Caroline Walker, Alan Gleaves, John Grey, University of Sunderland.


Teaching students purposefully and meaningfully in large groups at university is difficult enough. Trying to teach them to be careful and critical thinkers by engaging them with scholarly and complex subject matter and ideas from day one is even harder. The aim of this set of Teaching and Learning interventions is to force students to interact with others' ideas and work, but in a structured way, so that it builds on existing knowledge and skills, but raises aspirations and accelerates their abilities both to analyse ideas, and construct ones of their own.

In brief

These teaching and learning methods make use of a set of activities demanding the development and use of key intellectual attributes and skills from the very beginning of a student's period of study at university level. They are also structured in such a way that each method may be tailored for use at a different level of study, up to post-graduate level. The five methods and particular examples discussed in this article are:

  1. structured writing: using reverse engineering abstracts
  2. developing arguments: using critical questions
  3. article analysis: context, concrete and conjecture
  4. using research in teaching: current paper crit sessions
  5. a graphical guide to literature surveys