Three tips for embracing modern educational thinking

It’s never too late to reinvigorate your approach to education, says Dr Jennifer Farrar, programme leader, online MSc education at the University of Glasgow

It was Socrates who called education the kindling of a flame, rather than the filling of a vessel. As educators, we strive to ignite that flame in our students, but how often do we consider our own enthusiasm for learning?

Viewing your professional development as complete risks missing out on fresh perspectives that can elevate your working approach, your career and your students’ attainment.

As the Teacher Development Trust (TDT) outlines in its international review of effective professional development for teachers, “professional development opportunities that are carefully designed and have a strong focus on pupil outcomes have a significant impact on student achievement”.

Whatever your area of responsibility in the education sector – in a classroom or behind the scenes – it pays to be receptive to contemporary concepts, debates and discourses. Here are three ways to embrace more forward-thinking pedagogy in your role.

Introduce project-based learning to the curriculum

New ideas can take hold on a much deeper level when they’re developed over an extended period. That’s the philosophy at the heart of Project Based Learning (PBL), a teaching method that sees students explore and respond to a complex real-world problem or question over several weeks before presenting their ideas to the rest of the class.

A PBL teaching approach uses the project as the means of instilling the skills and knowledge students need to gain, as they work together to dissect the challenge at hand and devise a solution to it. PBL gives students more autonomy over their learning, while teachers shape project progression by aligning it to standards, encouraging critical thinking and managing activities.

Incorporating PBL into your curriculum can help boost learning retention and social awareness, as well as building valuable success skills students will need in later life.

Improve engagement and behaviour through gamification  

Children love to play and adults are known to respond to game-based learning, so it makes sense to use elements of recreation to facilitate teaching. Drawing on the challenge, teamwork and competitive buzz of gameplay can absorb students of all ages in a task whole-heartedly, capturing their imagination and deepening their understanding of a topic.

The value of gamification extends beyond that of a teaching tool though; it can also be used to help students develop the non-cognitive or ‘soft’ skills they’ll need in their working and personal lives, such as cooperation, communication and perseverance.

As global partnership World Bank states, “the benefits to individuals and society of including non-cognitive skills are increasingly clear […] and some of the most cost-effective interventions for building these skills begin at the earliest point in the lifecycle”.

Awarding points for good behaviour so that students can access the ‘next level’ of privileges and deducting ‘health’ points for negative actions not only creates a competitive gaming framework students are familiar with, it gives them a positive incentive to interact respectfully and constructively with their peers.

Explore the modern educational landscape with a Master of Science in education

As in any vocation, new educational trends will inevitably keep coming. Staying up-to-date with the latest thinking and pushing your professional potential isn’t easy alongside a demanding career, so how can you ensure you’re investing in your own development and that of your students?

The online Master of Science in Education offered by the University of Glasgow offers both teaching and non-teaching professionals an in-depth exploration of education, from emerging theories, concepts and research, to the policies, practices and politics of education today.

With core courses that cover subjects such as modern educational thinking, principles of research and education policy, the programme offers insightful perspectives on contemporary education and enables participants to amplify their understanding through online lectures, live seminars and interactive assignments.

Designed with a range of educational roles in mind, participants can also tailor their learning experience by choosing one of three specialised pathways – psychological and international perspectives in adult education, assessment and pedagogy, or inclusive and special education.

What’s more, as the programme is completely online, participants can gain these career-boosting skills when and wherever they like and with no interruption to their working life. The flexibility of online study means you can reap the benefits of learning with the Russell Group’s highest-ranked university for teaching.

If you’re looking to refresh your educational thinking, there’s no better way to refresh your passion for learning than with the online Master of Science in Education at the University of Glasgow.