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Teaching Tricky Topics

Building on previous research, our learning and teaching experts here at the Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, have developed the Teaching Tricky Topics process.  This process helps teachers to identify, capture and assess difficult knowledge, commonly encountered in STEM subjects.

Using the outcomes of workshops with many experienced teachers, learning designers and other educational experts, we have developed FREE training resources to guide teachers in this innovative approach. These resources are ideal for supporting trainee teachers on a PGCE or for professional development of experienced teachers. They are designed to help teachers to:

  • identify the topics students find tricky
  • break the topics down into identifiable and assessable parts
  • understand why students find these topics tricky
  • create interventions to overcome the difficulties
  • develop questions to fully assess student understanding
  • evaluate the value of the intervention in developing the students’ depth of learning across the topic 

The practical methodology with its online tools, and growing community, can enhance students’ deeper understanding and improve pass rates across schools, colleges and universities.

We are now looking for schools, colleges and universities who may wish to use our resources in their teacher-training activities.

We will be exhibiting this new and innovative Teaching Tricky Topics process on stand F441 at the Betts Show (the world’s largest education event) at Excel, London from 25th – 28th January 2017 where we will provide examples of the process and encourage visitors to try it out. By entering our competition at BETT, you could also win a free training day, during which our teaching & learning experts will facilitate a workshop to help your STEM teachers or trainee teachers to perform the process and, if required, to help you to embed the process into your teacher-training activities.

For more information please email:

Or follow us on Twitter: @tricky_topics


You can also register for Bett free at:

Next Event

BETT 2017: We will be on stand F441 at the Betts Show (the world’s largest education event) at Excel, London, from 25th – 28th January 2017

See our Bett profile at:

Past Events

4th and 11th November 2016, at Oxford University. 'Teaching Tricky Topic' workshops for trainee teachers.

20th October 2016, at the Open University Campus in Milton Keynes. This session was to investigate Tricky Topics in Learning Design and Technologies as the 'Teaching Tricky Topics' process is completed by the OU's own designers and developers.

18th August 2016, at the Open University Campus in Milton Keynes. It was specifically for those STEM teachers teaching in a prison (or other secure) environment.