Dr Sam Nolan has occupied a number of roles at Durham University. His focus has grown from personal innovation in teaching and support of his own students, to supporting students and staff more broadly across the university. He has become increasingly interested in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), and actively publishes and supports others to share best practice within their disciplines.
An early example was the development of new virtual approaches to practical science, which has supported first-year undergraduates as they enter the physics laboratory for the first time. This work led not only to great engagement with laboratory learning, but also to further collaborative projects and the chance to disseminate both nationally and internationally.
Impact of work
Within his own classes he has developed new approaches to skills development for science Foundation students, greatly enhancing engagement. Beyond this he has developed an online pre-arrival course for all new Durham undergraduates, designed by students for students, addressing common issues and developing study skills for students making the transition into Higher Education. The project trials have been exceptionally successful and this work is now being developed at other universities. Alongside this he has developed a national network of Teaching Focused Academics, giving those employed primarily for teaching in higher education a chance to share scholarly activity across disciplinary boundaries and develop a national voice.
Plans for the future
He is currently developing a new online pre-arrival course to address the needs of Durham’s postgraduate taught students as they make the transition to Postgraduate study. His approach is to work with students as partners to add authentic voice and credibility to the work. Actively sharing results and outcomes from this, the UG programme and his work in supporting the development of SoTL within the context of a research-intensive university via dissemination at national (and international) conferences.
Assistant Director Centre for Academic, Research and Organisation Development, Honorary Fellow School of Education