Revamping A Module? Six Ways To Freshen Up Your Teaching

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Whether you have a module revalidation coming up or simply feel that the content of a module you deliver seems a bit tired, there’s always scope for improvement. This article will present six ideas for updating and adding a bit of zip to an existing module. These all work as standalone tactics or may be combined.

1: Get back to basics.

Write your learning outcomes down on a blank piece of paper and think: what are the best ways to ensure that students achieve these? Which activities and lessons have really worked to help then reach the goals set for the module? Retain only these, and design additional new activities or session plans.

2: See what new technology is available.

Does your university have a teaching and learning support office? Stop by and ask what they can suggest about making more out of the ICT and other resources available to you. You may be able to change how you present information to encourage greater student engagement and depth of understanding.

3: Take another look at feedback.

We all collect it, but unless it uncovers serious problems student feedback is usually summarised, attached to annual reports, and forgotten. However, there may be some clues within previous years’ feedback that you can use. Do students mention any specific sessions or teaching styles as favourites or unfathomable? If so, that's your cue to do more or less in these specific areas.

4: Form a focus group.

Think of who your most engaged and successful students were on the module last year, and see if you can bring them into your office for a focused, short group chat about their experience. Why did they do well, when perhaps other students did not? What have they heard from less successful learners that could help you revitalise the module?

5: Look for new examples in new formats.

Every lecturer develops a store of stories and examples that they use to illustrate their lectures, whether these are derived from research, from the literature in your field, or from personal experience in industry. Every few years it’s important to replenish that store by reading the latest research articles and seeing or talking to people about new forms of practice or technical innovations. Alternatively, you might present old examples in new ways: for example, using video clips or animations.

6: Make sure your module is doing its job.

If your module is required or suggested for students progressing on to others, make sure you speak with lecturers who deliver that higher-level content. Do they feel certain that students come prepared with the right knowledge and skills for their next step? Are there areas where you may need to change the way material is presented to ensure that this is the case?

Sometimes there are also changes in the field itself that may need to be reflected by revising learning objectives and content. You may wish to put this task off until you are required to revalidate your module, but knowing that there is a need for revision gives you time to plan such major changes carefully. 

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