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Dr John Creighton – University of Reading

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  • Changing the student experience

    Promoting research-based learning for all students

Dr John Creighton

Dr John Creighton was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2010 in recognition of his work bringing Teaching and Research together to enrich the student experience.

John had his first research experience in his first term at University, digging into archives and coming up with new ideas about Iron Age coinage.

He later spent a summer supervising on one of his lecturer's research excavations, learning and becoming part of a research team at the same time.

Since becoming a lecturer, John has always been passionate that research and discovery are one of the best methods of learning and has worked tirelessly to promote research-based learning at the University of Reading and across the sector.

"For me, studying is not just about learning knowledge, but about understanding how knowledge is created in the first place: getting information together, analysing it and creating new knowledge and ideas, and seeing the world anew.

 Teaching at its best facilitates all these things. Seeing a student totally change their perspective on something or even better, develop so that they can show me something new is what gives me a buzz.”

Dr John Creighton – Associate Professor

Students as partners

John established the University's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) in 2006, providing students with the chance to work with researchers over the summer. The scheme has grown and become thoroughly embedded at the University.  

"I've just published a major survey of the Roman city of Silchester, a project where I took great joy in training up four undergraduates on the UROP placements, who then cascaded their skills down, teaching other students.

 As they learnt, then taught, you could see their confidence and abilities grow daily. The project in the end benefited immensely from the placements and the four chose to write dissertations on related topics which were incorporated into the final publication."

information online - the great potential

More and more data is becoming available online, from Historic Environment Records, historic maps, inventories of coin hoards, finds discovered and recorded in the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

John encourages students to use these treasure chests of information to inspire them to think about what they want to research and study for their final year dissertations, and how they can say something new.


"I teach on one module where students have to identify something and craft a professional catalogue entry for it. It confronts them with something new but also shows them how they can access knowledge and come up with their own identification.

 With Roman coins they use an online expert system and within half an hour of playing around with key words and some detailed visual observation they are coming up with full professional identifications of material, and a sense of achievement at the same time."

changing the student experience

John's passion for research-engaged learning saw him lead the University in applying for and directing a £2.7m Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning to enhance Undergraduate Research Skills. In 2010,  John was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship.

The project worked across all disciplines and also in collaboration with other CETLs, in five other universities.

"Directing CETL was an amazing five years, working with some of the most innovative colleagues in my own institution and other universities to enrich the student learning experience.

 As I go around the University today I still see examples of how things we did then fundamentally changed practice in disciplines as varied as Construction Management to Museum Studies and from Agriculture to Typography."


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