Teaching Tuesdays@CSU

NEW articles, links, tips and how-tos in higher education

Issue #8 - Building on Prior Learning

April 24, 2018

In living the value of Insightful we act respectfully and perceptively to seek to understand why people think and behave in the ways that they do.

Knowing our students enables us to apply effective teaching strategies to build student learning. What strategies do you use to take your students to higher levels of learning? This week’s bulletin is the next in our series examining teaching strategies that support the nine Dimensions of Teaching (Crisp et al., 2009 – see below).

Dimension 2: Students’ prior knowledge and experience is built upon.

Melissa Terlecki and Leslie Myers discuss neurocognitive approaches to build student learning.

How the Brain Learns: Implications for Teaching and Learning

By Melissa Terlecki, PhD and Leslie Myers, MEd

Source: https://www.magnapubs.com/magna-commons/?video=3075
(See Magna Commons instructions below for free CSU subscription instructions to this source. Presentation handouts, full transcripts and supplementary resources are available for download if you don't have time to listen to the seminar)

Quote: Take a moment to visualize a calm place … your happy place. Take a moment and just be at ease and be comfortable. This prepares your brain for learning. Emotion affects learning.

In this 60-minute webinar, the presenters commence with a brief introduction to neuroscience and learning, followed by strategies and implications for teaching, and finish with the importance of reflection.

Part 1: Techniques based on how the brain learns
  • Practice: exposure, exposure which creates knowledge, which becomes prior knowledge
  • Teach students how to take notes: in a way that creates connections to life experience, subject readings, demonstrations and other subjects that are relevant to the individual.
  • Use visualisation techniques: student mind maps are unique to the individual; they can highlight misconceptions, promote peer-assisted learning in group situations, help students connect to what they already know and understand.
  • New information can only come into the brain for about 20-25 minutes at a time (or less)!

Part 2: Practical strategies and implications for engaging teaching
  • Assure: provide a safe environment in which students can relax and learn
  • Entice: be explicit about the purpose and relevance of the activity, make it personal, use COLOUR (sadly, we can't change the colour of the font here!)
  • Empower: teach students how they learn (promotes lifelong learning), modelling learning
  • Explore: QUOTE: I found that learning about my students, and who they are, and what they think has been something that I'm constantly amazed by. To activate that prior knowledge, we need to be able to know them. And we also need to be able to scaffold our approach with them. But in order to act and to paint a picture and to scaffold, we really need to know our students, and this can be very difficult in large classes. Includes discussion of strategies to do this.
  • Engage: Create active learning strategies. At 37:30 in the recording, the presenters discuss the associated “Active Learning Considerations” supplementary handout that expands on the strategies discussed in the webinar.

Part 3: Getting Students to Reflect on their Learning
  • Encourage student reflection: What is one thing you can take away from today?

The final 10 minutes are devoted to answering participant questions. The webinar transcript answers further questions not included in the webinar time frame, and provides the chat transcript.

Presentation handouts, full transcripts and supplementary resources are available for download if you don't have time to listen to the seminar.
Big picture

Dimensions of Teaching

Dimension 2: Students' prior knowledge and experience is built upon

Indicative teaching strategies for demonstrating this dimension may include:
  • being fully aware of and/or determining students' prior knowledge and understanding
  • building on students' current knowledge and understanding, and taking them conceptually beyond this level
  • where appropriate, using and building upon student contributions and preparation

Adapted from: Crisp, G. et al (2009) Peer Review of Teaching for Promotion Purposes: a project to develop and implement a pilot program of external Peer Review of Teaching at four Australian universities, University of Adelaide, an ALTC-funded project, 2007-8. Final Project Report June 2009. Thanks to RMIT and UNSW.

The nine Dimensions of Teaching are the key focus areas that underpin the main elements in the Peer Review of Teaching Practice templates used at CSU for both formative teaching development or to evidence your teaching in, for example, your promotion application.

(See Peer Review of Educational Practice at CSU).

Building on Prior Learning support resources at CSU

You have access to a range of quality CSU resources to help ensure that students are actively engaged in learning. Check out the following:

Resources for Learning and Teaching Academic and Professional Staff - searchable CSU database

Learning Technologies - the starting point for a range of learning design options

CSU Learning Exchange: Technologies in Context - a searchable database to promote online learning and teaching strategies

The CSU wiki - a faculty-based source of learning and teaching information and strategies

Regular seminars on teaching-related topics are listed on the

CSU Professional Learning Calendar - accessed directly here

or from the Division of Learning and Teaching front page - accessed here

CSU Professional Learning Calendar: Learning spaces: Teaching to engage your students in "active learning" for better academic outcomes.

Adobe Connect session 24 Apr 2018 at 12:30 pm

Advance Notification

Transforming Assessment Webinar Update (An ASCILITE SIG), Next session:

Risk aware: enhancing students' clinical competence in risky environments through blended simulation-based learning

2 May 2018.

Presenter: Dr Jade Sheen (Deakin University, Australia)

Students across the healthcare field engage in clinical placement as a component of their education. Unfortunately, there are a number of physical, psychological and environmental risks associated with clinical placement. Risk Aware is a simulation-based education program designed to address the risk associated with clinical placement, thereby enhancing students’ clinical awareness and competence. This presentation will discuss the development, implementation and evaluation of the Risk Aware program.

Further information and registration (free): http://ta.vu/2may2018

Bonus CSU resource - Lynda.com for Prior Learning

All CSU students and staff members have access to Lynda.com, an online subscription library that teaches the latest business, creative and software skills through high-quality instructional videos.

A search for 'prior learning' with a filter for Higher Education returned 80 results ranging from general teaching tips, to keynote lectures, to the specifics of various tools and applications for building on prior learning.


Magna Commons

All staff with a CSU email address have free access to our new

CSU subscription to the Magna Commons series of online seminars.

A Magna Commons search for the keywords 'prior learning' produced a list of 9 seminars relevant to this theme. Other titles:

  • The Flipped Classroom: Strategies to Overcome Student Resistance and Increase Student Engagement (60 minutes)
  • Assessment Strategies for Flipped Learning Experiences (60 minutes)
  • Designing Online Learning to Spark Intrinsic Motivation (60 minutes)
  • How to Deepen Learning through Critical Reflection (90 minutes)

Presentation handouts, full transcripts and supplementary resources are available for download if you don't have time to listen to the seminar.

How to subscribe

Staff with a CSU email address can obtain the Magna Commons CSU subscription code from Ellen McIntyre elmcintyre@csu.edu.au

Magna Commons suggests these seminars to watch in the coming month:

Whether creating a single lecture, a course (= CSU subject), a program (= CSU course), or a curriculum, this month’s focus is designing effective and meaningful educational experiences. Below are some seminars related to design:

- Course Design Strategies to Enhance Critical Thinking Skills

- Designing and Teaching a High-Impact Capstone Course

- Refresh Your Course with Straightforward Design Changes

- Service-Learning Course Design: What Faculty Need to Know

- Beyond Course Design: Planning for Successful Facilitation

Links to previous bulletins

Folder with all previous issues.

Issue#1 Group Work: Seven Strategies to Enhance Learning through Group Work

Issue#2 Engagement: 10 Ways to Engage Your Students on the First Day of Class
Issue#3 Engagement: Motivate, Engage, and Inspire: Tips for Teaching Modern Learners

Issue#4 Academic Integrity: Why Students Cheat and What We Can Do About It

Issue#5 Feedback: Efficient and Effective Feedback in the Online Classroom

Issue#6 Feedback: Leveraging Technology to Support Effective Assessment Feedback Practices

Issue#7 Active Engagement: Three Strategies for Creating Meaningful Learning Experiences

FoBJBS Newsletter: BOLD Issue#15

FoA&E Newsletter: NeXus Issue#2


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