Reflective Teaching by Dr Natasha Barrett

Completing the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) portfolio provided the perfect opportunity for me to reflect on teaching and learning and how my approach has developed over the years. I was surprised at how well I mapped onto Kugel’s five ages of a lecturer (1993). I certainly started out at stage 1 (self) where the focus was on surviving each session with my dignity intact. I then started refining the content of my lectures as I gained confidence and moved to stage 2 (the subject). The transition from stages 1 and 2 onwards has gradually occurred with experience, but several of the PGCAP workshops really helped me move forward. Stages 3 (the student) and 4 (student learning) are very apparent to me at the moment and it is here that I have tried to apply some of the learning theories introduced in the PGCAP workshops. I’ve tried using Bigg’s (1999) constructive alignment theory, where learning outcomes dictate what is taught and assessment (particularly marks) can be used to drive the student to meet the outcomes, with pretty good success. I’ve also tried promoting active student learning (eg Kolb’s reflective cycles). Many students will readily “experience” and “conclude” teaching, but engaging the students in reflection and planning is not an area that I’ve had great success with (yet). I guess that this challenge will take me forward into Kugel’s 5th stage (student as an independent learner) and I look forward to applying some of the strategies to achieve this as I review my teaching material over the summer. I was really pleased to be awarded with the runner’s up PGCAP portfolio prize and would like to thank the CSTD, CDoTL and departmental staff for all their support.

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