The 13th Roberts Lecture

University Teaching in a Post-knowledge Age

by Professor Neil Rackham

Wednesday 27 March 2019, 6pm, Firth Hall, Firth Court, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN

Enquiries contact E:, or Gail Street, T: 0114 222 8893

Neil Rackham is an experimental psychologist with an international reputation who has applied his research to many areas of business development including management training, sales and team-work. His 1988 volume, SPIN® Selling, is one of McGraw-Hill’s best-selling business books, and his works have been translated into 35 languages. A graduate of the University of Sheffield (BSc Psychology, 1965), he went on to found a major company, which continues to offer management and sales training worldwide. He is now supporting the University in developing students’ team-working skills.

Historically, the business of universities has been to create, teach, test and certify knowledge.  In an age where the Internet has made knowledge a freely available commodity, what will be the consequences for university teaching? Will knowledge teaching vehicles like lectures disappear and, if so, what should come in their place? If, as has been widely suggested, there will be a shift away from knowledge learning towards the learning of skills, which skills should be at the core of the new university curriculum? And, because skills learning is fundamentally different from knowledge learning, how must we rethink our teaching philosophies and techniques? Existing methods of skill development are disproportionately costly and labour intensive compared to knowledge teaching. Can the experiences of the business world in teaching skills give us some ideas about how universities might scale skills learning and make it an economic reality?

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