Humanities Departments Reveal Their Teaching Plans for Next Term

A combination of online and face to-face teaching has been confirmed as York’s humanities departments announced their plans for teaching in the new academic year.

It goes without saying that all lectures will be delivered fully online. But when it comes to seminar teaching, departments have been focusing on how to retain York’s unique small group experience while keeping the safety of staff and students paramount. To comply with government guidelines, departments will have to be flexible in their teaching styles and ready to change quickly.

The response of York’s humanities departments has been coordinated and broadly similar. They have announced their plans to deliver seminars in a “mixed mode”: partially face-to-face and partially online.

English and Related Literature plans to directly split seminars into two parts: one hour of guided study tasks online, followed by one hour of small group teaching either online or on campus, depending on the student’s needs. Those who cannot attend in person seminars will be allocated to online-only groups. The department of History hopes to follow a similar teaching model of “integrated teaching”, which will take place half online, and half in person. Politics hopes to alternate face-to-face and online seminars weekly.

With seminar teaching being a core part of a BA degree from York, the changes made to small group teaching have been of particular interest among students and staff alike.

These changes will be brought about with the aim of continuing the “tailored set of distinctive learning outcomes” on offer by every York degree programme, “no matter your location or mode of delivery”.

After a summer term of fully online teaching, humanities departments have taken on board student feedback, which is reflected in the recent changes. 64% of students who took a student feedback survey for the English and Related Literature course expressed worry about whether they would be well prepared for the next academic year, having missed out on seminar teaching for summer term. 37% of these students also said that they would be likely to experience difficulty working online next term, making it imperative that the department cater for the needs of all students, both online and in person.

The department has used this feedback in their planning, as have the department of linguistics, who described their student feedback as “very useful indeed in [the] planning process”.