National Teaching Fellow 2009
Sharon Markless began teaching in Higher Education in 1990, joining King’s Learning Institute as a Lecturer in Higher Education in 2002.
In King’s College Sharon has developed a Post Graduate Diploma and Masters in Academic Practice that attract academics from different disciplines. As her ‘students’ are busy fellow academics Sharon has to ensure that the programmes are sufficiently interesting, enjoyable and developmental to keep people motivated and engaged over two to four years. She does this by basing her teaching on principles of joint learning and shared exploration. .Sharon and her ‘students’ problematise aspects of academic practice, share and construct meaning, and formulate concepts and models relevant to participants’ individual contexts. As one clinical lecturer commented “It’s how teaching should be done; a very grown-up approach for grown-ups”. Participants in the PG Diploma nominated Sharon for a College Teaching Excellence Award in 2007.
Sharon is convinced of the power of the ‘teacher as researcher’ as a means of developing pedagogic practice. She finds it particularly satisfying when scientists and clinicians realise that qualitative research can not only be used to develop teaching, but can also be rigorous and valid – and may even have some place in their own disciplines. A senior dental lecturer particularly appreciated “…expanding our professional development beyond the constraints of our own subject.” There is now a small but thriving multi-disciplinary group within King’s that contributes actively to the development of pedagogic practice through research.
Sharon is in demand on the national and international stage for her work on information literacy. She has developed a new framework to support information behaviour in the Web 2.0 environment. She works with teams of university librarians throughout the UK and Europe to enhance their support for student learning and research, as well as ways of helping non-traditional students cope more effectively with the demands of their university courses.
Sharon’s work is strongly collaborative because this enables her to share her assumptions, examine her prejudices and integrate new perspectives into her conceptual schema. This approach also supports professional renewal and helps Sharon maintain her “inspiring enthusiasm and intellectual engagement”.
Senior Lecturer in Higher Education
King's College London