Latest headlines

symposium teaching assessment

How a symposium can be used to assess students’ work

Judith Hillmore heard Dr Suzanne Ruddy, UCL Molecular Biosciences, tell attendees at the UCL Teaching and Learning Conference 2014 how her students take part in a realistic symposium as part of their assessed work. More...

Published: Apr 11, 2014 2:34:19 PM

Tutorial teaching

Students prefer tutorial-based teaching, a new study shows

Clare Goudy reports on a study into student attitudes to small-group teaching, presented at the UCL Teaching and Learning Conference 2014 More...

Published: Apr 11, 2014 1:58:19 PM

Beatrice Lok personal tutor study

What do students want from their personal tutors?

Abbie Willett, Beatrice Lok and Dr Paul Walker, CALT, revealed the top five most valued aspects of personal tutoring to attendees at the UCL Teaching and Learning Conference 2014  More...

Published: Apr 11, 2014 1:33:39 PM

off-campus project work teaching learning conference

Going off-campus: help create a new framework for student project work

Dr Jamie Harle, Medical Physics and Bioengineering, told the UCL Teaching and Learning Conference 2014 about a new framework for student and external supervisor engagement in off-campus work. Mark Copestake reports More...

Published: Apr 11, 2014 10:20:35 AM

Providing graphics skills through distance learning

Open-source GIS

The Bartlett is providing postgrads with vital graphics skills before they arrive at UCL via the Urban Skills Portal.

Read more »

Effective teaching videos

'Frame yourself': an illustration by Mike Howarth

A selection of tips to help create professional-looking, powerful videos that complement face-to-face teaching.

Read more »

Gain teaching qualification

UCL Arena logo teaching learning


Formal recognition for HE teaching is available through the UCL Arena scheme. 

Read more »


Harnessing the intellectual power of our students

22 August 2013

Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education), reflects on the common theme of peer-assisted learning at this year's Provost's Teaching Awards.

Professor Anthony Smith, UCL's Vice-Provost (Education)

Last month saw the announcement of the recipients of the 2013 Provost’s Teaching Awards. This is UCL’s annual recognition and celebration of the very best in teaching and learning. Excellence is taken as a given and the Awards Panel is seeking truly outstanding contributions measured against the criteria of impact, innovation and transferability. Over the coming months, the work of all this year’s winners will be showcased on the Teaching and Learning Portal, but in advance of that I wanted to draw out a few themes I saw amongst the nominations. The most striking one was just how many colleagues across UCL are harnessing the intellectual power of our outstanding students to help their learning.

In the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering, Dr Adrien Desjardins has developed a new approach to coursework where students develop and critique e-learning videos. In the first phase, the students develop a video addressing a particular question. In the so-called revision phase, student peers review the videos and make changes. Dr Desjardins proposes that this approach can give important insights into how students learn. For example, when one video undergoes multiple iterations by several students, the differences in the resulting videos will reflect differences in the ways that students understand the information presented by the lecturer.

In the Centre for Virology, Dr Richard Milne has asked the question ‘How do students go about writing a coursework essay?’ His eureka moment came when he was finalising a research manuscript for submission and was struck by the number of versions it had been through (mostly for the better) and wondered whether students did anything similar. He asked them and they said they didn’t. His new approach was to require students to submit their essay in draft format, following which he paired them off randomly to review and annotate each other’s work. Early worries about students not wanting to participate, stealing ideas or badly mismatched pairs were unfounded and his evaluation over three years has seen a highly significant improvement in marks awarded.

Dr Marcos Martinon-Torres in the UCL Institute of Archaeology is also adopting a peer-learning approach. He believes we can often find ourselves focusing too much on students’ weaknesses rather than building on their strengths. So, for example, in his MA in Artefact Studies programme he has introduced an online discussion forum in advance of the weekly seminars. The exchange begins with a controversial question that pertains to the recommended reading. Small groups take turns to moderate the online discussion and everyone participates. The weekly seminar is then based on the issues raised in the discussion forum.

These three examples from amongst this year’s Provost’s Teaching Award-winners highlight some of the opportunities for more peer-supported approaches to learning. Don’t overlook the intellectual power of your students!

Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education)

Further information

Page last modified on 22 aug 13 11:03


Tell us about the inspiring teaching and learning taking place in your department: email teaching.learning@ucl.ac.uk

UCL

None