All 11 entries tagged Pedagogy

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November 07, 2022

The self and syllabus – Teaching in Higher Ed podcast

The discussion in this podcast focuses on how we can embed and bring ourselves into all aspects of our teaching practices, including student-facing artefacts like course documents and handbooks. The presenters offer some practical tips on making initial connections with students through their first encounters with written module documentation. All resources discussed in the podcast can be accessed from the episode webpage.

The self and syllabus – Teaching in Higher Ed podcast

February 22, 2022

Current Consumed Model Essay Extract – Oisin Herron

Current Consumed Model Essay Extract

Research (Driver et al., 1994) has found that children in different countries develop similar ideas about natural phenomena which differ from those held by the scientific community. One such idea is that electric current is consumed when it passes through a lamp. This is known as the ‘current consumed model’ (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Popular models held by learners of physics

Figure 1: Popular models held by learners of physics, after Driver et al. (1994, pp.118-19) and Magnusson et al. (1997). The crossed circle indicates a lightbulb, where the ray lines have been added for an indication of relative brightness. The arrows indicate the electric current, where a smaller arrow indicates a smaller current. These models have been reported across different countries and ages of school students.

Figure 1: Popular models held by learners of physics, after Driver et al. (1994, pp.118-19) and Magnusson et al. (1997). The crossed circle indicates a lightbulb, where the ray lines have been added for an indication of relative brightness. The arrows indicate the electric current, where a smaller arrow indicates a smaller current. These models have been reported across different countries and ages of school students.

The current consumed model becomes more popular with student age. Of 46 sixth-form students, Shipstone (1984) found that about 40% held a current consumed model. Students have also been reported reverting to the current consumed model several months after adopting the scientific model. Joshua and Dupin (1987) reason that the model’s pervasiveness might be due to the common knowledge that batteries run out, and therefore it is counter intuitive that current should remain constant. The model may also arise because of the tendency to engage in sequential reasoning, whereby the current travels around the circuit and is subjected to a number of influences in turn (Shipstone, 1988).

Evidence points to this conception existing in modern classrooms. Students have demonstrated this conception in a relatively recent exam by an English exam board, which found that just over half of students conserved current (AQA, 2013a). The number of candidates entered into courses that took this exam was 214,091 (AQA, 2013b). Moreover, it can be argued that because this conception has been found across different countries and age groups (Driver et al., 1994), a certain level of universality can be assumed.

Chiu and Lin (2004) reported that students that held the current consumed model observed it in real life rather than reality. This is evidence that suggests that the current consumed model may warp the individual’s perception of reality. Therefore, the model may be of questionable use from a pedagogical perspective, and so one might argue that physics teachers should address it when teaching electricity.


AQA, 2013a. Report on the Examination – General Certificate of Secondary Education – PH2FP – January 2013. Manchester: Assessment and Qualifications Alliance.

AQA, 2013b. GCSE Full Course results - June 2013. Manchester: AQA.

Chiu, M.-H. & Lin, J.-W., 2004. Promoting fourth graders' conceptual change of their understanding of electric current via multiple analogies. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(4), pp.429-64.

Driver, R., Squires, A., Rushworth, P. & Wood-Robinson, V., 1994. Making Sense of Secondary Science. New York: Routledge.

Joshua, S. & Dupin, J.J., 1987. Taking into Account Student Conceptions in Instructional Strategy: An Example in Physics. Cognition and Instruction, 4(2), pp.117-35.

Shipstone, D.M., 1984. A study of children's understanding of electricity in simple DC Circuits. European Journal of Science Education, 6(2), pp.185-98.

Shipstone, D., 1988. Pupils' understanding of simple electrical circuits. Some implications for instruction. Physics Education, 23(2).

October 08, 2021

Making the most of the spaces we have: Design principles for successful hybrid and hyflex learning

The Co-Design Research Group at the University of Sydney in Australia, have posted an interesting article on Making the most of the spaces we have: Design principles for successful hybrid and hyflex learning.

To read the full article see:

September 24, 2021

Pedagogies for Social Justice

The University of Westminster has launched its Pedagogies for Social Justice website which you may find useful. The website link and a link to a podcast discussing educational justice, anti-racism and coloniality in higher education is shared below. The podcast is hosted by Kyra Araneta and Fatima Maatwk.

October 28, 2019

Staff room epistemological highlights

Sitting next to me at one of the computers in the staff room was a science teacher of no little experience and maturity. He was busy preparing a hand-out sheet when with a deep sigh, he mentioned he would need to find some Tippex (other brands are available). Surprised, I glanced at what he was doing, "I could do without all these symbols", he remarked staring at the picture image on his powerpoint presentation. Eager to offer support (and naturally bearing in mind teaching standards part two) I was happy to suggest he insert a box, do a bit of formatting and, as if by magic, the result he was looking for was achieved. Such was his joy that his mood immediately lightened and after at least two high-fives later, this newly acquired knowledge was already rippling, wave-like to his fellow colleague the other side. "Look what you can learn by talking" he exclaimed." Bingo! "All learning is social, according to Vygotsky, I proudly announced, keen to ensure good academic deference, whilst happily condensing too many journal articles into a crudely 'constructed' and grossly oversimplified sound bite (hey, I’m team maths, we like abstraction). A short discussion ensued to the point where our respective zones of development were appropriately proximal, and we returned to our respective tasks. The Plenary. So, what happened here? Well, while the radical constructivists tussle over the epistemological nature of objective truth, or otherwise, we seem to have at least some evidence that learning took place through social interaction, go Lev, and don’t forget to put it in your PDP. People were made happy through the learning experience (smiley face), and I managed to deliver, albeit of a largely procedural nature, one of my best lessons of the week!

October 21, 2019

Bloomin’ Marvellous: Taking my hat off to Bloom – Lauren

Questioning a student prompts thought, it allows them to pick apart elements of History in order for them to investigate why events happened, what their impact was and also what would the world look like if these events did not take place.

After six weeks of teaching, it became apparent that my lessons were not as challenging for higher achievers as I had hoped; back to the drawing board it was. From writing about Bloom’s taxonomy in two of my assignments, I thought this would be a good place to start. Bloom’s theory follows a linear format, ideal for students studying History. I found that, in theory, if the taxonomy was incorporated within my lessons that I would be able to challenge my higher achieving students. Bloom stipulates that students need to start by recalling information and through questioning they are guided to the evaluation stage. In my lessons, I found that some students arrived with prior-knowledge and so, beginning with the ‘knowledge’ and ‘comprehension’ stages hindered their progress. I then looked at activities that would help to challenge the higher attaining students in the class. After research, I found De Bono’s ‘Thinking Hats’ as this activity allows for students to begin at various levels. However, as Bloom’s theory applies to History so well I thought it was important that this form of questioning was incorporated. I combined the ‘Thinking Hats’ activity with Bloom’s questioning. Students were then given a colour, representative of the stage they should begin at, in their book, they then had to complete three sections. This task immediately challenged higher ability students whilst differentiating for those who need additional support. Students utilised their historical skill set and analysed the information they were given before synthesising and evaluation. I found that because I was researching the theory at the same time as applying it, I could tailor it to meet the needs of my higher attaining students within lessons.

There is one potential problem here though, in History it is important for students to empathise with a source to evaluate it. This is a skill that I am currently developing with my Year 7 groups through questioning, for example, ‘why do you think the Black Death was portrayed in this way?’ ‘How does it reflect people’s fears at the time?’ Through this ‘high-order’ questioning students can empathise with the source which inevitably aids their ability to evaluate it. By understanding why a source has been published, students are able to then evaluate why it is representative of the time. To combat this, I placed great emphasis on ‘empathy’ within the ‘synthesis’ stage. Bloom instructs that this stage is reserved for inference and imagination; both concepts which link to empathy. Students, through questioning are asked what can they infer from the source? From this we can then ask them to imagine they are living during that period, ‘what might their key concerns about the Black Death be?’ ‘What were people’s fears about the Black Death?’ This allows higher attaining students to reach the top stages of Bloom’s taxonomy thus extending their knowledge and challenging them appropriately in lessons.

June 03, 2019

Reflections on the Warwick Education Conference Antiracist Pedagogy Workshop – Abigail Ball

I recently attended a Warwick Education Conference workshop on antiracist pedagogy run by Mark Hinton from CLL and Lydia Plath from History. The session was also supported by Meleisa Ono-George, co-lead of the WIHEA Learning Circle called ‘Anti-Racist Pedagogy and Process in HE.’

Research undertaken by Universities UK and the National Union of Students (amongst others) has shown that students who identify as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) have substantially different attainment, progression and experience in HE compared with those students who identify as White. These differences have been attributed to practices and processes within HE that disadvantage particular groups of BAME students (Ono-George and Awesti, 2019).

The purpose of this workshop was to raise awareness of antiracist pedagogy and to provide a safe and supportive environment for participants to discuss the topic and associated issues. The session included a really useful introduction to race and racism which was very interesting and helpful in setting the context of the workshop.

For one of the activities we were divided into two separate groups - those participants who identified as White and those participants who identified as BAME. Blackwell (2010) describes this as a black feminist approach which uses racially separate groups to remove the burden of representation from BAME students. She adds that this process enables BAME students to discuss their own antiracist interests, issues and requirements without the need to represent BAME students as a whole. She further adds that this teaching approach supports the development of discussion that differs from the accepted hegemony (hooks, 1994).

This was a really strange experience and I personally have never been divided into groups in this way before, but it did definitely change the dynamic of the group and the discussions that took place. As someone who identifies as White I was grouped with other similar participants and we were asked to consider our identity and how we described ourselves, in smaller sub-groups. For me personally I found it quite hard to describe myself and I found I was thinking about class which is not something I usually consider. Although I know my ethnic background, I did not particularly want to discuss something that felt very personal with relative strangers and I wonder if this was how everyone felt?

We then switched into different sub groups and discussed the impact that antiracist pedagogy might have on our teaching practice. I found myself wondering if technology is as colour blind as I had assumed. Does someone who identifies as White have a different experience with technology compared with someone who identifies as BAME? I have no answers to these questions and came away from the session feeling unsettled and not sure how to embed antiracist pedagogy in my teaching – although I am definitely going to try.

At the start of the session, the facilitators commented that we would not find reassurance from the workshop and that we would not find easy or ready-made solutions and they were right. Whilst I gained a better understanding of some of the issues, I found that the workshop led me to question my teaching practice, the institutional norms that I work within and the society that I live in.


Blackwell, D.M. (2010) ‘Sidelines and separate spaces: making education anti‐racist for students of color.’ Race Ethnicity and Education, 13(4), pp. 473-494.

hooks, b. (1994) Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Ono-George, M. and Awesti, A. (2019) Anti-Racist Pedagogy and Process in HE. Available from: (Accessed 22nd May 2019).

May 13, 2019

The Rise of Third Space Professionals: Implications for Academic Practice – Abigail Ball

Back in March 2019 I attended a WIHEA seminar given by Dr Celia Whitchurch, Associate Professor in HE at University College London’s Institute of Education. Celia’s research focussed on academic and professional identities in higher education.

Celia considered the changing roles and identities of academic and professional staff in higher education. She shared results from two studies funded by the UK Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, which involved administering interviews in HE institutions in Great Britain, America and Australia to staff who worked in less-well-defined roles.

It was interesting to note the different terminologies that are used to describe these individuals, with ‘third space professionals’ being the commonly accepted term within the UK. I have since undertaken my own literature review to investigate what other terms are being used within the sector (and there are lots of them, including: hybrid, multi-dimensional, intersectional, blended, unbounded, fluid, fragmentary or peripheral, to name but a few). There is also a variety of terminology in use for the ‘space’ that these individuals work within (or around in some cases). This is frequently referred to as ‘the third space’ but other terms in use include: transformational space; complex and differentiated space, borderland zone, plural environment or academic periphery.

Celia defined third space professionals as those ‘with identities drawn from both professional and academic domains’ and observed that third space professionals are often appointed on the basis of experience in broad academic areas such as student experience, curriculum design, technology enhanced learning or pedagogic research rather than in specific subject or research areas. The emphasis being on cross boundary (and this is a contested term) or cross disciplinary working. She added that these individuals are likely to have master’s level (or above) qualifications and are often active researchers contributing to the scholarship of teaching and learning despite not necessarily having being employed on ‘traditional’ academic contracts.

She further added that these individuals also represent an increasingly diverse workforce characterised by career development within and outside of the HE sector. Partnership working and the crossing of boundaries between what are traditionally seen as academic and professional roles are common characteristics of third space professionals. Finally Celia considered the implications of all of these factors for both third space professionals and the HE institutions they work in.

At the event Gwen Van-der-Velden Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Student Learning Experience) and Academic Director of WIHEA announced that a new Third Space Learning Circle has been created. As I have been interested in this topic for many years I was really pleased to be awarded co-chair of this learning circle with Sue Parr, Business Development Director (PEP) in WMG.

Further information about WIHEA is available here:

Here is a copy (she has delivered several of these sessions at different institutions) of Celia's presentation given at Sheffield University:!/file/rise_of_third_space.pdf

May 09, 2019

How beneficial can educational literature really be in such a practical vocation? – Beth

As a literature student, reading and researching theories has become second nature to me. However, when I began my PGCE I was sceptical- how beneficial can educational literature really be to me in such a practical vocation?

But I was proved wrong, from the very outset of the course. The reading I have undertaken during this academic year has provided me with many different ways to approach core elements of teaching practice, from behaviour management, to differentiation, to subject-specific pedagogy. This year, reading research has been critical to my subject (English), as a result of the reformation of the GCSE and A-Level specifications. Research is constantly evolving about how to approach these changes, and ways in which teachers can deliver information on the new texts that have been included in the specifications. The articles and journals that I have read always contain practical advice, which make it easy to adopt these ideas into my own practice. I have discovered this year that, as a trainee, I have been exposed to more research material than my colleagues at school have been. This means that I have been able to offer new approaches to teaching to my department, and they have been grateful for the information that I have provided. This has caused me to realise that there is no better way to keep my course material fresh and exciting for students than by researching, and ensuring that my teaching reflects current understanding.

Whenever I have encountered a problem in my teaching practice, I have turned to research to help to resolve those issues. Although teaching can at times seem like a solitary career, there is a huge network of support to be found in educational research and theory: whatever setback you are currently facing, the likelihood is a preceeding practitioner has experienced it before, and has documented the remedy for it! The wealth of knowledge you can find is reassuring, and although there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ technique to apply to the classroom, there will be several approaches you can take until you find one which works for you. During my first term, pace was an aspect of teaching which I struggled with, and my reading of educational theory provided me with techniques to try in order to improve this, such as the benefits of incorporating timers into lessons, and creating timed challenges for students, which simultaneously increases their engagement.

One key question that every practitioner needs to ask themselves during researching is: how will this theory benefit my teaching and, above all, the learning of my students? Placing research into action can be motivating for both teacher and learners who take enjoyment in adopting new strategies and refreshing the classroom environment. Reading research also encourages teachers to maintain self-reflectivity, as you must evaluate how well the theory worked in practice, how your students responded and above all, how it helped or hindered the progress that was made during your lesson. By immersing yourself in research throughout your teaching career, you remain a learner - and this allows teachers to relate to their students, maintaining understanding relationships. I hope that reading research will remain as beneficial to me throughout my teaching practice as it has been to me in this first year.

April 02, 2019

How has reading around pedagogy affected my teaching practice? – C.L Davison

After being set our initial university assignment exploring the ‘implications of current theories of Cognitive Development in teaching and learning’, I was dubious about what effect theorists who died decades ago could have on my day to day practice in the classroom.

The importance of research-led practice had been drummed into us, but even after writing my initial assignment on the work of Piaget and Vygotsky, I was unsure where they fitted into my educational experience, or how I was supposed to use their theories. Part of the issue was, it seemed to me, that they were summarising the obvious. Piaget’s description of the development of children (Muijs 2012) and Vygotsky’s points on supporting or ‘scaffolding’ students to get to the next level of understanding (Gray and Macblain 2012) all seemed to be common sense, except coined in elaborate terminology.

I couldn’t be sure whether my perception of these theorists was because their points seemed obvious, or whether because, and I think more likely, they were so fundamental in shaping modern education, theory and research that their ideas have become ingrained in the education system and those of us immersed in it.

Despite my initial, somewhat uninspiring, encounter with pedagogy my engagement with pedagogy and research was far from complete. I was concerned by what I initially deemed to be the restrictive nature of the theories. Piaget suggested specific ages at which children develop, but was that still the case almost four decades after his death? Was behaviourism (Skinner, 1974) the only way to develop effective behaviour for learning in the classroom? Did I need to include all of Gardner’s multiple intelligences (Gardner, 2004) in every lesson?

Then, however, the light bulb moment occurred, in which I connected with a piece of pedagogy. I realised my misconception was that pedagogy was a script, an idea that one subscribed to unconditionally and acted upon unquestioningly. In fact pedagogical theories could be used as a device, developing my understanding of the way students learn. Once understood they act as an informed base from which to experiment and explore different ways of teaching and learning, not a straightjacket dictating the direction of my practice and my development as an educator.

The first piece of pedagogy which inspired me to recognise the versatility and power of research-based practice was Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom, 1956). Initially created by Benjamin Bloom and a cohort of educationalists, its intention was to categorise different levels of thought, enabling them to be quantified and therefore compared and tracked. I originally used Bloom’s Taxonomy to structure my lessons, demonstrating to students how we were going to make progress and ensuring I had progressive levels of challenge throughout. Moreover, I soon realised the flexibility of the taxonomy as a tool to develop students’ critical thinking skills and encourage their own independent learning skills. I have since experimented with a variety of ways to do this, including creating Bloom’s question cards, which can be used by students to challenge themselves or each other to develop higher levels of thinking.

The realisation that pedagogy wasn’t restricted to its original form and purpose, that instead it could be used as a platform to explore different teaching techniques and ideas and that a variety of ideas can be synthesised to create new and exciting investigative techniques in the classroom, was a turning point in my cynicism against pedagogy. I am currently exploring a variety of cooperative learning techniques, creating a pick and mix of ideas and theories that I think will work for my students, in my classrooms, for my style of teaching. This is not to say that I’m ‘improving’ pedagogical theories, but rather exploring how they can work for me, as a way of ironing out some of the difficulties I face with some of my classes.

And in my opinion, this is the most effective way to use pedagogy. Initially it should be used as a base to develop understanding, but after that you have to make it work for you; test it out, create resources, synthesize ideas until you find the best fit for you. Pedagogy is not effective until it is understood and treated as a vehicle for exploration, not a rulebook.

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