Reflecting on Teaching and Learning Principles

In Chapter 4 and at the start of each chapter in Reflective Teaching in Higher Education we have introduced teaching and learning principles from the Teaching and Learning Research Programme, funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the UK’s biggest-ever initiative in education research.

The idea of these principles is to help us to develop a language to talk about reflective teaching. You can see how this has been developed into a conceptual framework here:

The ten principles are outlined again below. As you consider each principle below, think about its application to your own work. Do all these principles apply to your teaching in some way? Are there any disciplinary differences or institutional differences that need to be taken into account? How might you use the principles as the basis for developing your expertise as a reflective teacher in higher education?

Effective higher education teaching and learning:

  1. demands consistent policy frameworks, with support for learning for diverse students as their main focus. Policies at government, system, institutional and organizational level need to recognize the fundamental importance of learning for individual, team, organizational, institutional, national and system success. Policies should be designed to create effective and equitable learning environments for all students to benefit socially and economically.
  2. depends on the research and learning of all those educators who teach and research to support the learning of others. The need for lecturers, teachers and trainers to learn through doing research to improve their knowledge, expertise and skills for teaching should be recognized and supported.
  3. recognizes the significance of informal learning to developing specific expertise. Learning with friends, families, peer groups and professionals should be recognized as significant, and be valued and used in formal processes in higher education.
  4. fosters both individual and social processes and outcomes. Students should be encouraged to build relationships and communication with others to assist the mutual construction of knowledge and enhance the achievements of individuals and groups. Consulting or collaborating with students as learners about their learning makes this effective.
  5. promotes the active engagement of the student as learner. The main aim of higher learning should be learners’ independence and autonomy. This involves engaging students actively in their own learning, and ensuring that they acquire a repertoire of learning strategies and practices, develop positive learning dispositions, and build the confidence to become agents in their own learning.
  6. needs assessment to be congruent with learning. Assessment should be designed for maximum validity in terms of learning outcomes and learning processes, and also should be specific to the type of subject or discipline involved, even if it is interdisciplinary. It should help to advance learning as well as determine whether learning has occurred.