I believe in enhancing university teaching at all levels through delivering experiential learning including problem-based and research-based approaches. I am particularly interested in replicating real-word scenarios in teaching and encouraging students to go outside of their comfort zone and to learn through training others. One particular focus of mine is the teaching of quantitative skills in a way that engages all students equally, including those who are intimidated by mathematics, programming and statistics.

Coding Club

Coding Club is a peer-to-peer teaching scheme for computer coding and quantitative skills. Coding Club encourages statistical training and the surmounting of statistics anxiety – worry about a lack of quantitative skills – and code fear – the fear of programming. It is a peer-to-peer teaching initiative where attendees are trained in quantitative skills by PhD and undergraduate students and then mentored to share these skills to their fellow students through a series of informal workshops on a variety of quantitative skills topics at different levels. Coding Club was the winner of the University of Edinburgh 2017 Impact Award for best student staff collaboration.

Online Data Science Course

Data Science for Ecologists and Environmental Scientists is an online learning initiative for anyone wanting to gain data science skills in the programming language R, with additional content in Python and JavaScript. Our motivation is to overcome “code fear” and “statistics anxiety” in learners of all ages and from all walks of life. This course is developed for international audiences, but is also uniquely Scottish with real-world data to put quantitative skills into the context of key ecological questions.

Data Science in Ecology and Environmental Science

The Data Science in Ecology and Environmental Science course aims to promote the development of quantitative skills among 3rd and 4th year students (and MSc students when appropriate) at the University of Edinburgh using interactive workshops and taught through GitHub as an online learning platform. The course was designed by Isla Myers-Smith and Gergana Daskalova and is taught by Isla, Gergana and PhD tutors from 2018 to 2020.

Conservation Science

The Conservation Science course is an interdisciplinary course covering the biological and social sides of the discipline taught by Isla Myers-Smith, Aidan Keane and PhD tutors from 2015 – 2020. Conservation Science was awarded the University of Edinburgh Innovative Assessment award in 2016.

GeoScience Outreach

The GeoScience Outreach course is a hands-on course where student conduct an outreach project in the community to communicate science to broad audiences. Students learn key communication skills and project management through carrying out their projects. The course was led by Isla Myers-Smith in 2017 and 2018. GeoScience Outreach was a runner up for the University of Edinburgh Innovative Assessment award in 2017.

Ecology and Critical Thinking

I also teach on the courses Critical Thinking and advanced ecology course in the honours year of the Ecology and Environmental Sciences Programme at the University of Edinburgh teaching critical assessment of the literature and the introductory course in Ecology on the topics of biodiversity science and global change.