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Teaching Insights

Insights into teaching and learning

Most teaching faculty in higher education walk into their first classroom with little or no training in how to deliver a lecture, how to facilitate learning, or even how to construct a lecture programme or write an assessment.

Whilst there are now moves to train and support lecturers in various parts of the world, this is still patchy and limited. This section offers helpful and usable information to anyone in a teaching role who feels they would benefit from a little extra insight into the performance of that role.

Global academics: teaching and managing across cultures

In the early twenty-first century, being an academic seems to go hand in hand with being a global citizen. Look at the CVs of managers or faculty in higher education, and you will see that many have had at least one stint in a different country. Margaret Adolphus talks to a number of academics about the insights they have they gained from this experience and how it has affected the way they teach or manage. The result is a fascinating insight into what they regarded as different, what they learnt, and what they felt they brought to the situation.

How to compile an effective reading list

The reading list is an important part of a course's teaching and learning strategy, as well as a useful tool for helping students develop information literacy skills. This guide is aimed at faculty who want more information on compiling a reading list, and discusses how to make the list a good pedagogical tool. It also looks at the problems surrounding reading lists, and how students, faculty and librarians can work together to compile them.

E-learning – the latest trends

E-learning has developed with the Internet, taking the affordances of technologies and marrying them with appropriate methods and practices of teaching. This article looks at the main trends dominant in e-learning towards the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, with a particular focus on higher education.

How to evaluate teaching

Evaluation can often be a negative experience for teachers, and many articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education, America's publication devoted to the tertiary sector, detail the horrors endured by some as a consequence of being evaluated. One teacher even reported on how she threw a particular set of evaluations into the rubbish bin (Perillo, 2000). But it doesn't have to be that way. Here, Margaret Adolphus looks at how the various methods of teaching evaluation can be used positively and effectively.

Evidence-informed approaches to teaching: what's the evidence?

This article explores the trend towards the pursuit of evidence and effectiveness in teaching in higher education, looking at some examples of large-scale research projects and also at places where information on good practice can be found. Much of the work on evidence-based practice in education has taken place in the UK, but the conclusions are of interest to all who seek to improve the quality of the student learning experience.

The learning-centred approach

For the chattering classes of higher education, the lecture is out, and active, self-managed learning is in. But what does this mean, and what are the implications for teaching? In this article, we look at some definitions of active/self-managed learning/learning-centred approach, and then at the implications of this for the skillset of the university teacher. Finally, we describe some methods which teachers have used.

Course design

The thought of planning a lecture, let alone a whole course, can seem a huge hurdle to overcome. How will you use all that time? How will you fit in everything you need to say? This article shows how a number of changes have taken place in tertiary education, so that universities have more stakeholders than their own concept of a liberal education.

Learning outcomes and assessment criteria

The outcomes-based approach to teaching and learning is increasingly being used in higher education as the model for best practice in constructing courses and evaluating students' work. Learn more about this approach with this simple, practical guide to building your own outcomes-based programmes.

Supporting distance learners

Distance learning is normally defined as a form of learning which takes place away from the campus, where the university in some media form comes to the student rather than the student coming to the university. It is not the same as e-learning, which refers to the use of technology rather than separation of teacher and taught. Many universities are now offering distance learning in some form but what does that mean for teachers and other academic support staff?

Learning styles and the nature of learning

How do students learn? There's been a great deal of interest in this question over the past 40 or so years. In a number of countries, including the UK, it has a particular relevance as universities open their doors to a wider range of abilities. Do people learn in the same way? It's generally accepted that they do not, and that many factors affect learning – hence the interest in learning 'styles'.

Teaching research

The production of a piece of research is what characterizes academic education and differentiates it from vocational training. Students are expected to demonstrate scholarly academic standards in the form of careful and accurate collection of evidence, from which they draw relevant and considered conclusions.

Presenting with PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a deceptively easy application to use. Deceptive, that is, because it is so easy to use badly, as anyone who has stumbled from a presentation in a confused blur with their head reeling and their eyes spinning will know only too well. For anyone still wary of unleashing this powerful yet disruptive force upon their classrooms, here is a short guide to making the most out of PowerPoint in lectures.

Assessment for learning

Assessment has a broader purpose than merely to pass judgement on a student's performance: it should communicate the standard expected so that this can be internalized. Then learning can become not just a race to the finishing post, but a personal commitment to those values of judgement, critical analysis and independence of thought which should characterize academic life. In this article, Margaret Adolphus looks at the ways in which educationalists have been trying to influence the assessment agenda and ensure that it reflects authentic academic achievement.