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Dr Nicholas Grindle
Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching
1-19 Torrington Place
Tel: 02076798282
Dr Nicholas Grindle profile picture
  • Lecturer (Teaching)
  • UCL Arena Centre
  • Vice-Provost (Education and Student Experience)

Inspired by a teacher at Wickersley Comprehensive School who had a passion for Hogarth and art galleries, I came to study History of Art at UCL in 1993, before doing an MA (University of Essex) and PhD (UCL). I’ve taught History of Art at UCL, Oxford Brookes University, the Open University, Birkbeck, and Imperial College. 

Extensive teaching, including with the Open University, led to a greater interest in pedagogy. Supported by a colleague who had established an MA in Adult Learning I moved to the Arena Centre for Research-based Education in 2011, where I taught on the MA and helped establish programmes for PhD students who are starting to teach, and for probationary lecturers and teaching fellows.

I publish in higher education pedagogy, with a focus on connecting students with audiences, and connecting students with research. I also continue to publish in British art in the sixteenth to nineteenth century and in 2015 I curated an exhibition on the painter George Morland (1763-1804) at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery at the University of Leeds.

I'm married to Ying Hwei and live under two small children in south London.

Research Themes
Research Summary

I'm writing a book with the working title ‘A Pedagogy of Audience’. Audience is an emerging concept in higher education and features in the sector’s most significant recent initiatives, such as UCL’s Connected Curriculum. In spite of these developments, higher education lacks a pedagogy of audience: the concept is under-theorised, the identity of audiences is not scrutinised, and examples of how higher education has engaged audiences are rarely analysed and evaluated. The emergence of digital technologies has revolutionised the possibilities for what kinds of outputs students are able to produce in their studies, but claims for digital education’s potential to help students make connections with audiences worldwide are too rarely underpinned by any kind of rigorous and relevant pedagogy.

My book will offer the first detailed analysis of what ‘audience’ means for higher education. It will build on interviews, case studies of current and historical practice in the sector, and insights from communication theory and critical hermeneutics, to offer a practical and critical pedagogy for the next generation of educators.

In 2016 I initiated an ongoing collaborative project with colleagues to investigate what students learn from talking to researchers about different aspects of their research. My ambition is to see a department or (better still) an institution use regular ’meet the researcher’ activities to form a ‘throughline’ of research-based activity that helps establish dialogic connections between students, researchers and the institution’s research. Our findings are already providing a strong evidence base for the transformative effect that talking to researchers about their work can have on students’ conceptions of their goals, their work, their lecturers, and the whole field of academic life and practice. My collaborators are drawn from eight departments spread across five faculties at UCL. Our work will lead to a number of co-authored outputs in discipline-specific journals as well as publications for the wider HE community.

I continue to research and publish in History of Art. I am currently finishing a large research article looking at the tensions between performance and revelry in Rubens's large painting Landscape with St George and the Dragon (c.1630). More widely, I am interested in British art and culture between 1485 and 1850, and particularly in themes of mobility and the 'traffic' of people and goods. 

Teaching Summary

Teaching History of Art poses serious challenges. Bringing objects, texts and writing into productive dialogue poses major challenges for students. Equally difficult is working closely with objects themselves. Most students are unfamiliar with how to deal with the cognitive demands made by artworks, and matters are made harder by the fact that paintings, prints and sculptures tend to do everything in their power to deny their own status as objects. I'm particularly keen to help students develop a habit of 'close looking' as a means to finding a way in to a period and its issues, rather than arming themselves with lots of 'background knowledge', which has the effect of reducing the art to an illustration of someone else's narrative.

I blog about issues related to teaching and learning in art history (attendingtoart.blogspot.co.uk), and was pleased when a senior colleague at another university recently (2017) wrote: 'I have just read your blog post about 'threshold concepts' in art history!  I am heading up the BA methodology teaching this year and it has given me a route in, a better understanding of why some students find theory difficult and a means of articulating for them their understandable anxieties. Brill!'

I’ve held posts in the History of Art departments at UCL and Oxford Brookes University, and have taught and supervised students at the Open University, Birkbeck, and Imperial College, as well as London programs for the Universities of California, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin.

Academic Background
2017   ATQ04 - Recognised by the HEA as a Senior Fellow  
2011   ATQ03 - Recognised by the HEA as a Fellow Open University
2010   Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Open University
2001   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
1997   Master of Arts University of Essex
1996   Bachelor of Arts University College London
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