Teaching excellence teaching practices

  • We are very pleased to showcase teaching practices from Brookes staff  who have recently been awarded Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2017.   

    Senior Fellow and Principal Fellow awards are an excellent opportunity to gain formal recognition for your achievements in teaching and in enhancing the student learning experience, combined with scholarship and academic leadership. 

    For further details on Fellowships click here

    If you would like to add your own teaching practice approach to these pages, please contact m.kitchener@brookes.ac.uk

  • Claire Martin

    Clare Martin, a  Principal Lecturer for Student Experience at the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment, has been committed to supporting students with diverse learning needs as well as promoting Computer Science to underrepresented groups.

    She has been involved in outreach work for many years that has also had the additional benefit of developing a strong community among the student population. For example, she has facilitated running masterclasses and summer schools, and getting Brookes students involved in events for schools like Lego League. These activities are designed to raise aspirations of young, pre-university students, but can also help students to gain vital communication skills when they engage as helpers as they do on her module. Furthermore, Clare, in response to the Government changes to Computer curriculum in 2012, introduced a new module called Communicating and Teaching Computer Science. This module was designed to support schools in providing specialist computing teaching and to provide Brookes students with an opportunity to put their new-found skills into practice whilst discovering a potential career. 

    Fostering a strong community has also underpins her role as Project Manager for the University Sustaining Mentoring Schemes project, which is part of the Programme to Enhance the Student Experience 2. Clare previously ran mentoring schemes, included one for female technology students, which included networking events such as a special trip to IBM Hursley.

    Lindsay Harrison


    For the past two years, Lindsey Harrison has been a senior lecturer in construction law in the School of the Built Environment.  She teaches the compulsory law modules on the surveying, construction and real estate courses at undergraduate and post graduate level. Lindsey additionally is a senior writer and examiner on the international solicitors’ qualifying exam – a qualification lawyers from other countries need to obtain before they can practise in this jurisdiction.  Her current position at Brookes involves her teaching Law to non-law students.

    She says the role has required a radical change in teaching and assessment styles moving from teaching law to law students and teaching law to non-law students. Many students regard the law modules on their courses at best as a necessary evil. It is not a subject they have actively chosen or one that emphasises their best skills.  To make the subject more accessible, Lindsey has overhauled all the law modules,  and none more radically than the Advanced Procurement and Dispute Resolution module  – mixing lectures and workshops to enable delivery and practice of real life legal problems and discussion of solutions.  

    This is a final year module which they study after returning from their year working in industry. She capitalises on the practical experience they have gained in the year by encouraging  them to bring real life problems they have encountered to class discussion and explore how various dispute methods could have been used to resolve them. By making such a direct link between the subject and practice the students are really well engaged and it makes the law less of an abstract concept for them.

    She also reviewed the assessment strategy to align it better with the aspects of dispute resolution the students would be expected to carry out in practice, that is to prepare disputes for trial and represent their company in the adjudication proceedings.  The classroom time is spent in practising these skills to prepare for the eventual assessment which is a mock trial, based on real life construction disputes.  The aim is for the students to play the advocate to gain a deep understanding of what the process entails and to demonstrate their mastery of preparing their arguments and persuasively delivering them ‘in court’ to Lindsey who plays the construction adjudicator.

    Her guiding principles have been to make sure teaching is relevant to students in all years and to remind them that they are taking qualifications that will one day lead to a professional qualification. She believes that it is important from the earliest sessions to show them what professional behaviour and judgment look like and to encourage them to adopt these practices for example, handing work in on time, punctuality, and expressing themselves in formal language whilst engaging in formal (courtroom) dialogue.

    Furthermore, the design for the new law assessment now involves the students performing tasks that they will be doing in future employment.  Lindsey says from the first session with her, they are expected to act as a qualified surveyor and engage is a professional way with the assessment task.  Feedback from the students has been very positive with many commenting on how they have really improved their presentation skills and confidence in speaking in such a formal setting.  By binding the classroom expectations with employability skills and the assessment method, the module has encouraged student confidence and engagement with tricky legal material as well as enabling them to hit the ground running in their eventual professional career. 

    Mary Briggs

    Mary Briggs, has introduced blogging as an assessment for student teachers on both the early years teacher and the 3-7 PGCE programmes.   Mary, a principal lecturer and programme lead in Early Years and Primary Initial teacher education at the School of education, explained, during her successful claim for Senior Fellowship, how she demonstrated the value of developing reflective practice through blogging.  Student teachers, out on placement in a variety of settings, now use blogs to explore and share their learning environments across the two cohorts.  Each of the blogs has a clear pedagogic focus and guidance for the students about what to focus their attention on during their time in the settings.  Fellow peers can then make comment on the blogs sharing their experiences in their settings with one another.  It has encouraged a supportive community of practice whilst the students are widely-distributed around nurseries and school settings in the community.  Mary said the feedback from the students was very positive and that it has helped students to develop a wider understanding of their role as teachers. They also liked to share ideas in different settings that they could try out in their own practice.  Furthermore, she said it had enabled her to challenge the students through asking questions on their blogs to encourage higher order thinking about their practice. 

    Did you know Moodle has a Blog function?  

    This activity allows practitioners to choose from module-wide blogs, group blogs or individual ones.  

    Assis Rosa

    Ricardo Assis Rosa, Senior Lecturer in Architecture: Design and Technology, demonstrates excellence in teaching practice with the development of peer supported learning environments. Through developing dynamic shared learning spaces across the Abercrombie design studios, cohorts of undergraduate and postgraduate students engage, collaborate and support problem-based projects. This is an excellent example of how pedagogy can be strengthened through peer to peer learning. These processes enhance the student experience through a strong student culture aligned to the philosophy of freedom, inclusion and diversity. This articulation further strengthens how learning and professional identity can be shaped and enhanced with peer support recognising that the majority of the learning happens between peers.  Peer learning encourages motivation, dialogue as well as setting professional behavioural examples and working ethics.  This learning environment promotes maturity and confidence sharpening the teacher-student relationship leading to authentic, transformative experiences.