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A tradition of innovation - learning and teaching at York

Posted on 7 May 2013

Academics meet this week for a conference focusing on distinctive teaching methods at the University of York.

The theme of the conference, organised by the University’s Learning and Teaching Forum, is 'Working together: collaboration and co-operation in learning and teaching’.  To mark the University’s 50th Anniversary, the conference will reflect on York’s tradition of innovation and excellence in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

Professor Stuart Bell, the founding head in 2007 of the York Law School, will deliver the keynote speech. Professor Bell was instrumental in the successful launch of the School’s innovative Problem Based Learning (PBL) curriculum and he will address the nature of PBL both as a delivery tool and in underpinning key values such as collaboration in learning and teaching.  The use of PBL in the York Law School follows its success in the Hull-York Medical School (HYMS).

Exploration of this innovative approach to learning and teaching is at the heart of York’s ethos of staff and students working in groups to achieve shared goals.  Other examples of early innovation at York include the “pioneering requirement that undergraduate History students write their dissertations on original sources” and the tradition of research-led teaching.

A recent staff survey identified small group learning as a core value of learning and teaching at York, reflected in independent learning reported back via seminars and tutorials, and resulting in interaction between staff and students that encourages openness and free/critical thinking. A dedicated workshop at the conference will look forward to York’s Learning and Teaching Strategy for the next 50 years by exploring its core values of learning and teaching.

Chair of the Learning and Teaching Forum, Dr Sam Hellmuth, of York’s Department of Language and Linguistic Science, says: “York continues to champion, as it always has, vibrant small group learning, effective staff-student interaction and challenging research-led content. All this is made possible by staff enthusiasm about their subject, a shared love of learning new things and attention to the students’ needs.

“I am thrilled that we can demonstrate York’s ongoing ability to pioneer in learning and teaching by having a ‘home-grown’ keynote speaker at our Annual Learning and Teaching Conference in this our 50th anniversary year.”

What our alumni say about teaching at York:

“York taught me independence of thought, which gave me an enthusiasm for research […] The focus on seminars rather than lectures meant that we all worked a lot harder as we couldn't just sit back and listen.” (Emma, History/History of Art 1994)

“York allows you to be independent and work at your own pace, which really helps when you start doing your own projects in a work environment. The Environmental Science course at York is really applied, dealing with current topics and issues - definitely one of the biggest benefits of the course” (Carmel, Environmental Science 2008)

Notes to editors:

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153

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