New Directions

It’s hard to believe we are at the end of another academic year. It doesn’t seem long ago since I was welcoming new first years in and giving my final year induction talk to the incoming anxious, but eager fourth years. But here we are already in mid-June, which also means the end of my Teaching Fellowship on pre-lecture resources.

I am becoming more and more certain about the role of discussion in class, which the pre-lectures facilitated.

Looking back on the year, I’m incredibly proud of the work on pre-lecture resources. While the techy bits indulge my nerd-side, their impact on my teaching style will be long lasting. The initial excitement of monitoring their impact quantitatively on student grades was encouraging, but a more influential output is that my concept of what a lecture can be is evolving. I am becoming more and more certain about the role of discussion in class, which the pre-lectures facilitated. Things as elaborate as problem-based learning and as simple as “think-pair-share” all have discussion at their core. I’ve tried with my Learny-Teachy hat on in the past to get students engaged and interacting with me as a lecturer; but almost by accident, the pre-lecture resources got them interacting with each other. Since observing this and the positive impact in the classroom, it’s something that is going to be embedded in my teaching method in the future.

The project is formally finished, although it will of course be tweaked and adjusted for use next year. We, in the Chemistry Education Research Team, are moving on to an exciting new project this month. We’re going back to our roots. Our first collaborative project was on context-based laboratory mini-projects, (you can read the paper here) and we are returning to that theme now to develop a suite of context based laboratory and lecture resources and e-resources, supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry. It’s a big, quite ambitious project, and we are starting into a busy summer working on it. But like all of these things, lessons formal and informal will trickle into our on experiences as educators, and ultimately into student learning experiences. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

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