Journey to teaching. Our first Doctoral Discussion

Our first Doctoral Discussion last Friday was an absolute success! We are so happy that so many of you decided to come and share your thoughts and experiences of teaching with us.  A link to the talk given by our speakers
will be available here soon. Additionally, I want to share with everybody the highlights of the talk and the key topics discussed.

Dr Liz Sage opened the discussion by sharing her personal path from AT to Module Convenor and what were the hard and the rewarding bits of that journey. Dr Sage convenes the popular module Starting To Teach here at Sussex. She explained what were the advantages of taking the module and also how to find out about it and sign up. She also shared with us all 20170317_121740the resources that she and her team and collaborators put together to support AT’s in their teaching activities.

Afterwards, Gabrielle Daoust, a very busy AT and last year PhD student (so very busy all around) shared her insights into teaching, offering a lot of food for thought about teaching international students and diverse classrooms, about challenging our own education while acting as teachers and a great reflection of how important it is to decolonise education at all levels.

Finally, Tom Ottway shared his very eclectic experience as a teacher and gave us some tips for encouraging participation. His reflections on teaching international students and diverse classrooms tied with those of Gabrielle Daoust and he also pointed at some of the strategies he had used to get an AT contract and the support he had received after becoming one, ending his talk by highlighting the importance of the resources mentioned by Dr Sage.

In short, it was a candid, insightful  and useful session about teaching that left me feeling like I am better prepared to embark in the journey of teaching. Here are some of the highlights of the session: Continue reading

E-portfolios for research: Mahara or Social Media?


I recently blogged about how the University of Sussex is trialling Mahara as a form of e-portfolio. Here, as a follow-up I wanted to give my personal perspective.

What about ‘free’ commercial, social media alternatives to E-portfolio platforms?

Currently, I am learning to code in order to be able to have control over where and how I blog or showcase my own practice-based work. This is time-consuming and eats into the time I have to do my research, but I do not want to rely on having my work somewhere on the cloud, out of my control. A case in point is Instagram. I recently uploaded some photos on a field trip to Hong Kong and Australia:   Continue reading

E-portfolios and how researchers can use them


This post considers the relevance of e-portfolios as assessment tools and as evidence of learning, suggesting that researchers might usefully engage with them. I recently attended a workshop run by the TEL (Teaching Enhanced Learning) team at the University of Sussex, and wanted to provide an update on developments using Mahara e-portfolios. It also considers the implications, including pitfalls, of using free commercial alternatives.

Mahara Portfolios  are open-source and free to use, often integrated into Moodle

What is an e-Portfolio?
This is a well known and useful, if general, definition:
‘..a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits to the student, or others, […] efforts or achievement in one or more areas.’ (Arter & Spandel 1991 in

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How to combine your PhD with teaching: a discussion.

What is the right balance between my doctoral studies and my teaching commitment? Why aren’t students participating? Am I doing something wrong? How can I make sure I am explaining in a clear way? Is it normal to feel ignored in class? How do I interact with students coming from different educational systems? What support can I find? How do I optimally prepare for teaching?

f any of these questions crossed your mind at least once during term time: CONGRATULATIONS you are a teacher! And, luckily:

  1. You are not alone in this
  2. We can help! Book your place via Sussex Direct.

dd flyer draft

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How to structure your writing: top tips from my marking experience

Hi again! Lately, I’ve been writing a lot for my own personal research. I had to write up a first draft of my first paper and edit it to apply for conferences. However, it was another first-time experience that made me appreciate all the high-school type of tips the teacher used to give us on how to structure our writing: marking the essays of my undergraduate students. It was actually extremely useful to have to judge someone else’s work looking at, among other things, how they structured their ideas and organised the content. I know this might sound basic for PhD-level students, but I find that this is not the case when I see a lot of doctoral researchers being stuck in front of a blank page. So, here are some tips on how to structure and organise your writing.

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