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Case study: Pedagogical Journal Club

The Pedagogical Journal Club (PJC) is a regular bi-monthly meeting where staff across all faculties meet to discuss an area of pedagogical interest informed by a small number of thought leading publications.

The key questions are:
How could the research be translated into improved learning and teaching in our own discipline?
Should the research inform our teaching practice or our departmental learning and teaching philosophy?

The meeting is participatory action-oriented with an emphasis on the implications for practice and understanding applicability in the differing departmental contexts. There is an emphasis on building a professional learning in a community, both for staff development and to positively impact student experience.

Department(s) / colleagues involved

Kate Mawson – Centre for Teacher Education
Graeme Knowles - Warwick Manufacturing Group

Our aim was to …

  • Facilitate debate and action on key and emerging educational issues to enhance the pedagogical professional development of colleagues
  • Empower colleagues to deliver changes in their own teaching and in departmental approaches and systems
  • Create a community of practice around rigorous pedagogical debate, scholarship and research
  • Connect good practice and robust research to allow colleagues to better demonstrate the rigour and effectiveness of pedagogical choices
  • Engage colleagues in inter-disciplinary discussions which illuminate the similarities and differences between disciplines creating enhanced opportunities for new insights and practices which enhance student experience
  • Promote pedagogic research both as an effective resource for innovation as well as an opportunity to disseminate the excellent practice already established at Warwick

What we did …

Aside from the willingly given time and energy of attendees, there were few resources required to support this activity – a room booking for 2 hours, 6 times a year, refreshments and some minor printing costs.

Time commitments were approx. 2 hours preparation and 2 hours attendance for all attendees and an additional 3 hours per meeting for the facilitator. Obviously over a year with an average of 8 to 10 attendees this is a significant amount of effort. Effective PD requires an investment of time.

The key thing was to create the discipline and supportive environment so that colleagues met regularly and were committed to take action. Part of this was to ensure that the topics and resources were closely linked to issues and aspirations for the group (which included crowd-sourcing the topics). Over the lifetime of the group, the subject matter has evolved and become more research and scholarship oriented as the participants became more interested in producing and in engaging in pedagogic research.

Papers were made available for download for a wider audience after the meetings and, where possible a digest of the discussion was created to add context.

The outcome has been …

A robust learning community has evolved around the PJC with colleagues continuing the dialogue outside of the meetings and developing their thinking through experimentation and review.

Members of the PJC are leading innovations in their departments which directly effects student experience and outcomes:

“ [the PJC] readings influenced policy making within dept., ideas from discussions informed my own teaching. Now in the process of establishing a pedagogic reading group within my own department.”

“I now run a blog after looking at blogging and I've been part of a team who won a grant to change the way the department assess large scale exams.”

“After the discussion of 'sustainable assessment' (following the article on that topic which we read at the club and which I later discussed with [dept.] colleagues) and the question of transferable / employability skills. We are intending to make those skills more transparent on our web pages and in our discussions with students.”

At a professional development level, eight members used their involvement with the PJC as evidence for HEA applications.

The benefit/impact has been …

At an individual level, there have been significant impacts on confidence, both in producing and consuming pedagogic research:

“It has provided an excellent chance to allow those of us who are not naturally 'comfortable' with the language and practice of educational psychology to gain some initial experience in a friendly, peer-supportive environment.”

“It has provided the means and incentive, via collaborations with colleagues in the PJC to engage with pedagogical journal-paper production.”

“It has allowed me to become more critical in considering my practice and provided a broader context, both from a theoretical perspective, and from the perspective of practice in other disciplines.”

““I have gained the confidence to submit a WIHEA project bid (now funded) and am investigating collaborations with Monash.”

“Gained confidence in engaging with pedagogic literature. Allowed me to discuss ideas with colleagues from other departments, giving me a wider but still Warwick-specific perspective.”


The PJC develops pedagogic excellence and creates and supports critical consumers of pedagogic literature:

“The PJC has allowed me to engage with my professional practice on a much deeper level; it has allowed me to go beyond 'what works' to consider the theoretical underpinnings and contrast with approaches taken in other disciplines. Insights from the literature and colleagues in the PJC have profoundly impacted both my practice, and my thinking.”

“I am more confident and also have evidence of engaging with research to do with teaching and learning and this has been valuable for my career progression.”

The PJC empowers members to act as professional development leads for their colleagues and it provides the support they need to push forward innovative teaching and learning in their departments:

“It has helped to widen my own perspective and try out new approaches. It has also given me access to the literature that helps support teaching approaches that I take and advice that I give to colleagues.”

This supports the Education Strategy by …

This project links most closely with the staff and excellence areas of the education strategy particularly:

1.2.3 Continuous Development of Teaching Excellence - Engage in continuous enhancement of teaching and learning through partnership with students and staff and informed by peers and teaching-related research.

The PJC specifically -

  • Provides academic and professional support services teams with the pedagogical, technical and organisational expertise necessary to review, enhance and innovate in teaching practice
  • Develops leadership capacity and succession planning in the support of teaching excellence across the University
  • Increases the number of National Teaching Fellows/HEA Fellowships

1.3.2 Student Experience Consistency - Demonstrate commitment to the provision of a consistent high-quality education experience for all students

The PJC explicitly exchanges good teaching practice across the disciplines and all levels of study and embraces academic and pedagogical differences between disciplines and departments.

2.1.1 Strong Disciplinary Identities and Excellence in Pedagogies - Develop and articulate research-informed and sector-leading disciplinary identities and ‘signature pedagogies’.

The PJC specifically empowers staff to communicate their sector leading pedagogies and produce this pedagogic research.

The response of students / staff has been …

This has been predominantly a staff development project but the PJC is an open group and students are welcome to attend. Staff highly rate the PJC
The PJC offers pedagogic research support and challenge which that feeds into department teaching and learning innovations and impacts upon both student experience and staff development. It is cross disciplinary whilst also respecting discipline specific needs, it is developmental and supportive and can be given as a specific example staff can provide when asked about their engagement with the scholarship of teaching and learning. It is “quite simply the best thing I’ve been involved in since becoming a member of staff at Warwick.”


Our next steps will be …

More of the same! We have some interesting new topics lined up for the 2018/19 academic year and hope to welcome new colleagues as well as established members. The PJC is now open to anyone at Warwick, you don’t have to be a WIHEA fellow.

We are also thinking of experimenting with the format, just a little, to see if we can further enhance the impact and just in the spirit of fun. We thought it might be interesting to pair up attendees from different faculties for pre-reading to try to further develop inter-faculty learning, and also maybe to start each session with comments from colleagues on what had happened with respect to their learning and plans from the last session.

We’ll also look to crowd-source ideas from the group.

To find out more, you can contact …

Kate Mawson (CTE) – k dot mawson at warwick dot ac dot uk
Graeme Knowles (WMG) - G dot Knowles at warwick dot ac dot uk

Or visit the Pedagogical Journal Club website

PJC Poster Presentation