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Pedagogic Research in HE

Exploratory pedagogic inquiry – a useful approach in challenging times

As a Learning Circle, we have been focusing since 2020 on the development of an approach to pedagogic inquiry which teachers can adopt to make sense of and improve their current practice in a very immediate and practical way. Our latest iteration of this was in the second half of spring term 2022. Here's what two previous participants have said:

This turned out to be a most useful experience. It allowed us to focus on a current problem in a fast, effective and supported way, generating quick results. The method is very solid and the peer system means having a wonderful sounding board, which contributes to further questioning. The beauty of it is that it allows quick development and self-improvement!" (Dr Sandra Pereira, Senior Teaching Fellow, Warwick Business School)

In these difficult times it has been great to have an intellectual challenge to both provide a means to improve my teaching, refreshment and much needed interaction with other people! The focussed peer-coaching sessions and group discussion are a great combination as they have not only helped me with particular teaching problems but have given me the chance to learn from colleagues from across the whole university." (Professor Miriam Gifford, Head, School of Life Sciences)

The process initially requires the following commitment:

  • attend a series of four one-hour weekly sessions

  • engage in a one-hour dialogue with one colleague ('peer-coaching' as referred to in above quotes) at a mutually agreed time between the weekly sessions

The first weekly session is introductory, then before each subsequent group session participants 'peer-coach' a partner at a mutually convenient time according to a set of questions which are provided (alternatively, if a meeting cannot be arranged, this can be carried out in 'self-coaching' mode).

Although this seems to represent quite a significant time commitment, experience so far suggests that benefits can include:

  • gaining peer support and new perspectives from across the University
  • an enhanced understanding of teaching and learning issues
  • an increased appreciation of your own achievements
  • a better understanding of student perspectives
  • an increased appreciation of ethical issues in practitioner research
  • an improved ability to carry out practitioner research
  • an increased sense of being in control of your further pedagogic development
  • enhanced ability to coach others to engage in pedagogic inquiry
  • documentation of your practice which may be useful in promotion and fellowship applications

We currently have three working groups exploring different aspects of the approach - one group is writing up their experiences for submission to a journal, another group is considering the ethics of small-scale pedagogic inquiry, and a third group is considering how to disseminate the approach within the university.

John Kirkman and Richard Smith

Meeting overviews

Current members of this Learning Circle:

  • David Bather Woods
  • Kogi Balakrishnan
  • Catherine Bennett
  • Deborah Biggerstaff
  • Zhiqiong Chen
  • Miriam Gifford
  • Zhiyan Guo
  • John Kirkman (co-lead)
  • Debbi Marais
  • Celine Martin
  • Ines Molinaro
  • Helen Nolan
  • Nancy Olson
  • Martyn Parker
  • Sandra Pereira
  • Cathy Hampton
  • Richard Smith (co-lead)
  • Elke Thonnes
  • Leticia Villamediana Gonzalez

Other participants:

  • Komila Tangirova
  • Clytie Tian