A conversation about pedagogical responses to increased diversity in university classrooms

Buckridge, M. & Guest, R. (2007). A conversation about pedagogical responses to increased diversity in university classrooms. Higher Education Research & Development, 26(2), 133-146.

This article examined student diversity in large classes and asked whether it is possible to teach in a way that works well for all students. The article contrasted the approaches of an academic economist and an educational developer.  The view that teachers make choices influencing which students will benefit most from a teaching approach is contrasted with the view that teaching approaches can be chosen to benefit all students.  John Bigg’s work on student orientations, teaching methods and levels of engagement (2003) is discussed. Biggs added to the discussion by introducing the notion of ‘degrees of freedom’ to teaching and assessment, whilst also advocating the provision of scaffolding to assist weaker students. Biggs pointed out that the teacher is not responsible for getting a student to a certain level, but advocated that a better focus is what the student should be doing to get there. Ultimately then, when assessment allows for degrees of freedom, the student is able to engage according to their needs.

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