Supporting international dissemination of teaching innovations in the life sciences

Chrissy Stokes, Judy Harris, Derek Anthony Scott

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The Physiological Society provides funding to members and non-members seeking to develop their teaching portfolio in Higher Education (HE). One aspect of this is to support, and share good practice across, the international community of HE educators and teaching professionals.
The International Travel Grants for Teachers scheme provides funding of up to £2,000 per applicant to support international sharing of ideas, and to build collaborative networks of teachers across the world.
Launched in 2015, the scheme has so far supported 4 applicants. Funding to date has facilitated overseas travel of teachers from the UK and the Republic of Ireland (RoI). The purpose of the travel has included attendance at specialist training courses not available in the applicant’s country of residence, setting up collaborative links through international conference attendance and supporting overseas institutions in their educational initiatives. All the travel grants have had the common output of sharing excellence in teaching internationally. Some examples are described below.
Funding was provided in 2016 to support the travel of one member of The Society from the UK to a University in South America; the purpose was to provide feedback on the teaching of the physiology component of a medical degree that was seeking accreditation. Building on personal experience of teaching in the UK, the awardee provided recommendations to improve the teaching and assessment of physiology, the motivation of the teachers and ultimately the training and experience of the medical students. The visit is also likely to lead to collaborative agreements, and possibly student and/or staff exchanges, between the awardee’s home institution and the University visited.
Further funds in 2016 provided support for a physiologist from the RoI to travel to the US in order to gain specialist training in using innovative electrophysiological and optogenetic techniques in invertebrates for undergraduate teaching. This experience will be used to develop new laboratory preparations in the awardee’s host institution to extend and enhance undergraduates’ practical skills. The awardee’s intention is to publish these new experimental preparations in an educational journal so that other institutions can use them for undergraduate teaching.
Finally, an awardee from the UK was supported to present work at an overseas educational conference. As well as providing the opportunity to disseminate their own work, the award led to an ongoing project in which the awardee is advising a conference delegate from Australia how best to adapt a pharmacology textbook for the UK market.
All recipients of funding through this scheme have commented on the long term, and potentially widespread, impact envisaged from the travel. The Physiological Society will continue dialogue with the recipients to support them in the dissemination of their outputs, for example at teaching symposia and workshops, and in educational journals.
We are keen to see travel between the UK and abroad become truly reciprocal, and particularly encourage applications from HE teachers from outside of the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
EventIUPS 38th World Congress Satellite Teaching Meeting - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Duration: 1 Aug 20171 Aug 2017


ConferenceIUPS 38th World Congress Satellite Teaching Meeting
CityRio de Janeiro


  • physiology
  • teaching
  • innovation


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