JAD tries to promote experimentation with learning, and to use evidence-based teaching methods. Recent innovations include:

Podcasts to support core learning: Learning is often facilitated by material being presented different ways. Medical lectures are very visual. JAD pioneered, in the medical course, the production of short (15-minute: lasting the walk from halls of residence to the lecture theatre) podcasts that present the same core material in a different order, and in a non-visual way. Some students strongly value this

Promoting judgement: To do good work, one needs to be able to judge quality. Normal assessment methods give students practice not at judgement, but at being judged. To address this, JAD has run experiments in which students make a judgement about their own work before handing in, then they receive their classmates' anonymised work, read it, and consider whether they feel they should now revise their judgement of their own. Finally, they see my feedback and marks on everyone's work (again anonymised, essays being identified by their first line). Feedback from students has been very positive.

Rapid feedback from formative exams: Feedback is most effective when it is received close to the test. Year 1 Medicine has pioneered a system in which students sit tests at a computer, and receive full feedback (not just marks, but advice triggered by their responses to questions) on each question, again at the computer. The students like this, though our data suggests it does not significantly improve their poerformance.

Giving senior science students control: In JAD's year 4 developmental biology module, the students set the syllabus, research and present it themselves (with guidance), and write their own bank of exam questions (though they do not know which will be chosen by the exam board). This seems to have made a great difference to student engagament.


JAD is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

He has won the University's Chancellor's Award for Teaching (2012) and the Kendell Award for Teaching in Medicine (2012)