I am interested in evidence-based improvements to teaching and learning to better facilitate student learning.
I introduced the idea of using reflective ePortfolios to help start a cultural change in the use of feedback. Students use their ePortfolios for reflection of assessments (coursework and exams) and skills (e.g. team-working, programming) which they are able to discuss in a dialogic feedback process with their personal tutor. This dialogic process will help students with action planning for academic development and also help personal tutors give more effective feedback when acting as assessors.
For my MEd, I investigated student transition from school to university. I employed a sequential mixed-methods design that involves analysis of quantitative exam performance data and survey questionnaire data. The results of these analyses were explored further using semi-structured focus group interviews to generate qualitative data on the perception of students of factors affecting the school-university transition. Some of my recommendations have been put into practice by the BSc Biological Sciences Year 1 convenor, Dr Steve Cook.
I use teaching methods that align best with the specific intended learning outcomes, such as
- Lectures with active learning, often using student response systems (Mentimeter and Socrative)
- Flipped classrooms
- Blended learning, i.e. using both video and face-to-face lecturing in modules
- Problem-based learning
- Team-based learning
- Research-based learning, i.e. Mini-Projects within course modules
- Ecology field-work
- Creating videos for practical techniques
- Social media, i.e. Facebook
- R software programming language to teach statistics
- Quizzes on Blackboard VLE
Cascading Teaching Practice
I am an advocate of practical enquiry-based learning and have delivered a departmental 'Good Practice Workshop' to encourage the use of authentic course-based undergraduate research experiences.
As well as challenging the teaching methods we use, it is also important to keep asking whether our curriculum is up-to-date and best serves our students. As Year 2 convenor I have overseen changes to the Year 2 provision and have also radically redesigned Genetics with Statistics and created Behavioural Ecology, as a new course module. Both these modules emphasise the importance of teaching statistical skills, using R software, to biologists.