I joined the French department in October 1999. Since then, I've tried to encourage innovative practice across the department, embedding e-learning techniques and resources wherever possible. I was part of the working group who put a joint language departments’ bid together for a TQEF project in 2006, devising the French element of the proposal, and I was the department’s co-ordinator of the project, which was specifically designed to test e-learning potential that could be rolled out across the university.
I believe that my enthusiasm for my subject encourages my students to get the most out of their learning experience. End of module questionnaires are always extremely positive about my teaching and my modules always recruit very well, despite them belonging to the 18th and 19th centuries, traditionally less attractive to students than ‘modern’ modules. They were designed to be research-led as far as possible since my experience with the Undergraduate research scholarship scheme in its inaugural year had allowed me to see how enthusiastically students react and how much more they get out of independent research projects than the more traditional written exams. A key resource for these independent projects is the University’s Marandet collection which has been digitised as a freely available resource to all.
In 2006-07 and 2007-08, a generous grant from the University's Education Innovation Fund enabled students to be involved in the process of selecting and digitally preserving plays from the period 1799-1815. Those who wished then had the opportunity of producing original research based on ‘their’ plays.
More information on the teaching project which was a collaborative undertaking with the Library can be found in Astbury, K. (2006) French Theatre of the First Empire: Enhancing Research-Based Learning. Warwick Interactions Journal 28. Accessed online at: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/ldc/resource/interactions/archive/issue28/abastbury
An assessment of the project has been published by John MacColl, European Director, RLG Programs, OCLC Programs & Research at St Andrews University Library on his blog under the heading A role for 'libraries of the future' in the UK: digitisation via research-based learning, posted 22 April 2008.
Marandet Matters is an online journal publishing original research by undergraduate students working on plays in the Marandet collection. The Journal can be consulted here:http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/french/marandet/matters/.
I am currently working on a project to create teaching resources based on the collection of French Revolutionary prints held at Waddesdon Manor (online images and database go live in 2012).
More about this and my current research can be found in an interview for TheFrenchMag in November 2011: http://www.thefrenchmag.com/Interview-with-Dr-Katherine-Astbury_a359.html