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Exploring the boundaries of flexibility in learning

31 Mar 2023

Thomas Nuhse is an ITL fellow whose project explores a flexible, competency based course in Quantitative Biology

Dr Thomas Nuhse

We are pleased to share news of the latest project report from the Institute of Teaching and Learning (ITL). The report focuses on the innovative work of Thomas Nuhse, Lecturer in Integrative Plant Science in the School of Biological Sciences, and his ITL project team.

Thomas' project is part of the ITL Fellows Programme, which aims to support the University's teaching and learning goals through short-term projects. Working alongside a student partner, Thomas and his team have explored the boundaries of flexibility in learning, seeking to balance structure and guidance with openness and independence.

The project focused on developing a pilot course in quantitative biology that offers flexibility where students value it most. Through surveys and focus groups, Thomas and his team were able to gain valuable insights into student perspectives and co-create a course that meets their needs.

“Now a central strategy for the future of teaching and learning at the University, flexibility can apply to many aspects of the student experience”, Thomas says. “Some are familiar and well-embedded, others more radical and largely unexplored. Where do students prefer flexibility, and where do they prefer structure and guidance?”

“With a longstanding interest in online learning, as well as a dislike of traditional exams, I want to build a pilot course in quantitative biology that offers flexibility where students value it. The surveys and focus groups we were able to run as part of this ITL project have offered insight into the students’ perspective and an avenue for co-creation of such a course.”

As a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and Programme Director for BSc Biology, Thomas has a deep interest in online learning and problem-based teaching methods. His experience in molecular signalling and biotic interactions, along with his passion for innovative teaching, made him the perfect leader for this exciting ITL project.

We look forward to hearing more about the progress of Thomas' project and how it will contribute to the University's ongoing efforts to enhance the student experience.

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