An Executive Summary
03- ATLANTIS -- AN EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Dr. Lynn Elen Burton
"The lecture-based campus has been much like the old gas-guzzlers put out by Detroit before fuel shortages and foreign competition forced redesign. Now shortage of funding forces us to consider leaner, tougher, more tightly constructed alternative models, able to compete convincingly on a global scale.
May one hope that one day those ultimate bastions of conservatism, the major North American universities, may be forced, by the sheer need for economic efficiency, if not by a more humane view of personal relationships, to abandon their expensive and outmoded personal habits of basing their teaching practices on the factory methodologies of the late nineteenth century. Might they not someday consider the advantages of treating their students not as raw material suited only for mass processing but rather according them the respect appropriate to Bernard Shaw's Duchesses, or let me rather say, the dignity due to young citizens of great democratic nations, your children and mine?"
What is the Atlantis Program?
The Atlantis Program is a student-centered approach to university teaching based on the Oxford and Cambridge (Oxbridge) style residential tutorial program with experimental North American modifications based on the experience of schools such as Berkeley and McGill. It establishes conditions favorable to Socratic dialogue and student involvement.
Why the name Atlantis?
Atlantis is envisioned as the name for "a new College" based on Francis Bacon's notion of merging instruction with practical research, and with the fruits of the work directly benefiting the community. It is also based on the romantic sense of the legendary Atlantis as a place of ancient wisdom and harmony, and of open-endedness and creativity.
Finally, Atlantis merges the educational insights and practices from both Atlantic continents, Europe and North America.
How does it work?
A four-year undergraduate academic program is collapsed into three intense years.· The Atlantis Program could be custom designed to fit with existing semester structures. For example, when there are three terms per year, each term could be comprised of eight tutorial weeks separated by five to ten week independent study modules. Student readings and preparation for the tutorial term occurs during the independent study session.· Each tutorial semester is preceded by an in-depth student readiness assessment.· There would be one tutorial session in each week of the eight week tutorial term. This session would be one and half hours in length. There would be four students in a tutorial group, comprising two pairs of tutorial partners.· Each tutorial session is divided into two forty minute segments. Each student dyad manages each forty minute segment. · One of each pair of students prepares a twenty minute paper for their segment. The student makes a presentation of the paper. There is a five minute comment on the paper and a fifteen minute discussion with the four members of the tutorial and the tutor. The tutor wraps up the session with a comment on style and content. · In the week following the tutorial presentation, the student presenters revise the papers and assist their partners in the preparation for the next tutorial.· A complete dossier of the student's work is maintained throughout the program of study.· Upon completion of the program, the student undergoes a comprehensive examination. As well, throughout the program, the student is assessed through inter-action with peers, tutors, and ongoing quizzes.
How does the Atlantis Program differ from existing undergraduate study?
· It is a student centred program. It implies dignity for the individual and for the environment in which they work. It promotes individualized learning rather than mass production in "knowledge factories."
· Atlantis, like Oxbridge, is based on learner involvement, rather than on the lecturer's performance -- with the learner functioning merely as a receptive member of an audience.
· Instead of five courses in a term with no intensity of concentration, the Atlantis student takes one main tutorial program with concentrated student involvement.
· There is no need to coax students to complete required readings because the five to ten week independent study modules in the Atlantis model are for student reading. As well, there is an assessment of student readiness prior to the tutorial session. · Students are treated with academic collegiality and respect in the Atlantis approach, rather than just as an anonymous number in a class.
What is the role of the student? The student is responsible for:
- his/her learning
- preparing all assigned reading before the tutorial course begins;
- the preparation of papers for presentation to their tutorial group;
- leading or participating in tutorial discussions;
- revising prepared papers;
- assisting tutorial partners in the preparation and editing of their presentations;
- assisting in the research and tutorial role;
- making a time contribution to the administration of the college and the program; and
- maintaining and revising a dossier of program work.
What is the role of the tutor?
The tutor is responsible for:
- creating an environment conducive to student learning;
- assisting the student in the design of the learning contract;
- sharing their expertise and understanding of the field with the learner;
- guiding the program of study for the student;
- monitoring and evaluating the student's progress throughout the program;
- facilitating student involvement in research and the research process;
- creatively providing access to primary and secondary educational sources, such as, video presentations; and
- engendering a sense of intellectual respect and academic collegiality.
What is the role of the administration?
The administration is responsible for:
- investing in the infrastructure to support the Atlantis approach; - ensuring that tutors are chosen for their teaching excellence, interpersonal skills and responsiveness to students, as well as their academic credentials;- commitment to the training of faculty in the Atlantis approach;
- fostering a sense of academic community, harmony, creativity and a merging of instruction with practical research;
- initiating Atlantis pilot projects for undergraduate study; and
- giving a funding priority to innovative teaching/learning programs.