Dr Kirsten Hardie, Arts University Bournemouth, will be delivering one of the keynote addresses at the HEA’s forthcoming conference: Inspire – sharing great practice in Arts and Humanities teaching and Learning, 3 and 4 March. Here, she talks about her keynote and the issues that she is passionate about in HE teaching and learning.
The HEA invited me to offer a blog entry and the following discussion is in response to the four questions that the HEA asked. I thank the HEA for this opportunity to consider and reflect upon learning and teaching and to share some thoughts…
Q1. What will you be speaking about at the Inspire conference in March?
The conference offers a rich theme… and significant food for thought. It potentially raises certain conundrums…but then again it creates a fabulous focus and the opportunity to explore ideas, examples and experiences that we can all learn from through the conference’s two days of activities.
My presentation will consider the questions: How do we inspire and share ‘great practice in Arts and Humanities teaching and learning’? How are we inspired in our pedagogic practice? How do/can we inspire learners?
I will explore what things can motivate, energize and make creative our learning and teaching. I will consider how inspired and inspirational pedagogy can be developed and how pedagogic practice can inspire learners… and indeed how learners can inspire teachers and teaching and learning.
I will refer to examples of inspirational learning and teaching, things and colleagues, that have provoked and developed my work and made passionate my commitment to learning and teaching. In particular, the presentation will consider a number of case studies, examples of particular pedagogical practice which I have developed over a number of years to support engaged learners and successful learning outcomes. Notably I focus on activities that have evolved to support and inspire learners who are visually orientated - visual thinkers that are makers who ‘learn by doing’. These experiential learning (Kolb 1984) activities are used to facilitate active learning -“active learning involves students in doing things and thinking about the things they are doing” (Bonwell). These examples are shared with colleagues and can potentially be used - adopted and adapted across a range of contexts. The presentation will be lavishly illustrated with things that can inspire…surprising things perhaps …
Q2. What issues in HE teaching and learning are you passionate about?
Ah, an interesting question.
I am passionate about working with learners. I am committed to active learning and student-centred learning activities. I love learning and teaching approaches and activities that facilitate rich learning experiences and successful outcomes for learners: learning and teaching that is collaborative, creative, challenging, fun, meaningful and memorable.
I love learning with and from others. I am passionate about learning more about excellence in learning and teaching; how it can be identified, achieved, recognised, sustained and developed. I aim to learn of, and from, the excellent pedagogic practice of others. This is important to the development of my work.
I am passionate about object-based learning (OBL) – the use of things (whether a contemporary breakfast cereal box or a plastic fork) as tools that can inform and inspire learning. I am intrigued how objects (the iconic and the mundane) can arrest learner’s attention, provoke their curiosity and invigorate their thinking and doing.
I am passionate about learning and teaching that can liberate learners from the traditional experiences and expectations of the lecture, seminar and tutorial. Creative, innovative learning and teaching is important.
Q3. As a lecturer how important do you think it is to look at teaching and learning issues through a disciplinary lens?
The art, design and media sector provides a rich and colourful context in which learning and teaching issues may be considered. The large spectrum of specialisms within the art, design and media sector offers a variety of pedagogic activities, experiences and perspectives. Within this dynamic community, with creative practitioners working within their own distinct specialisms, the opportunity to consider pedagogic practice and issues through a number of lenses is possible.
The consideration of learning and teaching issues through a discipline lens enables us to place, position and relate our practice to the issues. It enables staff to share in discussions within the context of a community that works and speaks in a similar way. Some issues may be particularly pertinent to the art, design and media community and to be able to discuss issues with colleagues within the discipline perhaps better enables us to gain a more focused, more meaningful consideration of issues.
To consider teaching and learning issues at art, design and media conferences, events and workshops and through participation in subject associations is particularly important I feel. The opportunity to work within wider groups offers many benefits.
Through the exploration of learning and teaching issues within my discipline and within the wider context of art, design and media, my passion for teaching and my love of learning is constantly fuelled. It is important to me however that my pedagogic practice goes beyond, and indeed challenges, the traditional approaches, assumptions and expectations of teaching in my discipline. Through research and work with different colleagues from a variety of different disciplines across the HE sector, my pedagogic practice is energised and developed. The opportunities to learn how other disciplines create, manage and develop learning experiences that support and inspire successful learning are invaluable. Through experiencing and exploring the pedagogic practice of many great colleagues from across the HE sector internationally – from a myriad of disciplines – I have been able to reflect upon and develop my own practice. I am regularly impressed and inspired by the work of creative teachers from very different disciplines.
Q4. What advice would you give to early career academics who want to develop their teaching and learning careers?
- Firstly I would say enjoy - the opportunity to work with learners is an honour.
- Learn with and from your students and colleagues. Develop your teaching by reflecting upon and using feedback (student evaluations and peer observations).
- Work with students as partners in learning and teaching.
- Be proactive, keep positive.
- Create your own opportunities to develop creative learning and teaching wherever possible – don’t be afraid to take risks, experiment or explore different or new approaches to learning and teaching. Think big – be adventurous – run with the hares on occasion.
- Surprise students in their learning; surpass learners’ expectations by creating innovative activities and learning experiences.
- Work with good colleagues that are committed to learning and teaching and are willing to discuss, explore and share their pedagogic experiences – successes and failures.
- Step out from the discipline on occasion to consider different experiences, viewpoints etc.
- Learn with and from others. Explore the pedagogic work of colleagues within and beyond your discipline – see colleagues in action if possible. Ask questions, listen, reflect, consider…
- Get involved in events, activities and organisations that talk teaching and learning and that focus on and support professional development including learning and teaching research and scholarship. Develop networking opportunities.
- Learn from key publications that offer valuable insight into pedagogic practice.
- Be aware of learning and teaching developments, issues, problems etc. – keep up to date with key issues wherever possible.
- Check out papers, presentations, projects and publications that offer discussion of pedagogic case studies and examples of successful learning and teaching practice – learn from others.
You can book a place at the HEA’s Arts and Humanities Inspire conference here.
Dr Hardie has also written a report for our Inspiring learning series, written by National Teaching Fellows. You can read her report here.