Author Archives: ikinchin

Pedagogy Trilogy


2016                                            2017                                           2018


This set of three books provides a comprehensive introduction to the application of concept mapping to reveal the knowledge structures that need to be explored in the examination of pedagogic frailty (2016), the exploration of the theory underpinning pedagogic frailty and how this relates to other areas of educational research (2017), and a series of practical case studies of academics from across the disciplines who have used the frailty model as a framework for their own reflective narratives (2018).


Reviews of the 2018 volume:


Concept mapping and the pedagogic frailty model form a powerful combination to drive reflection upon professional development, which is critical to respond rapidly to changes in the higher education system. This book is a must-read for any academic who wishes to become a resilient teacher.

Prof. Paulo Correia (University of São Paulo, Brazil).

Increasing pedagogic frailty is one of the biggest risks for academic quality in universities. This book gives a systematic, compact and research-based view about contemporary issues related to university teaching. It helped me to see the problems in my own university, and more importantly, it gave me ideas for solving them. I recommend this book to everybody who is involved in teaching at universities – from novice teachers to professors, administrators and senior managers.

Prof. Priit Reiska (Tallinn University, Estonia).







New Book: International Academics



Book Now available: CLICK HERE


About Academics’ International Teaching Journeys

Academics’ International Teaching Journeys provides personal narratives of nine international social science academics in foreign countries as they adapt and develop their teaching. The team of international contributors provide an invaluable resource for other academics who may be exposed to similar situations and may find these narratives useful in negotiating their own conflicts and challenges that they may encounter in being an international academic. The narratives provide a fascinating reference point and a wide range of perspectives of teaching experiences from across the world, including Europe, Australia, North America and the Caribbean. The book offers a timely spotlight on contemporary issues of globalisation that many higher education institutions around the world may encounter. It contributes to the originality of constructing new knowledge in the field of transnational higher education – a modern phenomenon which will be increasingly prominent in the current and next generation in the globalised higher education contexts.

Table of contents

1. Academics’ International Teaching Journeys: An Introduction, Namrata Rao (Liverpool Hope University, UK), Chloe Shu-Hua Yeh (Bath Spa University, UK), Anesa Hosein (University of Surrey, UK) and Ian M. Kinchin (University of Surrey, UK)
2. Contextualising the New Teaching Environment, Erik Blair (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)
3. Complexities and Cross-Cultural Challenges of Foreign Lecturers: Personal Narrative Histories in Cameroon and England, Henry Asei Kum (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
4. Cultural Shock of an International Academic: From a Liberal Arts Education in the USA to a Post-1992 University in the UK, Jennifer Chung (St Mary’s University, Twickenham, UK)
5. Being Women and Being Migrant: Confronting Double Strangeness in UK Higher Education, Thushari Welikala (King’s College London, UK)
6. Overcoming Doubts in an Intercultural Academic Journey: From the East to the West, Chloe Shu-Hua Yeh (Bath Spa University, UK)
7. Negotiating Transitions in Academic Identity: Teacher or Researcher? Tanya Hathaway (University of New England, Armidale, Australia)
8. Examining Pedagogical Autonomy in International Higher Education Systems, Anesa Hosein (University of Surrey, UK)
9. Pedagogy of Academic Mobility, Judith Enriquez-Gibson (Liverpool John Moores University, UK)
10. Towards a ‘Pedagogy of Connection’: Home Academic not at Home, Maja Jankowska (University of Bedfordshire, UK)
11. Continuing the International Academics’ Teaching Journey, Sheila Trahar (University of Bristol, UK)


A brilliant collection of theoretically grounded personal experiences of teaching in foreign higher educational environments. A must read for researchers and academics in Higher Education.” –  Felix Maringe, Professor, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

In this stimulating book social science and people’s lives converge. Cross-border mobility has now reached such a scale as to continually enrich the education systems that people move between. This aggregated transformation is made up of many smaller bio-transformations, every one of them distinctive and enriching of others, as Academics’ Individual Teaching Journeys shows us.” –  Simon Marginson, Director of the ESRC/HEFCE Centre for Global Higher Education, University College London, UK



A focus for the student voice: overthrowing passive teaching.

When I was an undergraduate, students were protesting and making themselves heard on a variety of issues. Most prominent were probably ‘ban the bomb’ and ‘save the whales’. Today, the focus appears to be more on excessive pay for vice-chancellors or the issue of tuition fees. The latter of these is not something that universities are currently in a position to fix. Having been ‘rolled over’ by successive governments over the past two decades, universities now seem to be powerless against the force of the TLA (Three Letter Acronym). Governments just need to whisper NSS, TEF or REF and universities appear eager to comply with whatever hair brained scheme the current minister has dreamt up.

Students seems to have learnt from their institutional role models and seem very quiet on  numerous issues. Perhaps this is a result of the dominance of the ’employability discourse’ over the ‘educational discourse’. Students see universities as gatekeepers of employment (rather than knowledge) and so are unwilling to bite the hand that might feed them?

And yet they do comment, if quietly, about the teaching at university. Rather than worrying about the quality of teaching, some commentators appear more worried about the hours of contact time that they get for the £9,000+ per year. But more poor teaching doesn’t help anyone. The poorest teaching often seems to centre around the lecture. Whilst there is space for the excellent lecture, or the ‘show lecture’, all too often programme teaching is dominated by the lecture. Some of these may be good, but some are clearly still seem by certain teachers to be a time when you read out the PowerPoint slides to quiet rows of comatose students – see my earlier posts about lectures and the use of PowerPoint. I suggest that anyone proposing the development of a new programme whose delivery is dominated by lectures, should have to write an open letter to explain the reliance on this medieval teaching approach in the 21st Century.

The evidence all points to active learning. As universities claim to be research-led centres of excellence, then why not look at the evidence about teaching and learning? Indeed the evidence of the superiority of active learning over passive learning is now so strong that Waldorp (2015: 273) has made the statement that “at this point it is unethical to teach in any other way” . So are we teaching unethically?

If students would focus on this issue, they would realise that some of the things that are of concern are out of control of the university. Issues under political control may currently be a lost cause. In a current age of stupidity, there are key words that sum this up and are guaranteed to be met with a frustrated eye-roll: e.g. ‘Trump’, ‘Brexit’ etc. But the teaching on campus does fall under the control of the university. It is the university that designs the curriculum, the university that delivers the curriculum and the university that assesses the students. So if we want to change these things, we don’t need to look beyond the university. Whilst things will change over time, the pace of change often feels as if is should be compared to the movement of the tectonic plates. Slow just doesn’t cover it. So how do we promote a quiet revolution in teaching?

In the sixties, the protest song was king. The likes of Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger would be front and centre to find an anthem to unite a cause. So perhaps we need a protest song for active learning to overthrow passive learning?

I have a suggestion:

We’re not gonna take it” seems to sum it up! Now I appreciate that this genre might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But it works for me. I realise that this might be seen to be from a ‘certain time’ in history when make-up and long hair were cool. Bringing it into the 21st Century, the same message has been repackaged and stripped down:

Now for those lecturers out there who think that teaching is just about content, compare these two videos – same content, different delivery. The first version was derided by senators’ wives in the US as leading the youth astray. The second version was used to promote a cancer charity. How times change – even if teaching approaches don’t. In the UK, the Rolling Stones were viewed with suspicion by parents in the 1960s, now Sir Mick Jagger is a Knight of the realm.

Anyway, in my dreams I imagine crowds of undergraduates outside the VCs office, singing “We’re not gonna take it” in unison as they demand an active learning focus in their course, and an end to boring, content-driven lectures.

Is it worth making a noise about teaching? If not, then sit quietly and stop moaning about boring lectures. If however it is important, and I think it is, perhaps student unions should be printing off lyric sheets so that the student voice can be raised in unison.


Waldorp, M. (2015) The science of teaching science. Nature, 523: 272 – 274.


Pedagogical Peculiarities – New Book




  1. Pedagogical peculiarities: an introduction
    Stephen Brookfield                                                                                                                  
  2. Redefining professionalism through an examination of personal and social values in veterinary teaching
    Karen Young and Simon Lygo-Baker                                                                               
  3. ‘Messy and precise’: peculiarities and parallels between the performing arts and higher education                                                                                                                         
    Emma Medland, Alison James and Niall Bailey                                                         
  4. Research as pedagogy in academic development
    Ian Kinchin, Martyn Kingsbury and Stefan Yoshi Buhmann  
  5. The vulnerability of a small discipline and its search for appropriate pedagogy: the case of medical physics
    Anesa Hosein and Jamie Harle                                                                                        
  6. The marketization of pedagogy and the problem of competitive accountability
    Richard Watermeyer and Michael Tomlinson                                                           
  7. Strategic pedagogic management
    Gill Nicholls and Simon Lygo-Baker                                                                       
  8. Building and agenda for academic development on the peculiarity of university teaching.
    Paul Ashwin


Planning a journal article

Can we plan a paper to create a clear structure? Or does it emerge through the writing?

Whilst  check lists may be helpful to ensure that you have uploaded all the elements of a paper through a submission portal , I am not convinced they are a good way of helping to structure a paper under construction.

A recent paper by Simper et al (2016) suggests that a concept mapping frame can be helpful in constructing a narrative and in developing creativity. Drawing on their work I have tried to think of a possible frame that might help to address some of the weaknesses in papers that I have reviewed for publication in journals. I’d be interested to know if anyone finds it helpful, or if they have a similar tool that they already use.

Paper structure

The idea is that you consider the elements in blue, and add your responses within the white boxes. This might even help to structure a visual abstract that some journals are now inviting.


Simper, N., Reeve, R. & Kirby, J.R. (2016) Effects of concept mapping on creativity in photo stories. Creativity Research Journal, 28(1): 46 – 51.