Professor Ian McLaren

Nominated for Best Feedback Provider

Research-inspired learning

Name Professor Ian McLaren
Email I.P.L.McLaren@exeter.ac.uk
Position Professor of Cognitive Psychology
College College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Engaging students through a research-inspired approach

As an active researcher, examining topics of learning, memory and cognition, Professor Ian McLaren is keen for his students to benefit from a research-inspired, inquiry-led approach. As Ian discusses; “the question I guess I ask myself when my students come and see me is: “How can I ensure that the student that leaves my lecture, class or tutorial is better at Psychology than when they came in?”, and then I try and do something that makes sure that happens.”

Striving to deliver a first class educational experience, Ian aims to inspire his students by drawing upon skills and knowledge acquired over 35 years of teaching. As Ian explains:  “You learn what works and what doesn’t; it’s not about tricks or gimmicks. Instead, really well-grounded instruction is necessary… A prerequisite for delivering a first class education is that you’d better be pretty good at your subject. The kind of person who when asked a question, any question, can give the right answer. Then if you meet that criterion, you need to engage your students with an active style of teaching that gets them to participate rather than just sit there. It’s more fun that way, and it works a lot, lot better. Finally you need to have something extra; motivation. If you can communicate your enthusiasm for the subject to your students, then they’ll be unstoppable”.

Innovative assessment and feedback techniques

Nominated at the Student’s Guild Teaching Awards 2015 for ‘Best Feedback Provider’, Ian uses a variety of innovative techniques to assess and provide feedback to students. These include the use of interactive demonstrations, student-led presentations and open discussion during seminars, for example.  As Ian explains, “…a good system of feedback and assessment is vital. How can you get better at something, if you don’t know when you are getting it right and you don’t know when you are getting it wrong? It’s my job to make this clear, hopefully in as a constructive fashion as possible”. 

Aim 3: Research-inspired, inquiry-led learning
To extend the opportunities for students to learn in innovative ways through their own research and inquiry

Research-inspired, inquiry-led learning

"I try and make sure that students working with me get the chance to take part in real research that often leads to publications".

Innovative assessment and feedback

"The key is to encourage the students to actively engage with the material".