Pedagogic research

Studying Literary Texts: The Learning Process

Studying Literary Texts: The Learning Process

“Learning is best monitored by the individual when s/he takes time recording personal responses to a text or a discussion on a text. Learning is a building process so it is necessary to record ideas as they come to you so you can observe how your learning improves.”


The English Subject Centre always sought to foster a quality that might be called pedagogic imagination. As stimulus and support for imaginative practice, the ESC warmly encourages colleagues to engage in a range of related activities which may be described as, variously, Pedagogic Research, Scholarship of Teaching, and Reflective Practice. What the activities along this spectrum have in common is exercising an estrangement effect on the taken-for–grantedness of teaching and learning. They propose the value of articulating ideas and questions about the relations between learner, teacher, and the object of study. They propose to raise tacit knowledge to the level where it can be consciously questioned, affirmed, or modified. Above all, such approaches have a pragmatic orientation, in suggesting that teaching and learning may be enhanced through processes that include both reflection on experience and the gathering and analysis of empirical information.

The ESC believes that writing and research about pedagogy can be as important and as valuable as subject research traditionally so conceived. Like subject research, it can possess those qualities of originality, significance and rigour which the RAE rightly prizes. In any case, these need not be two mutually exclusive domains. Thus a nineteenth century scholar might address ethical and educational encounter in the novel, or a linguist study the discourses and pragmatics of the seminar. Writing for an audience is a social as well as conceptual dimension of creative writing, and colleagues can and do explore performance as a key to early modern drama and its classrooms.

Underpinning these pages is a belief that, in the words of Mary Huber, the scholarship of teaching needs to be

a big tent where there is space for small-scale efforts aimed mostly at local improvement as well as more ambitious, sustained work on a larger scale.

In the pages that follow, we briefly explore a group of connected ideas.