Creativity is my Middle NameThis e-portfolio summarises my activities and studies whilst undertaking the Teaching Artist Short Course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (February-May 2014).  The contents follow a prescribed format for the purposes of assessment; I’ll be assembling it over the next few days, so some headings will lack content until it’s finished:-

  1. Context Setting Study
  2. Critical Appraisal of my Learning and Teaching Methods
  3. Lesson Plan, Theoretical Account and Online Discussion (links to the discussion of the Lesson Plan and of the Theoretical Account in the collaborative space).  Additionally, a self-assessment of my contribution to the discussion forum.
  4. Summary of My Reflective Journal
  5. Professional Development Plan
  6. BIBLIOGRAPHY formatted using Mendeley plugin and as a blogged list of Resources


1. Karen McAulay Teaching Artist: Context Setting Study

The purpose of this study is to examine the educational policies, strategies and initiatives influencing how, where, and what I teach, both within my own work setting, and in the wider higher education environment.

My own teaching practice

My teaching practice differs slightly from that of most teaching artists, in various ways. Whilst I am a practising musician in my own right, and currently seconded for 40% of my working week as a postdoctoral researcher to a music research project, the greater proportion of my working week (60%) is spent as Music and Academic Services Librarian at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. My workplace teaching generally takes the form of providing library and information support and training to staff and students at all levels from undergraduates to researchers. Occasionally my teaching is more closely aligned to my own subject specialism, when I am invited to provide a Scottish music-related lecture or information skills training to students on the BA in Scottish Music course. In either circumstance, my teaching is primarily of information skills or musicological context to performing artists, rather than teaching performance skills myself.

Institutional context

The Conservatoire embarked upon the revision of the undergraduate curriculum in 2010, introducing the first year of the new curriculum in 2012-13. Library and Information Services subject librarians (the Drama Librarian and myself) and the Learning Technologist were present at the early consultations, affording us the opportunity to advise on areas where we could contribute support and training in the use of key digital resources, since it was clear from the outset that digital technologies would play a key role in the rolling out of a new curriculum – both in the use of Moodle (our Virtual Learning Environment) and the various e-resources made available through the library (e-books, e-journals, databases and streamed media).

At the time of writing, the postgraduate Masters degree curricula are being reviewed; however, the Conservatoire’s doctoral degrees are validated by the University of St Andrews, and are not therefore part of the present review process.

My particular role means that, whilst I do provide teaching at key points in the students’ learning experience, I have not provided input into the design of the academic content of the new undergraduate curricula. Nonetheless, it is of considerable importance that I have in-depth music knowledge in order best to assist the students and staff for whom I am responsible; without this, I would be unable to tailor my teaching to share with them appropriate resources and demonstrate best practice.

Higher education policies impacting upon my practice

Key policies in the higher education sector do impact upon my teaching, although the guidance on information literacy training is not necessarily very detailed in these broader-brush policy documents.

The Quality Assurance Agency (hereafter, QAA) sets forth the academic standards to which Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) should adhere. Their policy document is the UK Quality Code for Higher Education. (Quality Assurance Agency 2013) Within Part B, ‘Assuring and enhancing academic quality’, Chapter B4 concerns, ‘Enabling student development and achievement’. Enabling students to take responsibility for their own learning, and to make effective use of available services and resources, are specifically mentioned, and these priorities apply across the board to undergraduates and postgraduates at any level. This can be taken as my prime directive to ensure that our student readers are supported in their information-seeking skills, regardless of format.

Enhancement themes

The QAA has commissioned further research into ‘enhancement themes’, which represent the improvement of various aspects of higher education in the United Kingdom. An important enhancement theme in the context of my own practice is the research into enhancing the first year student experience – a priority for library and information staff as they coordinate induction sessions and further training throughout the student ‘lifecycle’. Various documents have resulted from this research, specifically in the Scottish context from QAA Scotland:-

  • http://www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/home – the Enhancement Themes website is hosted by QAA Scotland.(Quality Assurance Agency Scotland n.d.)
  • The first year student experience research (2005-2008) is documented under Completed Enhancement Themes, as follows:- First Year: Engagement and Empowerment.(Quality Assurance Agency Scotland n.d.)

Additionally, and particularly pertinent to my own teaching context, is a synthesis of the first year of the Scottish Enhancement Theme 2011-12, Developing and Supporting the Curriculum, by Professor Terry Mayes of Glasgow Caledonian University.(Mayes 2012) Mayes’ report cites a model of the curriculum from Fotheringham, Strickland and Aitchison, which well illustrates the many different curriculum components impacting upon the student experience, including developments in technology – an area in which my own professional expertise can be brought to bear upon IT advances, database usage etc – not to mention the student’s own skills, knowledge and expectations, and the institutional culture, where corporate embracing and endorsement of the latest digital pedagogies is crucial.(Fotheringham, J, Strickland, K, Aitchison 2012)

A report on the English and Northern Irish context has also subsequently been published, some years after the 2005-2008 research into the first year experience, namely,

  • Exploring themes to improve quality for students. Analysis of the thematic elements of Institutional Review for England and Northern Ireland […]: The First Year Student Experience (2011-13) and Student Involvement in Quality Assurance and Enhancement (2012-13) (Quality Assurance Agency 2014)

As mentioned above, the reports of these enhancement themes highlight important strands to be kept in mind during the curriculum design process, several of which impact not only upon any formal subject teaching opportunities that might be offered to me, but also upon the library user education for which I am responsible. In particular, one should note that certain stages in the student lifecycle are identified as ‘transitional’ – eg, moving from school to higher education, or from undergraduate to postgraduate study, and students are likely to require particular support as they adjust to these changes in study approach, particularly since there have been changes in primary and secondary education with the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence, Advanced Highers, and recently the National exams in Scotland. Information literacy and study skills instruction are crucial at these junctures. Mayes also highlights the presence of increasing numbers of international students, and the ‘issues of accessibility and inclusivity’ raised by widening access to higher education. One cannot assume that a class of students has a similar educational background or indeed has had similar opportunities, whether by culture, educational environment or perhaps visible or invisible disability.

A changing approach to curriculum design in recent years is also likely to impact upon my teaching practice, not merely because of the trend to incorporate flexible structures, but also flexible delivery (particularly in online learning), flexible assessment, more personalisation of the curriculum for individual students, and flexible learning methods including ‘vertical and horizontal integration’, which might mean students working in groups with students from other years or other disciplines. Moreover, the pedagogical approach has changed from a lecturer (or teaching librarian) standing to deliver a lecture, to ‘guiding, selecting, commenting and annotating, and designing learning tasks where high quality content is ubiquitous and completely open.’(Mayes 2012) At its most basic level, this approach means that it is imperative to prefer practical, more collaborative and interactive sessions, over the traditional ‘lecture’, and to endeavour to design flexible online learning to enhance or maybe even replace some of the live sessions.

It is worth noting Mayes’ reminder that curriculum design and the first year experience are also informed by earlier enhancement themes, such as ‘Graduates for the 21st Century’ (G21C).(Mayes 2012). There is the urgency of future-proofing our graduates so far as is possible, so that they are prepared for the likelihood of portfolio careers where they will need to update their skills for future changes in their employment. Information literacy and an ability to navigate and exploit electronic resources has an even greater importance in this regard, for our graduates will need to be able to access appropriate information not only for the careers they embark upon post-graduation, but also to inform future decisions about career directions they might follow.

The research postgraduate context

The Vitae Researcher Development Framework, (Vitae 2014) is another context in which I must situate my teaching practice. The framework identifies four specific zones in which doctoral students in any subject are expected to gain competence:-

  • (A) Knowledge and intellectual abilities;
  • (B) Personal Effectiveness;
  • (C) Research governance and organisation;
  • (D) Engagement, influence and impact.

Each area is further subdivided into three specific capacities. It is envisaged that research students, whether they go on to pursue academic, applied research, or some other kind of career, will have gained experience and aptitudes in all these areas, as suits their subject area. Research and bibliographic skills are obviously essential, particularly in the first two areas, with information seeking and information literacy explicitly listed under (A); whilst bibliographic skills and good management of information can also be included under (C). These, then, are the parameters within which I am working when I provide research and bibliographic skills training to our doctoral students.

Continuing Professional Development

Quite apart from the institutional career review process which monitors staff members’ progress and any upskilling requirements, Chartered librarians are expected to engage in CPD as a professional activity. Although revalidation of chartership is not yet mandatory, CILIP is moving in that direction. We have our own VLE, the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base, which candidates for chartership are required to use, and Chartered Librarians and Fellows are encouraged to engage with.(CILIP n.d.) I am myself a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, and a mentor for chartership candidates, so it is important that I remain engaged with the community of practice amongst fellow librarians, as well as with academic and support colleagues in the workplace.

For several years I was list-owner for a research support librarians’ list, although I have now handed this over to younger colleagues as a development opportunity for them, and now simply follow the list, engaging in discussion here and in other social media forums as the need arises. It is a good way of keeping abreast of developments – for example, in March 2011 I was able to attend an event sponsored by the Research Information Network/UK Council for Graduate Education: Good Practice in Information Literacy for Academic Research, University of Warwick [14.3.11].

It can also, of course, be argued that I have a responsibility to provide CPD opportunities to colleagues in my workplace, whether academic or support staff, where I have knowledge of library resources of any nature which might be useful in their own professional or work practice. I have been involved in such training from time to time, although it is sometimes challenging to identify suitable opportunities. In this respect, the possibility of designing online training is decidedly attractive and potentially very useful.


As has been demonstrated, my rather unique mix of skills means that my teaching practice is influenced by policies both in the higher education context, and also in developments in the library and information world. I consider myself fortunate to move in these two overlapping communities of practice, each of which informs the other.

CILIP, Professional Knowledge and Skills Base | CILIP. Available at: http://www.cilip.org.uk/cilip/jobs-and-careers/professional-knowledge-and-skills-base [Accessed April 20, 2014].

Fotheringham, J, Strickland, K, Aitchison, K., 2012. Developing and Supporting the Curriculum: Directions, decisions and debate. Available at http://www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/docs.resources/curriculum-directions-decisions-and-debate.pdf?sfvrsn=6, as cited in Mayes (2014).

Mayes, T., 2012. Developing and Supporting the Curriculum enhancement themes: a synthesis of the first year of the Enhancement Theme 2011-12 and some options for 2012-14. QAA, p.12. Available at: http://www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/docs/publications/a-synthesis-of-the-first-year-of-the-enhancement-theme-2011-12-and-some-options-for-2012-14.pdf?sfvrsn=8 [Accessed April 19, 2014].

Quality Assurance Agency, 2014. Exploring themes to improve quality for students Analysis of the thematic elements of Institutional Review for England and Northern Ireland and Review of College Higher Education: The First Year Student Experience (2011-13) and Student Involvement in Qual. Report, p.35. Available at: http://www.qaa.ac.uk/Publications/InformationAndGuidance/Documents/IRENI-RCHE-themes-report.pdf [Accessed April 19, 2014].

Quality Assurance Agency, 2013. The Quality Code. Available at: http://www.qaa.ac.uk/AssuringStandardsAndQuality/quality-code/Pages/default.aspx [Accessed April 7, 2014].

Quality Assurance Agency Scotland, First Year – Engagement and Empowerment. Available at: http://www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/enhancement-themes/completed-enhancement-themes/first-year [Accessed April 19, 2014a].

Quality Assurance Agency Scotland, Welcome to the Enhancement Themes website. Available at: http://www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/home [Accessed April 19, 2014b].

Vitae, 2014. About the Vitae Researcher Development Framework. Available at: https://www.vitae.ac.uk/researchers-professional-development/about-the-vitae-researcher-development-framework.

2. Critical Appraisal: My Learning and Teaching Methods

After watching Howard Gardner’s video clip about multiple intelligences, I decided to do the quiz to find out about my own learning styles.  Actually, it was both accurate and predictable.  My principle learning style was linguistic, followed by musical and then interpersonal – the typical scholarly type, with a strong dose of music in there too!  However, it was certainly interesting to read about other learning styles and intelligences.  In the context of the kinds of teaching that I do, I am perhaps a little constrained in the scope of how I could address differing learning styles; school-teachers and teachers of undergraduates might have more opportunities to take these ideas into consideration.   Additionally, whilst I fully embrace the aspiration to attempt to vary learning activities so that students with differing intelligences are not disadvantaged, that is easier in the context of broader module or unit design, than within one single computer-based seminar.

Kenny MacGlashan's powerpoint on Learning Styles
Kenny MacGlashan’s powerpoint on Learning Styles, RCS, April 2014

If I’m teaching postgraduates research and bibliographic skills, then it is possibly quite likely (although not inevitable) that they too will favour the lingImageuistic approach to learning.  Furthermore, anyone undertaking practice-based music research is probably quite likely to have musical intelligences, too.  I find it more important that I should adopt the cognitive, constructivist approach to teaching, ensuring that students get hands-on experience of research and bibliographical resources, and the opportunity to learn from one another by interaction during and hopefully after the class.  (My reflections on reading about constructive alignment can be found on my blogpost, Constructive Alignment – a logical teaching theory,  2 April 2014.  I found this theory made good sense to me.)

The question of the formal lecture has occasioned reflective blogposts on several occasions during my Teaching Artist studies.  If I am at a conference, then formal lectures are one of the main activities.   (See my reflective journal posting, ‘The RMA Presentation‘, 17 March 2014).  There may be other opportunities for more interactive work, but in a conference lecture presentation, I am not required to ‘teach’ the delegates as I would a class of undergraduates.  There will have been no requirement for them to prepare beforehand, nor to provide any form of submission for assessment afterwards.

However, during the course of my regular employment, the situation is rather different.  I now realise that some of the impediments to a successful outcome are entirely outwith my control; a one-off lecturing opportunity inevitably lacks much of the context that a series of classes will inherently have.  (See my reflections on Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction, 4 April 2014, in which I identify ‘events’ that I can, or cannot influence.)

Furthermore, I cannot set assessed assignments; and lastly, drawing upon my understanding of deep, surface and strategic learning, (Lublin, n.d.) it is clear that students will pay less attention to a skill that they perceive as periferal.  Students at a conservatoire are motivated to act, produce, dance, sing, play, improvise, compose, conduct or analyse, but undergraduates are unlikely to regards database use as high priority, unless their course leaders encourage it.  (One would imagine that research students would be more aware of the important of research and bibliographic skills.)

Nonetheless, the more opportunity I have to contextualise my ‘lecture’ – and indeed to query whether it has to be a lecture, or whether there might be opportunities to ‘flip the classroom’ and make the session a more interactive seminar – the better for all concerned.  (Khan, 2012)  If I can avoid formal lectures and strive to get students more actively involved, then this will be all to the good.  I can also email class groups in advance, or have their course leader contact them, to tell them what I’ll be talking about, and perhaps suggest some familiarisation action they might do beforehand.  And I can also send follow-up emails urging students to let me know if they’d like to know more about anything we’ve discussed.  Such ‘framing’ is a reasonable substitute for the kind of context inherent in a longer series of classes.  Contemplating the kind of teaching I’ve done recently or am about to do, it is helpful to draw upon Bloom’s Taxonomy.  I blogged about this in my post, More Reading – Bloom’s Taxonomy, 4 April 2014, observing that in something as apparently dry as research or bibliographical skills training, engaging the students’ affective domain first (ie, feelings, emotions and behaviour), might be the best way to bring them to a point of realising that there are advantages in adopting a systematic, and preferably digital approach.

I have reflected at length about teaching in the library context, in my blogpost, Contexts for Learning, and Positive Changes, 5 April 2014.

The Teaching Artist course has given me much food for thought, and it is clear to me that, whilst my work with groups of students is certainly teaching (albeit more akin to study skills or academic knowledge than practical, creative artistry), my work with my church choir is rehearsing, or musical direction, but it is is not teaching in the classroom sense.  (I began to reflect on being a reflective teacher in my own situation, vis-a-vis being a choral trainer, on 17th March in my reflective journal: Time for Some Reading.)
If I want singers to learn a choral piece, this is hardly the same as learning an intellectual concept or even a database-searching technique.  Working with a group of singers with varying abilities at sight-reading and indeed, music-reading, means that repetition and a degree of learning by rote is wholly appropriate and almost unavoidable.


Khan, S. (2012). The one world schoolhouse : education reimagined  (London : Hodder & Stoughton, 2012)













3. Lesson Plan: Research and Bibliographic Skills

I’ve embedded my Word document, but I am not very confident that it will look presentable in blog form. Here goes … (You can follow comments from our shared space by clicking HERE.)


CLASS DETAILS (adapt headings in this section to suit your learning / teaching context)

Programme / Course Title : Research Degrees at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Project / Topic Lesson is linked to (if relevant):
Learning Outcome Lesson is linked to: Research Skills


Student Group: Doctoral and MPhil Students
Level (eg: P5 / S1) or context (Intergenerational..) SCQF Levels 11-12, Masters and Doctoral Degrees.
No. of students in Session 8-10


Venue / Room: Research Lab, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Learning Materials / Resources Online databases (RCS subscriptions and others that are freely available)
Equipment 2 x PCs, and students’ own laptops
Learning Technologies Various interactions with online databases




Lesson Title: Research and Bibliographic Skills
Context: Annual seminar providing instruction on research and bibliographic skills to the research students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Monday 19th May, 6-7 pm. Although one of a series of evening events run for our research community, this particular session is not publicly advertised, but is offered to students engaged in research. It is stand-alone, insofar as it does not fit into a formal curriculum or structured series of classes.
Lesson Learning Outcomes* The verbs used to describe the learning outcome should be appropriate to the level and stage of development of the learners the lesson is for (Use CfE Outcomes / SCQF level descriptors or other Indicators as appropriate). SCQF Characteristic 2 (PRACTICE: APPLIED KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND UNDERSTANDING) requiresstudents at Levels 11 and 12 to demonstrate competence ‘in applying a range of standard and specialised research and/or equivalent instruments and techniques of enquiry.’The research students will explore some key databases and bibliographic tools, and learn to exploit them as techniques of enquiry and documentation.
By the end of this session students should be able to:
Recognise key research resources and freely available bibliographic citation software
Devise search strategies to retrieve relevant research literature
Compile a bibliography suitable for scholarly writing.
  1. .
Recognise these research capabilities as essential for a future academic career, but also as employability skills in the wider sense.
Time Available: 60’
Notes Tutor will email research students in advance of the seminar, advising them of the topics to be covered, and inviting them to come prepared to discuss web applications and methodologies that they have already encountered.


Lesson Structure*


Estimated Time for Completion Teacher Activity Learner Activity Resources/Notes
17.00-17.05 Introduction to the learning outcomes and structure of the seminar
17.05-17.10 Overview of some key sources
17.10-17.20 Tutor moves between pairs, inviting students to use computers as appropriate to demonstrate resources they already know Students discuss in pairs: share with each other one research database you find useful; the steps you have taken to begin your bibliography; any concerns about using e-resources PCs and laptops
17.20-17.30 Tutor calls group back, inviting each pair to introduce each other’s favourite web resource and bibliographic methodology, and any concerns about e-resources Students describe each other’s favourite web resource and bibliographic methodology, and any concerns about e-resources PCs and laptops
17.30-17.40 Tutor picks up and addresses issues arising from the discussion. Students’ earlier observations direct the nature of the discussion. Students are invited to suggest topics for demo searches PCs and laptops
17.40-17.55 Tutor demonstrates her own use of Mendeley as a bibliographic tool, and introduces Zotero. Also Diigo; and a low-tech alternative to online technologies for bibliography. Any student using Zotero invited to demo how they use it. PC
17.55-18.00 Summary: recap on topics covered in this session.To conclude, explain that tutor will email all students to follow-up this session; further training can be arranged if requested directly or via Research Lecturer. Students invited to identify which of these resources they might find worthy of further exploration.Any questions?


* Your Lesson structure should include:


Time to introduce tasks/activities to the group

Time for students to engage in the activities (either independently, or in groups).

Time for formative assessment/feedback (to check learning and understanding).

Time to link lesson to other activities and time to set out any independent learning tasks learners are expected to engage in before your next session with them.


Click here for comments on the lesson plan on our collaborate space, MySite

Theoretical Account: Session on Research & Bibliographical Skills


I have been asked to provide an hour’s instruction on research and bibliographic skills to the research students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, on Monday 19th May between 6-7 pm in the Research Lab. Having provided this training for several years running, I have free rein within the broad subject area, but my challenge is to attempt to make the session more interactive, and more aligned with best pedagogical practice. The seminar is one of a series of evening events run for our research community. Lectures by visiting speakers are public, and thrown open to all Conservatoire staff and students, but mine is more by way of practical advice to students engaged in doctoral research, and is not offered to the wider community. It is stand-alone, insofar as it does not fit into a formal curriculum or structured series of classes. Additional challenges are the unknown variables of student numbers; their experience and/or expertise in the topic; and the absence of any form of assessment.

There are a couple of permanently networked PCs in the research lab, and individual students often have their own laptops, so there will web access during the seminar, facilitating some hands-on exploration of tools that the students may not yet have encountered.

National Policies and Strategies impacting on Learning and Teaching
Instructors in the Conservatoire are guided by the legislative framework set forth by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for all Higher Education Institutions, viz the UK Quality Code for Higher Education. (Quality Assurance Agency, 2013) Of particular interest is Part B, ‘Assuring and enhancing academic quality’, where Chapter B4 is devoted to, ‘Enabling student development and achievement’. Taking responsibility for their own learning, and making effective use of available services and resources are specifically highlighted, and my seminar is intended to help research students achieve this.

I am also informed by the Vitae Researcher Development Framework, (Vitae, 2014) which articulates four specific zones in which doctoral students are expected to gain competence, irrespective of their subject:-

• (A) Knowledge and intellectual abilities;
• (B) Personal Effectiveness;
• (C) Research governance and organisation;
• (D) Engagement, influence and impact.

Each area is further subdivided into three specific capacities. Research and bibliographic skills are obviously essential, particularly in the first two areas. Information seeking and information literacy are explicitly listed under (A); and research management under (C).

Teaching and Learning Theories and Intended Learning Outcomes
Edwards et al remind us that learning takes place in different formal and informal contexts, particularly in the context of today’s enthusiasm for lifelong learning (Edwards, 2009). We can imagine the learning context as being various strata, or levels, and it follows that learning can be formal or informal (along a continuum), personal or in an educational system, and perhaps situated in communities of practice. My session, whilst in the context of a traditional seminar, is predicated upon the assumption that students will continue informal, independent practice in the use of citation conventions, and will experiment with bibliographic management systems until they choose the one that best suits their needs, since their final written output will require competence in both citation and bibliography-building. I am thus teaching skills that will ultimately be absorbed and assimilated into daily practice. Furthermore, some bibliographic software can be used collaboratively (rather like Dropbox or a wiki), so a bibliography could technically be compiled by a group of researchers, thereby enabling them to incorporate it into their community of practice.

In my efforts to make my teaching more interactive, encouraging students to participate in the session and form their own opinions on the methodologies I introduce, I find John Biggs’ theories on constructive alignment have particular resonance (Biggs, 2003). My teaching and learning activities (TLAs) must be designed in such a way that students attain the intended learning outcomes (ILOs); Biggs remarks that, ‘The learner finds it difficult to escape without learning appropriately’ (ibid).

Since this session is free-standing and perforce lacks context, one of the ways by which I hope to surmount this is by emailing the research student community in advance of the seminar, advising them of the topics I shall be covering, and inviting them to come prepared to discuss web applications and methodologies that they have already encountered. I think that my teaching to date may have been rather too didactic (perhaps influenced by the behaviourist tradition, but on a more prosaic level, because of the era I grew up in), but I am determined to adopt a more cognitive approach by trying to follow Biggs’ methodology, aims and objectives, getting students to think for themselves more, thereby guiding them as they reach their own conclusions and form their own opinions about the topics I’m introducing.

In the seminar itself, I am considering two different approaches depending on the number of students present. I shall introduce the subject (databases and sourcing research material; and matters relating to bibliographic citation), and then if there are enough students present, I shall divide them into pairs to discuss both aspects, bringing the group back together to consolidate the discussion. If there are insufficient numbers, this will have to be a group discussion throughout, but I would then have to take care to separate both topics in the early part of the discussion, before the summing up. In either event, I would urge students to use the networked pcs to visit the websites that I had highlighted, either to show one another sites that they already used, or to look at unfamiliar sites. I believe the hands-on element to be very important, as such experimentation and personal experience will enhance the knowledge retention. Moreover, curiosity will hopefully inspire attendees to search for subject matter relevant to their own research. My own contributions as instructor will also, following constructivist theory, provide scaffolding to support their learning, by providing context and drawing threads together. (Mayes, 2004)

Biggs introduces four distinct steps in the design of the teaching session, namely (op. cit.):-

1 Defining the intended learning outcomes (ILOs)
2 Choosing teaching/learning activities likely to lead to the ILOs
3 Assessing students’ actual learning outcomes […]
4 Arriving at a final grade

In the present context, the first two steps are crucial, but there will be no formal assessment and no final grade. Nonetheless, it is my intention to follow up by emailing those present, to establish whether they found the session helpful, and whether there are any further questions on the resources introduced, or requests for other topics to be covered.

My definition of the ILOs will be informed by a table shared by the UK Centre for Legal Education on the Higher Education Academy: ‘Writing learning objectives using Bloom’s taxonomy’ (Higher Education Academy, 2010). Bloom divided learning into cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains, each further divided into stages of increasing complexity. I do not consider the psychomotor domain to have much relevance in my session; indeed, Alan Chapman notes that Bloom himself did less research into this domain. Chapman suggests that Bloom felt the academic environment was not as well-situated to research the acquisition of manual and physical skills. (Chapman, 2009)

Nonetheless, in terms of the cognitive domain, it is clear that I want the students to know, understand and be able to apply some of the techniques I introduce, hopefully being able in time if not to analyse, then at least to be able to compare the techniques with some discernment.

A summary of my ILOs, taking this approach, would therefore be the following:-

Research resources
• You will know about some of the key databases and websites for gathering information pertinent to your research
• You will appreciate the differing kinds of information available from these sources
• You will be inspired to apply some of these search techniques in your research over the coming weeks and months
• You will in time develop informed opinions as to which methodologies are most useful in your field of research

Bibliographic citation
• You will know some of the different ways of maintaining your bibliography
• You will know which citation conventions are generally used at the Conservatoire
• You will understand the importance of accurate citation following a single convention.

Research resources and bibliographic citation
• You will appreciate the importance of gaining these research capabilities, which not only prepare you for a possible future academic career, but also contribute to employability skills in the wider sense.


Biggs, J. (2003). ‘Aligning teaching for constructing learning‘. Higher Education Academy Resources Centre. Retrieved April 07, 2014, from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/resources/database/id477_aligning_teaching_for_constructing_learning.pdf

Chapman, A. (2009). bloom’s taxonomy of learning domains – bloom’s learning model, for teaching, lesson plans, training cousres design planning and evaluation. Businessballs.com website. Retrieved April 07, 2014, from http://www.businessballs.com/bloomstaxonomyoflearningdomains.htm

Edwards, R. (2009). Edwards, Richard; Biesta, Gert and Thorpe, Mary eds. (2009). Rethinking contexts for learning and teaching: Communities, activities and networks. London, UK: Routledge. web abstract. Retrieved April 07, 2014, from http://oro.open.ac.uk/17118/

Higher Education Academy. (2010). “Writing learning objectives using Bloom”s taxonomy‘, June 2010. Higher Education Academy Resources Centre. Retrieved from http://www.ukcle.ac.uk/resources/personal-development-planning/table/

Mayes, T. & S. de F. (2004). JISC e-Learning Models Desk Study. Stage 2, Review of e-learning theories, frameworks and models (43 pages, from Issue 1.). JISC study. Retrieved April 07, 2014, from http://inspire.rcs.ac.uk/pluginfile.php?file=%2F15047%2Fmod_resource%2Fcontent%2F1%2FReview of e-learning theories%2C.pdf

Quality Assurance Agency. (2013). The Quality Code. Retrieved from http://www.qaa.ac.uk/AssuringStandardsAndQuality/quality-code/Pages/default.aspx

Vitae. (2014). About the Vitae Researcher Development Framework. Retrieved from https://www.vitae.ac.uk/researchers-professional-development/about-the-vitae-researcher-development-framework

NB This bibliography and all references are compiled using Mendeley, which is the bibliographic citation tool I recommend!

Click here for comments on this theoretical account on MySite – our Teaching Artist collaborative space.

 Online Discussion Assessment Karen McAulay

The Teaching Artist Short Course

Online Discussion Forum Self-Assessment Sheet ( Lesson Plan and Learning Theories)

Student name: Karen McAulay Date: 7 May 2014

Leading and Facilitating Your Online Discussions


Planned learning outcomes

Level of attainment

Comments ( What evidence do you have to justify your grade)

To what extent did the discussion you were leading enable you to locate your own interests and concerns about the different learning theories and communicate how you have used them to design your lesson plan to others?


High average low

10 9 8 7 6


5 4 3 2 1 I think I was able to articulate my own interests and concerns, and communicate how I’ve applied my basic grasp of the theories appropriately in my own lesson plan, etc. Because I probably have less teaching experience than some of my classmates, grasping the theoretical background was a bit more difficult for me, but I did my best to assimilate the necessary knowledge.


During discussions did you demonstrate that you had a conceptual grasp, knowledge and understanding of the learning theories to lead, inform and direct the discussion?


10 9 8 7 6


5 4 3 2 1 I did my best to demonstrate this, but I did not get very much feedback.


Did you present information and, concepts effectively that engaged others in the discussion and encouraged them to reflect on their own lesson plan?


10 9 8 7 6


5 4 3 2 1 I did my best to present information and concepts effectively; however, I’m not sure how much my contributions encouraged them to reflect on their own lesson plan.


To what extent were you able to present arguments clearly?


10 9


8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 I think I’m quite good at presenting arguments clearly.


Were you able to answer questions raised by others satisfactorily?


10 9 8


7 6 5 4 3 2 1 From my vantage point as a slightly atypical teacher, I think I did answer questions satisfactorily.


To what extent did your peers learn from your contributions and to what extent did your contributions encourage them to identify and critically examine key issues arising from their lesson plan?


10 9 8


7 6 5 4 3 2 1 If I’m honest, I’d say that they probably learnt about my practice and subject-matter, but that my own comments on other people’s posts lacked incisive substance. I did feel handicapped by my ignorance about other people’s specialisms.

4. Summary of my Reflective Journal

Throughout the course I have maintained an online reflective journal on my Teaching Artist blog: https://karenmcaulay.wordpress.com/

Reflective Journal
Reflective Journal

The blog homepage is the reflective journal itself.  Additional pages accommodate my e-portfolio and other relevant information about the various aspects of my professional practice, thus:-

  •  E-Portfolio
  • Feedback – I have few opportunities for requesting feedback, but it is important to me that learner’s comments are gathered together to inform my future practice.
  • Music Librarian – ‘user education’ includes introducing readers to the library catalogue and relevant e-resources as well as encouraging good research and bibliographic skills appropriate to the individual reader’s context and level of study.
  • Musicologist – I give occasional lectures and seminars both within and without the Conservatoire in my capacity as a postdoctoral researcher.
  • Organist/Choir Trainer – the practical, artistic aspect of my profile.
  • PDP – my Professional Development Plan as a Teaching Artist.
  • Personal CV – my scholarly writing and presenting are all part of my professional profile. (Besides keeping my CV up to date with recent papers and presentations, I also maintain an Academia.edu presence; and upload what I can to Research Gate, which is a good discussion forum.)
  • Resources – an almost inevitable outcome of my librarian/musicologist existence (not to mention a key focus of my present postdoctoral research) is that I have honed my bibliographic skills to a high level. The Resources page details my professional reading for the duration of the Teaching Artist course, with occasional annotations. Annotated bibliography is an art in itself; for day-to-day purposes, I only annotate occasional entries .

One of my main objectives in undertaking the Teaching Artist short course was to equip myself with more knowledge and understanding of good contemporary pedagogy. Starting this blog was part of our digital ‘orientation’, both to facilitate our own reflection and to enable us to share comments with our course-leaders and fellow creative artists. This latter activity thus constitutes peer-review, offering each of us the opportunity to make constructive observations about our colleagues’ practice.

As an experienced blogger, reflecting upon various aspects of my work is relatively second-nature to me, but the present subject matter – being a teaching artist and practitioner – was completely new. The 29 posts that I have made include the course assignments (lesson plan, theoretical account, contextual study, theoretical appraisal of my teaching and learning methods, and self-assessment of online discussion), and a few lighter postings when multi-tasking my daily existence threatened to get on top of me; but there are still a good number of postings about my course studies.

In general, the blog represents a series of reflections on recommended course readings; and on my own practice. I have sought to reflect upon ways in which the theoretical readings can be applied to my professional teaching practice. (There was a period of adjustment as I realised that my usual third-person, objective research mode of writing needed to be adapted to suit first-person reflection in this new ‘social sciences’ discipline.)   I have had opportunity to reflect before, during and after teaching or presenting experiences, and hope to continue in this practice in the months to come, in order to build upon positive and lessen negative outcomes in the future.

Of all the readings that I have done, constructive alignment theory resonated the most with me, and I read various recommended articles by John Biggs before I wrote my blogpost about it on 2 April 2014:-


Bloom’s Taxonomy and Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction were also particularly interesting, occasioning reflective posts of their own on 4 April 2014:-



I had already read Salman Khan’s The One World Schoolhouse (2012) before attending the Teaching Artist course, so I have some familiarity with the concept of ‘flipping the classroom’. Even if Khan’s practice is primarily in the digital world, the idea that students make their own meaning in their studies by being more practically involved in them, is just as much applicable to face-to-face teaching. Many of my readings, but most particularly those by Biggs, made me begin to realise that I needed to make my teaching much more interactive, and my lesson-plan for a session on postgraduate research and bibliographic skills has been designed to take this into account.  Once I had shared the lesson plan in our collaborative space, Steph gave me helpful feedback, reassuring me that I was thinking along the right lines:-

“Hi Karen, I like how precise and to the point your lesson plan is. Everything is described in a clear fashion that makes it easy to understand each activity. Do you find that 60 minutes is a suitable amount of time to teach the students what they need to know? The learning outcomes here would make this a very useful session to include at the beginning of a Higher education course, when research and bibliographic skills are expected to be used on a regular basis. I certainly felt/feel intimidated and unsure about the correct way to document references and resources, so it would have helped me!”

Steph continued,

“It certainly sounds that you have quite a challenge on your hands delivering the amount required into the time you are given, and I think you utilise you materials and resources very well by exercises such as the emails beforehand and follow-up that you offer. Don’t worry about being a pain …”

Another problem that my reflections continually came back to, was the lack of context and continuity in the kind of teaching that I’m required to do. Again, with the abovementioned lesson-plan, I’ve tried to create context by contacting students in advance of the session (see the invitation HERE), and also sought instant feedback at the end of the session.  The lesson took place today (19 May 2014), and I intend to follow up with an email to all students and their course-leader a couple of days later, once I’ve transcribed and summarised the feedback forms.

Reading about deep, surface and tactical learning was informative, and reinforced my long-held belief that students do not always see the relevance of information skills to their courses in a conservatoire. If learning how to access a particular database or format a bibliography are not directly relevant to, for example, learning the harpsichord, and moreover are not even assessed, then they are reluctant to engage fully – even tactical learning will not take place. I need to continue to work on ways of helping students see the connection between information literacy and academic success, and the major benefits for their future careers whenever information is needed for a programme note or other piece of written work, whether creative or perhaps linked to a business proposal.

Indeed, I can draw certain parallels between my information skills teaching and the sessions I have led on the Scottish music BA course. When I’m talking about historical Scottish song collections, my subject matter is at least pertinent to the degree course. However, my research was effectively a combination of musicology and cultural history, whilst student on the Scottish music course are primarily motivated by performing, composing and improvising it. My material is informative, and there certainly is the expectation that these students will have a thorough grounding in the history of their subject, but I have to accept that 18th – 19th century Scottish musical and cultural history may not have as much appeal as a series of gigs or a recording session. Again, I must continue to seek ‘hooks’ to draw them into my historical world, and find ways of demonstrating the relevance of the subject that I am teaching. This is definitely an area that I would like to continue to read and reflect upon, and I should like this to evolve into a more scholarly article in due course.

5. Professional Development Plan (click to view .pdf )

6. Bibliography

Because teaching bibliographic skills is part of my teaching practice, I’d like to demonstrate the fact that there are different ways of presenting a bibliography.   The most common way is as a typed list at the end of a piece of written work.   You can use various styles (eg the commonly-used Harvard citation method, the Chicago style, the MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association) style, and a number of other ones.   I shall produce my bibliography in the Harvard style using the Mendeley plug-in for Word, at the end of this e-portfolio.

However, I kept my Teaching Artist bibliography as a list of Resources on a separate page of my reflective journal during the Teaching Artist course, and you’ll find that page HERE.  Obviously, it wouldn’t be much use for a written paper, but in the context of a web resource, it does have a certain validity.

Lastly, you’ll note that my Resources page begins with an enigmatic link to my Diigo list.  That’s a list of my weblink favourites, which I can access on any electronic device.  I’ve kept it for a long time, so there are hundreds of links with appropriate keyword indexing.  I can access it anywhere, so I can relatively easily recall useful links that I have found in my various roles as librarian, musicologist, performing musician and so on.  I commend Diigo to any student, researcher or teacher – it’s really very useful indeed.


The link below takes you to a Word document with the bibliography produced from my Mendeley online bibliography.   Building up this bibliography took me 3 months, but producing the Word document took only 30 minutes.  (I have continued to augment my Resources link and Mendeley bibliography, but the link below was accurate to 15 May 2014.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY formatted using Mendeley plugin




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Musicologist and Pedagogue trapped in a librarian's body. I'm qualified in music, librarianship and education. I began this blog when I was studying for my PGCert in Learning & Teaching in Higher Arts Education, and I'm now using it for CPD. I'm a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Midweek I am continuing the research I commenced as PI for an AHRC-funded research network @ClaimedStatHall – early legal deposit music. Off-duty I'm hard-wired into my sewing machine!

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