Why learning (and teaching) needs to be hard

Presented by Professor Alex Steel

Person climbing a mountain

Scientia Education Academy Lecture Series

All achievement involves effort. Learning and teaching is no exception. There are no short-cuts, no easy fixes.  

But not all effort leads to learning outcomes, and a lot of learning and teaching effort may well be wasted. Innovations in pedagogy and technology can reduce the amount of wasted effort. On the other hand, ‘trendy’ innovations in teaching and learning that appear to reduce effort may in fact make learning more difficult by falsely making it appear easy.

In this talk we’ll consider some of the dangers of the short-cuts we may be offering students and teachers, and the dangers of not recognising the degree of effort both need to be great learners and great educators. We’ll balance that with the life-long benefits that flow from hard work in education, and ways we can encourage positive engagement with harder learning and teaching.

Learn more about Professor Alex Steel

Professor Alex Steel

Alex researches and teaches in criminal law and legal education. His legal education publications range across the pedagogy and regulation of legal education, curriculum design, assessment practices and student wellbeing. He is member of the nationally funded Smart Casual project (smartlawteacher.org) developing online professional development for sessional law teachers and blogs on legal education issues at lawschoolvibe.wordpress.com.

Alex  is currently a member of the UNSW Academic Board, Consultant to the Australian Law School Standards Committee, Executive Member of the Australasian Law Teachers Association and member of the Editorial Committee of the Legal Education Review. He was previously Associate Dean in the Law Faculty and co-convenor of the national Legal Education Associate Deans (LEAD) Network.

Alex has received a Commonwealth Government Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (2015); the LexisNexis ALTA Major Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Teaching of Law: Highly Commended (2013); Faculty of Law Award for Outstanding Research in Learning and Teaching (2013); Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2008); a UNSW Learning and Teaching Award (2005/6) and an Innovative Teaching and Educational Technology Fellowship (2003). Read more.