“Students can be encouraged to experiment with different narrative techniques themselves, for instance exploring structural devices such as frame narratives by writing them into a fairytale or nursery rhyme.”
The seminar (despite larger numbers and generally shorter timetabling slots) is still – alongside (and usually supplementing) the lecture – a dominant pedagogic genre in English Studies. At most universities, the chances are that a large proportion of your face-to-face interaction with students will take place in seminars.
The object of these pages is to explore ideas about seminar teaching, largely (though we hope not exclusively) in the English Literature domain. We do not intend to be prescriptive. But we hope that these pages will be found useful by recently-appointed lecturers and others in thinking about and developing their own seminar teaching.
“We cannot take for granted that this is a medium students are naturally good at. “
In these pages you will find, first, a short discussion of the principles underpinning seminar teaching, followed by a series of suggestions for structuring a seminar discussion. These range from brief general suggestions to more specific and focused activities, and some detailed activity ideas kindly provided by Barbara Bleiman and Lucy Webster of the English and Media Centre. We next provide specimen checklists for the peer-assessment and self-assessment of your teaching. Finally, you will find some suggested ‘ground rules’ for group activity.
Seminar and small group teaching is the subject of a recently published English Subject Centre good practice guide, Small Group Teaching in English Literature, edited by Jonathan Gibson.
- Other Seminar teaching content
- Seminar teaching case studies
- Seminar teaching projects
- Seminar teaching publications
- Seminar teaching video
- Activity ideas for Seminar teaching
- Principles of Seminar teaching
- Seminar activity ideas 10: A continuum line – exploring and comparing texts, genres, interpretations
- Seminar activity ideas 1: Introducing ways of using critical material
- Seminar activity Ideas 2: Rewriting Nursery Rhymes and Fairytales
- Seminar activity Ideas 3: Zones of Proximity
- Seminar activity Ideas 4: Imaginative ways of organising debate and discussion
- Seminar activity Ideas 5: Using fairy tales to teach key literary techniques and concepts
- Seminar activity Ideas 6: Number Crunching a Text with ‘Word’
- Seminar activity Ideas 7: Using Picture Books to Teach Critical Theory
- Seminar activity Ideas 8: Contemporary Readers – A Contextual Role Play
- Seminar activity Ideas 9: Writing in the style of…
- Seminar teaching: Ground rules for group activity
- Seminar teaching: Self assessment
- Specimen checklist for peer observation / self review
- Strategies for lecture, seminar and independent student work
- Structuring the seminar
- Assessment & the Expanded Text project: Introduction
- Creating and Assessing Discussion Forums in English Studies
- Problem-based learning: Evidencing and Evaluating the Student Experience
- The ASSAP Project – Adding Subject Specificity to Accredited Programmes or “The Pool”
- The Production of University English