C is for course of course


Building upon research I conducted with student-nominated inspirational teachers in 2014 and then developed with colleagues here at SHU, to relate my work to the NSS, I have been working closely with all academic staff across three departments this year to consider what ‘course’ means to effective practice.

Underpinning this, and building upon the 4Cs we discussed at the HEA and RAISE conferences at the time, I have established these guiding principles that have usefully informed my current work on Course-focused Practice.

Principles informing Course-focused Practice

  • Context – the course and disciplinary contexts situate any curriculum design and pedagogy. Course context creates an authentic basis for applied learning.
  • Clarity – good, inspirational teaching is founded on clarity. Students are well-briefed and supported and their formative and summative experiences are designed holistically so they make sense and promote learner confidence.
  • Consistency – consistency is an outcome of conversation amongst the course team about what practices work in context. There is evident agreement about ‘why we do it this way’ and how practice fits the discipline and fosters an appropriate professional culture.
  • Co-operation – co-operation amongst course teams and amongst students is understood and practiced as a fundamental dimension of an effective learning environment. A co-operative ethos ensures that collaboration is used constructively, for example through group work and project-based learning.
  • Connection – connection addresses the challenge of modularisation in which the learner’s experience and the academic’s practice loses confidence and momentum through fragmented and siloed practices. Connection is achieved when academics and their students actively seek to connect meanings, experience and practice through a spiral curriculum.
  • Confidence – the fostering of effective and motivated students comes from their participation in a confident learning environment.

developed by Andrew Middleton, 2018


Heaton, C., Pickering, N., Middleton, A. & Holden, G. (2015). Exploring perspectives on good, inspirational teaching. SEDA Educational Developments, 16(1), 25.

Middleton, A., Heaton, C., & Pickering, N. (2014). What makes inspirational teachers inspirational? “Preparing for learning futures: the next ten years”, HEA Conference 2—3 July 2014, Aston University.

About Andrew Middleton

NTF, PFHEA, committed to active learning, co-operative pedagogies, media-enhanced teaching and learning, authentic learning, postdigital learning spaces. Key publication: Middleton, A. (2018). Reimagining Spaces for Learning in Higher Education. Palgrave.
This entry was posted in Academic Innovation, Active Learning, Applied Learning, Assessment & Feedback, Belonging, Learner Engagement, Scholarship and Research and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to C is for course of course

  1. Pingback: Networked authorship as a site of learning | Tactile

  2. Pingback: Transparency, turbulence, ambiguity and uncertainty in #activelearning | Tactile

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