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

Impact – An Assist

A while ago I was in the country music hall of fame, as one is, and I came across this story.  On the wall in a frame, written on a paper napkin (UK = serviette) were the lyrics to the song ‘Me and Bobby Mcgee’.  The exposition about the napkin said, something like, Kris Kristopherson walked into a bar (ouch! – Tommy Cooper) and sat next to someone who asked him, “How do you write songs, where do the ideas come from?”  Kris says something along the lines of “they just come, no idea how or why.” So, the person says, “could you write a song if I gave you a title?”  “Sure, I’ll give it a go.”  And the title was … Continue reading

‘Learning Technology in Higher Education – challenges and opportunities’ – SEDA Conference keynote

I was delighted to be invited to speak at this year’s SEDA conference. It’s a special honour this year, as both SEDA and ALT are celebrating their 25th anniversary and my talk followed inspiring keynotes by Pauline Kneale, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Teaching and Learning, from Plymouth University and also Julie Hall, Professor of Higher Education and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Solent University Southampton as part of the conference programme. Continue reading

The case for teacher training beyond ‘eduspeak’ and not throwing the baby out with the bath water

The 12th October Guardian ‘anonymous academic’ article “My university forced me into teaching training”. It was all dry ‘eduspeak’ ‘hit me where I live’. In fact, it provoked quite a response in the comments section and particularly on the SEDA (the professional association for staff and educational developers) mailing list. Many colleagues felt the article took an opinion on a specific course to offer a generalised view of teacher training courses that didn’t reflect their own, extensive, collective experience or that of research reviews that generally suggest positive results from pedagogical training. Below is a collaborative blog detailing the response of the SEDA mailing list. Continue reading

Making a list checking it twice …

So, when Santa has made his list and checked it twice (was he moderating or standardising?) he has a group of children who have meet the criterion referenced requirements and received feedback (the gift). However, the motivation is extrinsic and over-justification certainly may take place although there is no conflation. There is common understanding of the criteria although perhaps it is geo-socio-culturally influenced! 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