New academic year, new Really Useful Stuff on Teaching, Learning Etc.

green flag Welcome back! Autumn is here again and a new academic year is beginning which means new initiatives, resources and events. Here are just a few things that might help you better support your students’ learning in 2012-13.

This year, staff and students will be getting used to the new structure of the academic year, changes to the curriculum that came from the portfolio and periodic review and changes in terminology (from programmes and courses to courses and modules).

A date you will want to put in your diary is Wednesday 24th October. The annual Sussex Teaching and Learning Conference, which this year will be Celebrating Good Practice will be held on that afternoon. More details will be on the conference web page soon.

There are also new initiatives being rolled out such as the green flag provision for students with Specific Learning Difficulties. Following a successful initiative to promote inclusive teaching of students with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia, dyspraxia, etc.) all students whose main support needs would be met by a set of reasonable standard adjustments are now identified by a green flag on Sussex Direct. You can read more about the initiative and find details of the sorts of adjustments that schools will be asking tutors to make on the TLDU website.

S3, the Study Success at Sussex website has gone mobile and students who visit the S3 website from their smart phone will now be directed to a mobile version of the site including the same content redesigned so that it’s easier to navigate from a mobile phone. The S3 homepage now also includes a ‘This week’ section highlighting relevant study information and a search function. Please tell your students about the excellent resources and guidance available to them on S3 and contact Clare Hardman if you would like some S3 promotional postcards to distribute.

The programme of Teaching and Learning Development Events is beginning again in September with many of the favourite workshops from last year and four new events which have been added at the request of colleagues. The new events are:

  • The supervisor’s role in supporting academic writing. This seminar will share ideas to help supervisors to encourage and support the early and sustained academic writing of research students.
  • Working Effectively with Associate Tutors. A short workshop for academic staff which aims to share ideas to enable Associate Tutors to contribute effectively to the teaching and assessment of modules.
  • Evaluating your Teaching. This session will explore different sources of feedback from students, colleagues, own observations and marking of assessed work which can be used to help inform the evaluation of teaching beyond standard end of module SEQs.
  • Getting students to read for seminars. This is one of the commonest issues we hear about in TLDU from tutors. We’ve asked Tamsin Hinton-Smith (Sociology) to share the approaches she has used which have proved successful over many student cohorts.

Over the summer, work has been carrying on to update and develop the TLDU web pages and the Ideas and Guidance pages now include material on a wide range of teaching and learning topics including assessment and feedback; various teaching modes and methods and developing teaching practice. More pages will be created and updated over the coming months. The TLDU collection of web links has grown too and these selected sites offer a great way into just about any teaching and learning topic. For many people this new term will be the beginning of their teaching in HE or at Sussex so here are a few teaching tips to get the year off to a good start.

  • Getting to know each other: Using activities that help people to get an awareness of where others come from in terms of past learning experience, where they have lived, where they have been and what they have done, forges connections you can draw on throughout the module.
  • Setting ground rules: Rather than imposing your own rules, try asking the students what they expect of themselves, each other and you. Usually the result will be a list that includes most of the things you would want – and you can include one or two of your own during the process.
  • Start as you mean to go on: If particular ways of working are to be adopted on the module establish them as normal practice from the start. It is much harder to develop new habits later.
  • Don’t forget that help is at hand: There are lots of useful resources and learning opportunities on the TLDU web pages; Study Direct has lots of help files built in and colleagues in TLDU are available to support you in your teaching.

RUSTLE will be blogging regularly again this year and as always we welcome your comments, suggestions and ideas. If there are any teaching and/or learning topics you would like to see discussed in future posts or if there is an aspect of your practice you would like to share please contact tldu@sussex.ac.uk.

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