I have extensive experience of teaching across a variety of formats including supporting student learning initiatives, leading and supporting small undergraduate seminar groups, leading larger seminars for postgraduates and academic staff, as well as lecturing to a crowded lecture theatre. I also critically reflect on the structure and content of my lectures and seminars so that my pedagogic approach continually evolves. Since I have been teaching in higher education, I have experimented with several types of seating arrangements, the incorporation new technologies into my seminars and lectures such as using PowerPoint, audio-visual gobbets, and interactive web-based programmes, and with using different teaching techniques such as concept mapping, debate, role-play, and student-led presentations. Additionally, I encourage small conferences and meetings with students on an individual basis. I believe the small conference environment facilitates student participation and promotes active learning as this particular environment lends itself to debate and discussion very well. This aspect of my pedagogic approach reflects the American model of Higher education and offers direct access to my students so they receive personal feedback as their course unfolds and emphasises teacher/student connectivity
As a teacher and researcher, my primary objective is to inspire active and reflective learning in the classroom. Building on the foundation of reflective educational principles as defined by Brockbank and McGill (1998) and Moon (2004), as well as Alan Booth’s (2000, 2001, 2003, 2004) considerable body of work on teaching history in higher education, I construct my seminar plans to employ aspects of constructivism and cognitivism. I begin by giving the learners questions (or thinking points) to consider as they prepare for the next seminar. This ensures a high level of autonomy on the learner’s part as it relates to their interpretation of their studies, while providing a direction and framework for their learning. I have found that this tactic creates a high quality seminar, as this method increases student participation and facilitates deep learning. Moreover, my seminar plans are typically reinforced by previous sessions in order to illustrate patterns and concepts throughout chronological periods and situations. This additionally enables deep learning, as the ideas and themes are reinforced in the learner’s understanding of the subject.
During the actual seminar, my aim is to facilitate participation from the learners, while developing their analytical and transferable skills. Another method which I regularly utilize is splitting the larger group into sub-groups because it encourages independent discourse between the students which gives them the space to introduce their ideas organically and organize them how they see fit. Moreover, this method is very conducive to learner participation as typically even quiet learners are comfortable contributing in small groups. This also gives me the chance to move about the room and interact directly with the different sub-groups after they have had a chance to consider their own ideas and notions. This allows me to encourage the learners to reflect on and challenge one another’s ideas, ensuring a critical and analytical engagement with the historical issues and themes. Once the class is reunited, I typically hold a final discussion or presentation. This further develops the student’s transferable skills because it allows them to confidently employ their independent research, critical reflection, and organization of their thoughts.
Utilizing New Research
Additionally, the History Department at the University of Nottingham provides a superb environment for higher education training owing to its emphasis on training, mentoring and monitoring for its tutors. I attended three teacher training programmes which were very helpful during the first phases of my teaching in higher learning. Moreover, I was mentored by Dr. Sue Townsend and Dr. Spencer Mawby, both of whom invited me observe their seminars and lectures and who watched my own and provided critical and useful feedback which has informed my own reflection regarding various teaching techniques and my pedagogic approach.
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