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Interview with Dr. Graeme Law

England as a successful academic methodology: an exclusive talk with Dr. Graeme Law, Head of Sport at York St John University

Imagen Dr. Graeme Law

In the following article, we dive into the world of higher education in England, highlighting not only its reputation as an academic destination of excellence, but also the innovative methodologies that shape the educational experience. To shed light on this issue, we sat down with Dr Graeme Law, Head of Sport at York St John University.

With a unique career spanning ten years in higher education, Dr. Law has not only dedicated his life to academics, but also brings a unique perspective as a former professional football player and sports coach. His research delves into the world of professional football and elite athletes, giving us an insider’s view of the connection between sporting performance and academic success.

In this interview, we explore the reasons behind England’s attractiveness as an educational destination, the educational methodologies that have made York St John University a benchmark and how Dr Law’s personal experience has influenced his unique approach to teaching and research.

1- You are a lecturer at York St John University, how would you describe your general approach to university teaching and what are the main principles that guide your teaching methodology?

From my perspective what I put first is the students and I’m sure a lot of people do as well. I think if the students have a great experience, they’re going to be more successful and more keen to learn and develop. That is the priority for me putting the students first and ensuring they’re getting everything they want out of their education experience.

2- How do you incorporate research into your teaching activities?

So research is at the forefront of everything we do it is very very important, so all the staff at York ST John University make research. So therefore we can promote new ideas, we are finding new things and I think if we are leading on research and using that within our teaching, get the students to get in the latest research to take their ideas forward. Get them excited about doing their own research and hopefully they find it fun, and by finding it fun, they want to continue that themselves and they can really develop and find out what they want.

So in terms of how we teach, everything is evidence based, it comes from the research. And in terms of the teaching, in terms of assessments what we do it is delivered across the semesters and we have some exams at the end, but it’s much more independent learning and going away from what we’ve discussed in lectures seminars practicals, turn to read more about it themselves.

3- Will you say that there is an active student participation in the class? And how do you foster interaction and engagement?

I think that’s very important. I think to get students interacting is a way to make sure they’re interested in getting feedback from them. I think it’s important we don’t just stand and talk to the students – we need to get their interactions- and the more we discuss, hopefully the more they’re developing their knowledge, they’re developing an understanding of how to be critical in their thinking.

So the way to do that is by creating a range of different activities such as setting little tasks, group tasks, individual tasks and then we come together as a group and we can discuss those and offer discussions around the room. I think that’s a great way to make sure the sessions are interactive.

4- In the British education system, student autonomy is valued. How do you promote the development of independent learning skills and critical thinking in your students?

What we do is monitoring in terms of understanding, we offer what we call formative assessment and practice assessment as the semester is going, but it is like you say about autonomy and independent learning. So the key it’s making sure they have the skills so they feel confident, but also highlighting that we are here if you need to talk through anything. We offer a lot of tutorial time with the student and we give them the skills to know what literature to go and read what articles to read how to interpret that data.

So it’s a process that we build across that time of university. During year 1 we give them less autonomy, which is when we are giving them the skills to develop that understanding and then we move on to year 2 and 3.

The big final test is the research project in year 3, where they develop their own projects and they go and conduct the research themselves Then it is a process that builds through that university time: they develop their own projects, do the research themselves and then present the data in both written and presentation format and it is a good way to show that they have understood as well as finding a project that they’re very passionate about.

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5- Changing the topic a bit, now that we are in a digitalised world; what is your perspective on the use of technology in university teaching, and how do you integrate digital tools to enhance the learning experience?

I think it’s vital, whether it’s something as simple as recording lessons so that students can watch them back and make sure they have understood the points, as well as being at the forefront of the latest technology so that they have the skills to work with the digital tools that are out there.

For example, in the sports department, for our coaching students, they work with GoPro cameras which have two views: one that is connected to the chest so we can get the first person view and another one on the sides more of a bird’s eye view so they can get both perspectives. Also in our sports science modules we have motion capture cameras to see how bodies move and how they perform.

It is the top of the range technology and enables our students to go into the working environment with the skills they need to succeed.

6- For the last question, I would like to talk about cultural diversity in UK universities, how do you address inclusion and cultural sensitivity in your teaching to ensure a welcoming learning environment for all?

I think firstly it’s through education, so from young grade educate around different cultures, different diversities to make sure everyone is included. But when different students come to the university, it shows that they all interact together and it works very well to set group tasks.

But it all comes down to enjoyment and I think the more we can work in a more diverse environment, the stronger we will all become, because we have a better understanding of different cultures, different environments and different socialisation processes. So if we can work with those people from different people different cultures enhances ourselves, enhances everybody and ultimately we have a more enjoyable experience.