Subject specifics

August 18, 2000

We strongly agree that induction courses for new staff should consider the disciplines that they teach and that the new subject centres could support this process ("Coordinated vision", THES, August 4). In our different roles, we have indicated how this can be achieved.

The Institute for Learning and Teaching requirements for accrediting courses for new staff state that participants should learn appropriate methods for teaching and learning in the subject area ... (and) models of how students learn in their subject (emphasis added). ILT accreditors should ask hard questions to ensure such courses deliver this.

At Oxford Brookes, the course requires an action-research project on the teaching of the subject for staff to reflect on their "experience of teaching that discipline". This could become a national requirement. But, as Pol O'Dochartaigh argues in the article, such institutional initiatives need also to be supported nationally by the subject centres.

The subject centre for geography, earth and environmental sciences recently ran a national residential workshop for new staff that addressed concerns, such as fieldwork and laboratory teaching. This is a model other subject centres might consider, as well as a discipline-based element for continuing professional development.

Helen King Manager, National subject centre for geography, earth and environmental sciences, University of Plymouth Alan Jenkins Course leader, ILT-accredited course Oxford Brookes

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