Tag: teaching and learning

Professor Monika Nerland received the faculty prize for excellent teaching

Congratulations to Professor Monika Nerland for being awarded the 2014 Best Teacher Award at the Faculty of Educational Sciences. She is a member of the research group ExCID at the Department of Education.

She is also one of the main professors in the Hedda master programme for higher education, teaching the modules on primary processes in higher education.

In the video, she shares her insights about what she considers excellent teaching in higher education.

Podcast: Horizontal governance and learning dynamics in higher education

We are pleased to share with you a presentation of some of the key messages from a large scale project “Horizontal governance and learning dynamics in higher education (HORIZON). The project is undertaken at the Faculty of Educational Sciences in University of Oslo.

In the presentation, Prof Peter Maassen, Prof Monika Nerland, dr. Jennifer Olson, dr. Hilde Afdal and dr Crina Damsa share their insights about he project. The seminar was recorded on 11th of February at the University of Melbourne.

Group presentation

Prof. Monika Nerland | Prof. Peter Maassen | Dr. Crina Damsa | Dr. Jennifer Olson | Dr. Hilde Afdal


Download the powerpoint slides for the presentation here

HORIZON project outline: 

The HORIZON project is aimed at contributing to an improved understanding of major change dynamics in higher education with respect to higher education governance and learning processes in higher education institutions, as well as the way these two are connected.

News: New study on STEM students learning

exam-time-1102366-mA recent study doing a large scale meta-analysis of STEM students and active learning has again stirred debate about teaching methods in the US. The study was published by the National Academy of Science in the US (pdf) and its core argument is that active learning has a positive effect on student learning in STEM fields. The data for the meta analysis was compiled from 225 studies that had data about teaching methods and student performance.

While the move from teacher centered to student centered learning has been a core theme in the literature on teaching and learning in higher education for some time, focus on lectures has prevailed in practice, especially at a time where increasing class sizes make this a cost-effective means for teaching.

However, the authors of the study suggest that the prevailing focus on lectures is unfounded and conclude: “The data reported here indicate that active learning increases examination performance by just under half a SD and that lecturing increases failure rates by 55%.”, suggesting significant benefits from active learning practices, also pointing towards economic gains by assuring student completion. The authors also argue that these results are valid across “all of the STEM disciplines and occur in all class sizes, course types, and course levels“. However, they further point out that “active learning is particularly beneficial in small classes and at increasing performance on concept inventories“.

Doug Lederman at Inside Higher Ed called the study as a “boost for active learning“, and cited an interview with Freeman, one of the scholars behind the study who argued that this report “provides overwhelming evidence that active learning works better than lecture.” While this piece of evidence might not come as a surprise for those working with teaching and learning processes, the study does provide a larger scale overview of existing research and thus consolidates available evidence.

Conference review: EUA conference ‘Changing Landscapes in Learning and Teaching’

EUAconf We would like to share with you a review from a recent EUA conference that took place early April in Belgium. EUA is the Association of European institutions of higher education and the annual conference includes representatives from EUA members to discuss issues related to higher education in Europe.

This review was originally posted on EUA website and has been re-posted with explicit permission. Note that there is also a link to all the conference presentations in the bottom of the post! 

Around 350 university leaders and representatives from the higher education sector gathered last week (3-4 April) for the EUA Annual Conference, hosted by the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Belgium. The theme of this year’s conference was “Changing Landscapes in Learning and Teaching”.Discussions highlighted that the importance of the core university mission of learning and teaching has been rising in recent years, and is likely to grow in the future. Participation in higher education, which has already increased substantially, is set to rise further. In addition, Europe is facing demographic and economic changes, and higher education is expected to play a critical role in lifelong learning.

More diverse student bodies and growing pressure on universities to respond to different economic and societal pressures mean it is likely that universities will need to provide more flexible learning paths and individualised support for learners. Plenary session presentations also demonstrated for example, that diverse student populations provide an opportunity to mix different groups of learners so they benefit from “cross-learning”; there was also discussion of combining traditional research-based learning with practical and experiential learning.

Hedda podcast: Student engagement with knowledge as a means to define quality

Episode 44 of our podcast series features Dr. Paul Ashwin from Lancaster University in the UK. In the podcast we talk about student engagement with knowledge as a key feature of quality in higher education, and he reflects on some of the key results from a three year long study on pedagogical quality and inequality in the UK.

Listen without the Flashplayer

Click here to download the Policy makers guide (pdf) that the research team has prepared based on the project results. 

View also the publications that the podcast is referring to:

Dr. Paul Ashwin  (Lancaster University)

Dr. Paul Ashwin
(Lancaster University)

Dr. Paul Ashwin is employed as a Senior Lecturer and Head of Department at the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University in the UK. Earlier he has worked at the Institute for the Advancement of University Learning, University of Oxford and Newham College of Further Education. His key research interests are related to the relations between teaching-learning and knowledge-curriculum practices in higher education, as well as the implications of this for both policy and practice. He has also a keen interest on the methodological development of higher education studies in this area.

HEIK seminar with Professor Karen Jensen: Horizontal knowledge dynamics and the initiation of students in expert cultures

Professor Karen Jensen  (University of Oslo)

Professor Karen Jensen
(University of Oslo)

We are pleased to share yet another session from the HEIK academic seminar series in the field of higher education, with both invited international speakers and members of the research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures) here at the University of Oslo.

This lecture was recorded in November 2013 and features Professor Karen Jensen (HEIK/FALK, University of Oslo) who discusses horizontal knowledge dynamics and initiation of students in expert cultures.

Listen without the Flashplayer

Abstract for the session: 

Do you know an excellent teacher in higher education?

If you think about your learning experiences, which teachers in higher education made the biggest positive impact on your learning? Who stood out as a truly excellent teacher in higher education?

CEUCentral European University (CEU) has announced the third annual European Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Social Sciences and Humanities. The award was introduced in 2011 to highlight excellent teaching in higher education institutions in the European Higher Education Area.

The candidates are expected to have an outstanding teaching record and the call highlights that they must have experience with one or more of these practices:

  • applying innovative teaching methods;
  • combining theory and practice, relevance and scholarly excellence;
  • using research elements to achieve excellence in teaching;
  • applying problem-based/problem-oriented teaching;
  • achievements in encouragement of critical thinking;
  • sustained commitment to teaching excellence, rather than one-off achievements.

Eligibility: the candidate must work in social sciences or humanities and work in a higher education institution in the European Higher Education Area, excluding CEUs own staff.

Deadline for proposals: January 20th, 2014.

Do you know of a teacher who you think would be worthy of this award? 

Read more about the application criteria and procedures at CEU website.

Hedda Guest Lecture: Australian Higher Education – some current pressures on teaching and learning

Prof. Lyn Yates  (University of Melbourne)

Prof. Lyn Yates
(University of Melbourne)

On Tuesday, September 24th, the Higher Education Masters programme welcomed guest lecturers Lyn Yates and Kate O’Connor from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. The presentation focused on current pressures on teaching and learning in Australian Higher Education.

As a setting for the lecture,  Lyn Yates begins by describing the structure and governance, and students and teaching in Australian Higher Education.  The presentation then looks at the current Knowledge Building in Schooling and Higher Education: policy strategies and effects project. The project looks at the research-teaching relationships and pressures.

Lyn Yates is Professor of Curriculum at the University of Melbourne and has recently completed six years as Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research). She is a past president of the Australian Association for Research in Education.

Kate O’Connor is a researcher on the KBP project, and is also undertaking a related PhD focused on knowledge and curriculum in newly emerging MOOCs.

Tips and Tricks: How to be successful at an oral exam

_MG_0089This small list of tips is of relevance both to our Hedda master students, but also to others taking an oral exam in various areas of social sciences. While the tips are for the most part applicable to all, be sure to read carefully the exam guidelines at your university – they might differ in their emphasis.

Perhaps obvious, but preparation really matters.

An oral exam also puts focus on being able to have a comprehensive grasp on the material, so it is not enough to merely focus on topics one by one, you should be able to see the bigger picture as well. While in depth knowledge about each area is necessary as well, how are the various areas connected? Prepare mind maps, talk to fellow students – where are the tensions and where are the overlaps? Do you see linkages to current public debates about the issue? Do not assume that if you are good at talking, this would mean you can avoid thorough preparation.

Be critical if needed.

You are absolutely welcome to also be critical about the course literature. Is this relevant for your country? Is something perhaps less relevant now than before? Why? But remember, you have to have arguments to back up your claims. Being critical just to be critical is not useful. Not liking a model is not a valid argument. Saying it is not relevant for your country in itself is also not enough – you have to exemplify why and how.

Beware of the common sense trap.

While linking to current public debates shows you understand the topic or theory, your main concern should be on the relevant material from the course content. It is always good to reflect on a real life problem, but when discussing this, be sure to use the analytical tools from the course to avoid sounding common sense – try to see behind the obvious. If you mean there is poor quality or funding in your country – how is this linked to the relevant analytical concepts you talked about in course? Furthermore, while your own experiences as a student might be relevant when discussing teaching quality, be also careful when making generalisations based on that.

Beware of the time.

This is particularly important when

Hedda Chronicle: Linking Teaching and Research through the Use of Video – students’ reflections

Hedda students interviewing  professor P. Maassen

Hedda students interviewing
prof. P. Maassen

A little over a month ago, we introduced one of the innovative learning projects at the Hedda master programme, with an interview with professor Bjørn Stensaker about the project “Linking Teaching and Research through the Use of Video“, as well as the output of the project – the interview with professor Peter Maassen that the students conducted.

However – to really know how the project contributed to the learning processes, we also thought we should ask the students on what they think. Here is what one of the students, Evgenia Bogun, says: 

There is a simplistic view that research involves knowledge production and teaching involves knowledge transmission, and that these are discrete activities. In this view the relationship between teaching and research is limited to the outcomes of research forming the content of teaching. However, this does not reflect the complex reality of academic work in any discipline, and runs the risk of creating two antagonistic activities. As most academics are involved in both teaching and research, finding ways to integrate them more effectively is essential as we come under more and more pressure to increase ‘productivity’ in both teaching and research.

For that reason, in February 2013, we, Evgenia Bogun, Ljiljana Krstic and Rachelle Esterhazy, a group of the first year Hedda master students in higher education, participated in an innovative learning project led by Professor Bjørn Stensaker: “Student Produced Video – a means of improving the links between teaching and research“.

The objectives and rationales for the project were primarily based on the perspectives about how the links between teaching and research can be improved. In particular, the idea behind the project was to bring students and teachers to the same level of understanding, as students and professors usually meet only during the seminars and lectures, therefore, students do not really know what the teachers’ academic and professional activity looks like in their ‘free-of-teaching’, research time.