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Teaching and learning tricky topics
Teaching and learning tricky topics

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3 Structuring tricky topics

In this section you will learn more about the tricky topics process and how that leads to identifying the structure of a tricky topic and its component parts. You will see some examples of mind maps that teachers have drawn during a tricky topics workshop and how these can be structured using the structured mapping diagram. You will also watch a short video on the difficulties encountered in creating a structured mapping diagram for a tricky topic. You will then be asked to create your own mind map and structured mapping diagram for your tricky topic.

In the tricky topics guide you saw how the identification of tricky topics is a collaborative process in which teachers come together to discuss their thoughts on students’ problems in their subject area. They may all have completed their individual ‘needs analyses’ (see Week 2 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ) or they may be using their teaching experiences and exam results as their basis for knowing what their students’ problems are. Either way, they each have a view of what are tricky topics. The mind map is, by necessity, unstructured. It needs to capture all the teachers’ ideas, many of which might be missed if they are constrained too soon to think in terms of a pre-defined structure.

However, there comes a point when it is necessary to begin to identify which problems are specific stumbling blocks and which are just examples of problems, symptoms of stumbling blocks. Further still, which are tricky topics in themselves? In Activities 1 and 3 you saw how the structure charts used are not able to clearly show the complexity of the many problems in a real situation whereas the mapping diagram used in the tricky topics guide appears to have a more open format which allows the structure to be created.