On 23rd of August, the JPPP team ran a hybrid workshop for the Journal of PGR Pedagogic Practice (JPPP) that took place at our brand-new Faculty of Arts (FAB) building, University of Warwick. We were delighted to have representatives not only from University of Warwick, but also from University of Bristol and Kings College London.
When we got involved in the Warwick PTC, we knew we wanted to build on the success of the first issue of the journal, which was released in 2021, bearing the theme ‘Postgraduate pandemic pedagogies’. One of our innovations this year has been to put on this workshop, to bring together our authors, and to provide a space to talk about postgraduate pedagogic issues, as well as to write about them in the journal. The second issue of the JPPP is themed ‘Virtual, physical, or somewhere in between: postgraduate pedagogies in the wake of the pandemic’, and we were impressed with the interesting submissions from authors, exploring subjects from technology enhanced teaching and learning to the challenges of teaching online, and from classroom experiences to teacher identities.
During the workshop, we had 3 sessions where the authors had the chance to share their short presentations to introduce their articles. This formed the background to the afternoon sessions that were broken into two themes, namely Technology Enhanced Learning, and GTA Identities. These breakout sessions gave the authors an opportunity to have insightful and in-depth discussions with their other peers who have similar interests with regard to their articles. In our final session, we had more informal discussions and the authors also had the opportunity to chat with the editors about questions related to their articles and also the journal.
The workshop was success and was enjoyable for us for several reasons. Firstly, it’s always a pleasure post-pandemic to get together in person, and we were happy to be able to facilitate a hybrid workshop to allow those authors based further afield to join us. As editors, it's really useful for us to hear from the authors to get a sense of what the issue will look like before we get our hands on their finished articles. And as GTAs, it's been fascinating to learn about other GTAs and PGRs who teach using varied approaches and innovative ideas across their disciplines.
A range of important issues were raised throughout the day - the liminal identity of GTAs as sitting between staff member and student has been much discussed, both as a challenge, but also an opportunity to bridge the gap with students. This positions the GTA identity as distinct from other teachers, but the things we learn through our experiences as GTAs can readily be applied to other contexts. We’ve also spoken about the value of thinking about this unique position of GTAs for our own teaching purposes and self-reflection, as well as interrogating how students see us.
Reflections on technology and its impact on learning have also given us lots to think about, particularly in the post pandemic context. We heard about some of the work being done to improve existing technology used in teaching, but also how we might build technology into teaching to engage students in new ways.
What really came out of the workshop was how much GTAs care, and how much GTAs are doing, to build towards a positive experience for those we teach. Throughout the workshop everybody acknowledged or were at least aware of the unique challenges of and issues with being a GTA, but many of our speakers turned this around to focus on the positives and the unique opportunities we have to engage with students and try out new methods. We think this also speaks to the resilience and enthusiasm of GTAs which is so important in our teaching.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Sara Hattersley for supporting the JPPP and making this workshop possible. We’d also like to thank Pierre Botcherby for representing the PTC and joining in the discussions, and not to forget everybody who has joined us, in person and online to make this workshop a success. We are really looking forward to receiving the authors' final pieces and reading them!JPPP team - Imogen Knox, Sophie Pain, and Shakira Abd Rahman