Teaching for Quality Learning at University: What the Student Does

Teaching for Quality Learning at University: What the Student Does

Teaching for Quality Learning at University: What the Student Does

Teaching for Quality Learning at University: What the Student Does

Synopsis

"...full of downright good advice for every academic who wants to do something practical to improve his or her students' learning...there are very few writers on the subject of university teaching who can engage a reader so personally, express things so clearly, relate research findings so eloquently to personal experience." (Paul Ramsden) Since the first edition of Teaching for Quality Learning at University, the tertiary sector has changed dramatically. Individual teachers, as reflective practitioners, still need to make their own decisions about how they are going to get students actively involved in large classes, to teach international students, and to assess in ways that enhance the quality of learning. But now that quality assurance and quality enhancement are required at the institutional level, the concept of constructive alignment is applied to 'the reflective institution', where it becomes a powerful underpinning to quality enhancement procedures. Also since the first edition, educational technology has become more widespread than expected, leaving some teachers apprehensive about what it might mean for them. A new chapter elaborates on how ET can be used to enhance learning, but with a warning that any tool, electronic or otherwise, is as good as the thoughtful use to which it is put. This is an accessible, jargon-free guide to all university teachers interested in enhancing their teaching and their students' learning, and for administrators and teaching developers who are involved in teaching-related decisions on an institutional basis.

Excerpt

This book is an exceptional introduction to some difficult ideas. It is full of downright good advice for every academic who wants to do something practical to improve his or her students' learning. So much of what we read on this subject is either a recycling of sensible advice topped by a thin layer of second-hand theory, or a dense treatise suitable for graduate students with a taste for the tougher courses. Not many writers are able to take the reader along the middle road, where theory applied with a delicate touch enables us to transform our practice. What is unique about Biggs is his way with words, his outspoken fluency, his precision, his depth of knowledge, his inventiveness – or rather, how he blends these things together. Like all good teachers, he engages us from the start, and he never talks down to us. He achieves unity between his objectives, his teaching methods and his assessment; and thus, to adapt his own phrase, he entraps the reader in a web of consistency that optimizes his or her learning.

Perhaps not everyone will agree with Biggs's treatment of the academic differences between phenomenography and constructivism. I'm not sure I do myself. But does it matter? The author himself takes a pragmatic approach. In the daunting task that faces lecturers in responding to the pressures of mass higher education, reduced public funding and students who are paying more for their education, the bottom line of engineering better learning outcomes matters more than nice theoretical distinctions.

Readers of the present book will especially enjoy its marvellous treatment of issues of student assessment (particularly Chapters 3, 8 and 9). Biggs's most outstanding single contribution to education has been the creation of the Structure of Observed Learning Outcome (SOLO) taxonomy. Rather than read about the extraordinary practical utility of this device in secondary sources, get it from the original here. From assessing clinical decision-making by medical students to classifying the outcomes of essays in history, SOLO remains the assessment apparatus of choice.

There are very few writers on the subject of university teaching who can engage a reader so personally, express things so clearly, relate research . . .

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