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Dai Hounsell

Teaching-learning environments in an era of mass higher education

University of Edinburgh

This keynote reviews findings from a large-scale, four-year project which is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council and brings together researchers from Edinburgh, Durham and Coventry Universities. The project is concerned with undergraduate courses as ‘teaching-learning environments’ - i.e. taking account of a wide array of influences on the quality of students’ learning - in four subject areas: Bioscience, Economics, Electronic Engineering and History.

In investigating teaching-learning environments, the project has drawn on John Biggs’ influential model of constructive alignment, and the keynote will explore how this model has been deployed and adapted for use within contemporary UK course settings. Key findings include: the challenge of aligning a course unit to students in ways which engage constructively with their diversity of aspiration as well as the range of their prior educational experiences; the potentially powerful role of intrinsic as well as extrinsic feedback in sustaining high-quality learning; and the neglected dimension of course management in settings where course teams may be large and disparate.

Dai Hounsell is Professor of Higher Education at the University of Edinburgh, where he was founding director of the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Centre and is currently head of the Enhancing Teaching-Learning Environments in Undergraduate Courses Project [http://www.ed.ac.uk/etl]. He is a long-standing member of HERDSA, and was until recently Coordinating Editor for teaching and learning of the international journal Higher Education. His many publications include The Experience of Learning, Reviewing Your Teaching, and various studies of student and staff conceptions and experiences of assignments and assessment-for-learning.