MicroCPD: Leading student seminars

This week Nicola Taylor introduces a Canvas-based resource to help with small group teaching


The Canvas module can be found at https://canvas.bham.ac.uk/courses/10644

This Canvas course, the product of an on-going BEF funded project, encompasses 3 central modules:

  • Preparation
  • In the seminar
  • After the learning/teaching session.


This module contains short interviews with various key figures around the university talking about the importance of the admin tasks that are part of a Small Group Teacher’s brief, inclusivity and diversity, student services, and how to make effective use of the technology provided in the teaching/learning space. There are also clips of students discussing the transition into academic study and university, disability, and the international student experience.

In the seminar

The seminar activities are based around short film clips that capture peer feedback and discussion on PGTA’s own teaching, more experienced academics’ demonstration of critical incidents, such as lack of student preparation for a seminar, difficulties in engaging student participation, and ensuring students understand assignment rubrics. A variety of ways to approach each scenario is demonstrated, and each clip is accompanied by comments from the undergraduate participants - in this way a collaborative partnership is maintained between Small Group Teacher, student seminar participant, and PGTA mentor.

After the session

This module contains a section on marking and feedback.

Top and Tail

These clips are preceded by short talks from a variety of key figures in the College, and the university, to show the role that SGT plays within the wider educational experience of their students, and are followed by a ‘What’s out there to help my students’ and ‘What's next for me?’ section - looking ahead to opportunities, including, for example, applying for recognition through HEA fellowships in the longer term.

Phase 2

Phase 2 of the project (underway) is to include pages on working with students in a lab, leading problem-solving workshops and seminars, and raising awareness of incidents that can occur that impede learning and teaching if there is a gender imbalance, or preponderance of students from a particular ethnic group, whatever that group may be.

Further plans are to develop the module on following up after the session, and to work in liaison with the Birmingham International Academy to provide guidance on helping international students to achieve their full potential while studying at the University of Birmingham. All comments and suggestions gratefully received! N.taylor@bham.ac.uk