'Contexts' is about national and international contexts for education and considers ideas from the philosophy of education about the purposes of education in different national settings.
This introductory module introduces a philosophical, comparative and observational focus which runs throughout the course. Units within the module include 'Purposes of the School Curriculum', 'Understanding International Educational' and 'Understanding the Classroom'.
This module is divided into two and focuses on classical theoretical approaches to the conceptualisation of learning, mainly from the field of psychology such as motivation, intelligence, behaviourism, constructivism and neuroscience. The second half presents a number of distinctive approaches to learning.
The unit on motivation and engagement explores the work of Bruner and Maslow. The unit on intelligence invites a critical approach to Multiple Intelligence theory and to currently fashionable theories of learning styles. The unit on Skinner and Piaget elaborates the basic principles of these two theorists and invites students to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their approaches to educational materials.
The unit on ZPD and scaffolding examines the respective approaches of Vygotsky, Bruner and Wood to ways in which children construct knowledge. The unit on neuroscience provides an introduction to what is happening in the brain when learning occurs.
In the second half of the module, students can choose to study Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Freire, Nyerere, and Makiguchi and Gandhi.
Approaches to Teaching
This module includes generic materials on 'teaching strategies' and 'aspects of pedagogy'. 'Teaching strategies' includes materials on questioning, group work and other forms of collaborative learning. 'Aspects of pedagogy' includes materials on student management, planning, assessment, differentiation, special educational needs and inclusion, English as an additional language, and ICT in education.
Depending on the age range in their own school, students are offered several choices between early years, primary or secondary approaches.
Investigating Student Understanding
In the final module of the course, students are asked to plan and undertake a small-scale classroom investigation in their own schools. The project is an investigation into the cognitive and affective dimension of the development of learners' understanding by focusing on a case study of one or more learners in the student's own educational context.
In preparation for the research and data-gathering processes, there is a unit within the module on methodological principles of practitioner research. Guidance is also offered on the planning, writing and presentation of the study itself. A research plan in the form of a formative assignment is submitted to the course tutor for comment at an early stage of work on this module.
In the light of feedback on this assignment and ensuing discussion, the course tutor recommends relevant academic and professional literature for background reading. The completed assignment relates investigation findings to this preparatory reading material.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.