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Reflections on subject-centred learning, writing skills, research methods and spirituality for transformative teaching

Morrison-Saunders, A. (2014) Reflections on subject-centred learning, writing skills, research methods and spirituality for transformative teaching. In: Teaching and Learning Forum 2014 Transformative, Innovative and Engaging, 30 - 31 January, Perth: The University of Western Australia

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Personal reflections from my own teaching experience based upon subject centred learning, writing skills development, understanding research methods and spiritual inquiry are offered to encourage similar engagement or reflection by other higher education teachers. I explain how my teaching in the environmental sciences has been transformed for each of these themes in a series of narratives or stories from experience. My approach is grounded in reflexivity and phenomenological methods. Subject centred teaching and learning enables students to enter into deep relationship with the mutual subject shared by teacher and student. It transcends alternative approaches to teaching through unity of focus and of being. Teaching writing skills with an emphasis on revision and opportunities for rewriting in response to teacher feedback, and in a broader framing context of writing as story telling encourages deepening of student relationship with their subject. Similarly in-depth understanding of research methods, especially the influence of researcher values and epistemology on research execution and outcomes, invites a deep philosophical encounter with the learning process and nature of knowledge as well as the realisation of research as a form of story telling. I have found that the power of story telling inspires and empowers students in the learning process. It also potentially invites inquiry as to the higher spiritual dimensions of being that lie behind the stories that humans construct to give meaning to the world. My own personal evolution and development for each of these four themes has transformed my own teaching practice and enabled me to realise effective teaching strategies. I hope to provoke further conversation on how exploration of subject centred learning, teaching of writing skills and research methods, and how inquiry into spirituality can transform teaching in the tertiary education sector.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
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