Paul Orsmond

Job Title and Responsibilities

Senior Lecturer in Biology

Teaching responsibilities

I am a teacher who co-ordinates a number of different modules within the department of biology and in order to encourage student learning I develop different types of curriculum. Sometimes the curriculum is used as a ‘product’ where it is seen in terms of content provided accompanied by a series of prescribed learning activities. I also use the curriculum to reflecting a number of different student experiences. Used like this, I consider first the activities I want students to engage in and the learning processes I wish them to self evaluate. Finally I may also use the curriculum as a dynamic and interactive process of learning. Here the student learning experience is not predetermined by me, but emergences from the students own needs and through their interactions with other students. Here the curriculum is a living thing, created in learning sessions. With this type of curriculum I am particularly aware of student motivation. My Problem Based Learning sessions involve using the curriculum in this way.

Non- teaching responsibilities

At a faculty level I have undertaken a number of research informed teaching projects, from which there were a number of diverse outcomes. For example, one project considered the benefits of experiential learning on student practice as a biologist, and another considered effective ways in which students can be prepared for third year dissertation. Some outcomes from these projects are already being implemented. 

I have also facilitated the faculty peer observation of teaching process. I have published two papers in Studies in Higher Education related to peer observation of teaching. The outcome of these discussions was the incorporation of peer observation into the module evaluation process. In these circumstances greater exploration of the learning environment can be undertaken. I report to the faculty on the peer observation process through my membership of the Faculty Teaching, Learning and Enhancement Committee.

At an institutional level I have been involved in staff development process for the instruction for new and part time staff. I have organized a number of staff development conferences for teachers in Higher Education and these have attracted participants from institutions across the country. The overall feedback has been very positive and the discussion at the final conference forums well illustrated how the presenters had influenced the thinking, and hopefully the practice, of participants.

At a national level I have also had a great opportunity to work with different Centres for Excellence. For example I have been part of the ASKe (Centre for Assessment and Standards) work on assessment and feedback and was part of their national assessment manifesto and feedback workshop delivered to Heads of Staff Development.

About Me

I started work at the age of sixteen and spent the next ten years working with interesting and diverse people in different parts of the country doing all kinds of things. I then undertook a degree in biology at Hatfield Polytechnic and as a consequence of this, began research into nerve physiology at King’s College London. From there I moved to Staffordshire University where I became interested in how students learn within higher education. I started researching into learning, assessment and feedback with colleagues and I have really enjoyed that. Research gives me a great sense of freedom and purpose. I have always liked to explore and experience change. Research allows me to do that.



1993-1999 Staffordshire University MA Higher & Professional Education

1982-1986 Hatfield Polytechnic  Applied Biology B.Sc. [Hons] 2(i)


I enjoy working with people to explore student learning and to link that learning to assessment and feedback. I doing this I have developed and changed in how I understand learning. I am particularly interested in communities of learning that students develop and the social interaction that they undertake outside the overt curriculum while carrying out self- and peer-assessment practices in order to make sense of their learning experiences.

I have also developed a number of staff development workshops which considered such diverse themes relating to teaching and learning as reflection, peer observation and small group teaching.

Enterprise and Commercial Activities

Since 1996 I have with colleagues published over thirty articles many relating to assessment and learning. Most are refereed papers but there are some book chapters. I have worked closely with professionals in other institution where I have delivered workshops. Over the past fifteen years I have presented over thirty conference papers.

Research Interests

Social learning, assessment and feedback and the use of self- and peer-assessment in higher education

Selected Publications

Refereed Papers (some also available online)

Orsmond, P. and Zvauya, R. (2014) Community of learners: charting learning in first year graduate entry medical students during problem-based learning (PBL) study, Advances in Health Sciences Education, 13930 DOI 10.1007/s10459-0149542-4.

Orsmond, P. and Merry, S. Handley, K. (2013) Students’ Social Learning Practice as a Way of Learning from Tutor Feedback, in S. Merry, M. Price, D. Carless and M. Taras (Eds) Reconceptualising Feedback in Higher Education, (Routledge).

Gomez, S., Andersson, H., Maw, S., Park, P., Crook, A., and Orsmond, P. (2013) A Digital Ecosystems Model of Assessment Feedback on Student Learning, Higher Education Studies, 3 (2), 41-51.

Orsmond, P., Merry, S., and Callaghan, A. A. (2013) Communities of practice and ways to learning: charting the progress of biology undergraduates, Studies in Higher Education, 38(6), 890-906.

Orsmond, P., Maw, S., Park, P., Gomez, S. and Crook, A. (2013) Moving feedback forward: theory to practice, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 38(2), 240-252.

Orsmond, P. and Merry, S. (2012) The importance of self-assessment in students’ use of tutors’feedback: a qualitative study of high and non-high achieving biology undergraduates, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38(6), 737-753.

Crook, A., Mauchline, A., Mawc, S., Lawson, C., Drinkwater, R., Lundqvist, K., Orsmond, P., Gomez, S. and Park, J. (2012) The use of video technology for providing feedback to students: Can it enhance the feedback experience for staff and students?, Computers and Education, 58(1), 386-396.

Maw, S. and Orsmond, P. (2011) Assessment, Feedback and Review in: D. J. Adams (ed) Effective Learning in Life Sciences, (Chichester, John Wiley and Sons).

Orsmond, P. (2011) Self- and Peer- Assessment; Guidance on Practice in the Biosciences, 2nd Edition Ed: Stephen Maw, (Leeds, The Higher Education Academy Centre for Biosciences).

Orsmond, P. and Merry, S. (2011) Feedback alignment: effective and ineffective links between tutors’ and students’ understanding of coursework feedback, Assessment and evaluation in Higher Education, 36(2), 125-136.

Merry, S., Skingsley, D. R. and Orsmond, P. (2010) Fostering lifelong learning within a social constructivist environment. In: Proceedings of the 17th Improving Student Learning Symposium 2009. Ed C.Rust Oxford Centre for staff and learning development. Ch7 pp168-180. ISBN 978-1-873576-79-3


Key Note for the Centre for Biosciences Professional Development Event:  Feedup, feedback, feedforward, 20th October 2011, University of Glasgow

7th Professional Development Conference for Teachers in Higher Education (2011)
Considering ways of effectively aligning feedback to student learning, April 15th. Organiser

Orsmond,P., Merry, S. and Skingsley, D.R. (2010) Preparing undergraduates for final year projects. 3rd International Pedagogical Research in Higher Education Conference, Liverpool

Current Teaching

I teach physiology to level 4 students in a module called Fundamentals of Physiology, work with level 5 students on a Problem Based Learning module called Drugs and the Human Body. I deliver a Work Placement module at level5 and I teach neurology to level 6 students. At postgraduate level I deliver a two day reflective practice module at postgraduate level and co-ordinate a postgraduate negotiated learning module.


Paul Orsmond
School of Science (Biological and Biomedical Sciences)
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Sciences
Staffordshire University
Science Centre
Leek Road
t: +44 (0)1782 292779