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Practical Skill Development in the Vantage One Program

The Vantage One Program at UBC utilizes innovative teaching methodologies, and provides students with high-level enriched support through mentorship and small classroom sizes. Additionally, instructors strive to encourage students to develop practical skills that will benefit them through the course of their degree, and in their future professional lives.

Dr. Siobhan McPhee (Geography instructor with Vantage College) and Dr. Steven Barnes (Psychology instructor, UBC Department of Psychology, and UBC Vantage College) employ group work in the classroom, with the aim of encouraging learning independence and collaboration. Students self-select their group work teams in the first week of term. Students meet every Wednesday to work on the development of an independent end of term project. Each group chooses a topic for exploration. Beginning in week three of the term, groups conduct research on their selected topics during class. Students are asked to complete smaller tasks throughout the term which include: a research question in week 4, a summary in week 6, a wiki in week 9, a group presentation in week 12 and finally an individual paper by each student handed in week 13.

The aim of this component of the course is to give first year students the opportunity to work on an independent project under the strict guidance of the instructor and teaching assistant, who provide them with support at every step. The students get ownership of the weekly topics and take their inspiration from the lectures and readings to apply them in their own specific capacity and time, facilitated by resources including websites, podcasts, discussions and bibliographies, with direction from the instructor and teaching assistant. This type of learning and development will serve to support their success in their upper level studies at UBC. Working effectively in groups allows the students to develop essential skills related to communication, accountability and project organization.