Play: an essential partner in university learning

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Wednesday 9 May
The Stripe, King Alfred Campus, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO22 4NR

Inaugural Lecture from Alison James, Professor of Learning and Teaching

While creativity and imagination are words that universities are comfortable with, there is sometimes disquiet as to what play might have to do with higher education. Play is accepted as vital to human development in the early years, but by adolescence and adulthood it has disappeared from formal learning.

However, theory and research make clear the importance of play for brain growth and enrichment, as well as in social and cultural relations. Where play is missing from higher education, Alison will argue it is because we have failed to grasp the scientific value of play and its multifaceted nature. She grounds her beliefs in theory, practice and research in universities internationally, as well as her own experiences. Such evidence shows that play motivates us to be curious and to explore concepts, build connections, grapple with complexity and develop new perspectives.

Alison James is Professor of Learning and Teaching and Director of Academic Quality and Development at the University of Winchester. She is a National Teaching Fellow and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

She has published widely on imagination, creativity and play as part of university learning and staff and educational development. She is an accredited LEGO SERIOUS PLAY facilitator, a systematic method of building and discussing metaphorical models in LEGO to explore complex issues. Her book with Professor Stephen Brookfield Engaging Imagination: helping students become creative and reflective thinkers is widely used on Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching courses. She is currently producing, with Dr Chrissi Nerantzi, The Power of Play in HE; an international collection advocating play for university learning, due out in late 2018.

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