Dr Stephanie Green, from the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science, received a 2018 Griffith Learning and Teaching Citation for, through a values-based leadership approach to learning and teaching, playing a leading role in building flexible, accessible learning pathways for students and forging significant organisational change during the merger of two schools.
We asked Stephanie to tell us a bit more about her teaching practice and some of her key strategies for leading change in a complex learning and teaching environment.
What motivates and inspires you in your teaching?
The opportunity to invite and provoke new ways of thinking critically and creatively among students, to guide and develop confidence among them in working together and to share my knowledge and experience.
How have teaching practices in your discipline changed with the introduction of new technologies, and how has technology changed the way you interact and engage with your students?
New technologies have meant that students in my courses have more opportunity to pace themselves, rather than following a set weekly study pattern. They have more immediate access to ancillary resources via online library catalogues, media articles, reviews and other sources. The provision of a suite of set resources online suits busy people, but can limit cultivation of the important research skill of browsing, identifying and selecting material for an academic report or research paper. In some courses, my students have less inter-personal access to me or a tutor in a classroom situation and this can limit the kinds of nuanced, experiential, moment-to-moment learning dialogue that can flow dynamically within the space of an on-campus workshop. On the other hand, the students do have more control over when and how they participate interactively via Discussion Forums, Skype, blogs, email, etc, and this can lead to more individuated and considered, learning development. However I find this works best for post-graduate students rather than for young undergrads.
What are your key strategies for leading change in a complex learning and teaching environment?
To invite students to participate in driving their own learning in ways that best suit them, individually and as a group. In this sense, nothing has changed in my core teaching practice, but the modes of engagement have changed.
What have you learnt throughout your academic career about creating an engaging learning experience for students, and what have you learnt from experimenting with new approaches that didn’t quite work out?
Keep testing new ideas, change what I do as I go, week to week if necessary. Be willing to be flexible with assessment styles, especially as student profiles and needs change trimester to trimester.
Given it isn’t always easy to innovate within a learning and teaching context, what advice do you have for colleagues looking to try something new in their teaching?
Be willing to experiment and expect a mixed result, but consult students and support them through the learning process, and talk with other colleagues as much as you can. If you have the time to develop programming skills and use chunking for paced online learning, etc, that’s terrific. Also, keep in mind that commonly used programs such as PowerPoint can offer layered presentation and engagement strategies that are often overlooked.
What is something new you are looking forward to trying in your learning and teaching practice over the next year or so?
A new assessment strategy where students will explore a database of selected historical visual objects that speak to key contemporary ideas.
What advice do you have for educators looking to enhance their teaching practice?
Take the training opportunities offered by your institutions, read widely to gain ideas, but above all talk with students and colleagues about how to bring out a sense of the pleasure of learning and teaching in your field.