Instructional Science

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 387–412 | Cite as

What university teachers teach and how they teach it

  • Elaine Martin
  • Michael Prosser
  • Keith Trigwell
  • Paul Ramsden
  • Joan Benjamin


In this article we make three related arguments. The first isthat different teachers have different intentions concerning whatstudents will learn and consequently in their teaching they constitutethe topic or subject to be taught quite differently. The second is thata teacher's intentions concerning what it is that students should learnis closely aligned with a teacher's expectation of how students learnand how they can be helped to learn through teaching. The third is thatwhen teachers focus specifically on the teaching of a particular topic,within a specific context, there is a close relationship between theirintentions and their teaching practice. In this article we explore thesearguments through an empirical study which considers the different waysin which 26 university teachers intended to constitute a subject ortopic for their students to study, how they then taught the subject andsubsequently how consistent were their intentions and their practice.The analysis shows that when the context of teaching and learning istightly defined there is a clear relationship between a teacher'sintention and their practice. In particular, university teachers whoadopt more conceptual change and student-focussed approaches to teachingconstitute objects of study which are more relational and focus on thestudent's knowledge. Approaches which are more information transmissionand teacher-focussed constitute objects of study which are moremulti-structural and have a focus on knowledge which is as constitutedas being external to the student.

teacher's intention teacher's intention and related outcomes teacher's intention and related student learning 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elaine Martin
    • 1
  • Michael Prosser
    • 2
  • Keith Trigwell
    • 3
  • Paul Ramsden
    • 4
  • Joan Benjamin
    • 5
  1. 1.Royal Melbourne Institute of TechnologyAustralia
  2. 2.La Trobe UniversityAustralia
  3. 3.University of Technology SydneyAustralia
  4. 4.University of SydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Western Hospital MelbourneAustralia

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