The Teaching Trick – how to improve student learning
without spending more time teaching

It is commonly assumed that improving student learning by implementing new teaching methods will always require a higher teaching effort. While anyone can perhaps improve a course by spending 100 hours more teaching it, this is obviously not a sustainable strategy. So how can we simultaneously improve student learning and cost-effectiveness of teaching? The key principle is that teachers should spend more of their time doing things that lead to high quality learning, and less time on such things that do not lead to learning. Concrete examples will be used to challenge old ways of thinking and question some taken-for-granted practices in education. When the dust has settled we have tried a new way of seeing teaching – from a learning perspective. Finally we ask the tough question: what makes us keep doing things that do not contribute much to learning?


Kristina Edström ( is an Associate Professor in Engineering Education Development at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Since 1997 she leads and participates in educational development activities at KTH, in Sweden and internationally. She serves on the international CDIO Council and is a co-author of Crawley et al (2014) Rethinking Engineering Education – The CDIO Approach, Springer. She was also Director of Educational Development at Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Moscow, 2012-2013. Over 700 participants have successfully taken the course Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (7.5 ECTS) customized for KTH faculty. Kristina was awarded the KTH Prize for Outstanding Achievements in Education in 2004 and elected lifetime honorary member of the KTH Student Union in 2009. Kristina has a M.Sc. in Engineering from Chalmers, Gothenburg, Sweden.