Singsongs, card games and radio shows would not normally be part of a History degree – unless you are lucky enough to be taught by lecturer Lucinda Matthews-Jones, that is.
Lucinda, a specialist in Victorian history at Liverpool John Moores University, has presented her innovative methods to hundreds of other history teachers through the Royal Historical Society (RHS) and History UK.
And her novel approach has been recognised with the RHS Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching and Supervision in History, which 'rewards those who are inspiring the next generation of historians to excel’.
A great example of Lucie’s teaching is her project for final-year BA (Hons) History students – the independent creative assessment, which throws the usual mark book out of the window.
“I’ve been running it for eight years during which time students have submitted songs, board games, an interactive child’s book, exhibition panels, craft pieces, panoramic models, radio shows, documentaries, podcasts, learning aids for children and so on. It’s amazing!”
She says she’s always struck by the creativity of student work and how much time, effort and energy they put into it.
“Like the historian Christopher Jones, I have found that students’ creative work has ‘continued to exceed my expectations’. It’s fascinating to see how students communicate the spirit of both secondary and primary sources into their outputs.”
It’s a teaching method that’s not all just about having fun, it’s also about being radical, says Lucie.
“Assessment models can reinforce social and cultural power structures,” she says.
More than words
“As a dyslexic and dyspraxic scholar, I am keen to question our ableist structures and to think about reinstating creativity into curriculum design. As a feminist, with a working-class background, I believe that we should be careful not to replicate largely middle-class, white male practices that ultimately privilege the word over other forms of creativity and ownership.”
Lucie, who says her love of history sprung from the family stories told by my grandmother, and trips to Welsh castles and English stately homes, admits she’s delighted and humbled to win the award particularly as teaching “sparks joy” for her.
She added: “I believe that effective teaching is not just about showing a passion for your topic but also about making processes transparent to students and mentoring them to hone their academic voice. I enjoy watching them grow intellectually and personally.
“I hope that for some of my students I can provide them with an opportunity to have a transformative student experience. In the future, I hope that I am the lecturer they can discuss with their friends and history peers; ‘Do you remember when Lucie…’
Lucie, a former winner of the LJMU Vice-Chancellor’s award has seen her methods adopted by other higher education institutions and sixth-form colleges.
The RHS said: "We commend her work for the excellence and enjoyment it is bringing to teaching, learning and assessment not only in history, but also in other disciplines."
Find out more about Dr Lucinda Matthews Jones and her methods of teaching history https://lucindamatthewsjones.com/2019/09/11/assessing-creatively-or-why-ive-embraced-the-unessay/ or follow her on Twitter @LucieJones83