Research and inquiry

Pedagogies of Inverted Teaching Models

I begin a PhD at the University of Edinburgh in September 2014 looking at the pedagogies of what I’ve called “Inverted” teaching models. What I mean by this is essentially teacher-not-present methods of teaching like MOOCS, blended learning or so-called “flipped” classrooms. I see connections between these methods and the Cambridge tutorial. I began to explore these connections in my research but had to abandon the project in 2017 to focus on my work as a teacher educator. You can read more about it in my PhD workspace.


Since entering education in 2003, I have been interested in motivation in learning and have conducted informal research into different aspects of the motivation of learners.

A professional project into the effect of praise on pupil engagement was conducted in 2004 at Glenrothes High School with findings linked to the work of Alfie Kohn.

From September 2010 to July 2012, I adapted an idea presented by Tom Chatfield in his 2010 TED talk, 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain, to engage and modify motivation in a challenging classroom environment. This adaption uses games design methods to provide a mechanism by which first extrinsic motivation is induced and then potentially evolved into its intrinsic cousin giving the students a lifelong learning ethos and better opportunities than they otherwise might have had. I reported on this work at Teachmeet SLF12 in September 2012.

Cognitive development

At Glenwood High School in 2008, I set up a challenging cognitive development project and returned to this from time to time to observe how different groups of learners respond to it. I spoke about this at Teachmeet SLF09.

Teachmeets and the Scottish Learning Festival

photo credit: David Muir

Teachmeets and the SLF are valuable and effective CPD. I have been a regular participant in teachmeet events and have organised some of my own (Teachmeet Physics, Perth, March 2009, Teachmeet PhysTech, Dundee, May 2010, and Teachmeet ILW14, February 2014). Some of my presentations are listed below.

  • Online teaching resources at Teachmeet 07 at the SLF. Stuart Meldrum wrote it up.
  • ICT in the classroom at Teachmeet Perth 08. There’s a nice report here.
  • Mathematical modelling in the new Higher at Teachmeet Physics, March 2009. Flashmeeting replay here.
  • A critical thinking task at Teachmeet SLF09 at the BBC. Flashmeeting replay here (from 2:30:00).
  • This is a pencil, Teachmeet Mobile, December 2009 (via audio link). Audio here.
  • Using the WiiMote as an IWB at Teachmeet PhysTech, Dundee, May 2010.
  • Motivation at Teachmeet UK Snow, December 2010 (via video link).
  • Looking for Literacy in Science at Teachmeet Fife, March 2011. Notes here, replay here (13 minutes to 22 minutes).
  • Using games design to motivate in the classroom at Teachmeet SLF12, September 2012.
  • The Cambridge Tutorial at Teachmeet SLF13, September 2013.

I spoke at the Scottish Learning Festival in 2011 on literacies in science following research into media literacy. Feedback from this session:

“…easily the best thing I saw there the whole day.”

“Thanks for getting me to stop and think about what it is I’m actually trying to achieve with the kids I teach…”

“Like many folk, I’ve been struggling somewhat with the whole CfE thing, and what I could and should be doing with the Science I teach, indeed I’ve been embedding, HWB,  literacy and numeracy activities in the work for some while now, but I see that  you’re taking it far beyond that to where it really needs to  go.”

The Times Educational Supplement ran an article on my work with literacy in science in September 2011.

With Drew Burrett, I presented a session entitled, “Sputnik to Pixies – a model for professional communities”, at the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow in September 2012.