welcome additional contact.
One of the first tasks for each group after the first meeting with the client will be to determine exactly what information they will require from the client. A consolidated list should be prepared and communicated to the client representative by the nominated group leader. This sort of contact with the client should be limited to ONE group member whose responsibility it is to keep the rest of the group informed.
The group should not treat the client organisation, or their representative(s), like another tutor or member of the university teaching staff. The client has 'contracted' the group to do the work and research necessary to complete the project. Your feedback sessions with the client are to see that you are on track to deliver what the client wants.
In between the agreed formal meetings the group representative should provide a monthly or fortnightly email update on progress - this too should be agreed at the first meeting. In the course of their work the group may be made privy to commercially, or otherwise sensitive material, and there may be a requirement to sign a confidentiality clause. In any case all members of every group are to respect the confidentiality of information or knowledge they acquire from the client in the course of completing their contract with them.
SOME PROJECTS MAY REQUIRE ETHICS APPROVAL. The time involved in achieving these approvals may restrict what activities can be undertaken.
Activities on behalf of the client
Group members must remember that when doing anything on behalf of the client, the reputation of the client will be affected by their behaviour and actions. So any survey or similar actions must also be cleared by the client.
There is an iLearn site associated with this unit. This will be the main form of communication for detailed information and updates. Students must be able to access the internet to research background for these projects.