Welcome to our first #3MP – #3MinutePaper challenge – post.

It’s difficult to find time to read the scholarly literature on higher education learning and teaching – but there is valuable research out there. Three minutes of reading? That can be done!

The #3MP was created by our Faculty’s own Rebecca Gelding, who is a PhD candidate in Cognitive Science and participant in the Teaching Induction Program (TIP). On her blog, Music on the Mind, she describes #3MP like this:

Take a paper from your field and write a post about it that would take 3 minutes to read and would explain the content to a non-specialist audience. In a talk, 3 minutes would be about 400 words, but silent reading is faster so I think a rough guide of 600 words would be do-able. The post is not necessarily covering all the details of the paper but find the key points that can be drawn from it (a key take home message).

Our first #3MP sticks close to home, and focusses on a journal article by Dr Laurie Field in Educational Studies. The 2015 paper, Whither teaching? Academics’ informal learning about teaching in the ‘tiger mother’ university, was a focus of discussion for the first Foundations in Learning and Teaching (FiLT) session earlier this semester.

In Whither teaching?, Field (2015)* discusses some of the informal learning about their teaching that academics’ experience during performance development reviews. These include:

Showing that it is possible to ‘read’ a paper in less than three minutes, here is a dot point summary:

  • Field (2015) frames the recent changes in higher education: the university as alma mater (a nurturing and kindly ‘university mother’ protecting a community of scholars) has become a ‘tiger mother’ (Chua, 2011: the controlling, high-expectation parent driving the child to achieve with ambitious goals and threats)
  • There is tension between individual values and everyday experience and university expectations and institutional interests
  • In this challenging environment, academics learn informally about the value of teaching:
    • teaching has less status than research
    • developing innovative learning materials is a waste of time
    • the rhetoric ‘teaching quality’ means little in practice
    • the best option is to ‘keep your head down’.

While participants in FiLT had experienced some of this negative informal learning about teaching, there was a positive: no one thought developing innovative learning materials was a waste of time.

A take home messages to extend the lessons from the article: Informal learning offers a space in which colleagues can share their understandings and experiences of teaching. Student peer learning is a great example of how successful this can be, and TIP and FiLT offer an opportunity to practice peer review of teaching.

If you would like to write a #3MP post on a topic related to learning and teaching in your discipline, please contact Agnes Bosanquet (Senior Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Human Sciences):


Written by Beverly Miles and Agnes Bosanquet

 *Field, L. (2015) Whither teaching? Academics’ informal learning about teaching in the ‘tiger mother’ university. International Journal for Academic Development, 20 (2): 113-25.

Adapted image courtesy of:

Posted by Learning Innovation Hub

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *