CPD for PGRs? “No thanks, I’m busy!”

Higher Education institutions offer doctoral researchers a variety of provisions designed to support the development of postgraduate researchers (PGRs). These offerings may take the form of compulsory programmes, courses, and/or a range of optional developmental workshops that cover topics such as research skills; technology enhanced learning tools, and presentation skills to name a few. Nevertheless, generating interest among PGRs towards CPD activities can be a hard task. Focus is on their PhD and taking time out to engage in other knowledge and skills training is, for many, not a priority. The task of putting together a developmental programme/course/or workshop is thus a challenging one. Continue reading


From unpopular course to meaningful learning experience

Ludmila Kašpárková encountered the challenge of teaching a course on an unpopular topic area that didn’t appear to enthuse students. As an early career academic and part of the teaching team, this was an opportunity for her to participate in course development. Her experience of the new approaches to learning, teaching and assessment are discussed in a study entitled “Redesigning an unpopular university course: ways to promote students’ motivation and quality of learning.” Continue reading

One step at a time; the potential of formative assessment

Nikita’s chapter on enhancing formative assessment as the way of boosting students’ performance and achieving learning outcomes is inviting. It speaks to the potential of academic intervention in effecting changes in student outcomes, in this case an improvement in their writing and argumentative skills. Continue reading

Why are learning outcomes (often) so dreadful?

Learning outcomes have become the ‘go-to’ building blocks of curriculum design and no programme or module is likely to be validated in the UK and many other places globally without specifying them. But they are not universally popular and working with dozens of universities over the years I have seen some truly gruesome learning outcomes. Continue reading

The importance of communication and collaboration skills for the employers: A student view

In her chapter, ‘Life after academia: Preparing students for successful-collaboration’, Kovačević demonstrates the importance of group work and presentations. Kovačević’s idea of improving learning via group work was implemented through a series of three seminar classes, in which the learners were required to make a poster and do two presentations. This chapter is particularly useful to seminar leaders when designing the seminar outline as they should take into consideration the level of interactivity of their classes. Continue reading

Improving seminars – taking academic teaching seriously

Ina Fujdiak’s study is an excellent example of scholarship of teaching and learning. It investigates whether an introduction of active learning, especially student-to-student interaction, in six seminars was successful. Backed up by literature and observations an analysis reveal that the changed teaching method clearly was an improvement, even though further changes are still needed. The author concludes: “This teaching innovation convinced me that if the activities are planned well and properly integrated into the seminar, they can lead towards improved student understanding.” Continue reading

Be patient and persistent when facing traditions

In her study Does active learning work? Stanislava shares her experiences with using active teaching methods while teaching psychology. I am really impressed how frankly and deeply Stanislava reflects on the unexpected results of supporting active learning. And I feel happy that despite the results of her study Stanislava did not reject the concepts of active and student centred learning. Continue reading

Lectio Divina in Academic Development

Lectio Divina is a traditional contemplative reading practice that originated in ancient Greece, and became associated with monastic scholarship. The reader engages in slow deliberate reading (lectio), searches for deeper meaning (meditatio), and offers a spontaneous response (oratio), finally achieving wisdom (contemplatio). There is a growing body of evidence pointing to the value of Lectio Divina for university students (see, for example, Keator, 2017). I’m interested in what it has to offer academics who want to develop their teaching. Continue reading

Flipped classroom – flipped thinking: from traditional to learning-centred teaching

Kateřina Fridrichová’s study on using flipped classroom while teaching research methods attracted my attention because I have taught myself different research methods courses for many years and I have also thought how to make a course that students always perceive difficult and challenging more attractive and enjoyable for them. Continue reading