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Learning collaboratively

Your tutors are not the only people you can learn from. You can also learn a lot from other students.

Your programme will include regular opportunities to discuss study topics with other students, for example in seminars and tutorials.  

Try to take these opportunities to actively participate in collaborative discussions, because the best thinking often emerges by combining different ideas and insights. Through discussion with other students, you can discover new ways of thinking, and you can help each other to learn.  

Contributing to a discussion can feel challenging, especially if English is not your first language. However, it is one of the best ways to develop your communicative skills and confidence. The more often you contribute to discussions, the more rewarding it becomes. 

 

Disagreeing constructively

When we assess information critically and individually, there will be times when we do not agree. For example, we may disagree about a point of principle, the quality of evidence, or the way evidence should be interpreted. 

It’s fine to disagree with other students, and even with your tutors. Constructive disagreement can be very useful, both for individual students and for scholarship more generally. However, we should use evidence and logical reasoning to support our views. 

Disagreement and debate can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but the important thing is to disagree courteously and constructively with ideas and interpretations, not the people who hold them Even when we disagree, all scholars are working together towards the same goal of developing knowledge.   

Individual benefits

Explaining to other people what we think (and why we think that) helps to develop our own understanding. It may also help us to notice weaknesses in our own reasoning.  

Listening to others explain what they think (and why they think that) can help to develop our thinking. It may reveal things that we were not aware of, or it may show things we did know about in a different light. We should always be prepared to let our thinking evolve. 

Discussion and debate keep scholarship fresh and sharp, and they enable scholarship to evolve. They help to reveal where thinking is flawed and knowledge has become superseded, and they open up new areas of investigation.  

Seminar Participation

Seminars are an opportunity to discuss a wide range of diverse ideas with both peers and tutors. However, they can seem quite intimidating if you're new to this type of teaching, or if English isn't your first language. Our series of videos provide useful tips and techniques to help you gain confidence in seminars across a range of different situations. 

Further guidance and support