Teaching: on the front line

September 10, 2004

What is your experience of teaching?

Name : Mark Griffiths

Age : 38

Job : Psychologist, professor of gambling studies.

Salary : £46,000

Qualifications : BSc psychology, Bradford University; PhD psychology, Exeter University; postgraduate diploma in higher education, Plymouth University.

I am also a chartered psychologist.

Background : I graduated at the age of 20 and did a PhD on slot-machine addiction. At 23, as I was just finishing my doctorate, I was appointed a lecturer in psychology at Plymouth. I did my teacher training in my second year, then moved to a senior lectureship at Nottingham Trent University in 1995. In 1998, I became a reader in psychology, and in 1999-2001 was head of psychology. In 2002, aged 35, I became Europe's first professor of gambling studies.

Hours spent teaching : On average, about eight a week, including lectures, tutorials and project supervision.

Hours on red tape : This varies considerably. Last year, I had to put together a new masters in psychology, was course leader for the psychology graduate diploma and foundation courses, and psychology research coordinator. This took far more time than I would have wanted.

Hours on research : About two and a half days a week, plus what I do outside work hours. Research is my main focus and I am lucky to have a great team, who work together as the International Gaming Research Unit. I publish in a number of diverse areas, though much of my work centres on addiction. Most people who know me think I am addicted to writing (or work generally!).

Teaching bugbear : The few students who are given very specific advice on how to tackle assignments and don't follow a single word you have said.

How do you solve it? It happens every year, and I try to make a joke of it in group teaching sessions.

Worst teaching moment : No isolated incidents, but as a naive 23-year-old I used to feel a little insecure teaching to groups aged in their 40s and 50s.

Best moment : A colleague and I run a module on gambling studies and we enjoy the casino field trips. It's great to see students apply what you have taught them to real settings, looking at casino design or the way slot machines are constructed.

Teaching tip : Be enthusiastic about what you teach (if you're not interested, why should your students be?) and try to learn students' names - the personal touch counts for a lot.

Outside interests : I'm a music obsessive. My house is taken up with thousands of CDs, records and music magazines. I like writing poetry and have had a fair bit published. I won a national poetry competition in 1997, which I was very proud of.

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