Supporting Student Learning Conference Programme 2009

Supporting Student Learning Conference Programme 2009

Programme Overview

 9.30am-9.45am  Introduction: David Green, Vice Chancellor
 9.45am - 10.45am  Key Note 1: Lewis Elton
 10.45am - 11am  Break
 11am - 11.45am  Parallel Sessions 1
 11.50am - 12.35pm  Parallel Sessions 2
 12.35pm -1.15pm  Lunch
 1.15pm - 2.20pm  Key Note 2: James Wisdom
 2.25pm-3.10pm  Parallel Sessions 3
 3.15pm - 4pm  Parallel Sessions 4
 4pm  Feedback and Coffee

All timings are currently approximately. Rooms are yet to be allocated.


Lewis Elton

Lewis Elton is emeritus professor at UCL’s Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching. He has led the way, during a distinguished career, towards greater student centered learning.  In 2005 he received the Times Higher Lifetime Achievement Award.  Lewis has an entry in Wikipedia .  At the conference Lewis will lead a discussion on assessing creativity and assessing creatively.

Keynote: "Assessing Creativity Creatively".

Lewis’s interactive talk will attempt to cover two issues: Assessing creativity, how does assessing creativity differ from assessing knowledge and understanding?  And, assessing creatively,  how can one assess knowledge and understanding in different ways?


James Wisdom

James Wisdom is Vice-Chair of the Staff and Educational Development Association and the Editor for the SEDA Series published through Routledge. He is a higher education consultant, specialising in educational development and evaluation, a Visiting Professor of Educational Development at Middlesex University and a Governor of a Further Education college. He has held educational development posts at Kingston University and London Guildhall University, where he was Head of Educational and Staff Development. He recently co-authored Developing Creativity in Higher Education: An imaginative curriculum. He has worked extensively in the areas of student consultation and feedback for course improvement, and the evaluation of educational projects. He often contributes to programmes for the professional development of academic staff.

Keynote: When we started working on a book on creativity, we soon discovered the most widespread academic view was that creativity was a personal, individual, instinctive, almost charismatic quality which some lucky teachers possessed. This creativity was usually best expressed in opposition to the institution and its formal processes of education. Must it always be so? What hope might we have that an institution itself can exemplify or foster creativity?

(Jackson, N, Oliver, M, Shaw, M & Wisdom, J (2006) Developing Creativity in Higher Education: An imaginative curriculum. Abingdon: Routledge.)


Parallel Sessions 1

Paul Snookes & Judy Barker, IHCA
Establishing Blended Learning Provision in Your Department: Reflections on the Blended Language Learning Consortium Project

This workshop will provide insights on how to initiate, develop and run blended learning modules or courses in your department for students who are not able to attend traditional face to face classes on a regular basis in one geographical location. In the Language Centre, with Knowledge Transfer funding, we have designed and are now running two pilot blended language courses for language learners throughout the region. These students are learning via a combination of face to face and synchronous videoconferencing lessons. Asynchronous voice discussion software has also been employed. Come and explore the challenges and opportunities of developing blended learning provision in your department.


Claire Rhoden and Nick Breeze, ISES
Masters courses in the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science: A survey of student perceptions

Four Masters courses are currently offered in the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science: Outdoor Education, Sport and Physical Education, Sports Coaching and Sports Management.  Students emanate from a variety of backgrounds and physical locations and can study in two modalities, part-time and full-time.  Providing a course structure that is accessible to all is a challenge and provided the impetus for a questionnaire which sought to better understand the issues and preferences of past and present students.  Furthermore, the perceived value and relevance of the courses is of key importance in developing attractive future provision, so the questionnaire also solicited students’ opinions on their skill development, effects of their courses on their employment prospects, contribution to their professional development and employability in general.  This paper presents the outcomes of the survey together with the resulting challenges and opportunities for the future development of Masters courses within the institute.


Louise Martin, ADPU
Developing and E- version of a f2f module – experiences with SEDA 1

The University’s PG Cert (SEDA) programme has been established for many years to introduce, support and develop individual practice of learning, teaching and assessment in Higher Education. The programme has always been delivered by a series of face-2-face study days across the academic year. This project reports the process of transforming the first of the three SEDA modules to an e-learning format in order to provide greater flexibility as well as facilitating access to the programme by partner college and hourly paid staff. The SEDA programme is based on the principles of active, experiential learning supported through collaboration, therefore the translation of the course to the e-learning environment needed to retain these features whilst recognising the pedagogical theory of e-learning. Each element of the SEDA 1 module was adapted into an on-line learning task or activity to develop the on-line course. Continual reflection and development was undertaken to provide recommendations for others wanting to develop e-learning modules. Evaluations from registered participants will also be included to further inform the course evaluation and recommendations for future practice.


Jo Kuzma, WBS
Using TV-show based activities to enhance learning

Incorporating hands-on practices from popular TV shows can serve to enhance student engagement and learning, as they can visualise concepts from the show and turn them into valuable learning tools. This presentation will show to incorporate activities from two shows: the Jeopardy quiz show and CSI. Quiz questions based on the Jeopardy show were incorporated in an electronic commerce module where student teams competed to answer questions on the topic. Forensic techniques taken from the CSI series were adapted for a computer security seminar where the students used hands-on techniques to ‘solve’ a computer crime. Student feedback and comments on both these events was positive and enhanced learning.


Paul Hazel , IHCA
Academic skills in applied subjects: 'The Media Production Triangle' - a model for students learning

There is very little pedagogical support for learning and teaching in applied media at HE level where both a high level of technical competence and depth of understanding of related academic skills are required. This presentation explores these issues and demonstrates a practical tool for helping to teach undergraduates in applied media and design courses the
balance between practical and academic skills.
Often students enter courses of this type with expectations focused on the technical expertise they hope to develop. These skills are vital in applied media and are often readily identifiable by the students when reflecting on their work (as they are most often the most tangible of the abilities undergraduates on this type of course believe they need). However, successful graduates, and by extension media practitioners, require a combination of less visible, yet equally important, skills to create successful media artefacts (eg films, TV programs, websites, photographs, audio pieces etc).

The 'Media Production Triangle' is a tool to help them balance and see the relevance of both practical and academic skills in applied media subjects while studying.


Ruth Jones, Jenny Lewin-Jones, Ann Mason and Mike Webb, IHCA
The Student Experience of Learning: initial results from an investigative study

Do students learn from lectures?  How do they use Blackboard?  Do students actually like working in groups?  Would students like lecturers to use Facebook? How do they react on receiving critical comments from tutors on item report forms?  These and other questions have been put to students in a survey and focus groups in the Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts at the University of Worcester as part of a learning and teaching project.  This is a chance to hear about and discuss the preliminary results, and to explore the pros and cons of the thinking behind the research and the research methods used.


Parallel Sessions 2

John Colvin & Judith Keene, WBS/ILS
The Influence of Cognitive Skills on the Delivery of Information Literacy Programmes

To follow


Libby Symonds, ILS
Learning in Informal settings

There has been a growing interest in recent years in the study of the learning experience and listening to the student voice.  A number of JISC funded projects reported on various aspects of the learner experience and suggested that there is a disparity between students’ expectations and institutional provision of technologies and facilities for learning. (Creanor et al 2006, Conole et al 2006)

This presentation reports on an action research project carried out jointly between the Universities of Worcester and Gloucestershire which aimed to investigate the learning journey of new students during their first semester and compare their expectations for studying in Higher Education with their actual experience.  The study focused on students’ engagement with the learning process outside the classroom specifically

• where students undertake learning activities,
• when and how often these activities are carried out
• why particular methods/approaches/resources are used
• who the students interact with in order to enhance/facilitate their learning
• what technologies are used to assist their learning?

A questionnaire was distributed to students on large mandatory undergraduate modules at each institution early in the first semester of their studies and focused on their expectations of learning in a Higher Education environment and how they would approach their first assignment.  This was followed up by a focus group at each site and was timed to take place after they had been given their assignment brief.  The topics chosen for discussion centred on how the students would approach their first assignment and what tools and technologies they would use.

A second questionnaire is to be delivered to the same groups of students after their assignments have been marked and returned in March 2009.  Second focus group will discuss the students’ reflections on the actual experience of completing an assignment and the impact of tutor feedback.

The outcomes of this study will identify students’ preferred ways of learning and evaluate the appropriateness of support currently provided to them at each institution   it is also hoped to inform planning for the future in terms of the provision of learning environments and technologies for supporting learning.


Derek Peters, Grant Adamson, Christian Edwards, Gyozo Molnar, Clare Rhoden, Nick Breeze, ISES
An evaluation of student and staff perceptions of the use of audio files for feedback on student assessments: Project report of work in progress

Studies have indicated that students may prefer verbal to written feedback (Orsmond et al., 2005) with one of the possible methods of delivering this being identified as through audio recording (Hounsell, 2004).  Audio feedback can also bring improvements in accessibility, providing a higher degree of detail and personalisation whilst promoting a greater degree of learner engagement (Ribchester, 2008), thereby addressing several of Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick’s seven principles of good feedback practice (2006).  Merry and Orsmond (2008) provide confirmation of this in their pilot study, where fifteen students received audio feedback on their written work, the main reported drawback being the size of the audio files, resulting in some difficulties with e-mail systems.  In summing up their project, they propose a series of eight guidelines to support tutors

This project sought to utilise audio files for feedback on written assessments with the intention of maximising both staff time and the quality of the feedback whilst at the same time aiming to enhance student uptake of the feedback.  It was motivated by a guest speaker at the previous University of Worcester Learning and Teaching conference in June 2008 and aimed to extend their previous work.  An initial random sample of twenty-five student assignments were selected, with five of these allocated to each marker.  Audio files were recorded by tutors onto handheld dictation machines, the files then being uploaded to a PC.  The selected students were then invited to take part in the study with focus group interviews with both staff and students in order to ascertain their views of the process.  Recordings of the feedback and interviews were then thematically analysed.  This paper gives an outline of the work in progress and presents the findings so far.


Dave Robson, IHS
Investigating student attrition and support

The project aim was the investigation and improvement of support services offered to year one undergraduate students, following fail or near miss award for the first assignment. The dissertation project was undertaken by interviewing four staff and three students, familiar with the assignment and academic support strategy. Eight semi structured questions were developed after a review of attrition factors and support initiatives, was undertaken citing primarily UK based literature. The interviews were recorded then transcribed, prior to coding and content analysis.  A combination of approaches; grounded theory and content analysis were undertaken, to provide a valid and reliable work based enquiry.


Carl Evans, WBS
Welcome the Experts: Using Guest Speakers to Support the Lecture Programme

Operations management is a dynamic discipline, with operations practices and challenges continually developing. This is even more affected by the current economic trading conditions, as organizations seek improvements in supply-chain networks and transformation techniques. Consequently, this makes keeping up-to-date for Lecturers a difficult activity. Moreover, published case studies tend to focus primarily on large, international commercial companies, rather than local SME’s or public sector organisations, which would be more relevant to UW students who seek to progress careers in the local region.

As a result, guest speakers from a number of local organizations were invited to speak to the students on an undergraduate operations management module, to support the lecture programme. The purpose of this activity was to give students insight into the operations of local organizations and the contemporary issues faced by operations managers.

This session will briefly disseminate the presenters’ experience of:

• Engaging with local businesses and identifying guest speakers.
• Negotiating an appropriate topic with the speaker and incorporating this into the teaching schedule
• Student feedback on the guest speakers used

And then through the use of small discussion groups, allow the delegates to

• Critically reflect upon this approach and discuss how it enhances the student learning experience


Parallel Sessions 3

Tricia Connell, IHCA
“Now, if you’ll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I’ll tell you all my ideas about Looking-glass House”: Reflections on Students Reflecting Through Learning Journals

This is a presentation of work in progress on a research project in the development of reflective skills in Higher Education and its implications for assessment.
The presentation will begin by providing a brief context for the work with particular reference to J. Moon’s Learning Journals (2006).  It will go on to describe the project, which concerns a group of level 4 English Literary Studies Students working on a module, “Towards An Independent Study”, designed to support their research and planning skills for an Independent Study at level 5. The second part of the presentation will evaluate various aspects of the project with some students, by focusing on: the use of reflective learning journals; the use made of self and peer assessment, and; the use made of feedback from the tutor and from other students. The presentation will end by inviting further discussion about some of the implications of the findings in the assessment of, for, and as learning in Higher Education.  

Louise Martin, Annie Lambeth-Mansell and Nick Breeze, ISES
Exploring the Partner College Student Experience: Achieving an Outstanding Student Experience

Providing an outstanding student experience is a key strategic aim of the University of Worcester.  This is a challenging remit for any course, yet those provided in collaboration with partner colleges may find these exacerbated owing to their provision in two institutions, each in distinct geographical locations with their own staffing, facilities and resources.  This paper presents the findings of a project that sought to better understand how partner college students perceive their overall experience in relation to the following broad themes:

a) facilities and resources;
b) learning and teaching;
c) employability;
d) personal development;
e) recommendations for enhancing the student experience.

Three partner colleges participated in the project, enabling a broad consideration of partner college collaborations as well as the sharing of issues identified by students and staff as having an impact upon the student experience.  Students from each year group of each partner college course participated in focus group interviews at the end of semesters 1 and 2 and staff views were sought in a separate focus group interview which took place during semester 2.  The transcripts of these were thematically analysed and areas identified for the sharing of good practice as well as for further development.

The findings are expected to inform the future development and enhancement of partner college courses, particularly with regard to student retention, satisfaction and recruitment.


Heather Barrett, Jenny Lewin-Jones, Barbara Mitra, and Stella Williamson, ISE, IHCA & IHS
Evaluating the use of videos in learning and teaching: the blended learning research project

To follow

Rachael Borthwick , Elizabeth Symonds  Huw Richards  Laura Elliott, Herefordshire PCT, ILS, IHS  
Blended learning, blended teaching: Collaborative course development and delivery for Work Based Learning

The workforce within the field of substance misuse is becoming increasingly diverse, with qualified health, social care practitioners and unqualified support workers with a range of underpinning academic achievement from NVQ level to first degrees. In response to the need for developing a competency focussed work force, The Institute of Health and Society convened a diverse group of individuals to offer student support to address a range of perspectives in collaborative course design and delivery of the Certificate in Substance Misuse.

The course is currently being delivered embracing a range of input from the academic, employer and support service perspective.

This workshop will explore the roles and responsibilities of those involved through a process of action research. The feedback from the experiential enquiry will be mapped against those of the course team, to promote discussion for best practice in supporting students in undertaking Work Based Learning.


Mark Richardson, Gbolahan Gbadamosi, and Carl Evans, WBS
Evaluating the role of part-time work for full-time undergraduate business students, and its implications for teaching, learning and curriculum development

The numbers of students working part-time while undertaking a full-time degree programme is increasing. Sorenson and Winn (1993) reported that 27% of undergraduate students had a regular part-time job during term time. More recently, a survey of universities in the West Midlands (NUS, 2008) found that nearly 50% of students undertaking paid employment while studying.

Consequently, the presenters carried out a detailed survey of full-time, undergraduate Business and Management students at the University of Worcester in order to determine the extent of part-time working. The survey also examined the extent to which undergraduates relate their experience of full-time study and part-time employment to each other, and to their future career aspirations.

This session will briefly disseminate the presenters’ research of the extent of part-time working and the motivations of full-time undergraduate students, and then through the use of small discussion groups, allow the delegates to

• Discuss its implications for teaching, learning and curriculum development
• Evaluate the role of part-time work for full-time undergraduate business students, and discuss its implications for teaching, learning and curriculum development


John Fagg, ISE
Student Attendance Monitoring, Retention and Achievement: Some Provisional Results

To follow


Parallel Sessions 4

Sarah Snow, IHS
Taster Days – a positive intervention to help prepare students for the realities of professional courses

Midwifery taster days are an award winning innovation that aim to provide prospective students with a taste of the realities of becoming and being a midwife. This original project was introduced in 2002 and since then, more than 500 people have attended a taster day. The concept has influenced recruitment strategies of related professional courses and been adapted by other university departments that feature practical activities as a central part of the student learning experience.

Following an award by the Learning and Teaching Committee in 2007, a two part audit of the usefulness of the midwifery taster day was developed and recently completed. Part 1 evaluated the feedback received from all those who had attended a taster day between 2002 and 2007. A total of 403 completed feedback forms were analysed and demonstrated that the taster day was helpful, interesting and met the expectations of those who had attended.

Part 2 of the audit involved a web based questionnaire that all registered midwifery students in 2007 were invited to complete. Of 70 students, 57 completed the on-line survey, or 81%. This is a good response rate and suggests that on-line surveys can be an effective tool. The results of the survey demonstrate that nearly all students felt that the taster day provided realistic insight into the midwifery course. Almost a quarter of the students considered leaving their course with financial struggle, assignment load and home/work balance being the most significant reasons.
The aim of the workshop will be to present and discuss the findings of the audit in more depth and use them as a platform for informal discussion with colleagues. In particular, how the taster day concept could be refined further, both as an effective recruitment tool and as a key to reducing student attrition. It is likely to be of interest to a variety of colleagues who run professional based courses.


Maria Kavanagh, IHS
Introducing Problem Based Learning (PBL) into the curriculum

This presentation aims to give attendees a working knowledge and understanding of the process of Problem Based Learning and how it can be integrated into a curriculum. The theoretical underpinnings for this strategy of teaching and learning will be explored followed by a discussion about the process of implementing this strategy into the curriculum. By sharing experiences from the current DipHE Nursing (Adult Branch) curriculum, innovative triggers and group assessment strategies will be raised as aspects for consideration.


Karen Hanson, IoE
Is This a Reasonable Request?

During a recent EdD module assessment I researched the work of Stephen Brookfield (1995) who has developed a framework for critical reflection – he uses ‘four lenses’ to view different perspectives of an issue, concern, concept etc.
Brookfield (1995:266) discusses the importance of practitioners being critically reflective and how lack of critical reflection in practice leads to apathy and assumptions that our work outside the practice setting ‘serves no wider social purpose’.
‘Not to be reflective is to live in the present as a prisoner of the past.  …Not to be critically reflective is to be blown about by the winds of cultural and pedagogic preference’
(Brookfield 1995:265)
Brookfield’s philosophy helped me to understand my own process of reflection and it also acts as a checking device to help with incorporating differing perspectives within written reflections.  I understand the dangers of some frameworks becoming mechanistic and ‘ritualised’ (Boyd and Walker 1998), as my own became when I was a primary school teacher.   I went through the motions of what I believed was reflective practice yet rarely experienced the inner discomforts (Brookfield 1987) or the ‘uncertainties, discrepancies and dissatisfactions which are central to reflection’ (Boyd and Walker 1998:192).  It is not my intention to ritualise the process of reflection for our students, but to offer them some support and guidance within their first year to enable them to acknowledge the value of seeing things from other’s points of view.


Gareth Jones & Nick Breeze, ISES
Induction in the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science: Enhancing the student experience 

Induction has been described as a ‘lead-in’ to university study (Edward, 2003), aiming to introduce students to university systems and procedures as well as assimilate them into the university community. This paper presents the findings from a project where students completed questionnaires and were interviewed in focus groups about their experiences of induction and how it might be improved.  Staff were also interviewed and their responses collated with those of the students.  Responses were very positive in general but several points emerged to inform planning for next year’s event.

Theresa Pengelly, Mary Passant, Jenny Pinfield, Jo Rouse, Rachel Richards, IHS/SWMNN
Responsive Innovations in Child Health nursing: Development of a pilot project- BSc (Hons) Nursing Studies Child Health with an optional Neonatal Route

According to the National Audit Office (2007), BLISS (2007) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) (2007) every year about 10% of babies are born prematurely or suffer from an illness or condition, which requires care in a neonatal unit. Additionally, the neonatal period has one of the highest rates of mortality of any period of life. BLISS (2007) states that infant mortality rates drop by 48% when minimum nurse staffing levels are met, but they also acknowledge a shortage of over 2,600 neonatal nurses; to achieve this there needs to be a 37% increase on current numbers.
The NAO (2007) states the need for a targeted action plan to address neonatal nurse shortages and RCPCH (2007) suggests that commissioning and neonatal nurse education require urgent review, as they are not currently keeping pace with demand.

This presentation will outline the development, through collaborative working, between the University of Worcester, the Southern West Midlands Newborn Network, the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority Workforce Deanery, in consultation with the Nursing and Midwifery Council of a three year pilot project. The aim of which is to produce registered Child Health nurses who are able to function effectively at the point of registration as part of the neonatal nursing team, whilst ensuring parity with other students. Additionally, it will include an evaluation of the project after one year, a consideration of the place of the programme in continuing developments in neonatal nursing and include the experiences of a student.