Education literally means 'to lead forth' or 'bring out' but teachers in post secondary education tend to want to pass on information. Too often approaches to teaching encourage surface learning of numerous facts or the performance of isolated and narrow skills.
But facts and skills are of little use without understanding.
It is the capacity of individuals to reflect on problems, apply
knowledge and skills, work with others and find solutions that is the
important outcome of learning. These abilities are developed over a
lifetime and are those that are most valued by employers. For
individuals, the ability
to participate fully in lifelong learning is therefore the most
A focus on learning and the application of learning means that the practice of teaching must be learner-centred, flexible and meaningful. Learning is a voluntary activity, and each learner comes to learning with their own understandings, values, assumptions, learning preferences and motivations. Knowledge, understanding and skills are negotiated and developed in a social setting - through interacting with peers, information, teachers, and the broader community. Teaching and learning practices that provide opportunities for social learning; that place learning in relevant and meaningful contexts; that provide supportive learning environments; and that value and recognise diversity provide for dynamic engagement and deeper learning.
The Department of Chemistry, U.C. Berkeley website Teaching and Learning Philosophy and Strategies describes the role of student and teacher, and learning environment to support teaching and learning.
What do you 'mean' when you describe great teaching? What does it
look like or feel like when real learning is taking place? What is the
What are the learners doing and saying? What is the learning
Many new teachers find it valuable to ask themselves these questions, to reflect on their own past experiences as learners, and to articulate a personal statement on effective teaching. This is a fine starting point for a continual practice of critically reflecting on your teaching practice.
Biggs, J.B. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university, (2nd Ed.) Buckingham: Open University Press/Society for Research into Higher Education.
Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking university teaching: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. London: Routledge.
Marton, F., Hounsell, D., & Entwhistle, N. (Eds.) (1997). The experience of learning: implications for teaching and studying in higher education (2nd Ed.). Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.
Ramsden, P. (2003). Learning to teach in higher education (2nd Ed.). London: Routledge.
If you are new to teaching, you might find the following resources useful to get you started.
Swinburne University have prepared some great Survival Guides for those new to teaching.
Tips in the form of frequently asked questions from the Centre for
Learnership in Learning, McMaster University.
Honolulu Community College provide ideas for Managing
the first day of class - student expectations and
Ice Breakers for getting to know your students and them getting to
know one another.
Malcolm Knowles’ work in the second half of last century was critical in the development of adult learning theory. Knowles identified five key characteristics of adult learners:
- Self-concept: As a person matures his self-concept moves from one of being a dependent personality toward one of being a self-directed human being.
- Experience: As a person matures he accumulates a growing reservoir of experience that becomes an increasing resource for learning.
- Readiness to learn: As a person matures his readiness to learn increasingly becomes oriented to the developmental tasks of his social roles.
- Orientation to learning: As a person matures his time perspective changes from one of postponed application of knowledge to immediacy of application, and accordingly his learning orientation shifts from subject-centredness to problem-centredness.
- Motivation to learn: As
a person matures the motivation to learn is internal
This focus on learning implies that the practice of teaching requires a more student-centred, flexible and meaningful approach to designing learning and assessment strategies and processes.
Learner-centred teaching may involve:
- providing choices for learners about where, when and how they learn
- focusing on learning rather than teaching
- encouraging learner responsibility and activity rather than teacher control and content delivery
- developing learning and assessment activities that require students to construct knowledge by engaging with authentic problems based on ‘real world’ experiences
- using feedback and formal evaluation to implement improvements to teaching and learning approaches.
Knowles, M. S. et al. (1984) Andragogy in Action. Applying modern principles of adult education, San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
O'Neil, G. & McMahon, T. (2005) Student-centred
learning: What does it mean for students and
lecturers? in Emerging Issues in
the Practice of University Learning and Teaching. All Ireland
Society for Higher Education, Dublin.
Zukas, M. & Malcom, J. (2001) ‘Pedagogies
Building bridges or building walls?' Working papers of the Global
Colloquium on Supporting Lifelong Learning [online], Milton Keynes, UK:
Tight, M. (1996) Key Concepts in Adult Education and Training. London, Routledge.
Lifelong Learning - Radio National Australia
Although Lifelong Learning is no longer in production this link
connects to the series transcripts. Some series were the result of the
creative partnership between Open
Learning Australia and the ABC, some are produced by Radio Australia's
Education Unit. They were produced with the support of subject
specialists from Australia and overseas.
Smith, M. K. (2002) 'Malcolm Knowles, informal adult education, self-direction and anadragogy', The encyclopedia of informal education.
Over the past decade there has been an increasing focus on the characteristics of ‘Generation Y’ or ‘Net Generation’ students and the extent to which they learn and should be taught in ways that are different to previous generations. Much of this attention can be traced back to Marc Prensky’s seminal article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants which claimed that younger generations of students think and process information differently to earlier generations. Prensky attributed this change to the advent of digital technologies and argued that growing up surrounded by these technologies had fundamentally changed the thinking patterns of younger generations. This, he suggested, means that traditional teaching methods may no longer work.
Questioning these propositions, a recent ALTC-funded project Educating the Net Generation was undertaken by a consortium of four Australian universities. The project sought to explore how university students and their teachers are currently using technologies to support their learning and teaching as well as how these technologies might be better harnessed for teaching and learning in the future. It found that the current reality is much more complex than the picture depicted by Prensky and that even though emerging technologies have the capacity to improve the student learning experience, achieving this requires careful and intentional learning designs and the development of new learning and teaching skills for both students and staff.
As a result of this project, an Educating the Net Generation website has been developed containing practice and policy guidelines as well as resources and tools. A summary of these is provided below, along with other useful resources.
the Net Generation: A Handbook of Findings for Practice and Policy
provides a summary of the findings of this ALTC-funded project and a
set of practice and policy guidelines regarding learning and teaching
with emerging techologies.
the Net Generation: A Toolkit of Resources for Educators in Australian
Universities contains research instruments and implementation and
evaluation tools that can be adapted and reused by educators when
incorporating emerging technologies into their teaching and learning
the Net Generation online community has been established on edna to
enable educators to try out some of the Web 2.0 technologies used
during the project and share ideas and resources with others.
Educating the Net Generation is an e-book edited by Oblinger, D.G., & Oblinger, J.L. (2005) that can be downloaded freely either as chapters or as a book.
For a visual snapshot of Generation Y and the challenges they pose
for teaching and learning, view the YouTube video A Vision of Students
Today developed by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students
at Kansas State University or the Teaching
Generation Y slideshow developed by Alex Miller and available on
The following methods are traditionally face-to-face but some of the
points raised may also be relevant to other modes of delivery.
The University of Technology Sydney Learning and Teaching
website has some excellent resources for new academics and
preparing for face-to-face teaching. This includes information on
review of intensive teaching formats by W. Martin Davies from the
University of Melbourne.
The following resources are provided for those interested in
- The UK Geosciences Fieldwork Symposium
Helen King (University of Southampton)
- 'Being There': A
Short Review of Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Duncan Hawley (Chair of ESTA)
- Key Skills and Geosciences Fieldwork: Inseparable
Neil Thomas (Kingston University)
- A Student's First Encounter with Fieldwork - Making
it an Effective Learning Experience
Robin Gill (Royal Holloway)
- Group Projects: an
Effective Fieldwork Teaching Strategy
Sarah Maguire (Liverpool Hope University College)
For some excellent resources on teaching and learning in large classes, see Australian Universities Teaching Committees Project on Teaching Large Classes.
Readings you can download from the site include:
- Introduction: What's Different About Large Classes?
- Student Performance in Large Classes
- Teaching and Assessment in Large Classes
- Administration and Management of Large Classes
- Large Classes across Disciplines
- Policies and Trends in Higher Education.
See also Teaching Large Classes Teachers in Action, the BBC World Service.
When planning for small classes it is useful to consider and clarify the following:
Have I determined or clarified. . .
- where the group experience fits into the overall curriculum?
- what the overall purpose is and what the learning goals are?
- whether the learning goals are sufficiently specific, clear, worthy, realistic, and achievable?
- the group activities and the schedule—are the activities meaningful and is there sufficient time to accomplish the goals?
- the planned group’s size and mix of characteristics?
- who the learners are—their interests, strengths, and learning needs?
- what resources are needed for the session?
- the kind of leadership I need to provide?
- the learners’ roles and responsibilities?
- how decisions will be made in the group?
- how the learners will be evaluated?
Source: Westberg, J. & Jason, H. (1996) Fostering Learning in Small Groups: A Practical Guide, New York.
When people are asked how and where they learn best, most respond that most of what they have learned came from doing the work itself, with their co-workers in a workplace.
Work-integrated learning enables learning to take place at, through - and be centred on - the working environment. By using the actual workplace and an organisation's objectives as the focus for learning and academic enquiry, work-integrated learning is uniquely structured to benefit both the individual employee and the employing organisations.
Work-integrated learning is promoted as a way of:
- Applying learning immediately to real issues/tasks
- Bringing learning to the fore in enterprises
- Encouraging learners to take responsibility for their own learning
- Learning through doing, with support and expert input at appropriate times
- Transferring learning to a range of situations
- Enhancing the development of transferable generic skills such as critical thinking, communication, team work, problem-solving, organising and managing.
Work-integrated learning is not confined to VET; there are many
degree and postgraduate programs that span the border between
work. It differs from 'work experience' in that learning that occurs in
workplace is formally aligned with learning outcomes.
Victoria University has a comprehensive site on Learning in the
Integrated Learning (WIL): a national framework for initiatives to
support best practice reports the outcomes of an ALTC-funded
project that explores key challenges facing work integrated
learning in Australian universities.
Career development learning: maximising the contribution of work integrated learning to the student experience reports the outcomes of an ALTC-funded project that explores career development learning services and strategies that contribute to and enhance the outcomes of work integrated learning in university programs.
The following workshop was presented by Janice Orrell, Director of Disciplines, Networks & Special Projects at the ALTC, on Friday, 10th August 2007 as part of the OLT visiting scholar program.
Learning to Work & Working to Learning: Making work integrated learning an integral and effective aspect of the University Curriculum
Carrick Discipline Based Initiatives:
Seminar held on Thursday, 9th August 2007.
Carrick Video 2
Resource-based learning is a methodology that allows learners to learn from their own engagement with information and learning resources. Such active learning provides a means by which teachers are able to tailor resources, learning activities, the location of those activities and expected learning outcomes to the needs and abilities of each learner.
Through resource-based programs students develop the skills necessary for gaining access to information, aquiring knowledge and understanding and the ability to use learning resources and information for personal growth and fulfilment. In particular, these programs provide learners with opportunities to:
- develop the capacity to recognise a need for information, to know how and where to find it from a range of sources, and how to select, organise and communicate it to others;
- acquire the skills required to analyse, interpret, systhesise and organise information as well as the language and communication skills of reading, writing, viewing, speaking and listening;
- develop as critical thinkers and creative problem solvers while building on a dynamic view of themselves as confident and discerning information users;
- extend their cultural understandings and their information competencies in increasingly complex contexts, using a range of information sources, formats and technologies as an integral part of their learning;
- use resources including literature, to further their personal growth.
‘Source Policy Statement- Resource-based Learning and Curriculum’ from the Australian School Library Association.
Collaborative learning occurs as a result of interaction between
learners who are engaged in a common task. As with problem-based
learning, learning is focused on tasks and learner decision making.
Collaborative learning, or cooperative learning, emphasises the
social nature of learning and focuses on the development of
transferrable learning skills, work skills and life skills.
into Collaborative Learning by the University of Adelaide
is aimed at the university teacher who wishes to explore collaborative
learning and explore how it can be put into their practice to enhance
teaching and learning.
Learning: Students Working in Small Group discusses issues you
should consider when designing cooperative and collaborative learning
Students cannot learn all the content of a subject area, but they can learn how to learn the skills and knowledge. This is an important understanding for learners as they move closer to being self-directed or independent.
learning places learners in the active role of problem solvers,
simultaneously developing higher order thinking, and
disciplinary knowledge and skills. Learning (and often assessment) is
centred around a problem, a real
world query or a puzzle that the learner
to solve (Boud 1985).
Engel (1991) articulated some objectives of a PBL course where students should be able to:
- develop high professional competency
- deal with problems
- reason critically and creatively
- make reasoned decisions in unfamiliar situations
- adapt to and participate in change
- appreciate another person’s point of view
- make self-evaluations, identify own strengths and weaknesses and undertake appropriate remediation; and work productively as a team.
PDF: Leap into Problem-based Learning. This University of Adelaide University publication is aimed at the university teacher who wishes to explore PBL and create a simple structure around which they can build their own PBL course.
Engel, C.E. (1991) Not just a method but a way of learning. In D. J. Boud & G. Feletti (Eds), The Challenge of Problem-based Learning, Logan Kogan.
Duch, B., Gron, S. & Allen, D. (2001) The Power of Problem-based Learning: A Practical "How To" for Teaching Undergraduate Courses in any Discipline, Stylus Publishing, LLC.
Orrill, C.H. (2002) Supporting online PBL: Design considerations for supporting distributed problem solving, Distance Education, Vol 23, No.1, Carfax Publishing.
Lehtinen, E. (2002) Developing models for distributed problem-based learning: theoretical and methodological reflection, Distance Education, Vol 23, No.1, Carfax Publishing.
A comprehensive site describing problem-based learning (PBL) at Queen's University, Canada, includes links to other PBL sites and databases of PBL resources: http://meds.queensu.ca/medicine/pbl/pblhome.htm
Peer assisted study sessions (PASS) involve students participating
in regular non-compulsory cooperative study sessions led by other
students who have excelled at a given unit in the past. The goal of
PASS is to help students improve their understanding of key concepts,
develop effective study strategies and improve their learning outcomes.
PASS is based on a program
called Supplemental Instruction that was created at the
University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1973. Many
Australian universities currently run PASS programs and they can be
particularly effective for students who are completing units that
involve conceptually difficult subject content.
University of Wollongong is the National Centre for PASS in Australia and offers training for other institutions.
of Western Sydney won a national award for their PASS program in
2008. Their website includes a video of several UWS students talking
about their experiences with the PASS program.
The Flinders University PASS website provides extensive information about PASS including a PASS toolkit and resources.
in first year chemistry and statistics courses is a paper by Valda
Miller, Elwyn Oldfield and Michael Bulmer from The University of
Queensland which outlines the success they have experienced in
implementing PASS in compulsory units that students find conceptually
difficult. In 2007 the team at UQ received a Carrick
(ALTC) Program Award in recognition of their achievements.
Implementing and sustaining successful Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) is a paper by Jane Skalicky, Sally Rogan, Kylie Austin, Dennis Farrugia, and Viola Rosario that discusses key issues related to implementing PASS programs at three Australian universities.