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Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and Teachers

This section offers information about how to innovate or improve rail teaching in theory and in practice. This includes:

Teaching and Learning in Theory

In WG4 of the ASTONRail project teaching and learning in theory has been investigated and a portfolio of new approaches and teaching practices for rail skills development has been created.

Learning in Theory

Learning theories are based on behaviourism, cognitivism and constructivism. In every one of these categories, learning occurs differently as shown in figure 1. For rail higher education of good quality, a combination of all three categories should be employed.
Figure 1: Learning theories in a table
(designed by Warren, A., adapted from CL4001, at Aston University. Inspired by Driscoll, M., and Barneveld, V. A. (2015) Applying learning theory to Mobile Learning. American Society for Training and Development. pp. 4. TD at Work)

Forms of Learning

There are two widely spread forms of learning: Teacher-centred learning (TCL) and Student-centred learning (SCL) as shown in figure 2. It is not proven which of these two forms should be broadly employed to enhance rail skills development and improve the quality of rail higher education provision.
Figure 2: Involving students to enhance and innovate higher education provision
(designed by Warren, A., adapted from CL4003, at Aston University. Inspired by O’Neill, G., and McMahon, T. (2005) 'Student-Centred Learning: What does it mean for students and Lecturers?' Available at:

Teaching Approaches

According to Erica McWilliam's pedagogic stances, there are three widely spread teaching approaches in Higher Education Institutions:

  • Sage on the stage
  • Guide on the side
  • Meddler in the middle.

For rail-focued subjects, practical and lab-based exercises should also be included to enhance the student experience and build concrete knowledge.

Figure 3: Teaching Approaches (Stances)
(Inspired by McWilliam, E. (2009) Teaching for creativity: from sage to guide to meddler. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 29(3). pp. 281-293.)

Teacher's Role

The quality of learning outcome is strongly dependant on both the form of learning and the role of the teacher within it. For different teaching and learning stances, the teacher's role can be different. The teacher can either act as Director, or as Leading Learner, or as Nurturer or as Facilitator. Every one of these roles require different function, method and approach (figure 4). Figure 4: Different roles of the teacher in a table
(Inspired by The Schoolworks Lab, 'Think: Student-Centered Thinking'. Available at:

ASTONRail Methods Catalogue

The ASTONRail methods catalogue has been developed in the ASTONRail project. It shows teaching and learning types, methods and assessment methods with their most important characteristics applicable in rail teaching and learning. For each teaching and learning type, method and assessment method at least one best practice example from the ASTONRail project partner universities is included. You can find the ASTONRail methods catalogue here.

Test of Teaching and Learning Methods in the ASTONRail Intensive Study Programme in Zagreb in 2022

From May 2nd to 4th, 2022, a three-day, international rail intensive study course for students from the partner universities of the ASTONRail project took place in Zagreb, Croatia, hostet by the University of Zagreb and organized within WG6. Courses from lecturers of the partner universities were held with the focus of testing and validating modern teaching and learning methods previously elaborated in the ASTONRail project and included in the methods catalogue.

A collection of links to websites where information about didactics for higher education can be found in the partner countries is provided here.

astonrail_handbook/hei_teachers/hei-teachers.txt · Last modified: 2023/06/22 16:55 by martin_l