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Image: _PBF4624_©_PeterBaier

Track 3: Transformations in Teaching and Learning

With track chairs Martina Gaisch & Mark O`Hara

Higher Education has seen near-continuous change over recent years. The arrival of Covid-19 was simply the most recent example. With all its attendant consequences it threw many of the longstanding inequalities such as digital divides amongst students into even sharper relief. Yet, it also brought unanticipated pedagogic revelations and benefits that could greatly improve the student experience and learning in the future; these include simulated placements and online synchronous teaching. In March 2020 the sector took a massive (albeit sometimes uncertain) step forward in relation to more blended approaches to learning, and it is strategically imperative that we push for continued invention and avoid squandering these pedagogical gains as the pandemic eventually defeats our efforts to manage it.

In addition to Covid, many of our students are the first in their families to enter the tertiary level and we know just what a transformative opportunity a place at university can provide. Working inclusively is a much more sustainable approach to teaching and learning, one moreover that avoids stigmatising or marginalising specific groups of students. It is increasingly important to ensure that our academic protocols are made explicit to all and that course teams find sustainable ways to narrow those disparities in attainment associated with demographics by making the curriculum increasingly relevant and accessible to our diverse student population. Making progress on these issues is likely to be based on the systematic interrogation of the very rich data sets that we have, both qualitative as well as quantitative, in order to implement effective, timely and accurately targeted responses to under-performance and/or diminishing engagement.

Fostering greater participation and a developing sense of self-efficacy amongst students is also a key part of a student-enablement approach to learning and teaching if we are to counter limiting, transactional views of students’ engagement with their higher education experience. What works matters, and that means paying attention to students’ preferred modes of engagement, including digital engagement, and working hard behind the scenes to encourage broader participation. Using praise and recognition as immensely powerful motivators of future effort offers a great foundation through which to have a positive influence on student outcomes. Students’ sense of mastery will come about sooner where we make explicit both institutional expectations and the skills and dispositions that will be advantageous to them; these include critical thinking, resilience, mindfulness, teamwork, social responsibility, and self-compassion.

Finally, a key pre-requisite for an excellent student experience is high quality staff whose initiative, enthusiasm, and verve are vital. Students value tutors who know their names, who are interested in them, who exhibit respect, who welcome diversity, who are approachable and effective and whose practice is based on scholarly endeavour and research. Excellent teachers enliven and enhance the learning experience for students and make a major contribution to the wider life of the University.

We welcome proposals related to transformation in teaching and learning across a wide range of topics such as:

  • Covid 19 and its implications for the future of teaching and learning

  • Online/Mobile/Distance/Blended learning

  • Personalised learning approaches

  • Inclusive and diversity-sensitive teaching and learning

  • Innovative assessment systems and methods

  • Skillset and competences (e.g., global, European, digital citizenship…)

  • Redesigned learning spaces

  • Digital support for teaching and learning (cloud-based, augmented, virtual, mixed reality)

  • Gamification

This track is chaired by:

Martina Gaisch

University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria

Mark O`Hara

Aston University

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