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Flipping marvellous: students respond enthusiastically to new active learning course

“Chris and Sue are Green Party members but that doesn’t mean they necessarily live sustainably; remember how people with a ‘green identity’ in that study were actually most likely to fly?” “Yeah, but they’re also Buddhists so they probably don’t eat meat, which is high carbon.” Students in my new class are energetically discussing in […]

What makes for good teaching? The students’ perspectives

One of the great things about our students’ association, EUSA, is its commitment to affirming and celebrating the fantastic teaching that takes place here at the University of Edinburgh.  This is recognised in the annual Teaching Awards in which students are invited to nominate their best teachers in a range of different categories.  Shortlists are […]

It’s good to talk – especially in lectures!

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of giving a talk entitled ‘It’s good to talk  –  especially in lectures!’ at Moray House, School of  Education. The presentation focused on my research into the interactions that take place during active learning lectures in physics. To my surprise both the approaches that I’ve used and the […]

Growing Contemplative Practices in Higher Education

Recently I took part in an unusual event at Queen Margaret University that drew on Open Space Technology.  Despite the name, this is a delightfully low-tech approach that draws on the potential for groups of motivated people to organise themselves around a meaningful theme.  It usually starts with an open invitation from the facilitator to […]

‘It blows you away’: the potential of experiential learning for higher education

How do we make higher education meaningful?  And how do we ensure that our graduates have the life skills that are so important to prospective employers?  For Scott Wurdinger the best way to do this is through experiential learning, and he was kind enough to come to the University of Edinburgh earlier this month to […]

‘Not our responsibility?’: Incorporating equality and diversity into tutor teaching development

In universities, we often think about equality and diversity at a relatively high level, for example university policy (at Edinburgh, the ‘Equality and Diversity Strategy’, and the ‘Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy’ or departmental or School codes of practice, which are usually implemented by senior teaching teams.  Diversifying the curriculum has been highlighted as a […]

Innovation! Innovation! Innovation!

One of my favourite New Yorker cartoons shows two disgruntled-looking dogs walking along the road. One says to the other “It’s always, ‘Sit!’ ‘Stay!’ ‘Heel!’ – Never ‘think’, ‘innovate,’ ‘be yourself.’” Unlike the New Yorker dogs, university teachers are constantly being urged to innovate, innovate, innovate, but this often makes us feel equally disgruntled. We […]

The Neuroscience of Learning

As teachers and learners we know that the human brain is a wonderful thing, but many of us are a bit vague about how it actually works. So it was great to have the opportunity to spend a whole day in the company of Patricia Riddell, Professor of Applied Neuroscience at the University of Reading.  […]

Striving for excellence in large group teaching

Here at the University of Edinburgh we’re always keen to learn about what works well in teaching and to use this knowledge and understanding to inform our own practice.  Increasingly, the Schools are opening up new spaces to discuss teaching and to provide opportunities to learn from leaders in the field.  One such initiative is […]

Tutorial teaching: Some Hints and Tips

This post first appeared as part of the Pubs and Publications blog site in the College for Humanities and Social Sciences and is reprinted with their permission.  You can find the original post here. For the past eighteen months, I’ve been working in the Institute for Academic Development as part of a team supporting tutors […]