Teaching & Learning
Teaching and Learning Methodology
The course is delivered by senior members of staff from the Nuffield Department of Women's & Reproductive Health.
A variety of teaching methods are employed to enhance and optimise student learning, e.g. class lectures, group tutorials, laboratory practical classes, and in-house demonstrations by visiting companies. Students also receive regular lectures from many visiting scientists and clinicians who are world experts in their field. Regular class-directed learning (CDL) sessions throughout the taught part of the course provide a means for students to consolidate their understanding of course content without formal facilitation and subsequently liaise with course teaching staff to address any issues arising. Additional problem-based learning (PBL) techniques allow the class to analyse and research a given problem/topic in small groups. Findings are subsequently presented and discussed with course teaching staff.
Our course places special emphasis on the development of practical laboratory skills, especially those that are applicable to research in the reproductive sciences, ART and the routine duties of a clinical embryologist. Our students are also given the opportunity to observe clinical procedures in the IVF laboratory for at least one day during the course, and shadow a senior clinician during patient consultations.
Dr Kevin Coward instructing students in the laboratory. Photo copyright: Medical Sciences Division and John Cairns
The course staff maintain a proactive role in the pedagogy of higher education and have close links with the Higher Education Academy, a national institution for inspiring, teaching, and transforming learning. In 2017 Dr Kevin Coward gained Senior Fellowship of the HEA, while Mrs Celine Jones gained Fellowship. In 2017, Dr Rebecca Dragovic gained a Supporting Learning Professional Development named award accredited by the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA).
Dr Kevin Coward was recently awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGDipLATHE) with Distinction by the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Kevin studied for this course part-time at the Oxford Learning Institute since September 2015. His final course portfolio focussed upon academic development of the MSc in Clinical Embryology in a series of strategic areas: student learning & development, feedback & assessment, diversity, equality, inclusivity, teaching settings and strategies, discipline-specific teaching concerns, course design and leading education change. By gaining Distinction, Kevin also gained Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, a national institution which promotes excellence in higher education.
We are firm believers in understanding how our students learn and take active steps in the design of our teaching and curriculum to provide the best possible learning experience.
We have won a series of awards in recognition of our teaching. In 2012, the course won a ‘Major Educator Award’ in the University of Oxford’s Teaching Excellence Scheme, for an exceptional contribution to postgraduate education in the medical sciences.
In May 2012, the innovative teaching style deployed on the Oxford MSc in Clinical Embryology was recognised by the HEA in the form of an HEA Teaching Development Grant to help develop novel methods for teaching practical laboratory skills. This model allowed us to equip our laboratory with interactive whiteboard technology and develop a new laboratory session in which students design and execute their own ‘mock’ laboratory practical class in front of the peers, thereby gaining key experience of delivering laboratory teaching in their own right. Development of this new model led to an OxTALENT (Teaching and Learning Enhanced with New Technology) Award in 2013 for the innovative use of interactive whiteboard technology in the wet laboratory.
In 2014, the course staff won a second OxTALENT Award for the design of a novel electronic video-enhanced poster projected on a mobile interactive whiteboard.
In 2015, Dr Kevin Coward received a commendation from the Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford, for his consistently outstanding teaching and sustained commitment to course design and development of novel methodologies for practical classes, and for inspirational engagement with teaching and quality assurance at Divisional and University Levels.
Dr Coward and Mrs Jones receiving their 2013 Oxtalent awards.
Dr Natalia Barkalina, Dr Kevin Coward and Mrs Celine Jones with attending a University Teaching Excellence Awards Ceremony at Rhodes House to collect their 2014 OxTalent Awards from the Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Hamilton (second from left).
Most recently, Dr Kevin Coward was a finalist in the Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year Competition. This annual competition, organised by the Royal Society of Biology, aims to identify the most talented and inspirational teachers in UK bioscience.