Approach to teaching
Learning through lyrics and motivating students.
Dr Caroline Hodges is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton where she has embraced a way of teaching which seems to inspire and motivate the students. In 2017 she received the University of Brighton award: ‘Excellence in Facilitating and Empowering Learning’, in recognition of her approach to teaching. Her lectures in biochemistry and in diet and disease enable Dr Hodges to explore her passion for communicating science to young people eager to learn and interact.
It is a privilege to see lives transformed by information that should be available to all young people and which could save the NHS a huge amount of money.
Dr Caroline Hodges
Some science subjects such as biochemistry can be very challenging to first year students, who have not quite adjusted to university life and the expectation of undertaking a considerable amount of independent study. This can be daunting and overwhelming, so inspiration to learn and understand the material is essential. It is this challenge which has motivated Caroline to be creative and seek ways to enhance the student learning experience by using a combination of animations, videos and music.
Music is often an integral part of her lectures because students learn more effectively when the teaching is put into a framework to which they can relate; they love their music and technology, but may not naturally appreciate metabolic pathways, enzyme kinetics or other aspects of biochemistry. Very common melodies or songs with which the students are familiar have been adapted to a new set of words relating to a particular theme or lecture. Kevin Ahern, in the USA, has modified a whole bank of popular songs for biochemistry lectures, and these are used to introduce students to the idea of ‘learning through lyrics’. They are offered the opportunity to sing these songs in lectures and/or to bring their own adapted songs the following week.
The inclusion of students personally by suggesting they can adapt their favourite song to a biochemical concept, by changing the original lyrics to their own biochemical lyrics, involves them in their learning, shows appreciation of their interests and helps foster a sense of enthusiasm for the subject; a willingness to sing is all that is needed.
Caroline also lectures in two other modules: nutrition, and diet and disease. Students are fascinated to suddenly realise that some of the most intransigent problems facing primary health care throughout the world are lifestyle related illnesses. Students often respond very strongly to the concept of ‘food as medicine’ and the idea that changing our diet can be the most effective intervention to prevent chronic diseases. Caroline says it is a privilege to see lives transformed by information that should be available to all young people and which could save the NHS a huge amount of money.