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I have been teaching in Higher Education since 2007, initially teaching undergraduate sociology at the University of Leeds, and moving on to teach criminology at Leeds Metropolitan University (now Leeds Beckett). I have also taught criminology at the University of Central Lancashire and I am currently an Associate Lecturer in Criminology at Lancaster University Law School. I have lectured and tutored on a range of topics across the undergraduate programme, including: sociological theory, criminological theory, crime prevention, crimes of the powerful, prisons, restorative justice, and research methods, as well as dissertation supervision and work-based learning modules that linked theory with practice through work placements with West Yorkshire Police.

I am a firm believer in a scaffolding approach to teaching – building complex understanding out of simpler understanding; as well as giving theoretical concepts and argument ecological validity through example and student interaction. A student-centred approach is essential when communicating ideas in this way but this entails a genuine awareness of where students are on their particular learning curve at any particular time and in turn how best to respond. I am, therefore, a committed reflexive practitioner; I solicit on-going feedback from students in order to develop my own skills, monitor student learning, and effect and maintain student engagement.

I firmly believe that in a process of supervised independent learning in which the emphasis necessarily shifts from the former to the latter the foundations of success are student engagement and motivation.

However, my own student experience, as a mature student at the University of Leeds between 2004 and 2007, made me aware that for some students there are limitations in the student learning experience which impact on their learning outcomes. These limitations are a corollary of the pursuit of wider participation and have led to financial imperatives being the primary driving force of HE teaching provision. A practical consequence has been a much broader spectrum of capability amongst student populations. This state of affairs is apparent in many universities but is pronounced in the increasingly commercial HE variant born of former polytechnics and colleges where a financial focus is keenest. This need not be a problem but rather a challenge, provided the response to a new kind of student is a new kind of teaching. Whilst some institutions have responded positively, many have not. As a consequence, far too many students receive little or no support to bridge the capability gap, and only minimal support to fully develop the generic skill set demanded in the graduate employment market.

dr.markedwards@me.com © Mark Edwards 2014