Improving Student Learning by Growing a Teaching and Learning Culture in an Engineering School


The problem addressed in this presentation is that lecturers in schools of professional education such as engineering schools are typically disciplinary experts first, researchers second, and teachers third; they typically have limited knowledge about good educational practice unless the school provides measures to develop such knowledge and practice. To address this problem in a School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering at a South African university, a 3-part strategy has been devised and implemented to grow a culture of teaching and learning among teachers in the school. The first part of the strategy is to involve teachers in educational research ‘mini-projects’ in collaboration with an experienced educational researcher. The lecturers are invited to identify and research an issue or concept which the students they teach typically struggle with. The second part involves formal input on educational theory and practice to the lecturers involved in the mini-projects and to any other staff in the school who wish to attend. The third part is to provide regular in-house colloquia as a forum for feedback from the mini-projects and for discussion of any teaching and learning issues that may arise. The rationale behind this strategy is, firstly, that it provides a means for drawing lecturers into the scholarship of teaching and learning by researching a teaching and learning issue that is highly relevant to them in their own teaching. It facilitates access to educational theory, research and practice through collaborations with educational researchers and involvement in teaching colloquia tailored to the school’s needs.

Author Information
Laurie Woollacott, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2016
Stream: Higher education

This paper is part of the ACE2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon