Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module EDUC40420: Student learning as a foundation for reflexive practice

Department: Education

EDUC40420: Student learning as a foundation for reflexive practice

Type Open Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap


  • Module 1 (Learning and teaching in higher education).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The aim of Module 2 directly addresses the requirement of the UK Professional Standards Framework level 2 descriptor that graduates of the programme will be able to demonstrate a knowledge ‘of how students learn generally, and within the subject’.
  • A foundation workshop on how students learn generally is provided as an introduction to the taught component of Module 2. The workshop is supported by two research-led seminars; one on externalising and categorising students’ understanding of subject matter via concept maps, and one on the theoretical framework of threshold concepts.
  • How students learn within the subject forms the basis of a formatively and summatively assessed assignment in Module 2. The aim of this empirically-based assignment is to explore how generic aspects of student learning may be reconstituted within the subject, and how evidence of variation in student learning can form a basis for reflexive practice.


  • The conceptual framework for Module 2 is condensed from that body of empirical research that essentially seeks to explain how learning outcomes are influenced by individual differences in students’ approaches to learning; in particular, their conceptions of what ‘learning’ means in a given context and how it is likely to be consequentially engaged in process terms and with what likely outcomes.
  • This framework is introduced in the taught component of Module 2 on the basis of the prior knowledge of student learning that participants bring with them on entry to Module 2, based on their current understandings of how their own students learn generally. The ‘content’ of this prior knowledge is mapped and categorised by participants themselves as a reference point in their further learning as developed within a practical assignment and as further informed by prescribed and self-directed reading from seminal and current research texts. Embedded in these texts are the concepts that are used to describe and interpret how students experience learning. Thus introduced are the conceptual distinctions that are made within the constructs of conceptions of learning, motivation, intention, learning processes, and regulation.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • In order to satisfy the learning outcomes of Module 2 participants have to firstly demonstrate their capacity to construct a personal conceptual framework of student learning based on their readings, and the findings of their Module 2 assignment. Thus required is a personal understanding, as reflected in a synthesis of the basic concepts already referred to, that is then used to interpret the findings of the Module 2 assignment. The implications for academic practice of the findings and their interpretation then have to be discussed.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Capacity to:
  • 1. solicit evidence of variation in how students engage learning within the subject,
  • 2. theoretically interpret this variation, and consider its implications for academic practice
  • 3. design an ethically approved interview schedule for interviewing students about their approaches to learning
  • 4. engage students in learning conversations as an integral aspect of academic practice.
Key Skills:

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • There is, in keeping with Durham expectations a focus in the delivery and assessment of Module 2, on research-led learning and teaching.
  • Module 2 is research-led and enquiry-based. The content of what is learned is informed by current research into student learning and considerations thereof for academic practice, particularly in terms of assessment and curriculum design. The content of what is learned is also substantively enquiry-based in the self-directed reading of student learning research literature, generally and within the subject, as well as in the process aspect of the assignment in which participants interview their own students and interpret resultant data. The design of module 2 adheres to the best practice principle of ‘constructive alignment’ in which the aims and the pedagogy articulate with the outcomes. Simply put, the UKPSF descriptor (the learning outcome) of finding out how students learn generally, and within the subject, are given expression in practical learning activities that emphasise relevance to academic practice.
  • The module is essentially ‘delivered’ by initially establishing a conceptual framework through face-to-face introductory seminars and group discussions. An assignment is set that requires participants, on the basis of their subsequent reading of prescribed texts as well as self-directed further reading, to develop an initial reflective impression of what aspects of their students’ learning they wish to explore via an assignment that requires them to interview three of their students. The carrying out of the assignment is basically a two step process. First a set of proposed interview questions have to be formulated and underpinned by a rationale that explains why these questions are important / relevant in disciplinary context in which the interviews will be conducted. Detailed information is provided in the prescribed reading on the formulation of interview questions for this purpose, and further detailed information is also provided as an integral part of the assignment brief. Participants are invited at any stage to consult the module leader on any aspect of the assignment brief and seek further assistance as and when required. Each participant can expect a minimum of two hours and a maximum of four hours supervision in respect of individual assistance. The proposed questions and rationale are submitted for formative assessment which is given in written detail in each case. The purpose of the formative assessment is basically to ensure that the questions themselves adhere to ethical protocols, are not leading or closed questions, and are theoretically justified. Where necessary revisions will be called for and the process repeated until the module leader is satisfied that the questions will solicit the sought after variation in student learning. The interviews are then conducted and the data interpreted for reflective purposes and a consideration of the implications of the findings for practice. Specimens of previously submitted, and successful summatively assessed work is made available for inspection on DUO.
  • In further support of the delivery of the module there is an emphasis on ‘best practice’ strategies. For example, in the introductory workshops there is explicit modelling of participants’ prior knowledge about student learning generally, and the module as whole enables freedom of choice in selecting the focus of the interviews.
  • The workload NOT covered within teaching practice or other normal duties of probationary staff, while varying from discipline to discipline, should be in the region of 15-25 hours.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 2 2 hours 4
Workshops 1 7 hours 7
Work-based learning 129
Private study 60
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Project 3,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment will be provided in writing based on an outline of how the Module 2 assignment has been conceptualised in theoretical terms and how it will be carried out in terms of the proposed interview protocols.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University