Independent Thinking on Teaching in Higher Education

From theory to practice

By: Erik Blair


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Size: 198 x 126mm
Pages : 176
ISBN : 9781781353691
Format: Paperback
Published: August 2020

Dr Erik Blair's Independent Thinking on Teaching in Higher Education: From theory to practice is a refreshing and invigorating exploration of what really matters and what really works in higher education teaching.

This book offers an insight into an area of higher education that has become more significant of late: the art of teaching. It focuses on the actual work of teaching and gives thought-provoking and perceptive guidance on how to teach in a meaningful and engaging manner.

Written in an accessible style by an author with over 20 years' experience in education, Independent Thinking on Teaching in Higher Education doesn't bamboozle with abstract terminology. Instead, Erik guides readers through topic-driven chapters that offer practical answers supported by rationales drawn from everyday experience. Alongside the core themes, he also provides bite-sized nuggets of wisdom' that prompt readers to implement flexible and effective strategies as part of their daily practice.

The book offers a deeper understanding of the roles and responsibilities of those who teach in higher education, and also covers the three areas measured in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF): teaching quality, the learning environment, and the educational and professional outcomes achieved by students. Furthermore, Erik goes beyond the lecture theatre and seminar room by including a section dedicated to teaching online ' that is, how to get the best out of delivering content to students remotely via the virtual learning environment.

Ideal for those new to teaching in higher education as well as more experienced practitioners who want to continue honing their craft, Independent Thinking on Teaching in Higher Education embraces teaching and learning as a personal and human activity – and encourages educators to reflect on how the suggested approaches can be applied in their particular teaching environment.

Suitable for all educators working in higher education.

Independent Thinking on Teaching in Higher Education is one of a number of books in the Independent Thinking On ... series from the award-winning Independent Thinking Press.

Picture for author Erik Blair

Erik Blair

Dr Erik Blair is Senior Lecturer in Higher Education Research and Practice at the University of West London. He has been an educator for over 20 years and has taught in universities in the UK and overseas, and is passionate about enhancing engagement and interaction within the teaching and learning environment.


  1. A useful and compact book for the lecturer just starting out on their journey of andragogy or for the more experienced teacher to reflect on their modes of practice and consider a new direction.  Reflecting on key aspects of assessment processes and encouraging using a reflective framework to uncover best practices, this book offers a concise guide to key elements of Tertiary education practice.
  2. I would-¯recommend this book to anyone thinking about beginning a teaching career in higher education. It provides a highly engaging and accessible style of writing throughout, as Erik communicates how his pedagogical approach places student engagement at the heart of meaningful thinking and learning through collaboration and critical thinking. The chapters explore pedagogy and teaching in a meaningful way, clearly explaining key terms, while the -˜little nuggets of wisdom'-¯offer an excellent conduit towards putting these ideas into practice. A great resource to help educators navigate the experiences of working in higher education. 
  3. Independent Thinking on Teaching in Higher Education is an authoritative book that will be of much value to both new and experienced teachers in higher education, sharing theoretically informed and practically rooted advice on how to plan for better student learning. It offers outstanding accessible guidance for good teaching by drawing on ideas and empirical evidence from practice, and provides thoughtful and wide-ranging analysis of the multiple aspects informing good teaching practice. Furthermore, the -˜nuggets of wisdom' at the end of each chapter provide excellent ideas to implement in our teaching and stimulate our thinking to enhance our practice.  

    Essential reading for anyone concerned with, and committed to, offering high-quality learning experiences to their students. 
  4. This book is extremely timely, offering what teachers in higher education want and need: practical support in how to improve their everyday practice. Blair's -˜little nuggets of wisdom' give useful tips that can serve as a reminder to those who have been teaching for some time and as a confidence-builder for those who are new to the profession.  

    Supported by an easy-to-read narrative style, Independent Thinking on Teaching in Higher Education is a must for those wishing to give more to their students. 
  5. Independent Thinking on Teaching in Higher Education is a very interesting and timely publication that offers a comprehensive overview of many aspects of teaching and learning in higher education.  

    The book asks important questions and offers useful insights into the ways in which the role of a university lecturer has changed over time. There is both a philosophical and practical element to the text, and Erik's voice of experience comes through in a reassuring manner. Each area of discussion is forward-thinking and concludes with challenges to consider and tips to try out. Also provided is a selection of useful teaching tools for those who are new to teaching in higher education and as well as those who offer training and CPD within higher education institutions. 

    The author understands very well that the key to successful encounters in education at any level is engagement: getting students involved and interested. Erik employs many useful analogies and metaphors in this regard that I imagine will be used again and again as the book comes into common usage, as it is often quite difficult to offer examples that cover generic principles over a wide range of subject areas. He also weaves key messages throughout the text, such as that of placing emphasis on learning rather than on content or what might be termed knowledge, while other crucial pointers - such as clarity around success criteria and ensuring purposefulness within any lesson structure or plan - are explored too. 

    The book provides a great deal of useful background to the debates that have been circling for many years about the purpose of higher education. These tensions are important and Erik provides a portal to understanding why it is so crucial for students to remain critical throughout their studies and into their own careers, whatever they may be.  

    Erik also explores the nature of assessment in relation to the pros and cons of the multitude of methods on offer. There is a strong emphasis on the key questions of -˜What?' and -˜So what?' in this discussion, which is a useful reminder when discussing this thorny issue. The reader is reminded that the role of an educator is crucial to every individual's relationship with assessment, whether as a conduit for information, a guide through the journey of discovery or as a cultivator of growth in skills - as each is equally important. 

    Ultimately, Independent Thinking on Teaching in Higher Education offers a very reassuring guide to the important things to consider as one develops their craft as a teacher in higher education.  

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