Seven Key Concepts for University Teaching and Learning

Have you ever wondered about concepts like "constructivist learning" and what this approach means in practice?  How relevant are they to everyday teaching at university?

We have touched on some of them in some of our past coffee courses.  We know that busy teaching academics may have no time for extended studies in educational theory - so here is a great opportunity for you to unpack some of these concepts in five quick snapshots over your daily coffee breaks!

Through taking a closer look at seven key theoretical concepts in higher education practice, we hope that this coffee course will provide you with useful frameworks to aid your development as a university teaching academic.

Course dates

The course will run from Wednesday, November 14th to Tuesday, November 20th, 2018, through this blog. There will be five blog posts, one per working day, where you will be have a chance to read overviews of each concept, explore additional materials, and join in discussions. The average time to peruse each blog post would be around 15 to 20 minutes, and the amount of additional reading you might do via the links will be up to each individual.


  • Day 1 - Why learning theory? How will concepts from learning theory help me in my daily work as a university teacher?
  • Day 2 - Surface vs Deep Learning. How deep do your students dive? What drives them? These ideas will help you think about your students' approaches to learning.
  • Day 3 - Taxonomies of learning and knowledge. Some learning is basic and concrete, other learning requires abstract thought and creativity - how do we move between these different levels of learning and knowledge?
  • Day 4 -  Adult Learning Theory. Do adults learn differently? This is a contested area - let's look at it!
  • Day 5 - Constructivism and some other isms. We will look at exactly what we mean by the word "constructivism" and some associated ideas such as metacognition, student centred learning, and active learning.


Jill Lyall is a Learning Designer with ANU Online, with a long background in designing and teaching courses for adults, and extensive experience in designing on-line learning and technology enhanced learning as well as a passion for designing for great educational experiences.

All are welcome

We welcome all staff, including tutors, demonstrators, professional staff, and academics at the Australian National University and beyond to join us for this course. Professional development recognition is available for all ANU staff through HORUS. Log in to HORUS, and find the course called “AOC021 – “7 Key concepts for University Teaching and Learning” under the Training Catalogue. To receive recognition, you will be required to post a comment on every blog post.


Please feel free to contact with any questions.

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