• Introductory workshops

    Researching assessment

    Graham Gibbs

    This workshop will introduce participants to how to conduct research designed to understand assessment systems and their impact on student learning. It will describe a wide range of studies, many conducted by teachers rather than researchers, in order to illustrate different kinds of research question, different research designs and different methodologies. It will provide copies of several research tools and explain their use and interpretation. The workshop is based on successful workshops run by the Formative Assessment in Science Teaching (FAST) project that were intended to support those involved to design small scale studies of the impact of innovations in assessment.

    The workshop is designed for teachers and educational developers intending to go beyond pragmatic evaluation towards publishable pedagogic research, rather than for experienced researchers.

    Conceptual issues in teaching and learning 

    David Gosling

    Each year ISL invites proposals for ‘conceptual papers’. Next year’s conference will be entitled ‘Improving Student Learning through Teaching’. So what are conceptual issues in teaching? And what are the characteristics of a good ‘conceptual paper’?

    This collaborative workshop will engage participants in a dialogue about some possible answers to these questions. It will be particularly useful for anyone who is considering submitting a proposal for a ‘conceptual paper’ to ISL, but it will be of more general interest for anyone interested in exploring key concepts in the discourse of higher education - concepts such as ‘improving’, ‘developing’, ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’ - and considering the implicit goals of these activities.

    Background to the territory - how can the research literature inform our assessment practice?

    Chris Rust

    This interactive session will attempt to summarise what the research literature says about the impact of assessment on student learning. It will further consider the practical implications, in particular with regard to the development of appropriate assessment strategies, at both micro (module or unit) and macro (programme/department/institution) levels.

    Researching university teaching

    Keith Trigwell

    Teaching is a multi-dimensional activity that is inseparable from learning and the wider contexts of teaching, learning and administration. While the scope for research is vast, the field is still largely unresearched in ways that meaningfully contribute to our understanding of it. This seminar begins by touching on the issue of what is meant by pedagogic research. It then describes a model that illustrates the scope of the research field. The model is derived from the scholarship of teaching research (Trigwell and Shale, 2004) and is based on the 3P model of Dunkin and Biddle (1974). The focus of the seminar then shifts to a more detailed (case study) analysis of research in one area of the model that is approached using qualitative and quantitative methods: A study of how approaches to teaching vary with disciplinary differences. During the seminar there will be an opportunity to explore possible areas of research and to discuss them with the group. In the case study there will be a chance to work with the data on approaches to teaching.


    • Dunkin, M.J. and Biddle, B.J. (1974) The Study of Teaching.  New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
    • Trigwell, K. and Shale, S. (2004) Student learning and the scholarship of university teaching. Studies in Higher Education, 29, 523-536.