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Teaching and learning pedagogies to enhance practice in Higher Education: a practitioner’s perspective

Nixon, Sarah (2014) Teaching and learning pedagogies to enhance practice in Higher Education: a practitioner’s perspective. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

The overall aim of the presented work is the enhancement of the student experience through creating conditions where excellent learning can occur both individually and through working in communities of practice. There was a mixed method approach taken within the studies, with a bias towards a more qualitative slant. Each study had an action research focus through the use of small scale case studies of teaching and learning in practice. A criticism of qualitative research and particularly case studies, is in relation to generalisation of the findings. However, case studies in teaching and learning are context specific and explore the activity as it happens and therefore can contribute to the broader picture, through examples but they cannot provide incontrovertible best practice.

The work presents two research objectives, the first being an exploration of the ways in which teaching and learning interventions can create conditions to support excellent learning. Within the studies presented in this thesis, the following are key headlines. PDP was found to be a positive addition to the curriculum in particular the activities of goal-setting and reflection. The intensive and bespoke transition programme delivered to the new students facilitated and enhanced student engagement. The module re-design which focused on authentic assessment, engagement, real-world learning and employability enhanced the student skill set. In addition to interventions to support students, the thesis also contains staff development activity. The two articles based on peer review found that, knowing and developing teacher immediacy plays a part in teacher development and can help create better connections with students. Although different each of the articles presents examples which others might find useful in enhancing practice.

The second research objective considered how communities of practice for staff and students can support the conditions to enable excellent and purposeful teaching and learning. One of the articles focuses on an organisation set up to support teaching in higher education. It found that a support network can enhance knowledge and experiences and that a community of practice is one way of creating and maintaining groups of staff interested in teaching and learning. The articles on peer review show that this also has value at a more local level where teaching staff felt that by working together they had developed their individual approaches. This did not work for all staff and the study showed that this type of approach to staff development is very personal. Trust, honesty and commitment came out as important factors, which need to be fostered in a community of practice. For the students, working in peer learning groups (PLGs), connecting with each other very early on in their programme and sharing metaphors was found to have value. Learning in a university has been shown to be an isolating experience and working together has merits for both staff and students.

This thesis has been based on small scale case studies and has evidenced developments at a local level, which I contend is the only way to change and develop practice. However, from a knowledge and generalisation perspective my research now needs to broaden, to determine cultural and subject differences, as this will make the evidence more compelling across the sector. Two specific areas from this study that would benefit from further research are, PLG groups in different subject contexts and staff working in communities of practice to support teaching and learning.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Higher Education; teaching and learning; enhancement; communities of practice
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: School of Education
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2016 13:14
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2016 13:14
Supervisors: Vickerman, Philip
URI: http://ljmu-new.eprints-hosting.org/id/eprint/4594

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