Dr Krista McLennan

BSc(Hons), MSc, PhD, MRSB, SFHEA, PGCTHLE; Deputy Head of Department for Biological Sciences and Senior lecturer in Animal Behaviour

Teaching philosophy

My teaching philosophy revolves around the student being an active learner and an equal partner in the process of teaching and learning. Teaching for me is about passing on my knowledge and passion for animal behaviour and welfare onto the next generation of carers, scientists and academics. I want my learners to find themselves, and to foster critical thinking so that they are able to be creative when solving real-life problems. I want my learners to not only be well rounded citizens, but also well rounded scientists that can make reasoned, objective judgements when assessing animal welfare. 
As a teacher, I believe my role is to facilitate student learning, and to give them the skills to learn. Learning is about finding, reviewing and critically evaluating information, whilst keeping an open mind on what is being presented. Learners need to explore the information that is available to them and be encouraged as they find their answers. I believe learning should have a practical application and that learners do well when they are able to visualise key theories, observing its application to real-life, practical contexts. To enable this to happen I use a number of different techniques in the classroom such as images, videos, scenarios and role play. By presenting them with the information in a different manner to the written form, learners are encouraged to engage with the information through questioning, general discussion, and creativity. The interactive nature of the information allows learners to offer their opinion on what they are seeing and discuss the information with their peers under the facilitation of the teacher. This enables them to think critically about the information they are presented with and opens them up to varying opinions on the information. I also believe using rigid assessment methods such as multiple choice questions and exams, prevents creativity and stifles learning. Moving away from these types of assessments and opening learners up to more flexible methods of assessments, will enable them to develop more transferable skills as well as allowing them to demonstrate their creativity and ability to think critically about information. 

Learning and teaching does not just happen in the classroom. My role as a teacher continues outside of this context. I want my students to feel that I am a partner to their learning and not just their teacher. I want them to feel that they are able to seek support and guidance when it is needed and to feel comfortable in their learning. Part of creating a safe learning environment is to be supportive and enthusiastic about them as individuals. I aim to provide my learners with the ability to develop transferable skills and to be enthusiastic about their learning, both inside and outside of the classroom. I want to give students the skills to be a lifelong learner by becoming independent, autonomous learners that can think for themselves and be reflective in their own learning.