Higher Education Workshops
The Education and Teaching Theme supports a number of informal workshops and symposia throughout the year. The aim of these events is to promote the sharing of best practice in all aspects of teaching, learning and assessment: from laboratory and project-based work, to lectures and small group tutorials.
Feedback from the workshops to The Society’s Committees is a key factor in influencing Society policy and identifying future activities and initiatives.
The most recent workshop was held on January 15 2016 at The Society's offices in Hodgkin Huxley House. We are currently collecting presentations from the speakers; these can be accessed using the link above.
With decreasing resource, there has been a gradual decline in the practical content of physiology programmes, with traditional laboratory sessions either being abolished or replaced with virtual laboratories. Are traditional practicals still fit for purpose? Should we be replacing them with virtual practicals or simulations, or adopting a blended learning approach, where virtual laboratories, undertaken either beforehand or afterwards, supplement and enhance the learning from a traditional laboratory practical? This symposium will showcase examples of good practice of these different approaches from multiple disciplines across the Life Sciences. Delegates had the opportunity to discuss, with colleagues, the pros and cons of individual approaches and their benefits (or otherwise) to student education and learning experiences.
Improving the status and valuation of teaching
The Physiological Society has previously investigated the issues related to the status and valuation of teaching in Higher Education (HE) (for example at Physiology 2011 and in a follow up survey in 2013). Indeed, much of our recent work has referred to a 2010 report published by the Academy of Medical Sciences ('Redressing the balance: the status and valuation of teaching in academic careers). Alongside the Academy, the Society of Biology and the Heads of University Biosciences (HUBS), The Physiological Society is revisiting the report to review any changes that have been implemented since the report was published.
As part of the work, the partner organisations hosted a workshop to discuss some of the possible obstacles that have prevented the implementation of the recommendations made in the 2010 report, and also case studies highlighting good practice. The workshop also explored the processes for evidencing and evaluating good teaching, and these discussions will inform The Society's future work in this area.
A report summarising these activities was published on 30 June 2014. It states that the world-class reputation of UK bioscience graduates is under threat if teaching continues to be undervalued in academic careers. It also calls for an urgent change in the teaching/research culture and points out both the challenges and opportunities for improvement. The report can be accessed below.
University of Dundee, 9 January 2014.
Hosted by Dr Graham Christie and Dr Gerhard May, both at the University of Dundee.
The workshop, entitled ‘Undergraduate lab skills, practical and project provision in the Life Sciences’, attracted around 30 attendees with a range of subject interests from HE institutions across the UK participated in the workshop.
The morning presentation sessions were dedicated to the provision of final year honours projects, and in particular alternatives to the traditional laboratory-based projects. During the afternoon, delegates discussed lab skills, how they are taught, and what skills and attributes employers are looking for in Life Science graduates.
A full report can be downloaded below.
This workshop has received additional sponsorship from the Biochemical Society.
Additional workshops and reports
- University of Dundee, January 2014
- Queen's University, Belfast, January 2013
- Physiology 2012, Edinburgh University
- Birmingham University, 2011, Feedforward and Feedback in Physiology Teaching
- Bristol University, 2011, Using Assessment to Engage Students & Enhance their Learning
- Physiology 2011, Oxford University
- The University of Leeds, 2011
- The University of Manchester, 2010
- King’s College London, 2007