Active learning: Something we all have to get used to

In this chapter Shpend Voca attempts to break the cycle of student passivity that goes hand in hand with lecturing as the dominant form of teaching. The aim of his teaching innovation was to increase the quantity and quality of student contributions during the teaching process and the methodology he used to achieve this goal was having students work in pairs. Two four-minute blocks were included in six of his fifteen lectures. During these blocks, students working in pairs would share their experiences, if they thought they had learnt anything new during the discussion, or to raise questions. Continue reading


There is a space between a traditional lecture and Problem Based Learning

The traditional, leading place of lectures in university education has been undermined since the second half of the 20th century (Gibbs, 1981; Rhett, 2017). Although many university teachers still think that lectures are the best way to convey knowledge, this view is not supported by pedagogic research. First of all, from the theory of communication we know that there is no such thing as undisturbed copying (‘transferring’) of the lecturer’s knowledge to the student’s mind. Second, learning only takes place when information is processed in the learner’s mind. And finally, new knowledge is more operational if it has been ‘acquired’ by the student and not given to him/her readily on a silver plate. All this together gives support to the constructivist model of education. 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

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

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

Flying high: active learning helps to craft research proposals

As a researcher developer working with new M.Res and Ph.D students I know there is often a sense of struggle for students when faced with crafting a coherent research proposal. At Masaryk University, Ivana Rapošová’s approach detailed in a recent book chapter helps students to create their own research proposal as a ‘flying carpet’ designed to “carry students safely through their entire research project”. Continue reading

Having fun! Boosting non-native speakers’ confidence through collaborative group work

It is a particular pleasure to have been invited to review chapter 2 of this book on teaching innovations. My own journey into being an academic developer began as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and teacher educator of non-native speakers of English, so the aspects this chapter includes really struck a chord with me. This chapter will be of particular interest to academics who want to use interactive teaching techniques to create more active learning for their students. Continue reading