- Postgraduate Award in Higher Education Teaching and Learning (submitted Dec 2013)
- Associate Fellow, Higher Education Academy (pending)
- Nominated, ‘WATE’ Warwick Award for Postgraduate Teaching Excellence 05/2013
- Higher Education Teaching Certificate, University of Warwick 03/2012
- Lecture: Public Mental Health: ‘Putting knowledge into Practice’ 02/2013
- Lecture: Postgraduate Skills: ‘Professional Project & Dissertation skills ’ 11/2009-2012
- Teaching assistant/seminar: ‘Epidemiology and Statistics’ 11/2009
- Teaching assistant/seminar: ‘Issues in Public Health’ 04/2012 - ongoing
- Teaching assistant/seminar: Public Health Screening 12/2012 - 2013
- Marking: Assessments of postgraduate dissertations & module assignments annually for Warwick Medical School 10/2011-ongoing
Public Health is multidisciplinary science. It fundamentally requires keen observational skills and the ability to think critically about the determinants and complex contexts of health at the population level. My goal for students is to understand that health is determined through social, political, psychological, biological and environmental mechanisms, to understand how and under what circumstances these mechanisms interact, and finally what course of action can be taken to characterise and address a given issue. Student learning requires confidence of the student and of the teacher. Students will enter the learning environment with different levels of confidence, different capacities to further develop that confidence, and different reasons why their confidence is what it is. It is my belief that students learn ‘best’ in different ways and have different approaches and styles to learning (e.g. deep, surface and strategic approaches; visual, auditory, kinaesthetic styles). These learning approaches and styles are related to and affected by a student’s confidence and it is this that the learning environment must accommodate.
I believe that a learning environment that can promote confidence is one where students feel comfortable to question themselves, their teacher, and their fellow students. Students must have opportunities for discourse, for personal reflection, and for space to practice ‘doing public health’. My role as a teacher of Public Health is to facilitate the development of these observational and critical thinking skills within this environment. I facilitate this process of learning through structuring a clear and manageable set of objectives and outcomes consistent with the learning session and assessment criteria. I aim to avoid prejudice and assumptions about the content I am teaching or my students and their ideas, and I encourage students to do the same. I manage conflict by staying calm and confident myself, understanding that while preparation helps, flexibility in how the learning outcomes are accomplished is just as important.
I reflect multiple approaches and styles to learning in my lesson plans by exposing students to a variety of forms of motivation and learning activities. In my teaching I include expected learning infrastructure like PowerPoint, slide hand-outs and lecturing, as well as less expected activities such as debates, role playing scenarios, and problem-based case studies. Drawing on open-space and problem-based learning concepts, I encourage the use of the learning space physically, such as using ‘line-ups’ , physical props to illustrate concepts, audio-visual material, or the creation and use of metaphor through narrative, performative or visual contexts. I think this not only challenges students as individual learners, but allows them to interact in groups which require dynamic and potentially problematic negotiation of team-working skills, something that is crucial for public health professionals. One example of this is a ‘Dragons Den’ exercise where students are given public health settings where they must identify an issue, find evidence to support a course of action, work in a team under pressurised time-scales, and present a coherent, evidence-based and feasible public health action plan to a set of ‘Dragons’ who critique the teams competing for the Dragon’s funding. The exercise allows the students to practice realistic challenges of public health in situ.
My approach and experiences teaching and learning reflect the practice of public health in the real-world. Learning in open, unknown spaces and the requirement of building an action plan that is both rational and supported by strong evidence is reflected in public health disciplines such as epidemiology, and operations such as health needs assessment. Problem-based learning reflects the process of characterising and defining a public health issue, identifying ways and means for solutions, group dynamics, and rationale supported decision-making. My teaching philosophy and methods therefore reflect the ideas, methods and practice of Public Health.