When students have their say…

To invite input and feedback from our OU students on our module production we set up a discussion forum on the Open University’s Psychology Qualification online website (internal website only accessible for registered OU students). This forum was open for discussion and comments from 17th June 2019 for two weeks. In the forum, OU psychology students had the opportunity to discuss various issues and questions related to the D241 production with the module team.

These were the discussion threads in the forum, and the ways how the feedback from our students already has, or will in future, inform how we’ll produce the module:

  1. Does our title work?:

We had been having a debate about our title for the module – which initially was ‘In treatment: exploring mental health and counselling’. In the forum discussion it became clear that some students felt the ‘In treatment’ bit of the title is not clear enough or could even be misleading. This feedback echoed comments raised by colleagues in the school and has led us to change the module title to ‘D241 Exploring Mental Health and Counselling’.

  1. Employment-relevant knowledge and skills:

In this thread we asked students about their opinions on employment-relevant knowledge and skills that are valuable for working in mental health and counselling settings. Apart from more typical counselling skills there was an emphasis in the discussion on ‘self-care’ skills and resources which might reflect the pressure and demands people can experience when working in counselling/mental health settings. This also seems to be in accord with the current debates around, and growing acknowledgement of, the ‘problem’ of mental health at the workplace. In reaction to this feedback we will ensure to include a dedicated section on self-care for practitioners in mental health/counseling in the week on ‘Context of practice – ethics and professional issues’ (in Block 4 ‘Counselling in Practice’).

  1. Topics in mental health and counselling:

In this thread we asked what specific aspects of mental health and/or counselling the module should cover in the planned five module blocks (1. Understanding mental health, 2. Presenting problems, 3. Models of working, 4. Counselling in practice, 5. Contemporary issues: Mental health and society). Some students felt that, in comparison to the predecessor module D240, the D241 module production team should make sure that all therapeutic approaches introduced on the module are discussed in terms of ‘real-life’ application, and with a broader contextual view. We hope that with much more elaborated and engaging VLE weeks for each approach D241 will be able to cover not only the theoretical concepts but also how the approaches are used and ‘look like’ in practice. With three case studies (client stories) we want to create a sense of three people whose stories unfold across the module which should also help to bring the material to life for students. Also, due to the widened module focus on mental health and counselling we will be able to give good attention to the broader social and cultural factors that are important in terms of mental health.

  1. Activities that support learning

In this thread we received some very useful feedback on alternative formats of teaching material for students with disabilities and on the importance of face-to- face tutorials for student learning. We will aim to consider both aspects in designing D241 teaching material and setting up the tuition strategy for the module.

  1. Artistic crowdsourcing

We used this thread to invite artistic contributions (expressing thoughts/feelings around counselling/mental health) from students and to explain how artwork images can be submitted to be used on the module. The idea with this ‘artistic crowdsourcing project’ is to engage students in the module production and to source the images/illustrations on the module website (VLE) and in the module textbook (that will be co-published by Sage) from this project. We have used a similar artistic crowdsourcing project on another OU psychology module recently (DD310) and in this thread we received some very positive feedback on how the artwork had been used on that module (‘The images and artwork contributed for use on the module were outstanding’; ‘It was very interesting to see other people’s interpretations of an emotion, topic etc.’).

The forum is now locked but the posts and tread discussions are still available for OU psychology students to read here. Students can also still submit their artwork for the artistic crowdsourcing project until 25th October 2019 (see information in the ‘artistic crowdsourcing’ thread). We are grateful for all the very useful ideas and feedback we received in the forum discussions which will have a real impact on the way the module is produced.

Andreas Vossler

(D241 Co-Chair)

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