Imagining Learning – by Tanshpreet Kaur

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My name is Tanshpreet Kaur and I am studying Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences focusing on Biology and Physics. I am interested in education and learning accessibility, therefore I applied for the Collaborative Research Internship (CRI), which gave me the opportunity to work on Dr Rex Ferguson’s CRI project “Imagining Learning.” I was a first year when I did this CRI internship, so I recommend it to other first years because it is never too early to get experience!

The internship

My internship involved a lot of independent research from books about the theories, philosophies and practices of effective learning methods. I read them and made detailed notes which I sent to my project coordinator when finished. I really enjoyed the CRI because my project was flexible and a great learning experience. I liked working on my own and also being able to email my project coordinator if needed.

It involved reading and analysing a selection of books from the university library to develop a deeper understanding of learning itself. I discovered theories like constructivism, the Montessori Method and self-regulation in addition to classroom practices such as inclusive learning and social/emotional techniques. They discussed major issues in learning such as inequality of access and lack of accessibility as well.

Everyone deserves a good education and a good starting point for an accomplished life, but not everyone gets this. My research focused on real and practical ways educators, administrators, funders and learners can create a learning environment in which all learners are assisted in becoming independent, resilient and cooperative. I elaborated this from different perspectives like pedagogy, psychology, sociology and biology because all of the books agreed on the importance of a holistic approach to learning itself and to explaining how we can learn best.

I got a lot out of this internship. I developed my confidence and network at the brilliant launch event we had and my actual project has been a great learning experience. I have developed better ways of organising my reading and structuring my work so that I can do the best I can in less time. This is crucial when you have plenty of research to do!

My experience of the CRI was quite different from what I expected because I thought I would be working on campus with my project coordinator all of the time. Instead, my project allowed me to decide my own working hours and I was able to work from wherever I wanted. So, research is very diverse, and it can be flexible depending on the project you are working on. I was also unsure of the exact work I would be doing when I first applied to this internship, but I got a much better idea of it after speaking to my project coordinator, so good communication is key.

Lastly, if there is a project that interests you, just apply!!! Write about any relevant interests and experience that you have (I spoke about volunteering with a coaching charity because I have developed an interest in education and equal learning opportunities thanks to it) and how they link to the project(s) you want to apply to. I didn’t think I would get this internship, but I did, so don’t overthink it!

Tanshpreet Kaur, BA/BSc Liberal Arts + Sciences