Early Career Teachers Symposium

Early Career Teachers Symposium

This yearly symposium is designed to facilitate a collaborative platform for early career teachers to share and reflect on their experiences of teaching and supporting students. The symposium is open to all early career teachers, PhD students with teaching responsibilities, teaching associates or post-doctoral teaching associates at RHUL.

Here you will find information about how to apply for upcoming symposiums and an outline of previous events, including who won the prize for best presentation! 


Previous Symposiums


Developing your Scholarship – 8th June 2023

On 8th June the THESIS group hosted their first in person Early Career Teaching event. ‘Early Career Teaching Workshop: Developing your Scholarship’ was coordinated by Sam Fairlamb and Elise Gear with support from Danijela Serbic, Ryan Jefferies, Aysha Bellamy, Nuno Nodin and Gaia Giampietro.

The workshop began with a keynote talk from Dr Alana James (University of Reading) on ‘Developing a Teaching Focused Academic Career’ and was followed by three talks from current early career teachers: Despoina Christianoudi (Drama, Theatre and Dance), Dr Adnan Levent (Psychology) and Dr Barbara Chinyani (Health Sciences).

Delegates also took part in various group activities to design and evaluate pedagogic initiatives to reduce barriers in education. The workshop finished with a much-needed cake and wine social!

The event was well attended with >30 delegates from nearly all of the RHUL departments. Initial feedback forms indicate a desire for a full-day event next year so watch this space! Please see our Youtube channel for a number of videos used in the workshop from RHUL staff outlining examples of scholarship https://www.youtube.com/@THESIS_royalholloway



What Have We Learnt from COVID-19? – 8th June 2022 (1-2.30pm)

Each speaker will be allocated a 15-minute slot to present and take questions on their chosen talk topic.

Possible topics may include but are by no means limited to:

  • Adapting to online teaching
  • New teaching platforms
  • The challenges of continuing practical teaching
  • Hybrid learning
  • Transitioning back to campus teaching: what should be maintained from online teaching?
  • Enhancing engagement in the new normal
  • Academic support for students: adapting to online learning, assessments and
    managing expectations
  • Transitioning from online to in-person exams
  • Inclusivity of teaching for a range of student needs
  • Managing wellbeing: staff and students




Time Presenters
1:00-1:10pm Welcome and opening remarks


Elise Gear (Psychology Department – PhD student)

1:10 – 1:35pm Talk 1 – The Use of Emojis and Gifs in Online Teaching to Foster Student Engagement


Online teaching presents new challenges in satisfying students’ needs. For example, when successful, online teaching can be effective in minimising procrastination (Kang & Zhang, 2020) and reaching students in complex environments (e.g., students with childcare responsibilities; Redmond et al., 2018). When unsuccessful, online teaching can deter attendance (Nieuwoudt, 2020) and lower motivation (Xu et al., 2020). Emojis (static pictograms depicting emotion or sentiment) and gifs (graphic images depicting pop culture references) are popularly used within online communication (Tang & Hew, 2019) and are being increasingly used within online teaching (Darby, 2020). Drawing upon my own experiences of online and blended teaching since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as two quantitative studies I have conducted, the use of emojis and gifs within online teaching and whether these foster student engagement will be discussed.


Dr. Beatrice Hayes (Psychology Department)

1:35 – 2:00pm Talk 2 – Student Engagement in Language Classes


The pandemic has significantly impacted and changed student engagement. This paper will study the different types of engagement with language classes showed by students in 1st year, second and final year from 2020 to 2022, when studying fully online (2021 term 2) or fully in person (2021-2022). Age and level will be taken into consideration in order to understand attendance data. While highlighting what could be maintained from online teaching, this talk will put the emphasis on the benefits of in person teaching: its impact on student well-being in particular, and on student improvement in the target language.


Dr. Marion Joassin (Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures)

2:00 – 2.25pm Talk 3 – The Wellbeing of Staff Whilst Teaching During the Pandemic: The Challenges and Assets


Teaching in higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic required prompt adaptation and familiarisation to hybrid teaching. Leading to an increase in workload and a constant need to adapt teaching style to governmental guidelines and online platforms. For many members of staff (and students), working from home blurred the boundaries that were once set to separate home and work life. Whilst this provided great joy (from showing off pets on camera and the occasional cat filter), for some the end of the workday didn’t necessarily mean the end of work. This talk will expand on the both challenges and positive assets of teaching during COVID-19 and the impacts this has had on our mental health


Dr. Vanita Chamdal (Psychology Department)



Events of the Day


First speaker

Thank you to @DrVanitaC for giving an exceptional talk about the challenges and assets of teaching during the (many) lockdowns.



Second speaker

Thank you so much to @DrJoassin for a great talk about student engagement in language classes.



Third speaker

Thank you @drbeatricehayes for a fantastic talk on the use of emojis and gifs in online teaching




Winner of the prize for best presentation 

Dr Beatrice Hayes! 



Insights from Early Career Teachers:

A Teaching Survival Kit – 9th June 2021 (1-2.35pm)



Time Presenters
1:00-1:05pm Welcome and opening remarks


Elise Gear

1:05 – 1:35pm Talk 1 – Tips and tricks for effective teaching delivery


Within higher education, teaching spans a broad range of learning environments from small scale seminars to large scale lectures. Dependent upon numerous factors, teaching delivery varies across these environments and pitching level of delivery is vital for fostering a positive learning environment. With a PGCE and experience teaching within primary, secondary and higher education, I will draw upon my own training and teaching experiences to present tips and tricks for teaching delivery within a higher education setting.


Dr. Beatrice Hayes

1:35 – 2:05pm Talk 2 – Developing student-teacher relationships and the use of humour in teaching


Positive student-teacher relationships can support engagement in higher education. This talk will outline evidence-based methods to foster productive student-teacher relationships, drawing on the experiences of PGR teaching staff. These methods will be considered in context of online teaching delivery methods necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and how teaching staff can build relationships with students using online tools. Finally, the role of humour will be explored in the context of developing rapport between teaching staff and students. The importance of student-teacher relationships will be considered in context of educational and wellbeing outcomes.


Alex Lloyd

2:05 – 2.35pm Talk 3 – Being an autistic teacher in higher education 

 Searching for sources about autism in education reveals a lot of information about teaching autistic people, and little about what it is like to teach when you are autistic. Teaching involves an understanding of the needs of students, and presenting information in a way that students can understand. This might lead people to wonder how it’s possible for an autistic person to teach effectively. In this talk, I (a late-diagnosed autistic woman) discuss the benefits and barriers of being autistic, and teaching in higher education. Evidence regarding improving diversity and representation in the classroom will be discussed, along with personal examples from myself, and other autistic teachers.

 Louisa Thomas