Dr Graham Hendry, Senior Lecturer with a specialisation in student learning and assessment at the University of Sydney, has been appointed honorary doctor of medicine at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Linköping University.
Hendry's background is in educational psychology. He is interested in teaching and student learning in higher education, and university teachers' professional learning. More specifically, his work examines the design of assessment and feedforward for student learning, and the benefits to staff of peer observation and review of teaching.
Hendry and the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences have worked closely since the '90s and Hendry has been an important contributor and collaborator with the Faculty. His work on problem based learning and information technology has been of great value to the development of the Faculty's own learning systems.
– I feel very honoured by the nomination of Doctor of Medicine from the Board of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Linköping University. I have always admired the open and innovative approach to educational development taken by the Faculty'.
What would you say is the general importance of pedagogy regarding higher education? How do you approach the subject?
– Pedagogy – which I define as teaching practice informed by theory and evidence – is extremely important in higher education for many reasons. A key reason is that pedagogy has the potential to enhance students’ motivation and achievement to high levels; and universities with a focus on the importance of pedagogy can produce graduates with enhanced abilities for their future communities, says Hendry and continues:
Good and excellent pedagogy
– Good pedagogy is also about being a skilled communicator; for example, good lecturing includes being skilful in explaining a subject. Excellent pedagogy is about enhancing a learner’s motivation and self-belief to persist in their effort to learn and be successful. Most university lecturers adopt good pedagogy, however they may find developing their teaching challenging, often because of competition to also produce the best research. I believe that both helping students to be successful, and helping faculty to engage in excellent pedagogy, involves identical principles of learning.
Your research right now focuses much on evaluation research and how to evaluate education?
– This is true, when I began my career in medical education I focused on how we can judge whether we have achieved a quality level of educational experience for our students. A fundamental principle is that we can learn effective skills just from observing each other’s successful performance. We now have good evidence that university teachers can learn from observing colleagues who model exemplary practice.
– We also learn effectively from skillful communication (or receiving good peer feedback) about our teaching. These are key principles in clinical education for example. Teachers can grow in confidence and become more motivated to teach well from both observing other’s practice and receiving good feedback. This is important because our perception of workload is lowered when we are highly intrinsically motivated and engaged in a situation.
You have been working with information and communication technology regarding education during your academic career, how would you say that it has evolved during your years in the field?
– One of the most significant advances has been the invention of smaller, more mobile computational devices. The educational app that runs on these devices is just another way for a teacher to practise skilled communication and enable learning both inside and outside the classroom, for example, through online quizzes with built-in feedback. Sometimes teachers mistrust the ‘educational hype’ that accompanies the introduction of a new technology, which is as it should be, because the benefit to students’ must be based on evidence.
– An app that is proven to be effective because it enhances university students’ motivation and achievement is PeerWise, which involves students in writing good exam questions for each other (and I see that Linköping University uses this app!). An exciting prospect is the evolution of economical technologies that will allow faculty to enhance students’ self-belief to be successful. I think in particular the invention of more authentic simulations for use as formative assessments, aligned for example with problem-based learning approaches, could do this.
"We take pride in our approaches to pedagogy"
You have been appointed honorary doctor at Linköping University and been an important partner and major source of inspiration for our Faculty in the field of problem-based learning? But what have you learned from us?
– What I have learned that is special from Linköping University through meetings with students and working with colleagues is to strive for excellence and take pride in our approaches to pedagogy. The original problem-based learning models at Linköping and Sydney celebrated this.
– Something that has also resonated strongly with me is the Linköping philosophy that learning and teaching should have value for students. I believe the faculty at Linköping University have taken an exemplary democratic approach in treating students as partners in the educational process; and I have been especially impressed by the world-first, ‘student-run’ clinical training ward in the final years of students’ health profession courses. I have taken these ideas back to Sydney and they have inspired me to include students as partners in my educational evaluation work, and to support colleagues’ initiatives in providing interprofessional learning and clinical simulation opportunities for students.
I’ve heard that during your first stay in Sweden you went hiking in the northern parts?
– I love hiking or ‘bush walking’ as we call it in Australia. The ‘bush’ is our forest and in the past I have walked 20 or more kilometres in the wilderness in a day. During my first stay in Sweden I brought my hiking pack, tent and sleeping bag, and from Uppsala caught a train and went walking north of Söderhamn through the countryside to the coast. I remember meeting a very kind couple who gave me a short ride in their car to the beginning of a track that led several kilometres through the forest to a secluded cove, where I swam and then camped the night.
– In the morning I heard the sound of heavy hooves crashing through the undergrowth and imagined it was an Elk, but I never saw it! On the last night of my walk I remember camping by a small, deserted lake in the forest, and pitching my tent near a plant with bright red berries that I thought might be poisonous. I later realised they must have been lingonberries! The Swedish nature and countryside is as beautiful and gentle as its people.
The citiation for Graham Hendry's honorary doctorate: "Dr Graham Hendry, senior lecturer and is appointed honorary doctor of medicine. Since the '90s Hendry has been an important contributor and collaborator with our faculty. His work with problem based learning and information technology has been of great value to the development of the Faculty's own learning systems.
Graham Hendry has, in a very initiated and knowledgeably way, helped us with advice and support when we asked for it, and generously shared experiences, development and training strategies from the Institute for Teaching and Learning, University of Sydney."