Innovative teaching of ancient art

Monday 14 January 2002


A new way of teaching the centuries-old art of philosophy could be pioneered by the University of St Andrews.

Dr Katherine Hawley of the Philosophy department has been awarded a grant to experiment with innovative teaching methods in the classroom. The procedure will involve honours students meeting in small groups before their main, tutor-guided seminar where they will discuss the reading material and then email a report to the larger seminar group, again in advance of the seminar.

Dr Hawley hopes that, by producing the findings of her experiment (funded by the Learning Teaching Support Network), she will enable other philosophy teachers to decide whether to adopt such a system, and, if so, how. The system is designed to combine the advantages of frequent tutor-led meetings and the advantages of small-group discussion within the constraints of limited staff time. Students have the opportunity to try out ideas and questions with a small group of their peers before facing the larger group or the lecturer. They will develop transferable skills in communal report-writing, in organisation and in dealing with each other academically and socially.

Dr Hawley said, “This new system should ensure that students arrive well-prepared and will benefit from other study groups’ work. On occasion, two study groups will report on the same article which will provide scope for comparing different reports on the same material. Best of all, students will get used to talking to each other informally and independently about philosophy. This new way of teaching could also be extremely useful to other teachers of philosophy. Where numbers are large, such a system would help maintain a good standard of learning and, even where student numbers are smaller, the study group system could be a valuable addition to current resources.”


Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email [email protected] Ref: philos- hawley/standrews/chg/14jan2002

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