Peter Kahn and Lorraine Walsh
Developing Your Teaching
IDEAS, INSIGHT AND ACTION
Developing Your Teaching engages you in a dialogue that both supports and challenges you in developing your teaching. Focusing on the processes involved in this, and the practical actions that you can take, it encourages a continuous approach to development, seeking insight and inspiration to underpin the process. Through a blend of ideas, interactive review points and case study examples from university teachers, the book unfolds as an accessible handbook for professional practice and provides ideas on a range of topics including:
■ choosing effective teaching practices
■ learning from student feedback and peer review
■ working with others
■ carrying out development projects
■ undertaking speciﬁc roles that involve the development of teaching.
Developing Your Teaching will be particularly helpful for new lecturers, tutors and graduate teaching assistants. Experienced staff involved in ongoing professional development for their teaching will also beneﬁt, as this book is for everyone who would like to think more deeply about their teaching.
Peter Kahn is Senior Professional Development Adviser at the University of Manchester, where he works with a range of staff whose interests are in the development of education. His earlier books include the co-edited A Guide to Staff and Educational Development and Effective Learning and Teaching in Mathematics and its Applications, both now from Routledge.
Lorraine Walsh is the Director of Academic Professional Development at the University of Dundee, and her main interests are in continuing professional development and the professional identity of university teachers.
This indispensable series is aimed at new lecturers, postgraduate students who have teaching time, graduate teaching assistants, part-time tutors and demonstrators, as well as experienced teaching staff who may feel it is time to review their skills in teaching and learning.
Titles in this series will provide the teacher in higher education with practical, realistic guidance on the various different aspects of their teaching role, which is underpinned not only by current research in the ﬁeld, but also by the extensive experience of individual authors, with a keen eye kept on the limitations and opportunities therein. By bridging a gap between academic theory and practice, all titles will provide generic guidance on teaching, learning and assessment issues which is then brought to life through the use of short illustrative examples drawn from a range of disciplines. All titles in this series will:
■ represent up-to-date thinking and incorporate the use of communication and information technologies (C&IT) Where appropriate;
■ consider methods and approaches for teaching and learning when there is an increasing diversity in learning and a growth in student numbers;
■ encourage reﬂective practice and self-evaluation, and a means of developing the skills of teaching, learning and assessment;
■ provide links and references to further work on the topic and research evidence where appropriate.
Titles in the series will prove invaluable whether they are used for self-study or as part of a formal induction programme on teaching in higher education, and will also be of relevance to teaching staff working in further education settings.
Other titles in this series:
Assessing Skills and Practice – Sally Brown and Ruth Pickford
Assessing Students’ Written Work: Marking Essays and Reports– Catherine Haines
Designing Learning: From Module Outline to Effective Teaching– Chris Butcher, Clara Davies and Melissa Highton
Developing Your Teaching: Ideas, Insight and Action– Peter Kahn and Lorraine Walsh
Giving a Lecture: From Presenting to Teaching– Kate Exley and Reg Dennick
Small Group Teaching– Kate Exley and Reg Dennick
Using C&IT to Support Teaching– Paul Chin
As soon as I began to read this book, I felt as if a close friend was taking me through one important educational topic after another – and it seemed as if one writer, and not two, was doing that. This almost avuncular friend offered me advice and suggestions in a thoughtful and thought-provoking way that left me feeling that I had proﬁted from each chapter, from each exchange between us. It was only when I ﬁnished reading that it dawned on me that this was supposed to be a book directed ﬁrst of all towards readers who are relatively new to university teaching. What a wonderful ability the writers have displayed, then, in managing without apparent effort to be as useful and interesting to an old greybeard such as me as they will undoubtedly prove to the next generation of university teachers!
How have they managed to cater effectively for such a wide readership? I am sure part of their secret lies in the way they have commissioned, edited and used to pertinent effect what they call case studies, but which to me are succinct and telling cameos. The brevity of these short accounts focuses the reader on the message that may matter to them in the encapsulated piece of experience, and that can be drawn upon, or even pillaged. It also helps avoid the danger that a reader may shrug off a longer account with the disparaging ‘This is ﬁne, but it’s not in my discipline! ’ These cameos effectively introduce and then reinforce and explain important and generalisable points in the main text; They also provide many useful and practical suggestions in so doing.
The result is a text that avoids the style and tone of so many, no doubt worthy, books in this market that are aimed nowadays at new recruits to the teaching profession in higher education. Here you will ﬁnd no watered-down coverage of theories and research, which might leave you feeling somewhat patronised as well as slightly overwhelmed and inadequate. Instead the writers present their rationale for each topic in their coverage with what I tended to assimilate as reasoned arguments – exempliﬁed and substantiated by these short cameos or case studies, and with due reference to the experts throughout. Their wise choice of references is provided for the beneﬁt of those who wish to delve deeper, although the text on its own will be self-sufﬁcient for many ﬁrst-time teachers making a start in this demanding profession.
The writers also work unobtrusively, but effectively, at encouraging active learning on the part of the reader. I have never been a great enthusiast for in-text questions in textbooks – apparently patronising questions that seem to expect me to ﬁnd a piece of paper and write down my responses. I did not ever feel that these writers were going to be disappointed if I failed to respond in that way; Yet I knew, somehow, that they expected me to think about their questions – and
I certainly did so, and did so proﬁtably, as far as I was concerned. Even the grouping of topics in the various chapters conveys a message to the reader, as well as saying something important about the writers and their values. In the early chapters we are taken straightaway into issues of motivation for teaching, the value of adopting an objective and systematic approach to the way we plan our teaching, and to a sharing with and by the writers of their own enthusiasm for a task, which has sometimes been downplayed in these research-conscious years, yet can be so rewarding in its turn. Tellingly, then, they next take us on to how we can review whatever teaching we are already planning and presenting and to how we can learn and develop and proﬁt from that review. ‘Bravo’, I found myself exclaiming when I reached that point, for formative evaluation still tends to be a somewhat neglected topic in higher educational circles, yet it can so often be the cost-effective springboard from which developments – and fulﬁlment – originate.
The next switch of emphasis is welcome, appropriate – but again perhaps slightly unusual in this type of text. We are encouraged to think, and to think constructively, about working with others, about using mentors, about harnessing the potential of critical friends, and above all about creating effective support networks, which we will undoubtedly need and from which we can proﬁt greatly. The days of individual teaching are well behind us; We do well to think (as we are encouraged to do here) In terms of communities of learning and collaborative approaches to our teaching.
It is clear, by this point in their text, that these writers are encouraging us – effectively – to think in terms of advancing the quality of our teaching and of our students’ learning experiences, in the present climate where so much development has taken place in recent years, and where the pace of development and enhancement continues to accelerate. They follow up that encouragement with thorough, and again practical, advice and suggestions about our engagement in pedagogical and action research, leading into a general discussion of the scholarship of learning and teaching and how we can and should relate to it.
If I had a friend or relative who was entering higher education as a teacher, I could think of no more suitable mentor to inspire, advise, encourage and sustain them than the duo who have written this rather exceptional book. I do hope that you, who have borrowed or purchased it, will ﬁnd as much inspiration, sound common sense, reasoned rationale and exemplars of sound practice as I have already done – and will undoubtedly continue to do when I re-read it, as I shall certainly do.
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List of illustrations
1 The beginning of development
2 Choosing effective teaching practices
3 Inspiration for teaching
4 Self-evaluation of your practice
5 Learning from others
6 Working with others
8 Development projects and research into learning
9 Teaching development roles
10 A sense of direction
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