PESL's Guest Editors.

We invited guest editors to select resources that they felt addressed an issue of interest to them and of relevance to their School or discipline. Their selection appears on the home page of the site, and their commentary can be found below.

Our final guest editor, Professor Michèle Clarke of the School of Geography, shares her selection with us.

Professor Michèle Clarke, School of Geography

External link to:"In my view, learning should be fun; an engaging, challenging and rewarding experience both for student and teacher. Of course, making complex ideas fun for all participants is a far from easy task but if you can enable students to use their own imagination and creativity in an interactive manner which develops critical thought and deep understanding, the academic achievements can be impressive, the task memorable and the benefits for the individual long-lasting."

"This PESL site contains helpful advice and a number of case studies focused on different ways of making learning fun - even if the word ‘fun’ is absent from the site! Examples range across disciplines and delivery modes and are not limited to new technologies (e-learning, video and podcast creation, gaming etc.), although the potential of these media for increasing creativity in teaching and learning make them very attractive. My choice of resources focuses on the theme of active participation in learning and the benefits that can be gained from a creative approach to teaching."

"An excellent example of the challenges and benefits of modifying teaching practice to empower students to develop their own learning is provided in Peter Howarth's account [Creativity and criticism: spotting a gap and motivations to change] of combining creativity and critical thought in the study of modern poetry. Howarth's work epitomises the many gains that can be made (for student and teacher) by careful and innovative changes to teaching delivery, based on reflecting on student experiences. What makes this example particularly rewarding is that, despite some uncertainty and nervousness on behalf of the teacher, the changes made to the module allowed learners to gain new insights over and above the topic being studied."

"In order to be creative in teaching it helps if the learners are both curious and motivated. Curiosity-driven approaches to learning are explored by Boyan Bonev et al. [Did curiosity do anything more than kill the cat? The place of curiosity in Higher Education] who discuss the value of fostering curiosity and how this might be achieved in teaching and learning. Given the importance to society of intellectual curiosity in driving innovation and new developments, this ‘talking point’ emphasises the role that education has in shaping our future, but raises interesting issues surrounding implementation."

"What motivates students is discussed by Jackie Andrews et al. in their comprehensive report [A University-wide study into student motivation parameters: implications of academic, environmental and cognitive motivators for practitioners]. An important issue raised in this work is that learners need to have a foundation in appropriate skills in order to perform more interesting and challenging tasks in a way that does not make the students anxious and de-motivated. To be successfully creative in teaching you thus need careful design and focus! An additional key finding emerging from this work, which all teachers should reflect upon, is the rôle of student-teacher interaction and developmental feedback; positive communication from teachers which recognises the student's efforts and achievement will enhance their learning and ultimately their motivation to learn. Learning can be highly rewarding and fun, but to develop fully, learners require a supportive as well as creative context."

Michèle Clarke, School of Geography

You can browse Michèle Clarke's articles and videos.

Previous guest editors

Professor Roger Murphy, School of Education

External link to:"As co-chair of the original PESL working group, I am very excited to see the way in which this PESL web-site is developing and being used. The aspects of it that excite me most are the immediacy of gaining access to interesting teaching and learning developments, the highly engaging visual materials, the way common issues arise which are relevant across different subject areas. The materials also provide the basis for intellectually rigorous debates about how to provide stimulating environments within which powerful student learning can occur."

"I am particularly taken with the video clips, which allow you to see university teachers in action. These video clips, when linked to commentaries from experienced academics, provide an excellent basis for reflecting upon their educational practices. My first two selections both come from the Large Group Teaching Methods section. They are "Asking Questions of Students in Lectures" (Liz Sockett) and "Managing Small Groups in Large Groups" (Do Coyle). One thing that I especially like about these two examples is the way in which they counter the idea that large group university teaching has to involve a simple didactic approach. In both cases the lecturers are seeking to find ways to engage the students as active learners rather then as passive receptacles for knowledge. The techniques which they are describing are not complicated but they symbolise an approach to large group teaching which seeks to engage students as active participants in the learning process."

"My third choice is a panel discussion about "Managing Noise During the Lecture". In this case one gets access to a panel of experienced lecturers talking about an issue, which they have all had to deal with in their teaching. What I especially like about this example is hearing experienced colleagues discussing challenges that they have faced in their teaching. Teaching in higher education is I believe always a complex challenge, and regarding it as such is an important step for us all towards improving our practices and becoming more effective university educators."

"So three choices, all relating as it happens to large group teaching, all supported by engaging video clips, and all addressing important issues about encouraging students to participate effectively in purposeful learning. We need much more of this and I am looking forward to seeing further stimulating materials being added to this PESL resource in the months ahead."

Roger Murphy, School of Education

Dr Wyn Morgan, School of Economics

External link to"When I was approached to be the Guest Editor for this edition I was encouraged to reflect on what learning and teaching issues are at the forefront of my mind at present, In doing so, I was struck by how easy it is to be lured into a frame of mind that is at worst school-centric or at best discipline constrained. What I have come to realise over time is that this is too limiting and that there is a rich diversity of approaches, views and activities not only from across the disciplines but, more excitingly, from across the schools in our own institution; the solutions to many of the issues we face in our teaching can be found on our own doorstep."

"The point can be made concrete by considering my specific concerns. I have been grappling with introducing elements of e-learning into my teaching in a bid to reflect the fact that as student numbers have grown it is clear they have different learning styles, respond to different media and crucially have expectations of what a university like Nottingham can and should provide in the way of delivery through electronic media. To that end, I was particularly drawn to the huge range of applications in the e-learning section of the site. What these demonstrate is that a highly generic concept can provide solutions in a host of very specific cases ranging from Maths to English Studies and from Biosciences to Modern Languages. They gave me a real desire to explore just what I could do in my own modules to make the learning experience richer and more diverse for my students."

"More recently, I have been discussing the nature and design of assessment in the light of writing programme specifications and learning outcomes and also in trying to help me deal with large student numbers. The key question of what are you assessing and how best to assess it is captured quite nicely in the talking point entitled "The future of practicals with increasing numbers" while switching assessment designs is neatly outlined in Aoife Hanley's discussion of the merits of multiple choice questions. In addition, Olympia Bekou's report on the inclusion of a student perspective on what works and what doesn't in assessment is an interesting approach to designing an assessment scheme. These three cases provide material that I can draw on in taking my own ideas forward and will help me be a little more creative in designing ways of assessing my students' work."

Wyn Morgan, School of Economics

You can browse Wyn Morgan's videos.

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