Friday, 25 October 2013

Research and teaching balance – what universities are all about

Financial considerations
Recently the government announced that there should be more teaching in universities and less research. Yet because of cuts in funding, universities have had to make redundancies and in order to deliver any sort of meaningful programme, staff have had to take on extra teaching, leaving little time for any research.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Some thoughts on the workshop

Final portfolio
This is a 40 credit two semester long module that is compulsory for our creative writing students. They work on their own writing and share it three times a semester with their own group. I have twelve in my group so four people submit each week. So far – we’re Week 4 – we’ve had at least three submissions a week with only one student failing to submit and only one student failing to turn up to get feedback.
Students email their work to me and each other 48 hours in advance of the class. So, we study four texts each week and get thirteen opinions on each. Even if someone is unavoidably absent form class they will email their comments, though of course then these remain unmoderated by myself.
A skill gap
The first couple of weeks went well. This last week, however, I felt I was doing all the work and the students were making little contribution. It may have been tiredness. I don’t think it was laziness. It was clear they had all read the texts. In fact one couple had got together during the week and looked at their texts together. I think it was more they didn’t know what to say. This course teaches them to edit and critique. At this point, however, they may need a little more guidance. Time to give them some more strategies. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

How research feeds into teaching

Students at university don’t follow a curriculum in the same way as they do in other forms of education.  They are learning about what their particular lecturers have found out in their research. Yes, of course, there is some crossover from institution to institution – some of the givens in any one area will be the same. But what each lecturer emphasizes and finds important will vary. And year on year, although modules will usually retain their titles, the content will be enriched and expanded. Research must feed into teaching.  What students learn must be informed by research.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

A Day in the Life – Friday 4 October 2013

The academic life

I’ve written a couple of blog posts about the life of writing academics recently – one for my writer’s blog, and one for a writing friend’s new web-site. In both of these I’ve talked about the flexibility of my post and how fortunate I feel to be being paid to do what I’d do even if I wasn’t paid. So, I thought it might be an idea to look closely at just one day.