Specific Changes to Teaching and Learning

Drawing on your study of the research informed literature on teaching & learning to provide a rationale & recommendations for specific changes to teaching & learning in a current or former school,university or work place.

Drawing on your study of the research informed literature on teaching and learning to provide a rationale and recommendations for specific changes to teaching and learning in a current or former school, university or work-place.  

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Key Elements?:

  • Literature teaching and learning
  • Rationale Recommendations for specific changes
  • You chose the setting

Possible Essay Plan Template


Set the scene and

Scope or map essay

Explain your context; school, University, work-place informal learning

You may wish to identify and possible area for improvement in teaching and learning in this context

One that could be informed by theory; you could see this as setting out a problem your exploration of the literature on teaching and learning would help you address.

The teaching and learning literature you will use

Introduce, the literature you will use and why selected; demonstrate knowledge and understanding

Engage with the literature evaluate and critique it; is it theoretically sound, does in work in practice, what are the evidence or empirical foundations within the literature. Make a considered judgement or argument.

Application to Practice

Would you accept, reject or adapt the theory and why?

How would you apply or adapt it and why?

Is more research needed, what might that look like? How would you like the ideas to be taken forward in future research?


Summarise your arguments and essay so far

Demonstrate how your discussion leads to recommendations or ideas you have to improve to teaching and learning practice?

Other things to Consider

The above is a rather mechanistic template, but one that could work for the essay, you may prefer to intergrate your consideration of literature with your evaluation and application to practice together rather than have separate sections.

You may want to use a variety of teaching and learning approaches for go deeper into just one area that interests you.  The assessors will not mind what choices you make but will be interested in your reasons and rational for doing so.

Make sure you essay plan enables you to meet the marking criteria, use the marking criteria as a guide.  Think about how much space is given to description, evaluation and engagement with the literature will enable you to score higher.

Think of the relationships between theory, practice and research evidence.  You can have a variety of combinations of strengths and weaknesses in each area.  Strong theory may not be supported by strong empirical evidence.  Research evidence may be  focused on a narrow practice context such as higher education or only schools; adults or children.  You might think the theory and evidence is good for situation ‘x’ but be less confident about ‘y’.  A lot of theory is very western in orientation; does it apply to different subjects in different cultures?  Would it work where you work and study? Is more research needed if so what kind of research?

Sometimes the assumption is theory or research should lead practice. 

Sometimes people argue that theory should flow from effective practice. We have aspirations for evidence based practice, research led practice. 

Some think this overstates research as being more important than the day to day  practice experience of teachers.

Some prefer the idea of research informed practice. It could be argued that practitioners best placed to make informed decisions about what would work for them in their context and why? However, is practice experience enough for teachers to adapt to completely new situations?   Would a teacher’s experience alone be enough to prepare them to meet the needs of an entirely new group of students, refugees for example, whose lives and experience are perhaps beyond the experience of practitioner? 

There are complex relationships between theory, research evidence and different practice situations that you should try and think about and explore, these provide a rich source of criticality for you as well as food for thought. 

To give you an example, we have a lot of military educators in our school.  Their teaching context is very specific, most of the educational literature and research is not about teaching in a military context.  These practitioners, teachers in the military, benefit from engaging with Educational literature and research but need to make difficult judgements as to the extent to which it can be applied or adapted to their context.  The key for me here is the reasons and rationale that you or these military educators provide for the judgements and recommendations made.  That usually involves consideration of issues of theory, evidence and practice context.

Mike Grenfell will explore these issues in week six. I just want to flag them here.  It can help you think about and frame  issues such as critical reflection and synthesis. 

Assignment length for this module is stipulated as a word limit. Your work will be over-length if you go even one word over the stipulated length of 4000 words (excluding your list of references).  Over-length work will be addressed by marking only that portion of work that falls within the word limit.  Your mark will be based on this portion of your work with the result that the mark will usually be lowered.  Please stay within the word limit, the last part of an essay is often the best.

The key requirement of this assignment is the rationale you provide to demonstrates how you integrated research evidence and theory with practice.

A good assignment will include the following elements:

  • Your analysis and evaluation of evidence should draw on recent developments in teaching and learning.
  • A critical discussion of theories of learning and their relationship to your recommendations for teaching including assessment. This will include a critical analysis of a range of a relevant literature sources (journals, books, policy documents).
  • A clear statement and explanation of the recommendations that you propose together with an explanation of the reasons why you think this change would be needed. This will include background and context-related information that demonstrates how you have reflected on your own experience.

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