Dr Paul Curzon
Paul Curzon's Home Page
Interaction, Media and Communication (IMC) Group
Department of Computer Science
Queen Mary, University of London
The Centre for Learning Development Reading Group Project
The Centre for Learning Development Reading Group Project was a practical investigation undertaken at Middlesex University into whether an online reading group could be used to support the practice of teaching in Higher education.
The online reading group set up
consisted of people interested in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, both academics and other staff. The
purpose of the group, and its associated archive and mailing list was to:
A key finding about the success of the reading group was the
importance of direct social contact between the moderator and members
of the list, both for recruitment and to give contributors the
confidence and motivation to submit articles. It was very important
that the moderator physically networked with members of the group.
The Reading Group was funded by a SEDA grant with matching funding from the Middlesex University School of Computing and Center for Learning Development.
The way the group works is that individuals write summaries of teaching
related articles that they read. They are forwarded to the mailing list for
the group to read. A copy is added to the permanent web archive, and (where
possible) a copy of the original article is lodged in a central archive
of papers. Group members who have a particular interest in the subject
can then easily obtain a copy (and may then wish to write an alternative
encourage an interest in the theory and practice of teaching and learning
in Higher Education,
disseminate information about and increase the awareness of the group members
to current issues and research in teaching and learning,
share the reading of the group, to gain the most mileage from the minimum
direct staff to papers relevant to their own current concerns,
provide a resource for staff and students undertaking research in Teaching
and Learning, and
provide a resource for new teaching staff to encourage and support innovative
teaching in the University.
Summaries in the database may be of books, journal articles, conference
papers, web pages or even newspaper articles. They may be on articles on any topics
related to teaching and learning that affect Higher Education. Topics of
Members of the group were not obliged to provide summaries. Reading-only
members were encouraged. It was recognised that many members may find it
difficult to find the time to write summaries. However, if they did read
an article that they feel would be of interest to the group, or that they
feel strongly about, they were encouraged to write a summary.
Innovative Teaching Methods
Innovative Assessment Methods
Issues related to problems students face that affect learning
Practical problems associated with teaching and assessment
Summaries could be in several forms including an abstract similar in style
to one that the author might write, a review constructively criticising
the article, a discussion of how the article relates to personal experiences,
or even a short and gushing soundbyte such as "The best book I've read
on teaching - a must".
Summaries had to be:
See the existing entries in the database for examples.
Multiple reviews giving different viewpoints of the same article were encouraged.
no more than a paragraph long,
written in plain English,
include a full reference,
include a small number of keywords,
include the reviewer's name with the month and year of the reveiw, and
if appropriate include a web address where the full article/page can be found.
Submissions were sent to the moderator, Paul Curzon, for
addition to the database and to be forwarded on to the mailing list (once per week to keep the volume low). Where possible a physical copy of articles reviewed were sent to the moderator.
- Paul Curzon and Judith Harding. "Spreading the word about pedagogic
research". In Academic and Educational Development: Research,
Evaluation and Changing Practice in Higher Education, edited by
Ranald Macdonald and James Wisdom, The SEDA Series,
Chapter 13 pp152-163, Kogan Page, 2002.
- P.Curzon and J. Harding, "Drip Fed Academic Staff Development
Using a Virtual Reading Group". On Reflection: Professional
development for the future, the 4th Annual SEDA Conference for Staff
and Educational Developers, November 1999.
- Paul Curzon and Judith Harding, "A Summary of the Virtual Reading
Group Project", inThe SEDA Newsletter, November 1999.