What we can Learn from Learning & Teaching
One of the biggest challenges that academics have to deal with is the split between research and learning & teaching. While much lip-service is paid to recognising and encouraging cross-over between these two areas of activity, the practice is often one of division and satisficing, usually to the detriment of learning & teaching which is somehow lesser in value. This panel seeks to confront such orthodoxies, both through its content and its presentation. The starting for each of the papers is that there is a rich seam of theory, practice and delivery in learning & teaching that can offer much to the benefit of research, just as there are insights to be taken the other way too. One key area the panel will explore is innovation in the delivery of conference panels: presenters will open with a three-minute pitch, followed by electronic voting from the audience on whether they should be allowed more time: in so doing, the panel demonstrates the centrality of engagement and connection with user groups in both pedagogic and research settings.
Presentations of the Symposium
“But I thought politics was boring”: Pupil Perceptions of the Value of using Simulations in a University Social Science Outreach Programme
The pedagogical benefit of active learning environments such as simulations within University teaching is widely recognised and there is a burgeoning literature on their impact (Schnurr, 2014; Raymond & Usherwood, 2013). Much of the empirical evidence to date has mobilised quantitative data drawn, for example, from likert scale questionnaire responses. There remains an absence of qualitative studies that explore the in-depth views of participants involved in simulation activities and this article goes some way to filling that void. The paper uses an expanded data set comprising responses to open-ended questions gathered via a pre- and post-simulation questionnaire completed by participants at five secondary school-based simulations undertaken in 2017 and 2018 in collaboration with UACES on the topic of the Brexit negotiations over the freedom of movement. It builds on earlier work that demonstrated that simulations can be an effective University outreach and recruitment tool to widen participation in and raise aspirations towards entering higher education (Heard-Lauréote, Bortun & Kreuschitz) by analysing the experience of approximately 100 secondary school participants who undertook the simulations. By exploring the educational value of simulations as perceived by participants, the article provides a snapshot of the pedagogical impact of this type of activity to the benefit of those devising such activities for delivery in the future.
Students as Researcher: Making Sense of Brexit
Just as fast-moving subjects cause difficulties for teachers, so too do they for researchers: the pace of events far outstrips the institutional calendar or the peer-review publication process. However, students can provide a very useful research resource in such cases. The paper illustrates this through the author’s experiences around the Brexit process, where students were given a range of different activities in their classes to explore and analyse key events in a way that could then be fed back into the research process. This included: simulations of major decision-making moments ahead of time, to consider the balance of interests and objectives; briefing notes to capture actors’ preferences, and; rapid document analysis of real-world agreements, sharing the load and providing improving reliability of coding. The output from this activity benefits students directly in their substantive knowledge acquisition and their practical skills, as well as providing triangulation for the author in his research work, in which students are credited appropriately. In so doing, the value of treating research and learning & teaching as an integrated whole is underlined, offering a model that carries across a wide range of settings.
The Interaction between Research and Learning & Teaching in Curriculum Design
Curriculum design is the backbone of a programme and the framework within which all teaching takes place. Surprisingly, however, little research within the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning considers curriculum design. In a new project, we explore three key themes related to curriculum design: (1) the teaching of research skills, practical experience and employability skills; (2) the degree of interdisciplinarity; and (3) the flexibility and coherence of the programme, for instance through electives and study tracks. Through a meta-study of undergraduate programmes offered by member institutions of the most relevant scientific associations (APSA, ECPR, ISA and UACES), we take stock of the ways in which programmes are set up in the broad fields of European Studies, Political Science, and International Relations.
Our paper for the UACES conference introduces the design of the overarching project and presents a first draft of the aspired coding scheme. The latter is based on a pilot study of 15 programmes in different European countries (plus the US). For the purpose of this panel, we particularly look at how research practice is incorporated in the teaching of European Studies, International Relations and Politics, through questions such as: 1) How are research skills integrated in curricula? Are they taught in stand-alone courses, integrated in content courses or something in between? And 2) how do assessment methods replicate research practice? Are students asked to regurgitate knowledge, are they asked to apply knowledge or something in between? Initial results and ideas are presented with the aim of further refining the design and codebook.
Keeping Up With Brexit: Teaching The European Union To The Volatile Backdrop Of The UK's Withdrawal
Teaching European Studies has long been an exercise in teaching crises - from the 'No' votes to the Constitutional Treaty in the mid-2000s, to the later Eurozone crisis and the ongoing refugee crisis - and in discussing how the EU is, or is not, addressing them. This paper asks if Brexit is yet another crisis to incorporate into our teaching, or whether it will redefine how European Studies is taught more profoundly. It explores challenges and opportunities for teaching – and the discipline – arising from the volatile environment created by Brexit and on-going negotiations.
To address these issues, the paper uses two types of data: an online questionnaire circulated over the summer of 2017 to capture immediate reactions and opinions within the European Studies communities and follow-up interviews with teachers and textbook editors in European Studies to discuss Brexit impacts on curriculum, methods, student engagement, issues of teachers’ neutrality and the broader discipline.