Catalog Home Page

Subject centred learning enables effective tertiary teaching

Morrison-Saunders, A. and Hobson, J. (2013) Subject centred learning enables effective tertiary teaching. In: Teaching and Learning Forum 2013: Design, develop, evaluate - The core of the learning environment, 7 - 8 February 2013, Murdoch University, Murdoch, W.A

PDF - Published Version
Download (305kB)
Link to Open Access version:
*No subscription required


The measurement of quality in tertiary teaching is a contested concept and different definitions emerge in relation to shifting social, economic and political contexts and different stakeholders. We suggest that following the work of Parker Palmer (1998) quality tertiary teaching is effective when it places the subject at the centre of the teaching and learning experience. Through literature review and personal accounts arising from our own reflections as teachers, we explain the principles and benefits of subject-centred learning. We contrast this approach to student-centred learning which we argue too easily slips into "student-centred teaching" in which academics are held to ransom by multiple needs of students, many of whom will shy away from the inevitable pain associated with learning unless inspired to by the teacher. We suggest that disciplinary academics can find their ways through the maze of teaching and learning scholarship by listening for and to the voice of their subject as a guide to effective quality subject-centred learning. Whilst we acknowledge that teaching is necessarily highly personal and individual, we argue that it should not be focused primarily on either the needs of teachers or students. Rather learning needs are transformed through a disciplining to the higher needs of the subject.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Copyright: © Angus Morrison-Saunders and Julia Hobson
Notes: The authors assign to the TL Forum and not for profit educational institutions a non-exclusive licence to reproduce this article for personal use or for institutional teaching and learning purposes, in any format, provided that the article is used and cited in accordance with the usual academic conventions.
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year