Teaching and learning tricky topics
Teaching and learning tricky topics

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Teaching and learning tricky topics

Introduction and guidance

Welcome to this free course, Teaching and learning tricky topics.

The course lasts 8 weeks with approximately 3 hours of study time each week. You can work through the course at your own pace, so if you have more time one week there is no problem with pushing on to complete another week. The eight weeks consist of the following:

  1. Tricky topics and threshold concepts
  2. Identifying tricky topics
  3. The tricky topics process
  4. Introduction to learning design
  5. Developing your learning design
  6. Innovating pedagogies and targeted interventions
  7. Assessment and tricky topics
  8. Reflection, sharing and becoming a champion

Through the first three weeks you will be focusing on the background to tricky topics and how to apply the process to your practice. In Week 3 you will be asked to look at IRIS Connect, the sharing platform, to develop your understanding of the tricky topics process. This will require you to sign up and login to the platform. While this would be beneficial to you, it is not compulsory for gaining your badge. You can sign up for a free IRIS Connect account here [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . The next two weeks will focus on the role of learning design and how to use this approach with tricky topics. The final three weeks will help you to look at the wider picture of using tricky topics and learning design to help innovate, assess and embed your understanding with others. At the successful completion of this course you will be able to receive a statement of participation certificate.

There are lots of opportunities to check your learning. This includes interactive quizzes; Weeks 4 and 8 will provide you with an opportunity to earn a badge to demonstrate your new skills. You can read more on how to study the course and about badges in the next sections.

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • understand the background to tricky topics and how they relate to the subject area
  • apply the tricky topic process to support identifying student learning barriers and why they occur
  • understand how learning design activities can help to identify the ‘student voice’
  • apply student and activity profiles and discover how they can inform a tricky topics intervention
  • understand why and how to develop a targeted tricky topic intervention, as well as how to assess student learning of a tricky topic.

Moving around the course

In the ‘Summary’ at the end of each week, you can find a link to the next one. If at any time you want to return to the start of the course, click on ‘Course content’. From here you can navigate to any part of the course. Alternatively, use the week links at the top of every page of the course.

It’s also good practice, if you access a link from within a course page (including links to the quizzes), to open it in a new window or tab. That way you can easily return to where you’ve come from without having to use the back button on your browser.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371