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Has educational research anything of value to say to HE teachers?

Title: Has educational research anything of value to say to HE teachers?
Date/time: Wednesday xx xx 2011. Time: xxpm
Occasion: Learning and Teaching seminar series
Place: Seminar room,   School of Psychology (58 Hillhead Street)
How to get there: Instructions
Presenter Steve Draper,   School of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

Slides: PDF
Handout: PDF file
Related material:


Should we just do what strikes us as good teaching without listening to anyone else, or should we read the literature and expect to find knowledge that will improve our teaching? There are some apparently strong arguments on both sides of this question.

Against the utility of the research literature for HE teachers:
The individual teacher's quality is the biggest single factor in learners' outcomes in schools and presumably in HE, but that quality is not predicted by any other factor we know of; in particular it is unrelated to training. Teacher quality therefore seems to be an implicit skill, that is not transferable. Leaving teachers to do as they think best would seem rational.

Middle ground: the inertia against progress.
There seem to be strong forces against both making any progress in educational practice, and the spread of good practice if it occurs. This too seems to tell against hoping for benefit from any top down push of educational techniques. (Or is this just rationalising a bad status quo?)

In favour: there are some (a few) big educational effects in the literature.
Refusing to look at them must be irrational. A tour of some highlights is presented, organised by a notion of distinguishing teacher contributions under three distinct, independent functions: delivery, designing the learning activities, and the selection and structuring of content.

By way of a finale:
Some comments will be offered on the reasons for, and effects of, Teachers' profound egocentrism (in Piaget's sense); an analysis of complaints about spoon-feeding; and the growing pressure in the literature to abandon traditional lecturing as a useful activity.

Some notes on related stuff are also available.

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