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Making students, not the lecturer, the subject matter experts

Title: Making students, not the lecturer, the subject matter experts
Date/time: Thursday 22 April 2010. Session: 12:10-12:40pm
Occasion: 3rd Annual University of Glasgow Learning and Teaching Conference
Place: Seminar room 1, Wolfson Medical Building
How to get there: campus map Map location tags:   Wolfson - C8   WILT - B9
Presenters Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.
                    Paul Bishop,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

Slides: PDF


A new final year option course in positive psychology with 70 students was largely organised around student generated content. Students were divided into groups of 6, each group was allocated one of 12 topics, and required to produce an introduction to their topic that would be of maximal utility to the rest of the class (e.g. short summary, the best starter reference, connections between published evidence and unevidenced claims in the self-help literature, ...). These introductions were in the form of Moodle wiki pages, and each group also had their own Moodle forum so that they could work together apart from in face to face meetings. The design of the course, and the results of detailed feedback from the students are presented. Antecedents in the literature will be compared and contrasted with this design: Aronson's Jigsaw Classroom, computer supported cooperative lecture notes, traditional seminar teaching, Jim Baxter's use of "virtual" student groups in a first year course. The feedback showed strong valuing of the groupwork (both process and product), but more divided opinion about the relative lack of authoritative lecturer content delivery. This is discussed in relation to the paradox for good level 4 teaching: on the one hand there is much empirical support for how students as well as staff value expert teaching of staff's personal research topics where both the passion and great expertise of the teacher are valued; on the other hand, constructivism and other educational work shows us that learning is best promoted when the teacher does not tell but requires the learner to discover and construct the knowledge themselves. These are almost entirely conflicting approaches to good learning and teaching, and the tension is at its greatest in the final year: research-teaching linkages in conflict with enquiry-based learning?


Attending the conference

For more information, booking, etc. please visit

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