Collaborating across the country (and beyond) with Collaborate by Dr Mark Shanahan

10 Days before the US election, almost 40 students and four academics from across England came together to debate the Trump v Clinton fight for the White House, using Blackboard’s Collaborate platform, writes Politics & IR Director of Teaching & Learning, Mark Shanahan. I’d first come across collaborate at a TEL Showcase event, and had discussed its potential use with colleagues from other universities at the British International Studies Association’s Teaching and Learning conference at Newcastle University in September. When the university was looking for innovative Week 6 events, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to land on the political theme of the day and get students and lecturers from a range of universities talking – all without the need for anyone to book a room or a coach…or even (in theory) get out of bed.  

The benefit of using Blackboard’s Collaborate tool was the relative ease with which we could bring academics from Reading, Manchester, De Montfort and Huddersfield Universities together both with their students and a US-based journalist for 90 minutes’ discussion of the US elections. The sound and picture quality wasn’t always perfect – but that was probably more down to user equipment than the tool itself.

Allied to the video content, we had a live chat stream which was incredibly popular. There was a constant flow of questions from students for the academic participants and comments and responses between the students themselves. There was actually so much chat going on that it wasn’t always able to quite keep up with the flow and bring it into our video/audio. We started early with a pre-chat, and ended up running well past our planned hour. We learned a lot. Between myself and Senior TEL advisor, Adam Bailey, we agreed it would have been great to capture both all the chat for future use (we got some), and more so to use screen capture technology to keep a record of the event. We also realised early on that we needed a chair/moderator to keep the event in shape – and I fell into that role.

The response from both students and academic participants after the event was very positive. All the students who responded to a brief Surveymonkey questionnaire after the event want to do more of these link-ups via Collaborate – and want them to be longer. Equally, my colleagues Pete Woodcock, Head of Politics at Huddersfield, Alison Statham a Senior Lecturer in Politics from de Montfort and Howell Williams who’s at Manchester are all keen to get in front of a webcam again – perhaps to pick over the bones of the US election, and definitely to look at other politics subjects where we can share our views and expose our students to opinions beyond their own institutions.

 

Posted in Blackboard, Student Engagement, Student Group Work, Teaching & Learning in the Digital Age, Technology Enhanced Learning | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Actively using the Student Charter with your tutees By Helen Bilton and Michelle Reid

Student Charter ActivitiesStudent Charter ActivitiesHave you heard of the University of Reading Student Charter? Have you used the Student Charter with your students? Although many colleagues can recall it being launched a few years ago, fewer staff and, crucially, even fewer of our students are really aware of what the Charter is, or how it can be used to encourage engagement in Reading’s learning community. This is why we have developed some short activities to help explore the meaning of the Student Charter. These activities focus on different aspects of the Charter such as independent learning. They can be adapted to suit, and they only take a few minutes to run. We designed them particularly for use in personal tutor meetings, but they can also be used effectively in staff training.

Student Charter Activities

The need for the activities came from work we have been doing as a follow-up from the Student Charter Working Group. Helen Bilton chaired the group to respond to a 2014 RUSU survey of student and staff views of the Charter, and to re-examine the Charter’s content for changes or updates. The Working Group carefully examined the wording of the Charter and found that (with some debates about content) it was fit for purpose. Student responses to the Charter were high and very positive, but the main concern was the lack of awareness and publicity. Therefore, we felt one avenue for promoting the Charter to students was through the Personal Tutor system. Likewise there was a good response to the questionnaire from staff with lots of positives but again a concern that it was not visible enough.

We trialled the activities at Personal Tutor briefing sessions in the Institute of Education and in Food and Nutritional Sciences in September. The tutors had a chance to try out some of the activities themselves which produced interesting responses and sparked discussion on how they might use them with their tutees. The feedback from tutors was very positive. Comments included how useful the activities were at starting conversations about what it means to be at University. Tutors also felt the Charter was an effective external and non-personal way of broaching potentially difficult issues of engagement and expectations with students. It has led to one programme embedding the activities within one particular year long module, so that student engagement can be revisited regularly. In another instance some of the Student Charter activities were used alongside the taught component of the module and interwoven, whilst still ensuring each aspect was transparent. With full time Masters students, the activities enabled students from all over the world to discuss and understand the important elements of being a student at Reading.

With Week 6 approaching and many Personal Tutors arranging time to meet with their tutees, we hope the activities will give you some ideas of how you might open discussions about participating in our learning community here at Reading.

If you want to talk to us about the Charter, have any comments to make or feedback about how you are using the Charter please contact Helen Bilton h.o.bilton@reading.ac.uk or Michelle Reid michelle.reid@reading.ac.uk

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InFormal Reflections by Amanda Fava-Verde, Mark Peace, Aaron Woodcock and Mariama Sheriff (ISLI)

Introduction

In July this year, four members of teaching staff from the International Study and Language Institute (ISLI) headed up north to this year’s InForm Conference.  InForm is a journal published by ISLI and widely read by international foundation programme professionals across the UK.  Its annual conference this year was held at Durham University and its theme was Working with Words: Supporting understanding of disciplinespecific vocabulary in IFPs (International Foundation Programmes).  Delegates were a mixture of subject-specialists (e.g. Chemistry), English for Academic Purposes (EAP) specialists and Applied Linguists, their common factor being that they are all involved in some way (directly or indirectly) with the teaching and learning of international students on foundation degree programmes.  Amanda, Mark, Aaron and Mariama each share their own reflections on the day’s events.

Does teaching discipline specific vocabulary work?

Two thought provoking presentations had me questioning whether teaching discipline specific vocabulary at Foundation level was something of an impossible ideal – both proposing that foundation level students should rather be guided to develop the skills and strategies needed to empower them to go out there and cultivate their own lexicons and mastery of their own subject specific styles. Both these presentations favoured teaching the broader concepts of academic discourse rather than the specific disciplinary nuances, taking the longer term view that our role is to open these students’ minds to global citizenship rather than close them in to specific academic communities.

Mike Groves of Birmingham University, playing devil’s advocate, questioned whether a focus on subject specific vocabulary teaching in the foundation EAP classroom might even be damaging, suggesting we run the risk of placing our students into ‘linguistic silos’  by doing so.  While not criticising subject specificity in general, he argued that it might be more helpful to exploit the fact that foundation year students spend half their academic lives being taught the very subjects that we are preparing them for, and that they already have access to rich, subject specific discourse through their content modules.   Far better therefore, to encourage them to explore the myriad of online tools available to them (such as Lextutor, word clouds etc.) and use them in informed and disciplined ways.

Elwyn Edwards and Dr Lucy Watson of the University of Southampton had also come to the conclusion that a subject-specific approach doesn’t work; foundation year students are studying too many different subjects to group them usefully in discipline-specific groups.

They have found a novel way around the problem through a new content-based ‘Global Society’ module which aims to teach students to become academically literate and critical thinkers by engaging them in discussions they find interesting and relevant to their lives as global citizens. The module focusses not on teaching specific lexis but rather on teaching key conceptual vocabularies – cross disciplinary concepts such as sustainability, globalisation, capitalism, human rights and development, drawing attention to the ideologies which underpin them.  The approach will allow students to function across a broad range of academic discourses (and undergraduate courses) and later in the global marketplace.

By Amanda Fava-Verde, Programme Director, International Foundation Programme, ISLI

Teaching discipline-specific vocabulary can work

What caught my attention most was how crucial discipline-specific vocabulary is to academic success and how expertise in both language teaching and the subject specialism are needed to teach this vocabulary effectively. Many of the talks were by subject-specialists involved in language teaching or language teachers involved in teaching subject-specific English (sometimes referred to as ESAP). One such talk was by Dr Simon Rees of Durham University. Rees is a chemist who has been collaborating with English language teachers to produce an online chemical language test that has produced very encouraging washback effects on chemistry-specific vocabulary acquisition and academic success in Chemistry.  Students take this test at the beginning and end of their Foundation course, and poor language test scores were found to be a predictor of poor academic achievement in Chemistry.  The test provided a framework for teaching and learning chemistry-specific vocabulary, and it was found that explicit teaching of this vocabulary could enhance both their language test scores and their academic achievement in Chemistry.

Our own experience here at Reading within ISLI and other departments supports these findings. On our English Language for Chemists and English for Science modules, we’ve found that the explicit teaching of discipline-specific lexis has had a positive impact on academic achievement in Chemistry and Food Science.  And undergraduate HBS students on our Academic Skills & Language for Finance course (part of the Academic English Programme embedded provision) have responded extremely positively to a strong focus on discipline-specific vocabulary development.  Perhaps these findings are not very surprising, but they confirm that teaching discipline-specific vocabulary has enormous potential in helping students access their subject and achieve their full academic potential.  They also demonstrate the importance of utilising joint expertise in both language and the target subject.  Let’s hope for more such cross-disciplinary collaborations in the future!

By Aaron Woodcock, Teaching Fellow in English for Science and EAP, ISLI

Let the data do the talking

The InForm conference has always been an active forum for sharing ideas and opinions, but I was particularly delighted this year with the number of talks that openly shared data, results and feedback. In some cases this showed clear trends, in others interpretation was open to discussion and in all cases sharing of data provided additional insight.

In his opening keynote, Associate Professor of Linguistics Michael McCarthy presented analysis of the high frequency keywords ‘point’, ‘terms’ and ‘sense’ in discipline-specific sub-corpora. This showed differences in academic language used by lecturers in different disciplines and clearly illustrated the potential for using spoken academic corpora analysis for tailoring English teaching material for specific disciplines.

Hannah Gurr from the University of Bristol shared student feedback on her foundation English Link class for Mathematics. After hearing of her innovative approach to teaching the course, which involves plenty of interaction including online quizzes and videos, we might expect a rave response from the students to all aspects of the course. Hannah presented the responses in their raw form, and while largely positive, some students still would rather more academic teaching and seem not to value the additional English teaching as much as we might expect. This is something many of us find when teaching our International English or Academic Skills modules despite trying to make it relevant to the student’s subjects, and Hannah’s open sharing of feedback was very welcome in enabling discussion on this.

Sandra Strigel from Newcastle University gave an interesting presentation on raising linguistic awareness of teachers through Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). The intended outcome is often to make sessions more interactive; moving away from extended periods of one-way presentation of information from tutors to students. The feedback that Sandra presented certainly showed that teachers adopting this approach became more aware of language issues and the student experience, as well as being more reflective. What was equally interesting was the information that was missing, and Sandra openly highlighted that the long term impact of this approach on student attainment has not yet been looked at in the studies she’s aware of. So, while it may be relatively straightforward to evaluate different teaching methods in terms of student experience, perhaps the real challenge is evaluating in terms of attainment.

It’s exciting to hear of the research that’s happening. The frank and open presentation and discussion of findings is of great value to the IFP community, particularly as it enables individuals to draw their own conclusions.

By Dr Mark Peace, Senior Academic Tutor IFP, ISLI, Chair of InForm Editorial Board

Using learning technologies can boost academic success

A number of presenters at the conference showed how using learning technologies effectively can enable students to learn discipline-specific vocabulary in order to overcome language barriers that can prevent them from understanding taught content. Moreover, learning technologies also prime students to employ study skills and criticality (transferable skills which facilitate learner autonomy and ultimately foster wider academic success).

Teaching discipline-specific vocabulary characteristically involves helping students notice the meaning, use and form of language then record and memorise it effectively; here, I felt the conference presenters provided a broadening outlook on how learning technologies can facilitate the learning of vocabulary and encourage proactive, reflective and motivated students. Hannah Gurr from the University of Bristol showed how the online tool Quizlet was notable for the way in which it helps her and, more importantly, how it can enable students themselves to tailor the learning of vocabulary to individual needs. Moreover, it gives students the scaffolding they need to prioritise what to learn and to break learning down into manageable chunks.

Corpus websites are not often designed with lower level language learners in mind, and so it was good to hear about more student-centred online platforms that can help students analyse language patterns specific to their chosen discipline. Dawn Knight (Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the University of Cardiff) has co-created WordWanderer, which promises to be a user-friendly way for students to examine different aspects of discipline-specific vocabulary. Visual learners in particular are likely to find it helpful. Megan Bruce of Durham University demonstrated how centres that build a corpus based on academic texts written within their own institutions can then create tailored corpusbased teaching and learning activities, which can help students focus on the key features of subject-specific academic writing. This also lends well to giving students a sense of belonging to their academic community. Both sessions, like many others, helped to frame stimulating discussions on how to give students more meaningful practice as well as a sense of ownership over their learning both in and outside the classroom.

By Mariama Sheriff, EAP Pre-sessional Tutor (ISLI, summer 2016) and Foundation Tutor at the University of Oxford Brookes.

Conclusions

It may seem, on the surface at least, that there’s little consensus on how best to support the learning of discipline-specific vocabulary. However, lack of consensus tends to lead to diversity of opinion, experimentation and debate, as illustrated by this blog post. As long as this is open, evidence-based and T&L-driven (which it was at InForm 2016), IFP students here at Reading and around the UK can only benefit.

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It’s time! Viva Day – By Heike Bruton, Research Assistant and PhD Researcher

There can’t be many more nerve-wracking oral exams than the PhD viva. A several-year build-up –and then… what? To give research students an impression of what’s it actually like on the day, Dr Carol Fuller from the Institute of Education has produced a short, entertaining and informative video. Using some Teaching and Learning Development Fund (TLDF) money, Carol, who is Director of the Institute’s EdD Programme, has teamed up with film maker Henry Steddman – a UoR alumni — to provide reassurance to potentially anxious candidates. Starring some IoE colleagues as well as professional actors, the video thankfully stays clear of vague and meaningless advice often found in self-help type viva-survivor tips, such as ‘just be yourself’ (which is fine if your self is a confident academic on top of your game, not so much if it’s a nervous wreck. As Father Ted says to Dougal: never be yourself! That’s just something people say!)

So how should you be, then? First, let’s remember the cornerstones of the situation you’re in here:

  • You’re the expert on your thesis
  • The examiners have read your work thoroughly…
  • ….and they’re keen to discuss it with you.

On viva day:

  • dress smartly
  • refer to your thesis
  • keep eye contact
  • if unsure, ask questions
  • stay hydrated
  • ….try to relax!
  • at the end, if you’re asked whether you’d like to add anything, take the opportunity.

Then, you’ve done all you can for now, and there’s no more to than just wait, until… it’s time!

Hopefully, you’ll get the desired result, and will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy! Congratulations!

If UoR PhD’ers and EdD’ers find the video useful, Carol is keen to hear their feedback – via any means possible, be it the YouTube comment box, on Facebook or twitter, or via email.” It’s a good way to give students access to an easy-to-use resource”, says Carol. “If students tell us they like this video clip, we can make the case for funding to make more such short films, for example on epistemology or methodology.”

What do you and your students think of Carol’s video? Have a watch here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3hnu2aq8P4

post authored by:

Heike Bruton | Research Assistant and PhD Researcher | University of Reading, Institute of Education, London Road Campus, building L33 room 115, 4 Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX | + 44(0) 118 378 2645 | h.bruton@reading.ac.ukhttp://germanintheuk.com/about/  | https://twitter.com/HeikeBruton

Posted in Latest News, Student Engagement, Student support | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Improving student engagement with resources using online Reading Lists

Students engagement with recommended academic resources is key to developing a deeper understanding of their discipline and, ultimately, a more satisfying and stimulating educational environment. Seamless access to resources cited on reading lists has been much improved over the last 14 months with further investment in Library e-resources and the implementation of the Talis Aspire Reading Lists system across the University. But access to resources does not necessarily equate to improved engagement with them. So how can we improve student engagement with scholarly resources? Additional functionality within Talis Aspire lists may offer solutions for both students and staff.

We now have over 2,200 lists on the system from 2015-16 and 2016-17, representing 1,400+ modules taught across the University. Over 128,750 items have been linked to these lists (79,000 of which are cited on published lists). With such a vast amount of materials recommended to students, learning how to manage academic reading, develop effective note taking and time management techniques are key to effectively and meaningfully engaging with a wide range of resources to support their studies.

Making use of the additional functionality offered by Talis Aspire offers students the opportunity to:  Additional list functionality

  • prioritise reading order (by sorting items by ‘importance’, where they have been marked up as ‘essential’, ‘recommended’ or ‘further’ reading by the module convenor/list publisher)
  • allocate a ‘read status’ to items (e.g. ‘Have read’, ‘Will read’, ‘Reading now’, ‘Won’t read’)
  • make notes – accessible only to them  – on the resources they have read (see screenshot, right)

Encouraging your students to use their reading lists in this way will not only encourage the development of key study skills but will also enable tutors to address any issues or concerns arising at point of need, via the dashboard facility.

The dashboard provides academic staff with an overview of student ‘read statuses’, the number of notes made against each resource and provides a summary of page views (number of times your list has been viewed in total), number of ‘clicks’ (number of times a students has clicked through to an item on the list), number of annotations (what read statuses have been used or notes made (though the content of these notes remains accessible only to the note maker).

The advantages of this are:

  • tutors can see at a glance which resources have been viewed most frequently on the list
  • potential issues relating to resources marked as ‘won’t read’ or those infrequently viewed can be addressed at point of need, e.g. if a resource needs further explanation this could be incorporated into the next seminar/meeting with your students Dashboard for staff

Screencasts are currently in development for both students and staff to assist with using these additional functions.

If students are encouraged by their tutors to make greater use of this additional functionality, the analytics which can then be drawn from this activity will help inform the way certain resources are presented within your modules and, it is hoped, encourage students to engage further with the cited resources, whilst developing key study skills.

Study Advice have produced a guide on managing academic reading and effective note taking, which can also be promoted to students to help develop these skills.

For further information about all aspects of the implementation of Reading Lists, please email Kerry Webb, Talis implementation project manager.

Posted in Research and enquiry, Student Engagement | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

University Teaching Fellows – Reflecting on the community by Katja Strohfeldt

With the start of the new academic year it is always a good idea to reflect on current practices and plan the year ahead. As the incoming chair for the Community of Practice (CoP) of University Teaching Fellows (UTF) I found myself reflecting on the identity and the purpose of this group.

What is the Community of Practice of UTFs?

It could be summarised as a growing community of staff members (academic and non-academic) who are enthusiastic about varying aspects of teaching, innovation and excellence. The University recognises each year a number of staff members for their excellent work in the area of T&L by appointing new UTFs.

Many congratulation to the new University Teaching fellows 2016-17, who recently joined the community:

  • Dr Laura Bennett – School of Law
  • Dr Philippa Cranwell – School of Chemistry, Food & Pharmacy
  • Dr Andrew Charlton-Perez – School of Mathematical & Physical Sciences
  • Dr Rhianedd Smith – University Museums & Special Collections Services
  • Dr Rachel Pye – School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences

I was actually thinking back to the time when I joined the group and we started having regular CoP lunch meetings, where there were only a handful of us meeting for a sandwich lunch (yes I am so long at the University already). It makes me feel very proud being part of a community which has grown quickly – in number and reputation. One of the strengths is its community spirit – everyone is able to draw on each other’s knowledge and experience from areas across the University. We meet in an informal setting and it is a great way to meet new people from across the University and make contacts.

What is my steer for the coming year?

Following on from my excellent predecessor Helen Hathaway – Helen thank you very much for being an excellent chair to the community – I decided to have an overarching theme for this academic year. I would like to explore further how the University utilises their UTF community and how we can give the group more of an identity and input in strategic areas. For this reason I have invited Prof Gavin Brooks (PVC for T&L) to our first meeting in the autumn term in order to give us a platform to discuss how the Senior Management Board sees our role. I hope that more detailed plans come out from this meeting, but the spring term meeting certainly sees the launch of the new UTF application process, with the summer term meeting welcoming our new colleagues.

Are you interested in becoming a UTF?

If you are interested in applying to the UTF scheme than I would suggest that you plan ahead. Have a look at the application form and identify areas where small tweaks might make a great impact. At this time of the year, you might be able to adjust your teaching or achievements in a way that you can apply to the UTF scheme with confidence. I suggest you get in touch with CQSD sooner rather than later and see if you can be matched with a mentor – this is another great way to meet new people. The new scheme will start off with a showcase lunchtime session, but I suggest you start thinking about it now and you are always welcome to also contact me.

Details of the 2017 UTF scheme will be announced in the new year.

Posted in Continuing Professional Development, Employability, Latest News, Rewards and Recognition, University Teaching Fellows | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“Does size matter” or “how large is large”? by Katja Strohfeldt

Teaching of large cohort sizes is becoming more and more prominent at Universities. Many colleagues will have experienced this and also faced the challenges which come with teaching large class sizes. I am delighted that the University decided to support our research into large class size teaching with the special aspect of diversity. Rachel Pye (Psychology) and myself (SCFP) busily started to gather data and information. There was one question I raised quite early after starting this Teaching and Learning Development funded project: “How large is large?” Looking back at my own experience of being an undergraduate student in Germany, I attended my Part 1 lectures with around 800 other students. Is this a large class size? One aspect of these lectures became quite clear to me: Whilst we certainly started with 800 students at the beginning of the semester, by the end only a fraction were regularly attending lectures.

Objectives:

  • What are the students’ expectations on class size at University?
  • Explore the students’ experience within large class sizes especially in diverse cohorts.
  • Develop a toolkit, which provides easy access to tools and tricks to help with large class size teaching.

How large is large?

Everyone will have their own opinion on how many students you would expect to teach in a large class size at the University. This is probably very much dependant on your own experience and your subject area. I would suggest you think for a moment about your own experience before continuing to read this blog…

We wanted to know what the students think, especially from those who had just newly started the University. We have surveyed around 800 students in our first year of the project. The Part 1 students were asked to fill in the questionnaires shortly after they arrived at University, Part 2 and 3/4 students followed. We also run some focus groups with Pharmacy and Psychology students, as both courses have a very interesting diversity profile.

It was very interesting that the Part 1 student gave very similar answers, independent of their course. Part 1 students defined a large class size with around 100 students. In contrast to this our focus groups showed that small classes were expected to accommodate around 6 students, similar to their A-level teaching groups. It is very interesting to see that Part 2 and 3/4 students consistently gave a lower answer for large class sizes. The more experienced students defined a large class size accommodating around 80 students. Again, this number was independent of the course the students were studying.

In summary, it was interesting to see that Part 1 students expected a higher number of students in their large class size teaching, than Part2/3/4 students. We hypothesize that experience of the latter group of students at University level being exposed to seminars, tutorials etc influenced their perception.

Does size matter?

The answer is probably yes and no. Our preliminary data has clearly shown that students expect being taught in large lecture theatres with many others when they come to University. Even looking at diversity as a factor does not change this expectation significantly. This would mean size doesn’t matter. Nevertheless, our preliminary data has also shown that size matters, in regards to teaching styles. Investigating expectations, anxiety levels and other aspects, indicate that students are prone to disengage easier in large classes. Students feel less noticed, more anonymous and have less of a chance to ask questions. Understanding and acoustics can also be a hurdle.

Quo vadis?

The next steps we have planned is to undertake interviews with staff members and undertaking the questionnaires with students in Parts 1, 2 and 3/4, especially focussing on students from the previous cohort who entered Part 2 now and expanding the study to other courses. The main aim is to develop a toolkit, which will be easily accessible to everyone.

More information will follow shortly. No doubt we will be in touch with many of you again and really hope you can support us. If you have any questions in the meantime, please email us (k.strohfeldt@reading.ac.uk) or follow us on Twitter @largeclassHE.

Posted in Dissemination, Funding Opportunities, Latest News, Student Engagement, Teaching approaches | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Take Home Exam by Dr Stuart Lakin, School of Law

This post has been uploaded to the T&L Exchange, and can now be found at:

http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/t-and-l-exchange/take-home-exam/

Posted in Assessment & Feedback, Continuing Professional Development, Diversity and inclusion, Employability, Internationalisation, Learning design, Research and enquiry, Research informed teaching, Student Engagement, Student support, Teaching approaches, Technology Enhanced Learning | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Exploring value co-creation (CCV) in the Law Feedback Project at ESLTIS 2016 by Imogen Moore and Laura Bennett, School of Law

Introduction

As joint staff leaders (together with Dr Nora Honkala) on the current Law Feedback Project, we recently presented a paper exploring aspects of the project to the second annual Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Scholarship Conference, held at University College London on 28-29 June 2016.  This blog post explains a little about the Law Feedback Project, how (and why) value co-creation principles were incorporated within it, and what we found useful at the 2016 ESLTIS conference.

The Law Feedback Project and Value Co-Creation

The Law Feedback Project was set up in September 2015, in response to Periodic Review recommendations and student feedback in the NSS and elsewhere, which while generally positive, indicated some room for improvement. Periodic Review had recommended involving students in development of feedback (and other) strategies, and this provided us with the impetus to put students at the heart of the project, supported by our Head of School, Professor Susan Breau. Rather than simply seeking student views on assessment and feedback in a way potentially driven and limited by staff preconceptions and preferences, we set up the project drawing on principles of value co-creation, as espoused by writers such as Catherine Bovill and Alison Cook-Sather (Bovill et al, 2012 & 2014; see also McWilliam, 2008; Mihans et al, 2008;  Tabrizi & Ackfeldt, 2013) .

CCV envisages students acting as partners in learning, moving beyond a consumer-oriented role, and has been successfully used with a wide range of teaching and learning projects. For the Law Feedback Project this would mean involving students from the start and throughout the project – in scoping, designing and running the project, and ultimately creating and implementing changes to policies and practice. Students were recruited on a voluntary basis, via the SSLC, to co-lead the project working group (alongside the three staff members). Additional students participated in focus groups which explored more widely and deeply the issues identified within the working group.

Our primary aim in using CCV was to lead to more meaningful assessment and feedback practice that better met student needs, while still recognising system and staffing constraints. The project showed that students had quite clear views on what they needed and what they liked and disliked. While often their views matched staff expectations, this was not always the case. Fears of some staff that students will always demand more feedback were somewhat unfounded – quality and specificity were favoured over quantity (although quantity mattered too). Importantly the project indicated that students did not always understand and share the language of assessment and feedback, suggesting student dissatisfaction with feedback is sometimes due to miscommunication rather than deeper failings. Involving students through CCV will assist in finding a common language for our discourse with students and allow us to identify ways to improve their assessment literacy.

ESLTIS Conference 2016

The paper was well received at the ESLTIS conference, and was followed by some interesting discussion relating to our experiences and the challenges and benefits presented by CCV. It was valuable to have the input of fellow teaching-intensive colleagues from a wide variety of institutions and disciplines, in such a supportive and thoughtful atmosphere. In total the conference was attended by well over 100 teaching focused staff from institutions across the UK and further afield, with representation from all career levels.

There were two excellent keynote speeches. The first was given by from Dr Dilly Fung of UCL, who spoke around her recent HEA publication ‘Rewarding educators and education leaders in research-intensive universities’. Her vision of what education means – and its depth and breadth beyond ‘just’ teaching – was particularly interesting. Professor Carol Evans of the University of Southampton gave the keynote address on the second day: ‘Developing and implementing holistic assessment practice’. Professor Evans looked at bringing together different aspects of good assessment practice, including the importance of students understanding the assessment and feedback – something with obvious links to our own project. The rest of the two days offered a multitude of papers under themes of assessment and feedback, scholarship of teaching and learning, supporting students, and the role of teaching-focused academics – so many stimulating ideas and new approaches to old (and new) problems. We were also treated to an entertaining panel discussion which gave insights into different institutions’ attitudes to teaching-focused staff.

Conclusion

The experience of running the project, and presenting at the conference, has been very rewarding. Following a CCV approach has taken us out of our comfort zone and added another dimension to our teaching and learning, and it was interesting to explore with others how to successfully involve students further in teaching design. As far as the project is concerned, it is hoped this will continue into 2016-7 (with some change of membership due to staff changes and student graduations), to develop and implement policies and assessment criteria in partnership with students. As for ESLTIS – well, the next conference, which is organised through the Teaching Focussed Academic Network, will be held in Newcastle in the summer of 2017; hope to see you there!

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Group work: students’ solutions to the challenges by Sonia Hood

Group work is an integral part of assessment at university but students rarely arrive equipped with the skills, experience and knowledge to deal with the challenges they face when working in groups. This can be a cause of anxiety for students and also a time consuming intervention for lecturers.

Henley Business School approached Study Advice for help in supporting students with this form of assessment. It was felt that students needed help navigating the wide range of resources available to them. In addition, in order to offer effective support, we felt we first needed to understand the challenges students face, how they have/intend to overcome these and how best they would like to be supported in doing this. A project was set up and we received TLD funding to investigate this further.

The project had two main aims: the first to create a bank of resources that students working on assessed group work could be directed to. The second was to recommend some interventions to support students with the challenges they faced when working in groups.

The research

A student researcher was employed to evaluate the wealth of group work resources openly available. This resulted in a folder of group work resources being created and uploaded onto Blackboard.  In addition a pack containing key resources was compiled and handed out to part 1 REP students when commencing their first group work project. We were able to evaluate the effectiveness of this pack within this research.

A range of focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted with Real Estate and Planning students, and HBS staff , over the past year. They explored both the perceived challenges to group work and the proposed solutions to these challenges. This qualitative data was then analysed and a number of key challenges, possible solutions and recommendations were presented to Real Estate and Planning teaching and learning staff.

What students want

The interviews and focus groups revealed the complex challenges associated with group work, supporting previous research into this area. Solutions varied between the PG and UG students, though both recognised that effective teams take time to get to know each other informally. Students suggested that informal events could be organised as part of their course to help them through this ‘forming’ stage. PG students also asked for careful consideration of how the mark for group work is allocated (with a higher proportion allocated to individual work) and for a penalty to be imposed, as a last resort.

More support was requested in dealing with conflict and difficult team members, and the need for more self-reflection from everyone within the group was identified. There are also some simple things we can do to help students with the practicalities of group work, like timetabling group work sessions and  booking rooms at set times for students to use. In terms of tutor support, it was recognised that their time was limited; when it comes to personal issues within a group, speaking to a mentor (like a part 2 student) who could offer confidential, impartial advice would be a preferable option for UGs.

Resources for your students

We now have a bank of resources to support students with group work, available on Blackboard, which can be copied into any course. The resources are clearly divided into folders and contain a mixture of: video tutorials; advice on dealing with challenging situations; self-reflection tools and group assessment questionnaires. The initial pack handed out to part 1 students proved to be useful for UGs, mainly as an aid to focus early group discussions. It contained some forms to record minutes, ground rules, contact details and roles, as well as offer advice to the common issues experienced within groups

Work continues on this project, as at present we are only just starting to disseminate the findings. Whilst the recommendations might not be relevant to all engaged in group work, a number of themes and challenges are shared across a variety of disciplines. We would welcome speaking to anyone who is interested in finding out more about this project and how they might benefit from this research.

Posted in Assessment & Feedback, Student Engagement, Student Group Work | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Power of Collaboration: Reflections on St Andrews EAP conference by Bruce Howell & Aaron Woodcock (ISLI)

In February 2016, we presented at a one-day English for Academic Purposes (EAP) conference at St Andrews University, showcasing Reading’s ‘English Language for Chemists’ module, a collaboration between the International Study & Language Institute (ISLI) and the Department of Chemistry.  As it turned out,  collaboration between EAP and subject study departments, and its power to enhance teaching and learning (T&L), was key thread running through all the presentations we saw that day.

About the conference

The conference is an annual event for professionals working in EAP in English language departments and units across the UK and further afield, who undertake activities similar to ISLI’s Pre-Sessional English (PSE) and Academic English Programme (AEP). There are in fact a number of such conferences each year in the UK, and many attract participants from abroad. It is increasingly recognised that there is a need to support students whose first language is not English who arrive in the UK as a full time student, or (increasingly) as part of a Trans-National Education (TNE) programme. One question many leaders of T&L are asking is how to incorporate EAP into existing degree teaching – should it be extra-curricular or should it be integrated into the degree itself? The conference theme attempted to tackle this challenge: ‘Finding the balance: language and content in EAP’, and thus provided an ideal opportunity for us to share ISLI’s experience of collaborating with Chemistry.

Our presentation: ‘Designing a subject-specific EAP course for Chemists’

We outlined the content of the module, showing samples of teaching materials, and explained the story of the module’s creation. We emphasised the central role collaboration had to play in the creation and running of the module: both collaboration between the University of Reading and Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology (NUIST), and collaboration between ISLI and Chemistry. The latter in particular was central to delivering a module that teaches English that is both relevant and achievable. The collaboration ultimately won ISLI/Chemistry a University Collaborative Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning (2014-2015).

The ‘English for Chemists’ module (CH3ENG) was created for the 2014/15 session onwards as a result of forward planning:

  • Chemistry staff members visiting NUIST and meeting Applied Chemistry students as well as their lecturers
  • Chemistry staff members discussing any ‘gap’ of attainment likely when the 3+1 students arrive for Part 3 (thereby recognised that EAP support would be a necessary component)
  • Chemistry working with ISLI to create 20 credits’ worth of study designed uniquely for the NUIST  students arriving for Part 3.

Two types of essential skill were identified as areas which would normally have been covered or developed during Parts 1 and 2:

  • language functions, such as explaining chemical reaction processes, clear pronunciation, effective speaking in groups in labs
  • important Chemistry skills, such as safety regulation awareness, Chemistry-specific IT, generic study skills.

The decision was therefore made to create two 10-credit modules, the former delivered by ISLI (CH3ENG), and the latter by Chemistry (CH3NUI), requiring further joint planning to take place, ensuring the modules complemented each other but did not overlap. An example of this would be ‘avoiding plagiarism’, which could equally be considered ‘language’ (ISLI) or ‘general study skills’ (Chemistry). In order to avoid repetition and retain a balance the ‘avoiding plagiarism’ objective was placed within the CH3NUI module. Close monitoring has taken place during the first 2 years, and gradual developments are ongoing, for example a greater emphasis on writing short examination-type responses will be given in CH3ENG.

Presentations from other universities

EAP taught on its own as a subject, as in most Pre-Sessional English courses, usually results in a ‘generic’ form of English teaching, i.e. activities which require academic skills such as structuring writing, using references, presenting clearly, and contributing to seminar discussion. Topics and formats tend to be closer to social science(s) than pure sciences because of the likelihood that the topic areas are ‘common knowledge’. Generic EAP would involve studying texts and writing essays on ethical business, education approaches, employment patterns, and the like.

Contributions to the conference made it clear that ‘imbedded’ In-Sessional English is a fast-growing area of interest for many EAP professionals, and this conference gave an opportunity to share best practice in giving English language support to students learning specific subject areas. For instance, colleagues from the University of Manchester presented on two projects: a masters level ‘Principles of Scientific Writing’ for Chemistry, and the challenges of providing English language support for mathematicians. Colleagues from the University of Edinburgh posed interesting alternative views on to what extent Academic English lecturers can or should comment on the content of students’ writing, and colleagues from the University of Leeds are launching a brand new discipline-specific Pre-Sessional English programme, which has involved close collaboration between the English language centre and subject departments across the university.

Common sentiments expressed were:

  1. a) collaboration between English language and subject experts is vital
  2. b) a ‘blinkered’ subject focus is not enough (as with many professional roles these days): EAP lecturers need to have some interest in or knowledge of specific academic subjects, while subject lecturers need to have some interest in or knowledge of the language issues of international students
  3. c) teaching and learning leaders in UK universities often do recognise – though could perhaps recognise more – the importance of integrating language and study skills support into TNE programmes, rather than offering ‘extra-curricular’ opportunities
  4. d) ideally, staff in both EAP and subject departments should be involved in planning and delivery of certain modules, even at times ‘team teaching’ or ‘team marking’, though this clearly has resourcing implications (utilising PhD students as tutors can be a good solution).

Reflections and follow-up

ISLI at Reading already has an expanding range of subject collaborations as part of the AEP programme, with an increasing number becoming credit-bearing. Food and Nutritional Sciences has a long-standing 2+2 arrangement with Henan University of Technology central to which is an embedded credit-bearing EAP module, while Reading has plans to expand its 3+1 provision with NUIST in other subject areas. This seems to be in step with other UK universities, and there will be more of such possibilities growing in future.

Meanwhile, ISLI are currently looking into developing a more subject-specific PSE programme, and will therefore be closely watching developments of the new subject-specific Pre-Sessional English programme at Leeds.

Perhaps the most significant expansion of this type of activity will be seen at the Malaysia campus, where students will benefit from carefully planned English language and study skills input both before and during their degree courses, and will feature inter-campus as well as inter-departmental collaboration.

Posted in Academic Skills, Conference Updates, T&L Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peer Assisted Learning: how did the PAL pilots go in 2015-16 at Reading? by Caroline Crolla

I’ve gained more knowledge regarding the module & find it easier to ask for help. (Maths PAL participant)

[PAL] is a more interactive way of working, more group work, some sharing about 4th year placement and the usefulness of this module for next year (S&L Therapy PAL participant)

It’s great to see people leave sessions feeling like they understand what they were struggling with. (PAL Leader, Creative Writing)

It’s great, [PAL] really helps with understanding work. (PAL Leader, Art)

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) was introduced at the University of Reading in 2015-16 in a few departments as pilot schemes, with the longer term aim of establishing the scheme across the university. Five departments took part in the first pilot which ran from November 2015 to May 2016.  The pilot schemes have now been evaluated and here are some of the findings.

Participating departments in 2015-16

Economics

Mathematics and Statistics

Speech and Language Therapy

Fine Art

English Literature: Creative writing

What is Peer Assisted Learning?

Peer Assisted Learning is a scheme where students in the same subject learn together with their peers. PAL sessions are run by experienced student who have been trained as facilitators, also known as PAL Leaders, who are regularly debriefed by programme academics.

HEIs with experience of PAL have found that the scheme contributes to improved retention, engagement and performance through shared learning, engendering stronger links between academics and students as well as providing an additional form of feedback.

The principles underpinning Peer Assisted Learning include:

  • the PAL scheme should target high risk modules or courses, not high risk students
  • student participation should be voluntary and it should supplement not replace core teaching
  • student PAL Leaders are facilitators and not quasi-lecturer

What are PAL positives?

Academics reported that introducing PAL was not time consuming but that they did need to endorse and promote their PAL scheme more in order to increase attendance of at PAL sessions. All academics involved in PAL described how the scheme influenced their pedagogy.  They mentioned how much the PAL leaders had developed in the process.

Nothing additional to prepare; I am developing my teaching material because I have changed aspects of the module and my prep is being helpfully informed by having the two PAL Leaders and their sessions in mind.

I have had to think about my teaching materials more closely, because I have PAL in mind. I have reviewed what I am putting in the lectures and what not; what I want the PAL Leader to have or do, or not. This has been good for me…and the students I hope.

I am very impressed with [the PAL Leaders].   I think they are doing so well and really benefiting. 

To maximise effectiveness

The pilots have flagged up three key factors that influence the effectiveness of PAL

Attendance

To maximise attendance Departments need to ensure that PAL sessions appear on students’ timetables and are roomed and timetabled at appropriate times within the module so that participants can attend. PAL is voluntary and for students to benefit from attending sessions access needs to be made possible.

PAL Leaders and participants understand the benefit of collaborative learning

Leaders, participants and academic staff need to be clear about the benefits of working collaboratively on cognitively difficult material. Peer assisted learning is a structured way of peers learning together.  It is not remedial support. One hour of PAL can equal to three hours of working alone.

Increasing engagement by academics

If peer assisted learning is part of a subject’s offer, then it needs regular endorsement by academic contacts and the PAL leaders need regular reviews with the academic contact throughout the term. Increased publicity and visibility of the PAL sessions within departments will help with attendance.

What next?

  1. In 2016-17, more modules will be supported by Peer Assisted Learning sessions in Psychology, Classics as well as in Art, Speech and Language Therapy, English Literature and Mathematics.
  2. From the 14 PAL Leaders who trained to facilitate learning of their peers in 2015-16, 34 prospective PAL leaders will be trained in 2016-17 to support a range of modules.
  3. Academics in Mathematics, who have been enthusiastic early adopters of PAL, have decided to offer PAL in Mathematics as an optional Part 3 module and 9 students have been successfully selected to become PAL Leaders to support the Part 1 core module ‘Real Analysis’.

Would you like to get involved?

PAL at Reading had a great first year because of the enthusiasm of staff and students who had a deep commitment to learning and who saw the positive and holistic benefits of PAL. However, there is a lot more scope to deploy peer assisted learning in many contexts, so if you are an academic interested in adopting PAL for one or more of your modules or you would like to find out more, please contact: Caroline Crolla, PAL Coordinator, c.s.crolla@reading.ac.uk  | pal@reading.ac.uk or phone 0118 378 6593.   I work in the Student Success Team which is located in Blandford Lodge, G17, Whiteknights campus.

Posted in Academic Skills, Student Engagement | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Are we doing enough for our BTEC entrants? Authored by Dr Michelle Reid (Study Advice)

Transition to university is often geared towards students from an A-level background, so are we doing enough for students with vocational qualifications starting at Reading?

Recent research from UCAS shows that one in four university entrants has done a BTEC (Havergal, 2016). Issues such as culture shock, work/life balance, different assessment methods, and the perception that A-level entrants may be better equipped to study at university are some of the concerns BTEC students can have when starting their degree (Clark, 2011). As Study Advisers, we observed similar concerns when working with former BTEC students here at Reading, particularly in relation to learning from lectures and taking exams, as these are not teaching and assessment methods used on BTEC courses. With these transition issues in mind, and also in light of the increased focus on widening participation, we conducted a short survey to gauge the views of current Reading students with BTEC qualifications on their readiness for university. We wanted to assess whether it would be beneficial to host a pre-entry event for BTEC entrants before they start here in the autumn, following the model of our well-established and successful pre-entry day for mature students.

We sent the questionnaire to all current Reading undergraduate and taught postgraduate students who had taken a BTEC (over 800 students) and received 173 replies. The results confirmed the previous research and our own observations. 45% of respondents described themselves as ‘fairly well prepared’ for university. However when this was explored further, 41.8% also felt that studying at university was ‘fairly different’ to the style of learning they were used to with the main difference being the style of assessments. Respondents pinpointed referencing, preparing for exams and academic reading as the areas they most wished they had known more about before starting university, again reflecting a concern with assessment and the style of academic learning at university. Similar to more general research findings (Clark, 2011; Reidy, 2015) our own former BTEC students identified their studying strengths as coursework, independence, subject knowledge and motivation. This suggests that BTECs give a good foundation in independent learning and indicates that students are likely to be motivated to attend a pre-entry event. However, the results also suggest there are gaps in transition guidance, especially around some assessment methods. Indeed, it is concerning that a wider HEA study has shown that students who went to university with vocational qualifications were less likely to achieve a first or 2:1 (Havergal, 2016). This indicates that we should be doing more to prepare BTEC students for the culture of HE assessment and to foster the potential of BTEC students.

Based on the survey findings, Study Advice is now investigating the possibility of hosting a pre-entry event for BTEC students this summer. We would be very interested in talking to others looking at transition and support for BTEC entrants.

 

References:

Clark, W. (2011). ‘Transitions in action? Exploring vocational learner progression into and out of higher education’. Educational Developments, 12.2, pp.9-12.

Havergal, C. (2016). ‘One in four university entrants has a BTEC, Ucas study finds’. Times Higher Education, 28 January 2016. Online at https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/one-in-four-university-entrants-has-a-btec-ucas-study-finds  Accessed 05/04/16.

Reidy, T. (2015). ‘Will taking a BTec help or hinder your university application?’ The Guardian, Education section, 21 July 2015. Online at http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jul/21/will-taking-a-btec-help-or-hinder-your-university-application  Accessed 05/04/16.

Posted in Latest News, Student Engagement | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A welcome website for the newborn National Network of Teaching-Focussed Academics by Rita Balestrini and Chiara Cirillo

The Teaching-Focussed Academic Staff Network, whose inaugural conference was hosted by the University of Durham on 16th and 17th July, now has a dedicated website.

When we read the call for papers of the conference, entitled ‘Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Scholarship’, we realised that besides providing an opportunity to share innovative scholarly activities across disciplines for the enhancement of student learning, the conference also intended to address the issue of the career progression of staff on teaching-focussed contracts. Quoting a study by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the call for papers drew attention to the ‘predominance of teaching-only contracts among part-time academics’ and the existing ‘gap between policy and implementation regarding promotion policies’ in UK universities. It also stressed the importance of raising the profile of teaching-focussed academics in order to enhance teaching and the scholarship of L&T across the HE sector.

In recent years, contributing to raising the profile of language L&T at the University of Reading  has been one of our objectives and, together with colleagues of the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies (MLES) and of the International Study and Language Institute (ISLI), we pursued this aim in various ways. For this reason, we decided to participate in the conference and give a presentation on the place that the scholarship of language L&T can have, and should have, in British universities. We addressed some issues specific to the tradition of languages as a university subject which hinder the scholarship of language L&T, and affect the academic identity and career development of language professionals on teaching-focussed contracts. We talked about the organisation of the discipline around  binary divisions such as ‘language’ and ‘content’, ‘language skills’ and ‘cultural knowledge’;  we illustrated the multifaceted nature of language teaching and the theoretical and practical competence it requires. We ended our presentation by pointing out the lower status and casualisation of language teachers in higher education as acknowledged and lamented by several authors (Coleman, 1999; Gieve and Cunico, 2012; Klapper, 2005; Quist, 2000; Worton, 2009), but we also highlighted the beginnings of some positive changes.

In general, from the plenary talks and the sessions we attended (‘Embedding and Enhancing Scholarship’, and ‘Career Pathways for Teaching Focused Academic Staff’), it emerged that there is still a way to go to transform the current hierarchy between teaching and research into a balanced relationship, although some progress has been made. The teaching-only academic role, in fact, seems to be still characterised by a lower status, a high degree of casualisation, and a gender imbalance (with more women in teaching-focussed roles, compared to teaching and research roles and more women on the low grades of the teaching-focussed roles).  It has been stressed that fellowships and awards are not sufficient recognition in themselves, and that a better way to enhance teaching in HE is to create a credible career path based on promotion criteria which actually reward excellence in teaching.  The lack of transparent criteria for progression seemed to be a common issue, and the need for a review of teaching roles undertaken by a national body was highlighted.

In our view, one of the most thought-provoking aspects of the talks we attended was the reflection on the necessity of a reconceptualisation of teaching and research in relation to each other which goes beyond the current perceived hierarchy. The idea of a learning culture in which the student researcher and the learning teacher are both submerged was offered as a possibility, together with the notion of ‘research’ as part of a wider concept of ‘scholarship’. The need for a re-imagined academic role appeared as a running thread in many presentations. In this sense, important innovations mentioned at the conference were the introduction of a ‘Study leave’ and a ‘Personal Scholarship Plan review’ for teaching-focussed academics already embraced by some enlightened institutions.

As was noted, ‘faculty-based cultures’ differ slightly. It seems, for example, that among STEM disciplines, the role of the teaching-focussed academic is more established.  There seems to be a higher awareness of the value of the scholarship of L&T and, in some cases, career progression is more likely to occur. For example, at one Scottish university, Teaching Fellows recruited by the School of Biology are now attaining senior positions not just at School, but also at Faculty and University level. In general, across the sector, the support of PVCs and senior managers and the creation of local networks of teaching-focussed academics have proved to be enabling factors for the recognition of the scholarship of L&T and for the establishment of a successful promotion culture.

Where do we stand at the UoR? Does our research-intensive University promote and support the scholarship of L&T and parity of esteem and opportunities for the staff delivering teaching excellence?  The current University Learning and Teaching Strategy suggests a positive answer, with ‘scholarship’ and ‘staff recognition’ stressed as a key priority.

It is also encouraging to see an active and growing Community of Practice of University Teaching Fellows (UTF), ‘teaching enthusiasts who are not only committed to teaching innovation and excellence, but to continuing professional development of themselves and their colleagues’ (see ‘University Teaching Fellows – A Growing Community‘ blog)

The University clearly recognises and rewards staff for their outstanding contributions to L&T through a number of schemes. However, in our view, even more could be done. For example, the career progression of Teaching Fellows could be better supported. At the moment, in the University Framework of Academic and Research (A&R) Role Profiles, * Teaching Fellows are placed on grade 6 regardless of their academic background and level of expertise. They are included in the A&R job family for illustrative purposes, but this does not make them ‘academics’. The ‘proper’ academic role profiles start at grade 7 and include both T&R activities, while the profile for grade 6 is split into Research Fellow and Teaching Fellow roles. Rather than delving here into the implications of this approach with regard to career progression of Teaching and Research Fellows, we refer to two documents. The first is a recent report of the HEA, ‘Rebalancing promotion in the HE sector: is teaching excellence being rewarded?’, which critically analyses promotion policies in British universities; and the second is the ‘National Library of Academic Role Profiles, set up by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) – of which the UoR is a member – that outlines  five levels for the teaching-only career path**.

We wonder if, at the UoR, alongside a Community of Practice of University Teaching Fellows (UTF), there might also be the need for a similar – informal, loosely structured – yet wider and open network of colleagues with teaching-focussed roles interested in not only enhancing student learning through excellent teaching and sharing of good practice, but also in discussing and developing the concept and the practice of ‘scholarship’, including its operationalisation and recognition, and the role of teaching-focussed academics at the UoR. This local network could link up with the wider national network that has emerged from the Durham conference and would naturally be an interlocutor for those engaged with L&T at strategic and operational level. We trust that our initiative would receive support from our senior colleagues, as this would be a further demonstration of the University’s commitment to L&T.

To learn more about the Teaching-Focussed Academic Staff Network, visit:  http://community.dur.ac.uk/teachingfellow.network/

If you are interested in joining a Teaching-Focussed Academic Network at Reading, contact: r.balestrini@reading.ac.uk or c.cirillo@reading.ac.uk

 

* These role profiles were created by the UoR in 2014.

** The ‘National Library of Academic Role Profiles is part of the 2006 Framework  Agreement for the Modernisation of Pay Structures, agreed by the Association of Universities and Colleges Employers, and Associations of Universities and Colleges Unions.

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University Teaching Fellows – A Growing Community by Helen Hathaway

As the new academic year starts it seems a good time to focus on the Community of Practice of University Teaching Fellows (UTF). It is a growing community of teaching enthusiasts who are not only committed to teaching innovation and excellence, but to continuing professional development of themselves and their colleagues.  As incoming chair of the UTF Community of Practice, I am looking forward to continuing the theme of mentoring which developed under Richard Mitchell’s leadership, and especially to encourage others in support roles to consider themselves as candidates to become a UTF.  Michelle Reid, a Study Adviser, and I are currently the only UTFs working in an academic support and development directorate and we would welcome others.

One of the strengths of the community is the ability to draw on knowledge and experience across the University by networking in an informal, though structured, way. In the coming year the areas of excellence and good practice about which I would hope to encourage discussion and development are embedded academic skills. For an example of a current project where this is already happening in a tripartite partnership see http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/engage-in-teaching-and-learning/2015/06/05/mind-the-skills-gap-auditing-and-embedding-information-literacy-skills-development-across-the-curriculum-by-jackie-skinner-and-helen-hathaway/

Other ways in which the Community can contribute to the development of teaching – especially important in the context of any emerging Teaching Excellence Framework – are in offering its breadth of expertise of teaching matters on University strategies and plans, and to disseminate good practice.

If you are thinking of applying to be a UTF, my advice would be to look at the criteria now as it is likely you can plan your teaching for the Autumn and early Spring terms to strengthen any areas where you feel less confident of completing all four sections of the application. Most importantly it gives time to reflect on your teaching and achievements. No need to wait for the award to be launched in March with its strict deadline: start now to think about how to present your experience and expertise. You may also get double duty if you have already applied, or are considering applying, for Senior Fellowship of the HEA via the FLAIR CDP route: the necessary analysis of your teaching philosophy, looking at the UKPSF (UK Professional Standards Framework)and the reflection on the wider impact of your activities will also help in your UTF application. A mentor is the best possible support you can have in the process – everyone I have spoken to says so. Come and join us! Please contact CQSD or me for an informal discussion or to be put in touch with a potential mentor.

Congratulations to the new University Teaching Fellows 2015-16:

  • Dr Tabarak Ballal, School of Construction Management & Engineering
  • Dr Richard Harris, Institute of Education
  • Dr Karsten Lundqvist, School of Systems Engineering

Details of the 2016 scheme will be announced in the new year.

Posted in Latest News, Rewards and Recognition | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Introducing inclusive design to our new typography students by Jeanne-Louise Moys

Breaking down Barriers has kicked off the academic year with a workshop in inclusive design with our new Part 1 typography students. Today we had our first session for the BA Graphic Communication Integrated Design Methods module. The students engaged with the new SEE-IT sight exclusive prototype for assessing visual inclusion/exclusion (currently being developed by the University of Cambridge as a new addition to their inclusive design toolkit). Working in pairs, they measured visual inclusion of typographic elements in business cards, leaflets and mobile apps.

The workshop was an engaging way of introducing typography students to the task-based learning approach used in this module. It also provided an effective introduction to inclusive design and the kinds of factors designers need to consider in their decision-making. The module focuses on user-centred design applied to a range of genres including: editorial design (‘design for reading’), pictograms and wayfinding, and digital design.

Typography lecturers Rob Banham and Jeanne-Louise Moys facilitated the workshop. We hope our students will continue to use inclusive design tools to support their decision-making in practical projects throughout their degree. It was also a great way to enrich the student experience with technology-enhanced learning.

Our thanks to Joy Goodman-Deane and Sam Waller who introduced us to the tool at Include2015 and gave us permission to use their prototype in our teaching.

To find out more about our Breaking down Barriers project visit the blog

 

Typography students Theo and Stephen team up to measure the ex/inclusivity of leaflet designs.

Typography students Theo and Stephen team up to measure the ex/inclusivity of leaflet designs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typography student Polina setting up to measure ex/inclusivity in cover design.
Typography student Polina setting up to measure ex/inclusivity in cover design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typography students Kash and Kundai calibrating their phones to measure visual inclusivity.
Typography students Kash and Kundai calibrating their phones to measure visual inclusivity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typography students Amber and Orla evaluating the visual ex/inclusivity of capitalised letters on business cards.
Typography students Amber and Orla evaluating the visual ex/inclusivity of capitalised letters on business cards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Deepening Reflective Inquiry in Higher Education by Dr Geoff Taggart

Consider these classroom examples. In an architecture class, students are invited to spend time examining natural materials they have found and to use their forms as the basis for a structural design. In a module on the philosophy of mind and how it interacts with the body, tables are pushed back and undergraduates engage in body awareness exercises. Mathematics students experience a peaceful workshop on origami to explore theoretical principles of geometry. Outside on campus, students in a botany class are asked to peg out a square foot of ground and do nothing for the first ten minutes but look more and more closely at it, so as to overcome engrained ‘plant blindness’. Politics students are cutting up Marx’s ‘Communist Manifesto’ and using extracts to make their own ‘found’ poems. Students training to be lawyers are engaged in an activity to increase awareness of their own automatic thoughts and the way these strengthen snap judgements and biased perceptions. Trainee economists discuss the relative rationality of their own desires and wants to interrogate the notion of ‘rational choice’ in the market. On an afternoon visit to an art gallery, fine art students are asked to spend time with only 3 pictures. Novice food chemists are asked to defamiliarise themselves from everyday tastes and flavours by using colours and analogies to describe them.

These pedagogical approaches were discussed during a weekend workshop I attended on the subject of deepening reflective inquiry in HE. A popular metaphor used to describe the approach was that of ‘slow food’. That is, learning which is deep and reflective is like eating a meal which has been lovingly prepared for hours using nutritious ingredients and sharing it in a convivial atmosphere.  By contrast, many students will have received a ‘fast food’ experience at school in which the culture of high-stakes testing has informed much of their learning. The idea of learning as purely instrumental and outcome-oriented has rarely been challenged. In my view, universities should (at least be free to) offer a richer and more sustaining dietary regime and teaching for deep reflection can help disrupt this engrained assumption.

PBL and ‘active learning’ of all kinds, especially where it makes use of learners’ own experience, is already known to bring about more secure and meaningful understanding than traditional didactic methods.  The ‘extra ingredient’ in the practices described above is the facilitation of deep reflection, often involving the ‘non-rational’ (but not irrational) language of imagery and feeling. The purpose of all of them is three-fold. The first intention is to make full use of the students’ learning resources. The popular idea of intelligence (endorsed by shows such as Mastermind) is based on factual knowledge combined with speed of recall. Yet, as successful innovation and entrepreneurship show us, original insight seems to involve something more. The educational psychologist Guy Claxton contrasts the ‘hare brain’ of the outcome-driven, Mastermind intelligence with the ‘tortoise mind’ involved in rumination and reflection.  Where space and time are allowed for the latter, creative responses and novel interconnections emerge. The unconscious is no longer seen as some kind of Freudian dungeon but as a useful assistant in effective learning.

The second purpose is to produce graduates who are not just knowledgeable but, having disturbed their own assumptions, are more confident in being able to justify what they know. The chemist Michael Polanyi famously argued that what we can explicitly claim to know in propositional terms is the tip of the iceberg, supported by accumulated ‘tacit knowledge’ held in our unconscious, feelings and bodies. Drawing upon and articulating this tacit knowledge in relation to new fields of study at university can help students ‘know that they know’ the material being presented to them and render their understanding more secure.

The third purpose is to deepen and focus attention in the face of mounting technological distractions. In order to solve a complex problem or devote time to honing a skill, one has to have the capacity to delay gratification, to ignore what is irrelevant or extraneous. One also has to acknowledge that what happened in the previous lab session or archaeological dig may not simply be reproduced in this one. Whether it is an engineer faced with a non-functioning machine, a lawyer with a fresh brief or an artist faced with a potential subject,  skilled and knowledgeable professionals do not begrudge the time spent simply looking at –‘beholding’ – the challenge that confronts them since they know that, whilst they are well-prepared for it, this particular challenge may have something new to teach them. Attention has a delicate quality to it therefore: we know something of our field but in order to be open to learning and/or professional development, we need to put this discursive, formal knowledge ‘on hold’ and allow time for the precise circumstances or features of the new material to reveal themselves to us.

I’m interested whether colleagues may already be experimenting with deepening reflection or may be interested themselves in doing so. In my own work at the IoE, one of my favourite activities for those who want to work in pre-schools is to give each student a basket of stones and ask them to tell me a story with them. The silent, absorbed and reflective atmosphere which follows, as they lay their stones out on the carpet, teaches them the value and meaning of play in children’s learning far more effectively than a lecture on the subject. We all had these learning experiences as children and some of our most transformative and memorable ones were characterised by these same qualities of sustained attention, beholding, rumination and openness to figurative, metaphorical forms of explanation. Even nowadays we often revert to this approach, such as when buying a new and unfamiliar mobile phone: why don’t we, as adults, instinctively start by working our way through the manual? The answer is because we know that learning flows when it attentive, embodied, playful and deeply reflective. This is not a capacity we need to lose on entering university.

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Student-led Peer-assisted Learning (PAL) starts at Reading by Caroline Crolla

Readers of this blog may recall Dr Patricia (Paddy) Woodman’s “Hot tip: Student-led peer learning: a win-win for everyone” posted on January 2015.  She wrote then that “The University of Reading is about to appoint a peer assisted learning co-ordinator and launch a number of trial schemes in 2015/16.”  Happily, I am that peer-assisted learning coordinator and I took up post on 22 June 2015. I would like to take this opportunity to describe how the implementation of peer-assisted learning is going so far at the University of Reading.

What is PAL?

As Paddy explain in her January blog: PAL is a framework that fosters cross-year support between students on the same course. Students work in regularly scheduled groups supporting each other to learn through active discussion and collaboration under the guidance of trained students, called PAL Leaders, typically from the year above.

Fact-finding visits

In June and July 2015, I visited other universities and attended national conferences on peer-led learning.  I quickly discovered that there exists a vibrant academic peer-learning community who are very welcoming and generous to a “new implementer” representing the University of Reading.

I visited three universities where PAL is very well-established across all faculties and schools and who have been running PAL – sometimes also called PASS (Peer-assisted Study Sessions) – for decades.  Colleagues at the University of Manchester, University of West England and Bournemouth University were particularly helpful in sharing their resources and experiences.

Reading’s early PAL adopters

During July and August, I met with colleagues in Mathematics, Psychology, Economics, English Literature and Systems Engineering.  I am pleased to say that five academics already would like to ‘pilot’ peer-assisted learning in specific 1st or 2nd Year modules or units that are cognitively challenging and in which students are known to struggle.

It has been a real pleasure to start collaborating with Tristan Pryer in Mathematics, Tom Loucas in Speech and Language, Pat Parslow in SSE and Simon Burke in Economics.   Each of these Academic Contacts is looking at the possibility of setting up regular, timetabled PAL sessions within these modules, as well as inviting successful and willing 2nd or 3rd Year students to agree to be trained as PAL leaders and run the PAL sessions.

As it is now September, the timing for implementation is tricky in some cases, so some academics like Rachel Pye, Jayne Freeman and Lesley Tranter in Psychology are considering implementing PAL in September 2016 in their Introduction to Neuroscience unit, which allows more time for timetabling, PAL recruitment and PAL Leader training.  Additionally, Cindy Becker and Nicole King are discussing how they might incorporate the support of two graduate interns in establishing PAL in English Literature.

How will PAL work at Reading?

PAL will be “discipline owned, student led, and centrally coordinated”.  Different Schools or departments may vary their offer where appropriate, but PAL will have recognisable features which will be consistent:

  • the School selects the module or unit which will have PAL integrated in the term it is taught
  • the School timetables and the PAL sessions
  • the PAL Coordinator will liaise with and support the Academic Contact/module convenor
  • the PAL Coordinator will train all PAL Leaders, and will assist with recruitment and monitoring student attendance at PAL sessions
  • experienced and successful students are trained in facilitation as PAL Leaders and then work in singly or pairs to:

a.  devise a structured approach to each session using their understanding of the material in conjunction with guidance from the Academic Contact

b. run the group sessions encouraging active discussion and collaboration amongst a group of between 5 and 15 students.

  • being a PAL Leader is voluntary, and the students who agree to become Leaders will be recognised and rewarded through the RED Award, inclusion of their participation on transcripts and in references and for some training activities Campus Card credit. We are also developing a credit-bearing module in coaching and mentoring to which PAL Leaders can apply.

What’s in it for…?

PAL participants

The students who attend PAL sessions regularly become part of a team who studies smarter. They share knowledge, experiences, and strategies with peers, helped by the PAL Leader.   PAL sessions offer a safe, friendly environment to revisit learning, compare notes, and ask questions. Participating in PAL sessions deepens students’ understanding of academic material by sharing problems and finding solutions.  PAL sessions can help develop confidence, independence and self-direction, communication skills and social skills further in participants.

PAL Leaders

PAL Leaders develop skills in facilitating learning and coaching other students, and their ability to tailor communication to different audiences. Leading PAL sessions helps develop time management skills, to plan and to problem solve.  These “soft skills” are valued by many employers.   PAL Leadership shows an employer that the leaders have gone above and beyond their degree and that they have been interested in contributing to the wider university community.  PAL Leaders get to know fellow students and develop a wider community of practice in their discipline. PAL Leaders have the opportunity to review and deepen their own understanding of their discipline, when they support the students who follow them in their learning.

Academics

Peer-assisted learning uses the talents many of your students already have to develop more independent learners who are self-directing their learning from where they are to where you would like them to be in terms of success. PAL has been shown to foster communities of learning where students learn more with and from each other.   PAL sessions provide students with additional structured learning time, independent of academics, although sessions are most successful when Academic Contacts provide guidance on the subject matter to the PAL Leaders.  In turn, the PAL Leaders can provide a rich source of immediate feedback to module convenors and to Schools about student learning.  PAL can only be developed in partnership with Schools and Schools identify and select content or modules deemed conceptually difficult.   Finally, offering PAL sessions on your course can develop altruistic and committed students who can help promote the course and meet with internal or external reviewers. Academics involved in PAL report that the scheme enhances a sense of School or Department community and identity.

Next steps

  1. Implement, evaluate and report on the five PAL “pilots” both from the students’ and Academic Contacts’ perspectives (watch this page)
  2. Promote PAL further with students and staff within selected Schools
  3. Extend provision of PAL across at least 5 more Schools in the light of experience of the pilots
  4. Have regular scheduled PAL Leader training sessions and in June / September / November
  5. Come to a Teaching & Learning Open programme session on “Another Student-led Scheme? How Peer-assisted Learning Raises Student Grades” on Wednesday 25 November 2015 from 14:00 – 15.00. Details are available at http://www.reading.ac.uk/cqsd/TandLEvents/cqsd-ComingSoon.aspx

If you are an academic interested in adopting PAL for one or more of your modules or you would like to find out more, please contact: Caroline Crolla, PAL Coordinator, c.s.crolla@reading.ac.uk or phone 0118 378 6593.   I work in the Student Success Team which is located in Blandford Lodge, G17, Whiteknights campus.

For examples of PAL / PASS at other institutions, please view:

https://youtu.be/95QLTaWLSuE  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UERuCYeSzcw

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Open Access to Languages (OpAL) presented at The Twenty-second International Conference on Learning in Madrid by Enza Siciliano Verrucio and María Pilar Gray Carlos

The Twenty-second International Conference on Learning was held in Madrid on 9th-11th July 2015. It attracted over 300 delegates from the academic and professional arena across the world: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK, United Arab Emirates and USA.

The theme for this year’s conference was “What counts as learning? Big data, little data, Evidence & Assessment”, a title that covered 10 different themes: Pedagogy and Curriculum; Assessment and Evaluation; Education Organization and Leadership; Early Childhood Learning; Learning in Higher Education; Adult, Community, and Professional Learning; Learner Diversity and Identities; Technologies in Learning; Literacies Learning; Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning.

Under such a variety of themes, presentations offered a multifaceted, multicultural and multidisciplinary view on the latest projects and research undertaken around the world. The University of Reading was represented at this year’s conference by a project led by Dtt. Enza Siciliano Verruccio (Department of Modern Languages and European Studies) and Ms. Maria Pilar Gray Carlos (Institution Wide Language Programme).

The theme Technologies in Learning focused on exploring the influence and impact of technology on areas such as “human values: learning through and about technology”; “access to learning in, and about, the digital world”; “new tools for learning: online digitally mediated learning”; “ubiquitous learning”. This formed the perfect platform for Enza and Pilar to present their project on “OpAL: Open Access to Learning”, a project that commenced towards the end of 2013. The project was partly funded by Routes into Languages, the Teaching and Learning Development Fund from The University of Reading, the International Study and Language Centre and Partnership in Learning and Teaching also from the University of Reading.

 

Why OpAL?

The aim of OpAL is to break down barriers to learning modern foreign languages. In order to achieve that aim we count on involving our students actively in the creation of materials. The materials created will be in turn available to the student community in the form of OERs (Open Educational Materials). The idea of the project came as a response not just to the language tutors’ experiences in language teaching in the higher education classroom, but to a clearly perceived difficulty of learning a second language by the students. These perceptions are evident in a national survey shown below which was carried out by The Guardian on 1001 students aged 14 to24 years old across the UK.

T&L Blog - Pilar

 

 

 

 

 

(http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/nov/07/-sp-do-young-people-care-about-learning-foreign-languages-data).

OpAL intends to encourage change in the UK language learner. It is inspired by two essential pillars of adult learning. The first is David Kolb’s learning theory (1984) on experiential learning or learning by doing. Our students explore areas of language on which they work to produce and test materials that at a later stage will be offered via the Web as OERs. The second is Alexander Astin’s and George Kuh’s work on Student Involvement (Astin, 1984; Kuh, 2009), that explores and explains how the involvement of students in co-curricular activities has a positive impact on student satisfaction and retention.

By engaging students in the OpAL project, they not only gain a deep learning of the subject studied, but they also become change agents in dispersing the fears and taboos related to language learning and, project an outward image that the higher education institutions are eager to portray: that of constructive change in the culture and nature of the relationship between students and the academic community within which they learn.

For further information on this year’s conference please visit http://thelearner.com/the-conference-2015/program-and-events/schedule-of-sessions.

If you are interested in attending or presenting at the Twenty-third International Conference on Learning, under the very suggestive theme of “Education in the Age of the Anthropocene” please visit http://thelearner.com/the-conference.

 

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The PLanT Project and ‘Core Issues in English Language Teaching’ by Jess Fullam, Emily King, Daria Pominova and Megumi Kuranaka

PLanT stands for Partners in Learning and Teaching. The project allows students and teachers to work together in order to improve a module using a small pot of money to fund meetings, focus groups and equipment. As a small group four of us (Jess, Emily, Daria and Meg) worked with our lecturer Clare Wright in the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics to make some improvements to the module ‘Core Issues in English Language Teaching’.

Why we decided to take part:

Jess

The PLanT project was a brilliant opportunity for me to put into practice what we had learnt in the module “Core Issues in ELT” as some aspects directly related to the thinking behind the improvements we formulated for the module. It has been a really interesting experience and I’m delighted to be able to make a lasting difference to benefit more students at the university.

Emily

I decided to take part in the PLanT project because after learning about teaching practices in the Core Issues module I was keen to put my learning into practice in a real setting and see how we could improve what was already a brilliant module.

Daria (from Germany)

I decided to take part in PLANT project after taking the course “Core Issues in ELT” and learning about different approaches to language teaching. As an exchange student from a country where a very different approach to teaching foreign languages is taken, I became interested in the modern techniques and methods of ELT and took the opportunity of putting them into practice straight away by introducing some changes to the CIELT module as part of the PLANT project. While participating in the project, I also learned a lot about the use of IT in a language classroom.

Meg (from Japan)

What made me enthusiastic about this project was that it can provide me with the precious opportunity to integrate different ideas to come up with a new curriculum. Taking one module about English language teaching before my joining the project, I was amazed by my professor and other students because they were interpreting the same subject in a totally different way. I imagined if those who had different backgrounds and opinions could cope with each other and combine their thoughts, a brilliant curriculum must be brought which would be reasonable for all students. In addition, the project can contribute to not only improving a module curriculum but also developing ourselves. During the project, I was always inspired and excited to hear other members’ voices which I really appreciated. What is more, considering what can be done to enhance students’ motivations and autonomies in the language class should make what we learnt in the module more realistic and progress my career. Through the project, I experienced what are required as a prospective English teacher and how enjoyable to engage myself in the language education.

The PLanT Process:                        

We met up on several occasions to discuss what we had enjoyed about the module and how we thought we could improve it. The course aims to provide a summary of the main teaching practices and how these are affected by different factors as well as discussing the role of the teachers and learners. The course itself ran with one lecture and a seminar where the lecture material was discussed and activities took place based on the previous learning.

To begin with we found it very difficult to think of a way to improve the module as we felt in many ways it was already excellent. We had all participated in the course and had really enjoyed the seminars and felt that the level of interaction planned in the seminar tasks could be really good, as it meant that we could really get involved and enhance our knowledge. The class itself was reasonably large and a mix of part 2s and 3s, and we could see that not everyone engaged fully with the tasks. So we wanted to find a way to check everyone’s learning progression that was engaging for everyone to enhance engagement and help students to build their skills. We concluded that by integrating more technology into the seminars, we could really improve interaction between the students and help them learn about how to include technology into presentations, vlogs or quizzes to provide them with the skills that employers are looking for.  So Clare introduced us to the TEL team, part of Reading University’s enhanced IT support initiatives, which have been working with staff to include more IT in their teaching, to see what we could do for students.

Some of our original suggestions in this area included multiple choice tests with clickers in the seminars or small presentations using platforms like Camtasia (one of several platforms suggested to us by the TEL team). We also revised the structure of the module according to the relevance and importance of the topics. New tasks and types of group work were introduced in order to ensure active participation of the students and more interaction between them. The division of tasks between Part 2 and Part 3 students taking the course was discussed and how they could be encouraged to interact more in class. We held a focus group part way through the process in order to see how students felt about the changes we might make, and they were well received by all which allowed us to steam ahead with confidence to putting our plans into action.

In March we presented our work at the RUSU awards and received a very positive response from other members of staff and students. After this presentation we continued to have a further meeting with the TEL team to discuss other ways to integrate technology whilst having a bit of fun in seminars. Some of these suggestions included platforms like ‘Kahoot’ and ‘Nearpod’. The latter allows students to interact to questions on the board using their mobile phones or other mobile devices. We found that this was a fun and innovative option as a replacement for multiple choice clickers which had the potential to be expensive as well as technically difficult with regard to matching the software with what the university already has set up.

Therefore, after this experience we all felt that we have learnt volumes about ways to enhance teaching in the classroom with technology in a fun but informative manner and we are very grateful to the TEL team for that.  We have all really enjoyed working towards this and are incredibly proud of what we have achieved and hope that at least some of our ideas about using IT in seminars will be well received by next year’s cohort of students.

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