Teaching Excellence Award 2015

REGION 8 EXCELLENCE AWARD 2015:

PROFESSOR LLOYD SCOTT

Q&A with the Region 8 Award Winner

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Professor Lloyd Scott is academic Advisor and Partnership Coordinator at the School of Surveying and Construction Management, DIT, a position he has held since January 2015. Prior to that he was Assistant Head of School and Department Chair in the School of Construction, DIT.

Lloyd was elected the first Region 8 Director of ASC back in 2010 following the establishment of the region. He now serves as an executive board member. He has returned to the ASC board as an Executive Committee member and also serves as secretary to the Board.

A brief summary of main areas of teaching expertise:

Lloyd teaches research methods to construction students at both undergraduate and graduate levels. He also teaches Sustainable Construction to master level students but also as Professor of Practice at Oklahoma University he is currently developing a one credit hour course in Sustainable Construction that will be delivered to CM students at OU from the fall semester 2016.

A key area of expertise that Lloyd possesses is in the area of coaching the collaborative design build team between Oklahoma University and DIT. He has been doing this for the last eight years and has witnessed students excel and develop through this collaborative and exciting initiative.

He has successfully coached collaborative teams in the past.

Many congratulations on your award! How would you characterise your approach to teaching?

My philosophy of teaching is constructivist, believing that every student has the ability to improve as a learner in his/her chosen learning context. In order to optimize this improvement, there are certain things the lecturer/teacher can facilitate, not only regarding instruction or classes, but also for individuals. Every student has a specifically unique background that affects how s/he approaches learning.  As a practitioner, an essential function of education and a satisfying and rewarding aspect of teaching is to motivate students to want to learn. This has always been an underpinning philosophical position of mine and memories of supporting peers during my formative years in the construction industry remain as vivid today as back then. During my time in industry I always aspired to understanding and supporting colleagues through sharing the knowledge I had already acquired.

The challenge for educators is to move learners to the position of inherent motivation (Maslow, 1987). For meaningful learning to take place, motivation and a strategy for learning should encourage the learner to ask reflective questions such as, ‘what can I learn now that will help me in my future learning?’ Building on the work of Dee Fink (2002), the conviction that students are capable of becoming adaptable, flexible, and independent in their learning and decision-making underpins my philosophy on learning. When teachers involve students and promote their independence, they are giving learners an opportunity to make decisions that affect them and so are offering them a chance to shape and direct that learning. Providing this through one’s approach to a subject area can motivate and inspire the learners with whom one comes in contact.

In order for students to develop and learn in this way the role of the lecturer/teacher is very important. It is not sufficient to instruct learners and for them to be passive recipients of knowledge. The role of the academic is to create an environment that will support learning. The work of Dee Fink (2002) has been an inspiration to me in developing my understanding and approach. His theoretical model provides for the creation of significant learning experiences through building on the knowledge, competencies and skills already developed by the learner. This is done against a background of treating the learner as a complete human being in a caring and supportive environment (both in class and outside). Time and space is then created for students to share their knowledge and get feedback from each other on their work in progress.

Also, on the journey through academic life, the reflective process is a worthwhile endeavour for each of us. Embedding this in my approach to learning and teaching but also in my assessment strategy offers the potential for improvement and growth. One approach that has been very effective for me has been the use of portfolio assessment in the delivery of undergraduate CM modules. This strategy has allowed learners to demonstrate their understanding and knowledge of the module learning outcomes through assessment tasks based on their approach to learning. The feedback received from students has convinced me that embedding this type of student-centred approach leads to a very positive and significant learning experience.

What achievements or innovations have given you most satisfaction?

The achievement or innovation that has given me the most satisfaction was getting a third level scholarship to attend Thomond College (now part of the University of Limerick) where I had the opportunity to take and successfully complete a teaching degree in Wood and Building Technology. This opportunity has allowed me to go on and become an educator in the built environment.

What advice would you give to someone looking to develop the way they teach?

The starting point, I believe, for someone who is looking to develop their teaching is to reflect on what they currently do. When this is done, aim to develop one area in your teaching, feedback from students may offer some elements as to what students might engage with and be supportive of.

There is always support at hand from your peers or in many instances from the learning support professionals.

Don’t be afraid to try something new and you may find students will respond very well, especially if you engage them.

What technologies do you find most enhance your teaching?

The technologies that I believe have enhanced my approach to teaching have been the developments in Learning Management Systems (LMS). The overall structure offers the educator the facility to develop and embed meaningful learning opportunities. At DIT, Webcourses is available and while it is a little ‘clunky’ Blackboard have developed a structure that offers flexibility but also a robust infrastructure. As I mainly teach a blended approach, technology is used as a support to my teaching, so I provide resources that assist to the learner experience.

How do you expect higher education to change in the next five years?

Making a prognosis about the future is quite difficult but certainly the impact of technology on higher education will continue the push towards individualized instruction and learning for students. There is currently an impetus in higher education to implement flexible learning strategies through the use of digital technologies, this I believe will continue to grow and develop. For most Irish higher education institutions, there will be a shift in emphasis from adoption to implementation, continued embedding and integration of technology-enhanced learning and the delivery of blended and online learning. Many institutions will need to set targets and establish Continuing Professional Development structures to facilitate the achievement of more digitally literate academics.

Other changes I expect are:

  • a continued transfer of higher education’s costs from public sources to individual students and parents, as well as increased payments from commercial sources.
  • the continued decline in government support, in part taking advantage of the enormous growth in opportunities in recent years to market higher education.
  • the changing research mission in higher education; and
  • the further changes in accountability and governance of higher education institutions.

Away from work, what do you enjoy doing most?

Cycling is my passion and I am a very keen racing cyclist. I compete in the Masters level cycling events in Ireland and I have dual membership of both Cycling Ireland and the Irish Veteran Cycling Association. I have climbed many of the cols in the Savoie region in France with my favourite being the Col du Gabilier. As a ‘man of the Ras’ I returned last year to do the charity version of this eight day classic race around Ireland  which covers in the region of 900km.

Next season I plan to compete on the track where I hope to do the Masters World championships which are due to be held in Manchester UK in September 2016.

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