University of Nottingham PGCEi programme modules:

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Description of modules

Approaches to Teaching

This module includes generic materials on 'teaching strategies' and 'aspects of pedagogy'. 'Teaching strategies' includes materials on questioning, group work and other forms of collaborative learning. 'Aspects of pedagogy' includes materials on student management, planning, assessment, differentiation, special educational needs and inclusion, English as an additional language, and ICT in education.

Depending on the age range in their own school, students are offered several choices between early years, primary or secondary approaches.

The aims of the module are to:

  • consider different approaches to teaching and learning
  • develop a deeper understanding of a range of teaching strategies
  • develop professional knowledge, skills, and understanding for teaching
  • improve the quality of reflective practice


'Contexts' is about national and international contexts for education and considers ideas from the philosophy of education about the purposes of education in different national settings.

This introductory module introduces a philosophical, comparative and observational focus which runs throughout the course. Units within the module include 'Purposes of the School Curriculum', 'Understanding International Educational' and 'Understanding the Classroom'.

The aims of the module are to:

  • develop an understanding of education as a world-wide phenomenon
  • enable teachers to understand their own education system from an international perspective
  • develop appreciation of the philosophical basis of the school curriculum
  • develop a range of frameworks for classroom observation
  • encourage forward-looking thinking about schools, classrooms and their purposes

Investigating Student Understanding

In the final module of the course, students are asked to plan and undertake a small-scale classroom investigation in their own schools. The project is an investigation into the cognitive and affective dimension of the development of learners' understanding by focusing on a case study of one or more learners in the student's own educational context.

In preparation for the research and data-gathering processes, there is a unit within the module on methodological principles of practitioner research. Guidance is also offered on the planning, writing and presentation of the study itself. A research plan in the form of a formative assignment is submitted to the course tutor for comment at an early stage of work on this module.

In the light of feedback on this assignment and ensuing discussion, the course tutor recommends relevant academic and professional literature for background reading. The completed assignment relates investigation findings to this preparatory reading material.

The aims of the module are to:

  • develop an in-depth practical grasp of ways in which learners develop understanding
  • develop expertise in classroom based research methodology
  • promote personal reflection and professional learning
  • make appropriate use of professional and academic literature

Understanding Learning

This module is divided into two and focuses on classical theoretical approaches to the conceptualisation of learning, mainly from the field of psychology such as motivation, intelligence, behaviourism, constructivism and neuroscience. The second half presents a number of distinctive approaches to learning.

The unit on motivation and engagement explores the work of Bruner and Maslow. The unit on intelligence invites a critical approach to Multiple Intelligence theory and to currently fashionable theories of learning styles. The unit on Skinner and Piaget elaborates the basic principles of these two theorists and invites students to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their approaches to educational materials.

The unit on ZPD and scaffolding examines the respective approaches of Vygotsky, Bruner and Wood to ways in which children construct knowledge. The unit on neuroscience provides an introduction to what is happening in the brain when learning occurs.

In the second half of the module, students can choose to study Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Freire, Nyerere, and Makiguchi and Gandhi.

The aims of the module are to:

  • become conversant with the basic assumptions, concepts, and principles of a range of learning theories
  • understand the practical classroom implications of each theory
  • be able to compare and contrast theories and their usefulness in specific educational settings
  • review and develop existing personal theories of learning