#15toptips for Student-Centred Teaching 7: Build peer mentoring into your students’ higher education experience

In my previous blog I highlighted the importance of building collaborative group-based assessment into your courses and modules since these are one of the most effective ways of ensuring that students develop the kind of skills, attributes and experiences that will prepare them for work in professional settings and roles of various kinds. In this blog, I’d like to articulate the case for integrating peer-mentoring opportunities. Continue reading

#15toptips for Student-Centred Teaching 6: Build peer learning opportunities into your teaching

Students learn via a range of different ‘learning pathways’. These can be usefully reduced to four key pathways. The first is the formal curriculum (what we teach and the curriculum learning materials and learning support we provide), the second is students’ own independent study and background reading (i.e. what they learn outside the classroom in their own time, and often in informal settings such as the home), and the third is the learning they engage in via practical or clinical placements, internships and other work-related activity outside of the normal University environment. These provide crucial insights into the world of work and help students to gain experience of professional settings. The fourth of the pathways is what they learn from each other – i.e. peer learning. In order to engage in peer learning students need to be given opportunities to work collaboratively either in forms of group-work, or via more structured forms of peer-to-peer mentoring. I will consider peer mentoring in my next blog, but in this one will focus on assessment-based group-working. Continue reading

#15toptips for Student-Centred Teaching 5: Encourage co- and extra-curricular learning experiences – it could be the thing that makes your students ‘stand out in a crowd’.

Imagine you’re a manager in a large manufacturing company that builds highly sophisticated electronic control terminals for Network Rail. You’re on a staff recruitment panel and are looking to recruit a recent graduate who can lead a small team of software engineers. The skill-set required includes advanced knowledge of computing code as well as a strong grasp of Maths and Physics. So, basically, you’re looking for a STEM graduate. A small group of your colleagues have carried out a first ‘sift’ of the applications and your HR department has forwarded to the recruitment panel a shortlist of 6 applications. These are graduates from a range of Universities, some from the Russell Group, some from MillionPlus group, and some from what were until recently members of the 94 Group. Reading through them, you realise that all six candidates have gained a 1st class degree. All six have performed consistently well across the three years of their degree, and all six have terrific academic references from senior lecturers and professors in the universities concerned. Hmmmmmm. You suddenly realise that this is going to be a tricky business – how do you differentiate between them when they all seem to have such a strong academic record. Continue reading

#15toptips for Student-Centred Teaching 4: Consider the balance between formative and summative assessment

Over the past decade the National Student Survey (NSS) has provided important insights into students’ perceptions of and satisfaction with their educational experience at university. The NSS has many detractors in the sector, and one can understand why. Concerns about it are even more vocal now that data from it is feeding into the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), despite the fact that there is no proven link between student satisfaction and teaching excellence. Continue reading

E-TALEB and SEDA

SEDA’s collaboration with the Erasmus+  Project, E-TALEB, with lead partner, USEK (Université Saint Esprit de Kaslik), Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon.

Background

In February 2013, SEDA was approached by USEK (the Université Saint Esprit de Kaslik, Lebanon) to be a partner in a Tempus IV project ‘Framework for Professional Standards in Teaching and Learning Practices in Lebanon’ (FPSTLP). On behalf of SEDA, and in discussion with the then SEDA Co-Chairs, Mike Laycock submitted documentation expressing SEDAs willingness to contribute and what our expertise and role could be. Mike also nominated Liz Shrives and the SEDA Executive Committee agreed both as the SEDA representatives. Continue reading

#15toptips for Student-Centred Teaching 3: Build ‘authenticity’ into your assessment strategy

As lecturers we often tend to think first of what we want to teach. This is an entirely natural response if we view ourselves primarily as subject specialists. Given the task of developing a module on, say, the development of medieval domestic architecture, my own immediate priority as a young lecturer was to think of the content – domain knowledge – that it was crucial (in my view) to cover in such a module. I’d then start thinking about how these could be reframed as ‘objectives’ and ‘learning outcomes’. Thinking about assessment often came last, and when I did I often fell back on my own experiences of being assessed at undergraduate and post-graduate level. Not surprisingly, the ‘essay’ or related types of individual written exercises tended to figure prominently. But it doesn’t have to be like this. In fact, if students are to develop the kind of ‘graduate attributes’ that are increasingly made explicit on University websites, setting these kinds of traditional forms of assessment will give students a limited palette with which to demonstrate them.  Check out the ‘Graduate Attributes’ that relate to your own institution – do the assessments on your modules, or on your courses, REALLY ensure that students can demonstrate these? Is there any kind of ‘constructive alignment’? Being student-centred is about placing the learning needs of students at the heart of your teaching. This extends, also, to the capacities and skills they will need to both secure graduate level jobs and to function effectively as professionals when they do so. Thinking about, designing, and employing authentic assessment is therefore a key aspect of student-centred practice. Continue reading

ICED / HELTASA 2016; A personal account by David Baume

Overview and impressions

At 8.30 am on November 23rd a man leaps onto the stage of the University of Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre and chants, shouts, sings, threatens and / or greets us – I’m going on his expressed emotions here, alas I don’t understand his spoken language.
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#15toptips for Student-Centred Teaching 2: Get your students active. It’ll take the pressure off you and they’ll learn more!

I suspect we’ve all done it at some stage or other. Faced with the challenge of juggling lots of competing deadline and tasks, it’s all too easy to allow other responsibilities to crowd-out the time needed for the effective planning of teaching. Before you know it, the day (or more) you had set aside to plan the session you will be teaching later in the week or the next week, or next month is reduced to a fraction of this, and tough decisions then have to be made about how to manage the session in question. Given this, it is also all too easy to adopt what, for many of us, is actually sometimes the least taxing pedagogical approach – the old fashioned ‘lecture’. Whilst I recognise that not all colleagues find lecturing a comfortable experience, for many it is both familiar, and easy. It’s a pedagogical comfort zone. Something to which we can retreat when the occasion calls for it. Continue reading

#15toptips for Student-Centred Teaching 1: Trust your students and they will trust you

Teaching in higher education can be hugely rewarding experience. However, most of us teaching in higher education found our way into this role because we had previously built-up a considerable body of discipline-specific expertise via our research. As a landscape historian, when I first started teaching as a PhD student my first thought was to think about what I wanted to teach (content), rather than HOW I was going to teach (pedagogy). I ‘knew my stuff’ in terms of the history, but was less than confident in designing a pedagogical approach that would ensure that the students learnt what I wanted them to. Continue reading

#15toptips for Student-Centred Teaching: Introduction

At the beginning of a new year, are there reasons to be cheerful?

Welcome to the first of my SEDA blogs. I will be writing 15 blogs over the next calendar year and look forward to hearing some of your views on issues relating to teaching and learning. Continue reading