Programme plan and rationale

Pedagogic research in a many disciplines suggests that techniques that encourage students to engage actively in their studies have a positive impact, helping them to achieve deeper learning and to develop a broader range of skills than transmission modes. E-learning (using technology in and outside the classroom), has also been shown to enable students to learn more actively, to engage with the subject at times and places of their choosing, and to enthuse students who do not normally participate in the classroom.

The New Techniques and Technologies for Text-Based Disciplines initiative focuses on developing instructors’ pedagogic skills in classroom techniques and course design within the Faculty of Protestant Theology (and in text-based disciplines at JGU more generally). Our main aim is to impact positively on instructors’ pedagogic expertise in the classroom and in course design. A subsidiary aim is to improve the instructors’ awareness of abstract and theoretical aspects of pedagogic design. The focus of the programme is on three main areas of pedagogic practice and theory:

1. Active learning techniques for use in the classroom;

2. Instructional and course design;

3. E-learning.

We seek to achieve these aims by conveying techniques for active learning in larger lectures and smaller seminars (e.g. in the use of group-work and student presentations) and by developing professionalism in e-learning (e.g. in the use of blogs and discussion boards to encourage students to prepare in advance of classes and to reflect on their learning afterwards).

Plan

We will provide a structured programme to explain and implement active pedagogy and encourage interaction between participants so that they can learn from and support one another. There are seven stages to the coaching programme at the core of this project:

  1. Sign-up and pre-programme workshop and programme design (November-January 2013).

  2. Initial observations of teaching at the end of semester 1 (January-February 2014).

  3. Workshops for programme participants (February-June 2014).

  4. Further intensive coaching sessions (April-June 2014).

  5. Workshop-presentation for professors from the Faculty of Protestant Theology (date TBC).

  6. Workshop-presentation for professors from other Humanities disciplines at JGU (date tbc).

  7. Writing up and dissemination of programme evaluation.

The above plan is designed to ensure that expertise can be shared, developed and thus sustained across the department. The plan will enable the widest possible cross-section of staff to participate (junior to senior members of staff). The different modes of delivery (one-to-one to group and online activities) are tailored to provide different means of engagement for different audiences. The online elements of the dissemination plan mean that there will be a continuing record of activity (within and outside the institution). The methods and findings developed in this project are relevant to all humanities and social science disciplines and hence we aim to share practice outside as well as within the discipline of Protestant Theology.

Dissemination

In addition to the workshops themselves, we will create a publicly-available website to enable experience and expertise to be shared within the department and more widely. We will also produce a final report summarise the findings and evaluation of the project. This will be made available on the project website and will include the following:

  1. Summary of theoretical literature and details of further resources on the pedagogic approaches used (active learning and e-learning);

  2. Summary of approaches adopted in the course of the programme of activities;

  3. Findings of the project (i.e. which activities were most effective, implications for practice within the discipline, inter-disciplinary observations);

  4. Ideas for future development.