Dr Mike J Smith
I've just returned from two days at the London Scholarship of Teaching and Learning conference. Whilst I firmly believe in delivering module materials to enable students to learn better, and am interested in trialing new methodologies, I have never actually attended a teaching and learning conference before. So a new experience.
What was perhaps striking, and evident through an underlying tension, was that you get a mix of "educationalists" and "lecturers". I fall firmly in the latter camp and know little about educational theory. Whilst I am interested in "developing" my teaching, I don't have the time to devote to deeply research the educational underpinnings. The other tension was between those science and arts based subjects. Being science-based I am not familiar with the idea of "discourses" and find research and discussions based around them alien. This sounds like a negative comment on the whole event, but it isn't meant to be. Rather, it is one of those unique areas that brings together a whole variety of researchers from different backgrounds, nationalities and subjects. Whilst I personally would wish for a more "hands-on" discussion of teaching methodologies I am happy to participate in the current structure.
Whilst I picked up many useful tips over the course of the two days (Note: Katerina Baitinger gave a very interesting presentation on using humour in the classroom), perhaps the strongest message I brought away was don't do a Midgeley. That is, you may, with all good intentions, introduce something to the classroom that has unforseen adverse effects. The Midgeley Effect was introduced by Keith Trigwell (Oxford) whilst opening the conference (email him if you want to know more!), but was constantly referred to, in various guises, by other speakers. So beware!