Innovation: Can it be an on-the-spot idea or must it be pre-planned?


  • Janet Furness Lancashire Law School, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2HE UK
  • Barry Marshall-Kalina Lancashire Business School, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2HE UK



This research investigates the value of innovation; why we do it and, most significantly, how we do it.  Research and teaching practice would inevitably suggest that a lesson must be planned – and this is not something with which we disagree.  However, what this research aims to discover is, whether we can be innovative within a session without it having been fully pre-planned.  Can an ‘on the spot’ idea be as successful as something which is planned days or weeks before the session?

Our research was carried out within UCLan.  The pre-planned innovation was utilised in the Lancashire Law School (LLS) where students were required to ‘peer mark’ for a mock assignment at foundation level.  This innovation asked students to engage with the marking criteria and apply it effectively to their colleague’s presentations.  The reaction by students from this ‘experiment’ was encouraging.  Feedback suggested that the students had a better understanding of the assessment criteria and, perhaps more importantly, although unintentional, an increased level of trust between student and tutor.

We used what we shall term an ‘on the spot’ innovation in the Lancashire Business School (LBS).  This asked students of systems’ development to engage with the diagramming techniques often used by systems’ analysts.  The innovation took place on the whiteboard at the front of the room and students were invited to add one relationship (connection) at a time.  The tutor photographed each step and a PowerPoint presentation was made using each relationship to build the finished diagram.  This was annotated and circulated to all students.

Both innovative teaching techniques were effective in terms of the outcomes experienced by all participants.  This research will identify that innovative teaching techniques do not need to be a wholly and succinctly pre-planned activity.  Innovation within teaching strategies can be both a thought out process, and a more ad-hoc idea.