Blog posts

Workshop support commences

Curriculum Review Kick-off Workshop

We have now kicked-off both Curriculum Review and our workshop support with the first of a series of workshops – the “Curriculum Review Kick-off Workshop.”

Curriculum Review teams were introduced to the range of support functions and staff across college who can support and inform departmental curriculum reviews.

The workshop drew on expertise from Academic Departments as well as the Education Development Unit (EDU), the Registry, the Centre for Languages Culture and Communications (CLCC) the Digital Learning Hub, the Graduate School, the Centre for Academic English, the Library Services, the Careers Services and the Student’s Union.

You can download a recap of this event from our new resources page.

Modularisation, QA and CMA workshop

We plan to run a number of follow-up workshops focused on specific aspects of Curriculum Review. We have scheduled the first of these for 21st March, 14:00-16:00.

This upcoming workshop will offer an opportunity to discuss in detail the implications of curricula design and modularisation for progression and assessment within new curricula, the requirements in terms of paperwork to submit via College’s QA committees, and compliance with CMA in terms of what we present in our prospectus for programmes and what we communicate to current and prospective students.

All Curriculum Review team members are welcome to attend and at least one person per team will need to attend. To sign-up please email ltstrategy@imperial.ac.uk

Sharing good practice – inclusive curricula and professional skills

 By Dr Clemens Brechtelsbauer, Deputy Director of Undergraduate Studies in Chemical Engineering and  Principal Teaching Fellow.

The purpose of the ‘Talking Teaching’ seminars is to share good practice across the college and make people think. For me, yesterday’s session on designing inclusive curricula and sharing professional skills certainly achieved that.

Elizabeth Hauke started with an intriguing question on what inclusivity actually is. Like many I subconsciously went for ‘not excluding anyone’ rather than ‘including everyone’. While the former can be addressed through curriculum design, the latter can really only be achieved during the teaching itself, which is a lot harder. Elizabeth gave the example of ‘learning contracts’ which set out a group’s rules that students and educators formally commit to – something borrowed from the corporate world of meeting and workshop management. In the chemical engineering department, we run a workshop session with first years to set out what they expect from lecturers, what lecturers expect from them, and what students expect from each other. We introduced this to make it clear that even in a high pressure / high achieving environment such as Imperial College, a normal work-life balance is very much what everyone is entitled to. While the events were always successful, I was wondering whether we could enhance their impact even further through agreeing a formal ‘learning contract’ with the students.

Sophie Rutschmann described a two day short course for MSc students on how to effectively read scientific articles. She found that students spend too much time with reading papers cover to cover – which is not the way a trained scientist reads them. I always thought that my approach of skim reading (abstract, figures, conclusion) then deciding whether it’s worth reading the rest was some sort of a ‘guilty pleasure’. It never occurred to me that this is actually a valuable technique that is not obvious at all and worth passing on to students. It made me realize that as academic teachers we have a lot more to offer to our students than just passing on subject specific expert knowledge.

I enjoyed the session and it gave me lots to mull over. The challenge I see is that all of these very useful activities are quite time consuming in comparison with a traditional seminar or a lecture. Although they are undoubtedly more effective, this comes at a cost. As we need to streamline already congested curricula it will require serious thought where to deploy these ‘heavy hitters’ so that the associated time cost is worth it.

Call for funding to support pedagogy transformation

The second call for pedagogy transformation funding is now open. Funding is available for both Department-wide initiatives (Stream A) and for smaller scale initiatives (Stream B). The guidance has been updated, so please review this carefully before preparing your submission.

The deadline for this round of funding is 2 March 2018, and further calls for funding will take place on a rolling basis over the next three years. Please note however that all future funding calls will be for support in Stream A only.

The guidance and application forms are available to download now.

Launch of Teaching Toolkits

By Kate Ippolito, Principal Teaching Fellow in Educational Development

We are very pleased to announce the launch of Imperial College’s online Teaching Toolkit. Based on our experience of working successfully with hundreds of Imperial’s teaching staff to introduce them to educational principles and techniques and enable them to apply these to improve the effectiveness of their teaching we have designed the Teaching Toolkit to support the College-wide Curricula Review and Pedagogical Transformation process and to complement the EDU’s workshops and PG programmes.

To reflect the aims of the Learning and Teaching Strategy and target areas for development during the initial curriculum review phase the first three sections available are:

Intended Learning Outcomes
Inclusive Learning and Teaching
Assessment and Feedback

In these sections you’ll find explanations of key educational concepts, such as what makes a useful learning outcome, strategies and tips, such as how to persuade students to act on feedback and advice, including on how to make lecturing and group working more inclusive. You’ll also find inspiring yet feasible examples from Imperial teaching staff. Please take a look, share and discuss the ideas with your colleagues and let us know what you think. We anticipate that this toolkit will become a focal point for developing and disseminating high quality, supportive teaching and learning practices across Imperial.

Coming soon… the Evaluating and researching education section and more internal and external examples, along with evidence of impact including video testimonies. This resource already represents much cross-College collaborative thinking and activity; to make Imperial’s Teaching Toolkit genuinely valuable to our community of staff who teach we’d welcome your examples of effective teaching and learning and suggestions for development.

Talking Teaching: Demystifying Abstract Concepts

It was really encouraging seeing a group of some sixty-five Professors, Teaching Fellows, Lecturers and staff attend the Teaching Talking lecture yesterday afternoon. This was the first of a series of events designed to showcase best practice in teaching and support to students and student life. Professor Simone Buitendijk Vice Provost (Education) inaugurated the series and welcomed the attendees. She spoke briefly about the goals and ambitions of the College’s new Learning and Teaching Strategy, and her hopes that this forum would be a way of developing a community of professionals to support excellent student outcomes and the Strategy’s success. Next, Professor Alan Spivey, Assistant Provost (Learning and Teaching) shared with the group how the College had been directing its efforts to support curriculum review and strategy implementation. Following this, Professor Martyn Kingsbury (Director of the Educational Development Unit) focused on what the review process would mean for student outcomes, and the key issues and topics that departments will need to work through while reviewing curriculums. He also promoted the new resources that are now available, and those that will be launched in the New Year.

The highlight of the event was Dr. Caroline Clewley’s presentation. She spoke passionately about her work in the Physics department overseeing a new visualisation project which helps to support teaching in the classroom. The genesis of the project was in part a response to student feedback about the difficulties they experienced in understanding and visualizing complex and abstract concepts within Physics and other STEM subjects. Some of these concepts form part of the core content of Maths, Physic and Chemistry courses, and include vector algebra, calculus and differential equations. This teaching tool offers a way to understand theoretical concepts and reinforce some basic educational principles. During the talk she demonstrated how a diatomic molecule behaves when you change its vibrational and rotational kinetic energy. This would be a novel and practical tool for students to test new concepts, to really understand these, and have fun while studying! The recording and slides from the talk are here

After Caroline’s presentation, there were some thoughtful questions from the audience about its content. Dr. Andreas Kogelbauer from the Department of Chemical Engineering commented that “Caroline’s talk was really great. Sometimes communications around strategic initiatives can be patchy across the College. This session was the best way to facilitate communication and demonstrate the innovative work departments are doing around pedagogy and new teaching technologies. The Jupyter Notebook software is something that our department is also very interested in. I think there could be some scope to collaborate with several departments around this.”

The Excellence Fund for Learning and Teaching Innovation

Applications for the next round of funding from the Excellence Fund for Learning and Teaching Innovation Fund are now open.

One of the four pillars of the Learning and Teaching Strategy is the fostering of an inclusive and diverse community, where different backgrounds and cultures in staff and students are cherished and celebrated, and their different cultural experiences and identities are embraced. In making our teaching and our curricula more inclusive, we aim to support staff and students to turn diverse backgrounds and cultures into an opportunity for mutual learning, taking advantage of different experiences and perspectives.

In support of this strategic aim, funds will be awarded to support projects which stimulate the development of more inclusive learning and teaching, with a focus on the development of inclusive curriculum content and use of inclusive research and research concepts.

More information about the scheme, including information about the criteria and suggested topics and the application form, is available from the website.

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/about/leadership-and-strategy/provost/vice-provost-education/the-excellence-fund-for-learning-and-teaching-innovation/

Professor Peter Lepage on Campus

Visiting us at the South Kensington Campus today is Professor Peter Lepage, Goldwin Smith Professor of Physics at Cornell University. 5 years ago, as the then Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, he implemented a substantial program to introduce active learning into undergraduate teaching at Cornell.

Peter’s visit has kicked-off with a networking lunch, where DUGS and DPS have been questioning Peter about implementing active learning methods. A very similar lunch will run tomorrow for Teaching Fellows, 12:30 pm in 163 Skempton.

Peter will be on Campus until Wednesday, when he will give a Perspectives in Education lecture at 17:30 pm, Huxley 340.

We will be recording Peter’s lecture on Large-Scale Pedagogical Change. Staff members will be able to access this recording here.

An Update on Curriculum Review

Curriculum review is now underway with every department in College having secured funding to help achieve this.

Each department will recruit at least one Strategic Teaching Fellow with many of these posts currently being advertised or interviewed for. Teaching Fellows from across the College will be deeply involved not only in curriculum review but also in pedagogy transformation projects arising out of this process. To support this, we will form a network of all teaching fellows to share experiences and spread good practice across College, coordinated through the EDU.

Pedagogy transformation funding is now available to support the implementation of active learning methods – such as peer-learning and problem-based learning – and the development of complementary digital content. The deadline for the next round of funding is the 2 March and you can find the proposal template here.

Our curriculum review support programme will ramp up in the New Year. The programme will include workshops, drop-in sessions and associated on-line resources. More details will be available soon.

If you have any questions, leave a reply below or email us at ltstrategy@imperial.ac.uk

Talking Teaching – A New Seminar Series

We’re pleased to announce the launch of a new series of seminars – Talking Teaching.

The Talking Teaching series will showcase best practice approaches to teaching from around the College. Anyone with an interest in education can come along to hear speakers, updates on the Learning and Teaching Strategy, have a cup of tea and network with colleagues.

These events will generally feature an introduction and update from the Assistant Provost (Learning and Teaching), two speakers delivering short (10-15 mins) talks and time for Q&A.

Our first Talking Teaching seminar will be on the 13th December, 14:00-15:00 in Skempton 301 with tea/coffee served from 13:45. This seminar will showcase Dr Caroline Clewley’s work on developing online visualisations for education. You can RSVP here.

Find out more about the first event and future dates.