Modes of learning

As part of the attributes of the Sheffield Graduate, our students should be able to demonstrate that they are: “well rounded, reflective, self aware and self motivated.” The modes of learning outlined below should be used across programmes to help students achieve these.

Reflective learning

Reflective learning is about getting students to take a step back so that they can analyse and reflect upon their experience and performance.

This type of learning encourages critical thinking and helps move the student from surface to deep learning, enabling them to continually develop and improve throughout their programme. Reflection is also a skill highly valued by employers.


Approaches and tools

  • Learning tasks - Peer review will allow students to reflect on other students’ work, and in turn reflect on their own contribution. Reflective journals or logs can be a helpful learning and/or assessment tool particularly for students on work placements or a year abroad. E.g. The Department of Russian and Slavonic Studies has encouraged its Final Year students to reflect on their study abroad experience by making a short documentary video after they return home. This video is shown to Level Two students to encourage and prepare them for their upcoming year abroad.
  • Assessment and feedback - Using formative, in addition to summative, assessment can help students to reflect on what they have learned and how they can improve.Providing students with the skills and opportunities to critically reflect will also help them in making sense and act on feedback on assessment.

Promoting reflection in the Arts and Humanities

Supporting reflective practice in the Information School

Assessing employability through reflective diaries on teamwork

Research-led learning

Research-led teaching isn’t just about researchers teaching content informed by their work, but is about encouraging students to engage with and undertake research themselves.

By gaining practical, first-hand experience of research, students are able to develop a richer and broader understanding of their discipline.


Approaches and tools

  • Learning tasks and assessment- Field work, lab demonstrations and introducing research projects as part of assessment helps ensure research and research skills are at the centre of your programme.
  • Digital technologies - range of digital technologies, such as the VLE and tools such as Google Earth can help with research-led teaching. Visit the Digital Learning pages for more information.

Teaching methods

Assessment and feedback

Research at Sheffield

Independent learning

Becoming independent, self-directed learners prepares students for graduate employment and/or further study. This means encouraging students to direct and evaluate their own learning and inquiry.

Opportunities to develop skills such as time management, information literacy, critical thinking and reflection should be built into programmes. You should not assume students come to university ready equipped with these skills.


Approaches and tools

Get in touch with the academic skills team

Engaged learning

Students should be given opportunities to engage with the world beyond the University, whether through work placements, working with external partners and organisations or enterprise education.

Engaged learning often focuses on issues of public concern, giving students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and research to wider issues or industry settings.


Approaches and tools

  • Work placements and links with industry
  • Partner with external communities and organisations
  • Work with alumni to support current students

Find out about working with alumni

Read about past projects in engaged learning

Get in touch with the careers service to discuss placements and industry links

Creating an inclusive learning environment

When designing a new academic programme you should consider the following:

  • Create a friendly and inclusive ‘home’ in the department, which welcomes diversity and positively engages all students. Read the inclusive learning and teaching handbook for more information.
  • Engage students in the process of designing learning outcomes, assessment and feedback, and modes of learning. See our map for student engagement.