Student-centred innovation wins IoE team highly competitive honour

Academics worked innovatively alongside their students to create a new module, propelling a team from the IoE to a prestigious honour; the 2018 University Collaborative Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning; one of only three winners of the award this year.

The winning team left to right: Kamilah Jooganah, Jo Elsey, Geoff Taggart, Maria Kambouri-Danos, Caroline Guard and Hilary Harris.

The highly competitive award recognises the talent, vision and sheer hard work that went into the winning projects and is a huge achievement for the project team, led by Dr Maria Kambouri-Danos and consisting of the BA in Children’s Development and Learning (BA CDL), the Foundation Degree in Children’s Development and Learning (FD CDL) and also colleagues from the Centre for Quality Support and Development (CQSD). The idea was to develop a brand new module in the BA CDL – but this time, in close partnership with their students. The team felt that this would set “a useful exemplar to sharing good practice” and this approach to working in partnership with students was a core part of the project’s aim.

Dr Kambouri-Danos, Programme Director of BA CDL said:

“Empowering individuals it at the core of my practice, and this is what this project was about: Empowering students by listening to their voice and engaging them in the development of their own programme. It was hard work, but the outcome was definitely worth it; it wouldn’t be this successful if students as well as staff did not work together in the way they did. We cannot guess what our students need or think, no matter how hard we try. We need to actively engage them in curriculum development processes to ensure quality outcomes. On the BA CDL, our students are our partners, and this offers a very good example of how students and staff can work in partnership to improve, even further, the quality of a very successful programme.”

The team wished to go beyond feedback and further engage students by listening to their ‘voice’ while designing the module. In this way they felt they would, with the students, co-develop a more effective module with clear and student-friendly assessable outcomes.

Jo Elsey, Head of the Early Years Team at the IoE and a member of the team said:

“The most important element of this project is that students have had a real and positive impact on the teaching and learning content of the BA CDL. As a work-based programme it is very important that the programme reflects the children and young people’s workforce requirements in order for practitioners to be able to deliver the education and care that our children and young people deserve.”

The team work that was fostered by student-staff partnerships became a particularly important angle, especially in this programme which sees the majority of its students already juggling full-time family duties, full time jobs and attending University one day a week.

The close collaboration within the team ensured that these highly realistic and time-pressed students’ voices were heard and taken into account while developing the new module.  Their valuable input was further enhanced by going back to the whole BA CDL cohort, who were able to give feedback before the new module was approved and finalised, ensuring a diversity of views and ideas.

Evaluation showed the project’s positive impact on the student experience: all students agreed that it has been very beneficial to take part in this collaborative work, as it helped to develop a sense of belonging and feel part of the community of staff and students working together. The students recognised that the project had increased their engagement, improved the student-staff experience and increased a sense of ownership and sense of belonging for both students and staff.

Professor Catherine Tissot, Head of the Institute of Education said:

“I warmly congratulate our winning team. All of us at the IoE are proud of their considerable achievement. Each member of the winning team has worked hard to drive this project forward and the combination of their considerable skills and knowledge has brought about this excellent result.”

The winning team behind the BA CDL’s new module:

  • Dr Geoff Taggart, Programme Director PGC in Early   Years Practice
  • Dr Kamilah Jooganah (from the Centre for Quality Support & Development)
  • Mrs Hilary Harris, Programme Director Foundation Degree CDL

We encourage enquiries about all aspects of our award-winning programme: please email bacdl@reading.ac.uk for further information, an informal enquiry or details of how to apply.