Universally Speaking: crossing cultural & generational boundaries – a seminar series

Dan Jones, School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, d.jones6@reading.ac.uk

 

Overview

The ‘Universally Speaking’ series provides a platform for students, staff and community members to exchange ideas on culture, heritage, customs, values and traditions, via a seminar presentation. Each seminar is followed by an informal drinks reception to facilitate further discussion and interactions between the different communities.

Objectives

  • To offer an outstanding holistic student learning experience by promoting extra-curricular activities in the School.
  • To celebrate and promote the diverse School: lends on the diverse experiences of our staff, students and local communities to help students become global citizens and directly experience the benefits of a diverse and multinational learning environment.
  • To equip students with the aspirations, confidence and skills: opportunity to present and talk to a range of different people.

Context

The School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences is a wonderfully diverse School – this series was launched to promote and celebrate this diversity. The series provides an opportunity for members of the School to reflect upon different experiences and perspectives of the world, and to take a moment to discuss these with others. Ultimately, it is a tool to promote and explore difference, leading to greater tolerance and acceptance of it.

Implementation

Once funding was gained, along with the student partner, we formed a student committee to help support the different aspects of the series: promotion, advertisement, organisation, and invitations to community members. The committee was made up of five students, and two members of staff (myself included). The seminars were run on a monthly basis, starting in February 2019 and running until June 2019. Talks were delivered by a range of volunteers: UG students, PGR students, PCLS staff and other University members (including the University Chaplain, who is hopefully going to repeat their highly interesting session).

Overall, the series was a success, with positive feedback received and a consistent attendance, including up to eight members of the public attending the final session of the academic year. Due to the positive reception, we are hoping to make this a permanent fixture on the PCLS calendar.

Impact

The feedback on the series has been overwhelmingly positive. Quotes from attendees nicely summarise the benefits that have been gained from the series so far:

“The ability to increase my knowledge on other countries education and research style/system. Learn about peoples’ experience – first-hand experience. Love it!”

“Hearing about the differences from personal perspectives. Helping people embracing the differences.”

“Really interesting to hear about cultures and customs in other countries and how one should consider them when assessing actions and situations.”

Many of the quotes reflect on learning about and understanding difference; skills that lead to more tolerance and acceptance of difference – ultimately, this is what the series contributes to the PCLS community.

Reflections

The only negative of the series was attendance: considering the size of PCLS, we only averaged around 40 attendees across the series. There were several reasons why this may have been the case, including the timing, exam periods and advertising. We are aiming to address these issues if the series is to continue. One step that we have taken is to utilise the skills of the School marketing officer to help with promotion and advertising.

Follow up

The launch of the seminar series was made possible with PLANT funding – this funding ended in July 2019. To maintain the series over the course of the next academic year, and to enable collaboration with other groups across the University, additional funding has been sought from the School of PCLS. We already have the next seminar planned for January 2020, in collaboration with the UoR Islamic Society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev Dr Mark Laynesmith, Anglican Chaplain at the University, reports on a project set up with the University’s Institute of Education to explore increasing knowledge diversity among school children.

Stories of Our Studies

Simon Floodgate, Institute of Education, s.floodgate@reading.ac.uk

Overview

A form of inter-active, reflective practice for students in which Playback Theatre (an improvisatory form) is used to ‘play back’ individual stories of students’ experiences regarding all aspects of their studies.  This process can support emotional literacy and well-being and promote professionalism in students at all levels of study.

Objectives

  • To develop students’ ability to both express and assert themselves in the world and to support them to be more successful within their studies. (TLDF Priority 2.2)
  • To support students to feel valued, gain greater awareness of their skills and articulate these to better address the challenges they face in the field of education and the workplace (TLDF Priority 2.3)

Context

To address concerns regarding student well-being and emotional literacy as highlighted both nationally, within the University and the IOE where workload and pressures have specifically impacted upon initial teacher training (ITT) students who are transitioning into teaching professionals.

Implementation

The pilot year, within the IOE, was focussed upon the training of a student performance group with a couple of performance-workshops undertaken with Secondary ITT students and IOE staff.  Both sessions were evaluated and the students involved as the performance team, were also asked to evaluate the benefits to them of engagement in the project.  The project enters a second year (2019-20), with further funding, to adapt the contact sessions.  This will lead to two different versions of Stories of Our Studies.  A full length, two-hour version will incorporate a full Playback Theatre performance of 1-1/2 hours duration in a more public setting.  A second shorter version will align the performance elements with discursive and written aspects focussed upon critical incident analysis (Lister and Crisp, 2007).  This will blend the elements for more captive audiences within module teaching sessions.

Impact

As a pilot project, Stories of Our Studies achieved its objectives.  A student team was trained to deliver the contact sessions alongside the project leader.  The project was presented to both PGCE Secondary ITT students and IOE staff, enabling feedback from different perspectives.  Staff were able to appreciate the potential impact upon student well-being.  The PGCE students were able to effectively reflect upon their learning, in particular focussing upon their school teaching placements. They were able to subjectively reflect upon how these experiences felt to them but also objectively appreciate what occurred, how their experiences were similar or different to others and to be able to consider themselves as professional teachers soon to embark upon their chosen profession. The TLDF priorities 2.2 and 2.3 were both met.

Reflections

The enthusiasm and willingness of the UG students who trained in the form was exceptional and their empathy and artistry were commented upon following both performance-workshops.  This was a major factor in the pilot’s success.  The structure of the session with the main performance aspect following some Morenian sociometry facilitated a relaxed and intimate atmosphere thus enabling audience members to openly share.  The use of the form – Playback Theatre – was vital to the success of the pilot.

Although participants gained a lot from their engagement in the session, there is a further need to develop the sustainability of the reflective process.  To this end the project will be developed into longer and shorter iterations (as mentioned above).  There remains some difficulty in encouraging students to attend extra-curricular sessions and, for many, to attend events in which drama/theatre are mentioned.  This is a difficulty in attracting both student-performers and audience members.  Word of mouth will help and, like a stone gathering moss, momentum will attract more interest and students to engage with it.

Follow up

See above. The project has entered a second year with further TL enhancement (mini) funding.  It is evolving with the incorporation of critical incident analysis and a further blending of the performance and written reflection elements.

We already have more performance-workshops booked in the diary for 2019-20 than for last year, including presentation at the University’s T&L conference in January 2020.

Contact has been made with the RUSU society, Open Minds, to investigate the potential of some performances to a larger student audience outside of timetabled teaching.

The performance-workshop, photographed last year, will be filmed to create a marketing online clip to promote the project.  Recruitment of new student-performer members has already begun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of Playback Theatre in action

Reframing Identity 360

Kate Allen, Department of Art, k.allen@reading.ac.uk

Overview

An investigative artwork that explores identity using 360 cameras developed through practical, alumni led workshops and socially engaged art with current art students, school groups and the general public. Part of ArtLab Movement’ at Tate Exchange (TEx) 2019 at the Tate Modern on March and be archived on the ArtLab website.

Objectives

- Contribute to live art event/out-reach work experience led by Alumni at Tate Exchange 1-3 March 2019

- Explore identity capture with 360 cameras

- 360 cameras experimentation including designing, capturing, printing and editing.

- Create portraits with purpleSTARS, people with learning disabilities and children from Widening Participation schools in Reading.

Context

Reframing Identity explored self-portraits in shot in 360, developed as a response to Tania Bruguera’s Turbine Hall Commission concerning institutional power, borders and migration. Can 360 self-portraits raise awareness of how interconnected we are, when no person is ever behind the 360 camera, everyone is included.

Implementation

Alumni and Virtual Reality artist Kassie Headon researched ideas in response to Tania Bruguera installation at Tate Modern inspired by Bruguera’s ideas on inclusion, connecting to Kate Allen’s research with purpleSTARS a group of people with and with learning disabilities who aim to make museums more inclusive. Kassie demonstrated to students and purpleSTARS how to use the GoPro Fusion Camera and the app to edit 360 content. Activities to share the 360 self portrait concept with visitors were developed including drawing cylindrical self-portraits which they could then wear on their heads for a 360 selfie. Students facilitated the Reframing Identity 360 workshop as part of ArtLab Movement at TEx. Using 360 cameras was a new experience and concept for our students and most people visiting the TEx. The 360 self-portraits were exhibited via live video stream from the 360 cameras on an iPad displayed at the Tate and let participants explore the views, which they could manipulate and distort to create the desired effect. Participants 360 self-portraits were also printed or sent to the visitors phone.

Impact

The impact of Reframing Identity 360 created access and inclusion with new technologies for students and the public. Experiencing the live video stream frequently gave visitors an ‘Oh Wow’ moment. TEx gave an opportunity for research led teaching with Dr Allen purpleSTARS, Alumni Kassie Headon and current BA students to explore the concept of 360 self-portraits gain professional practice experience facilitating the workshops and technical skills working, with the 360 camera. The 360 cameras are now part of the digital equipment available to students with a core team of ArtLab students now familiar with their potential and how to use them.

Reflections

Working with new technologies in collaboration with Alumni, ArtLab students and purpleSTARS led to new perspectives on ideas of inclusion and self -portraiture. The experimental research occurred in response to work at the Tate and in collaboration with visitors to TEx. The project built capacity and awareness of new technology being introduced into the Art Dept learning through research and practical experiences the potential to create artworks and inclusive engagements.

Follow up

Kassie Headen continued to work with the 360 camera collaborating with widening participation schools during the ArtLab summer workshops 2019 exploring spaces and manipulating 2d versions of 3d space.

We are developing further research collaborations and research led teaching opportunities for ideas exploring inclusion in museums and immersive virtual reality artworks/experiences using Oculus Rift technology.

Links and References

We created a 360 recording of our Reframing Identity event at the Tate https://www.thinglink.com/mediacard/1158753748827242499?autoplay=0&autorotate=0&displaytitle=1&rel=1

ArtLab documents the workshop

https://readingartlab.com/2019/04/25/artlab-tate-exchange-visual-diary-2nd-and-3rd-march-2019/

purpleSTARS web documentation

https://purplestars.org.uk/2017/11/12/purplestars-at-tate-gallery-2018/

Tate Exchange webpage

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/tate-exchange/workshop/reading-assembly-movement

Creating screencast videos to support and engage post-graduate students

Sue Blackett – Henley Business School, 2018-19

Image of Sue Blackett

Overview

I participated in the university’s Personal Capture pilot as a Champion for my school to trial the Mediasite tool to create screen cast videos for use in teaching and learning. My aim was to help PGT students get to grips with key elements of the module. The videos facilitated students in repeatedly viewing content with the aim of increasing engagement with the module. Some videos were watched multiple times at different points throughout the term indicating that information needed to be refreshed. 

Objectives

  1. To connect with the cohort and establish module expectations. 
  2. Reduce class time taken up with module administration. 
  3. Provide coursework feedback in an alternative form and reinforce its feedforward use for the final exam. 
  4. To provide exam revision advice and highlight areas of focus. 
  5. Support students with weaker English language skills. 
  6. Provide module materials in a reusable, accessible and alternative form. 

Context

The target audience was students on ACM003 Management Accounting Theory & Practice, a postgraduate course where 91% of students were native Mandarin speakers. English language skills were an issue for some students, so capture video provided opportunities for students to re-watch and get to grips with the content at their leisure. In addition, I wanted to free up class contact time so I could focus on content in areas that had been more challenging on the previous run of the module. Also, by using different colours and font sizes on the PowerPoint slides, the visual emphasis of key points reinforced the accompanying audio. 

Implementation

The first video recorded was a welcome to the module video (slides and audio only) that covered the module administration i.e. an overview of module, outline of assessment, key dates, module text book etc. The content for the video was relatively straightforward as it was taken out of the first lecture’s slides. By isolating module admin information, more information could be added e.g. mapping assessable learning outcomes to assessments and explaining the purpose of each type of assessment. In first recording the video, I did not follow a script as I was trying to make my delivery sound more natural. Instead, I made short notes on slides that needed extra information and printed off the presentation as slides with notes. As this is the same strategy that I use to deliver lectures, I was less concerned about being “audio ready” i.e. not making errors in my voice recording. 

 In the second and third videos (coursework feedback and exam revision advice), I included video of myself delivering the presentations. As the recordings were made in my home office, additional visual matters had to be considered. These included: what I was wearing, the background behind me, looking into the camera, turning pages, etc. The second attempts of each recording were much more fluent and therefore uploaded to Blackboard. 

 The last two recordings were quite different in nature. The coursework feedback used visuals of bar charts and tables to communicate statistics accompanied by audio that focused on qualitative feedback. The exam revision video used lots narrative bullet points. 

Examples of my videos:

Welcome to module: https://uor.mediasite.com/Mediasite/Play/7a7f676595c84507aa31aafe994f2f071d

Assessed coursework feedback: https://uor.mediasite.com/Mediasite/Play/077e974725f44cc8b0debd6361aaaba71d

Exam revision advice: https://uor.mediasite.com/Mediasite/Play/94e4156753c848dbafc3b5e75a9c3d441d

Resit Exam Advice: https://uor.mediasite.com/Mediasite/Play/e8b88b44a7724c5aa4ef8def412c22fd1d

Impact

The welcome video did have impact as it was the only source of information about the administration for the course. When students arrived at the first class with the text book, this indicated that they had been able to access the information they needed to prepare for the course. Student response to the personal capture pilot project questionnaire was low (18%), however, the general feedback was that the videos were useful in supporting them during the course. 

 Analysis of analytics via MediaSite and Blackboard provided some very interesting insights: 

  1. Most students did not watch the videos as soon as they were released. 
  2. Some of the videos were watched multiple times throughout the term by weaker and stronger students. 
  3. Some students were not recorded as having accessed the videos. 
  4. Students were focused for the first 20 – 60 seconds of each video and then skipped through the videos. 
  5. Few students watched the videos from start to finish i.e. the average time watched for the 4 min 49 secs welcome video was 2 min 10 secs. The coursework feedback video was 9 mins 21 secs, however, average viewing time was 3 mins 11 secs. The revision video followed the same trend being 8 mins 41 secs long with an average watching time of 2 mins 55 secs.
     

Review of video along with watching trends showed that students skipped through the videos to the points where slides changed. This suggested that the majority were reading the slides rather than listening to the accompanying commentary which contained supplementary information. 

 As no student failed to meet the admin expectations of the course, those that had not watched the video must have been informed by those who had. 

Reflections

The analytics were most illuminating. Me appearing in videos was supposed to establish bonds with the cohort and increase engagement, however, my appearance seemed to be irrelevant as the students were focused on reading rather than listening. This could have been due to weaker listening skills but also highlights that students might think that all important information is written down rather than spoken.  

 Videos with graphics were more watched than those without so my challenge will be to think about what content I include in slides i.e. more graphics with fewer words and/or narrative slides with no audio. 

 I will continue with capture videos, however, I will do more to test their effectiveness, for example I will design in-class quizzes using KahootMentimeter, etc. to test whether the content of the videos has been internalised. 

Follow-up

I’ve become much quicker at designing the PowerPoint content and less worried about stumbling or searching for the right words to use. I have been able to edit videos more quickly e.g. cutting out excessive time, cropping the end of the video. Embedding videos in Blackboard has also become easier the more I’ve done  it. The support information was good, however, I faced  a multitude of problems that IT Support had to help me with, which, if I’m honest, was putting me off using the tool  (I’m a Mac user mostly using this tool off campus).  

 

Using Flipped Learning to Meet the Challenges of Large Group Lectures

Adopting a flipped classroom approach to meet the challenges of large group lectures

Name/School/ Email address

Amanda Millmore / School of Law / a.millmore@reading.ac.uk

Overview

Faced with double-teaching a cohort of 480 students (plus an additional 30 in University of Reading Malaysia), I was concerned to ensure that students in each lecture group had a similar teaching experience. My solution was to “flip” some of the learning, by recording short video lectures covering content that I would otherwise have lectured live and to use the time freed up to slow the pace and instigate active learning within the lectures. Students provided overwhelmingly positive feedback in formal and informal module evaluations, the introduction of flipped learning has aided the welfare of students, allowing those who are absent or who have disabilities or language barriers to revisit material as and when needed. For staff, it has aided the reduction in my workload and has the ongoing benefit of reducing workload of colleagues who have taken over teaching the module.

Objectives

  • Record short video lectures to supplement live lectures.
  • Use the time freed up by the removal of content no longer delivered live to introduce active learning techniques within the lectures.
  • Support the students in their problem-solving skills (tested in the end of year examination).

Context

The module “General Introduction to Law” is a “lecture only” first year undergraduate module, which is mandatory for many non-law students, covering unfamiliar legal concepts. Whilst I have previously tried to introduce some active learning into these lectures, I have struggled with time constraints due to the sheer volume of compulsory material to be covered.

Student feedback requested more support in tackling legal problem questions, I wanted to assist students and needed to free up some space within the lectures to do this and “flipping” some of the content by creating videos seemed to offer a solution.

As many academics (Berrett, 2012; Schaffzin, 2016) have noted, there is more to flipping than merely moving lectures online, it is about a change of pedagogical approach.

Implementation

I sought initial support from the TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) team, who were very happy to give advice about technology options. I selected the free Screencast-O-Matic software, which was simple to use with minimal equipment (a headset with microphone plugged into my computer).

I recorded 8 short videos, which were screencasts of some of my lecture slides with my narration; 6 were traditional lecture content and 2 were problem solving advice and modelling an exemplar problem question and answer (which I had previously offered as straightforward read-only documents on Blackboard).

The software that I used restricted me to 15 minute videos, which worked well for maintaining student attention. My screencast videos were embedded within the Blackboard module and could also be viewed directly on the internet https://screencast-o-matic.com/u/iIMC/AmandaMillmoreGeneralIntroductiontoLaw.

I reminded students to watch the videos via email and during the lectures, and I was able to track the number of views of each video, which enabled me to prompt students if levels of viewing were lower than I expected.

By moving some of the content delivery online I was also able to incorporate more problem-solving tasks into the live lectures. I was able to slow the pace and to invite dialogue, often by using technology enhanced learning. For example, I devoted an hour to tackling an exam-style problem, with students actively working to solve the problem using the knowledge gained via the flipped learning videos and previous live lectures. I used the applications Mentimeter, Socrative and Kahoot to interact with the students, asking them multiple-choice questions, encouraging them to vote on questions and to create word clouds of their initial thoughts on tackling problem questions as we progressed.

Evaluation

I evaluated reaction to the module using the usual formal and informal module evaluations. I also tracked engagement with the videos and actively used these figures to prompt students if views were lower than expected. I monitored attendance to modules and didn’t notice any drop-off in attendance. Finally, I reviewed end of year results to assess impact on students results.

Impact

Student feedback, about the videos and problem solving, was overwhelmingly positive in both formal and informal module evaluations.

Videos can be of assistance if a student is absent, has a disability or wishes to revisit the material. Sankoff (2014) and Billings-Gagliardi and Mazor (2007) dismiss concerns about reduced student attendance due to online material, and this was borne out by my experience, with no noticeable drop-off in numbers attending lectures; I interpret this as a positive sign of student satisfaction. The videos worked to supplement the live lectures rather than replace them.

There is a clear, positive impact on my own workload and that of my colleagues. Whilst I am no longer teaching on this module, my successor has been able to use my videos again in her teaching, thereby reducing her own workload. I have also been able to re-use some of the videos in other modules.

Reflections

Whilst flipped learning is intensive to plan, create and execute, the ability to re-use the videos in multiple modules is a huge advantage; short videos are simple to re-record if, and when, updating is required.

My initial concern that students would not watch the videos was utterly misplaced. Each video has had in excess of 1200 views (and one video has exceeded 2500). Some of the material was only covered by the flipped learning videos, and still appeared within the examination; students who tackled those questions did equally well as those answering questions covering content which was given via live lecture, but those questions were less popular (2017/18 examination).

I was conscious that there may be some students who would just ignore the videos, thereby missing out on chunks of the syllabus, I tried to mitigate this by running quizzes during lectures on the recorded material, and offering banks of multiple choice questions (MCQs) on Blackboard for students to test their knowledge (aligned to the summative examination which included a multiple choice section). In addition, I clearly signposted the importance of the video recorded material by email, on the Blackboard page and orally and emphasised that it would form part of the final examination and could not be ignored.

My experience echoes that of Schaffzin’s study (2016) monitoring impact, which showed no statistical significance in law results having instituted flipped learning, although she felt that it was a more positive teaching method. Examination results for the module in the end of year summative assessment (100% examination) were broadly consistent with the results in previous academic years, but student satisfaction was higher, with positive feedback about the use of videos and active learning activities.

Follow Up

Since creating the flipped learning videos another colleague has taken over as convenor and continued to use the videos I created. Some of the videos have also been able to be used in other modules.  I have used screencast videos in another non-law module, and also used them as introductory material for a large core Part 1 Law module. Student feedback in module evaluations praised the additional material. One evolution in another module was that when I ran out of time to cover working through a past exam question within a lecture, I created a quick screencast which finished off the topic for students; I felt that it was better to go at a more sensible pace in the lecture and use the screencast rather than rush through the material.

Michelle Johnson, Module Convenor 2018-2019 commented that:

“I have continued to use and expand the flipped learning initiative as part of the module and have incorporated further screencasts into the module in relation to the contract law content delivered. This allowed for additional time on the module to conduct a peer-assessment exercise focussed on increasing the students’ direct familiarity with exam questions and also crucially the marking criteria that would be used to score their Summer exams. Students continue to be very positive about the incorporation of flipped learning material on the module and I feel strongly that it allowed the students to review the more basic introductory content prior to lectures, this allowing time for a deeper engagement with the more challenging aspects of the lectures during lecture time. This seemed to improve students understanding of the topics more broadly, allowing them to revisit material whenever they needed and in a more targeted way than a simple lecture recording.”

TEF

TQ1, LE1, SO3

Links

University of Reading TEL advice about personal capture – https://sites.reading.ac.uk/tel-support/category/learning-capture/personal-capture

Berrett, D. (2012). How “Flipping” the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture. – https://www.chronicle.com/article/how-flipping-the-classroom/130857. Chronicle of Higher Education..

Billings-Gagliardi, S and Mazor, K. (2007) Student decisions about lecture attendance: do electronic course materials matter?. Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 82(10), S73-S76.

Sankoff, P. (2014) Taking the Instruction of Law outside the Lecture Hall: How the Flipped Classroom Can Make Learning More Productive and Enjoyable (for Professors and Students), 51, Alberta Law Review, pp.891-906.

Schaffzin, K. (2016) Learning Outcomes in a Flipped Classroom: A comparison of Civil Procedure II Test Scores between Students in a Traditional Class and a Flipped Class, University of Memphis Law Review, 46, pp. 661.

Using wikis for assessed group work in new history modules

Shirin Irvine – TEL Adviser, CQSD

Image of Shirin Irvine

Overview

For the academic year 2015/16, the Department of History offered a brand-new Part 1 programme as part of the History Project. This resulted in the development of three new core modules.

Dr Mara Oliva transformed common practice by using technology to carry out full electronic assessment for her module. This project included multiple aspects of digital pedagogy, using Blackboard to perform engaging assessment.  This was achieved through innovative and effective use of Blackboard Groups in combination with Blackboard Wikis and Turnitin Assignments, in addition to the Grade Centre for administering students’ marks.

What is a wiki?

A wiki is a collaborative tool that allows students to work as a group on one project and write shared content in the form of a website. They can create a series of web pages that can include images, web links and videos, collectively responding to a theme.

Dr Mara Oliva – Lecturer in Modern American History (20th century)

Image of Mara Olive

Mara explains how she used the wiki tool within Blackboard as a new tool for summative assessment.

The Culture Wiki

Journeys through History 2 aims to introduce students to major historical ideas, concepts, beliefs and knowledge systems, and to show how these are exemplified in material culture, with reference to artefacts, buildings, paintings and other works of art, literature and media.

We wanted the assessment tools we chose to reflect the cultural and visual elements of the module. Therefore we decided to use a group wiki of 2,000 words (50% of the module mark), which we called the Culture Wiki, and an individual 2,000-word essay on one of the historical concepts.

The Culture Wiki allowed students to create and contribute to several web pages of course-related material. They were expected to display their research, analytical and communication skills by building a website meant for public consumption. In small groups, students created their wikis based on a theme discussed during lectures. Lecturers provided themes in the module handbook and on Blackboard.

Our aims for using this form of assessment were to teach students the importance of teamwork and how to write in a concise and accessible way in order to develop an understanding of public history, which offers many employability opportunities to history graduates.

Impact – great results! 

Overall, the exercise was very successful! According to the feedback, both students and staff enjoyed working on the Culture Wiki. Students said it gave them a chance to look at history from a different angle and realise how many flexible and transferable skills they can gain through studying history.

We then decided to take this a step further and extend full electronic assessment to the individual assay, using Turnitin Assignments. This was received very enthusiastically by the students, who appreciated the immediacy and flexible, 24/7 access technology can offer.

The project, however, would have never taken off without the invaluable support of the TEL team, in particular Shirin Irvine, Lauren McCann and Maria Papaefthimiou. With their help we arranged training and guidance for the department staff on creating and assessing wikis, using Turnitin for e-assessment, and using the Grade Centre.

To support students, we provided a separate handbook with “how to build a wiki” guidelines, which was uploaded on Blackboard. I then dedicated part of the first lecture to introducing the exercise and answering the questions. Overall, students did not need much support and were very quick at learning – their questions were mainly content related.

We are very pleased with the outcome of the project, so we have decided to continue for the foreseeable future!

Embedding Employability Through Collaborative Curriculum Design

Embedding Employability Through Collaborative Curriculum Design

Name/School/ Email address

Amanda Millmore / School of Law / a.millmore@reading.ac.uk

Overview

This is a practical case study focusing upon the process of carrying out a collaborative partnership project with students to embed employability attributes into a trailblazing new module option for 2019/20 LW3CFS: Children, Families and the State.  This module is unique in that it is the first to embed employability attributes and skills within the module design. This project built upon previous work within the School of Law, which identified (by working with multiple stakeholders - students, staff and employers) 11 key employability attributes of a Reading Law graduate.

Not only do we now have a module with employability attributes built-in, but the student partners have gained a range of employability skills themselves by virtue of their involvement in the process. The student partners co-designed the module assessments, ran the student focus groups and presented the project at a number of national teaching and learning conferences this year. PLanT project funding was awarded and used to provide refreshments for focus groups and to enable students to travel to conferences to disseminate the project.

Objectives

I identified 3 key challenges that the project aimed to address:

  • Employability - how to equip students with the skills and attributes to succeed in employment.
  • Curriculum Design - how to embed those graduate employability attributes into a module.
  • Student Engagement and Collaboration - how to work effectively with students in partnership.

Context

In Law the professional pathways to careers are changing, with new routes opening up for vocational post-graduate and non-graduate training. These changes are raising questions for university law schools as to how much they should be focusing upon more practical and vocational skills.

My colleague Dr. Annika Newnham and I wanted to develop a new final year module, covering a discrete area of family law, closely allied to the kind of work that students may encounter in their early years of legal practice, with assessments mapped to legal employability skills. The brief was to design assessments for this new module which were mapped to legal employability skills and I looked to see how I could incorporate the student voice within the design process, deciding to engage them in the project as collaborative partners.

Implementation

Evaluation

Student views of their involvement in focus groups and as part of the core partnership group were sought throughout the project. All felt that this was a positive experience and welcomed the partnership and mapping of employability attributes.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of embedding employability into the module will be considered during the course of the running of the module. In addition to explicitly highlighting the attributes within the course materials and teaching, I intend to get the students to self-evaluate their awareness of and confidence in displaying the attributes at the start and again at the end of the module. I am also considering ways to utilise the assessed evaluative report to encourage reflection upon employability attributes. If the students will permit, I would also be interested to maintain contact with the students post-graduation to follow-up whether these skills have assisted them in their further study and careers.

Impact

Employability: The student partners have all developed employability skills from their involvement, in particular improved confidence, communication skills and leadership skills. These skills have been highlighted most through the opportunities that they have had to disseminate the project at national conferences.The wider student body has increased awareness of employability attributes.

Curriculum Design: The new module LW3CFS Children, Families and the State has student-designed assessments with employability attributes clearly mapped to them. Students involved have gained a greater understanding of the process of module design. The students acknowledged that this was a way for their opinions to be listened to, and for them to influence their own university experience, “University can be a very impersonal experience - it is always good to feel that your voice is being heard and that you can make an active impact on uni life and module development” (focus group participant). The module is oversubscribed in 2019/20 and is operating a waiting list. The high level of student interest (approximately 20% of the cohort have selected the module, which is significant given the rather niche subject area) is indicative of the support by students for the nature and timing of the assessments and an implicit endorsement of the staff-student partnership process.

Student Engagement & Collaboration: Students feel that they have been listened to, and been treated as true equitable partners in the process which embodies the University of Reading’s “Principles of Partnership” (2019). This has created greater feelings of community and power-sharing within the School of Law. The equitable nature of the power-sharing between staff and students was fundamental to the success of the project. This experience has been transformative for me as an academic, seeing how positively these students relished the challenge of collaboration, and became true partners in co-designing assessments. It has inspired me to look to other areas of my teaching practice to consider how I can partner with students to improve the student experience and student support in addition to classic teaching and learning activities.Students are interested in extending this trailblazing process to other modules, and colleagues and I are looking at expanding it to programme level.

Student Feedback: The following quotes are reflections from the student partners on the project:

"With all the discussions, I gained knowledge about the employability skills (communication, team work, problem solving, planning and organising, self-management, learning, research and analysis and the list goes on) and will take active actions to try to improve those skills in the future. I think I gained a lot of experience in involving in this project that I can put into practice into future projects or career as well."

"I am really looking forward and excited to learn about this module that I helped create. I think the School should definitely use this approach more often on other modules as a lot of the time when students are not satisfied/happy about how a module (or lecturer) we do not have much chance to voice out our opinions and make changes, so it is a good way to avoid that situation fundamentally. As students are likely to go into law practice after graduating, it is important to not only have essay or written examinations (that do not reflect real life law practice) as assessments. It’s really different to be good in examinations and to be good in practice."

Reflections

When I presented this project at the Advance HE conference in July 2019 I emphasised my 4 step plan for successful staff-student partnerships:

The partnership can relate to a discrete area of a project (in our case this was in relation to assessment design), and this fits well with Bovill’s (2017) ladder of participation. Once the boundaries of the project are clear, then it is vital to take a step back and relinquish control.

By keeping the student-staff partnership limited to a discrete area of module design (assessments) the boundaries were clear, and students could be given greater control. The key message is that equality of arms is vital, all viewpoints need to be welcomed and considered with no obvious staff-student hierarchy.

The limitations of the project were that it was focusing upon the modular level, rather than anything broader, so its impact is limited to that module, although the goodwill that it has generated amongst our students extends far beyond this single module.

A staff-student partnership needs to be approached with an equality of arms, so that all viewpoints are welcomed and considered, with no obvious hierarchy. As my student partner when presenting at the Advance HE conference said “For me personally as a student, you’re very much stuck in this kind of limbo where you’re not quite respected as an adult, but you’re not a child either...I’m an adult but not as respected as I would like to be in a professional environment. I wasn’t treated like that, I was treated as a complete equal and had the chance to run with my ideas, which was really important to me.

Follow up

The module is due to run for the first time in 2019/20 for Final Year students in the School of Law.

My current plans for follow-up relate to the following areas:

  1. Further evaluation of the effectiveness of embedding employability attributes into a module (see evaluation section above).
  2. Consideration of better ways to highlight the employability attributes, for example by badging them (opening up possibilities for inter-disciplinary collaborations with creative colleagues and students.
  3. The success of this staff-student partnership has highlighted how this process could be scaled up to programme level within the School of Law. This is particularly in the light of reviews of the LLB programme within the context of the University of Reading’s Curriculum Framework review process and with an eye to the forthcoming changes to the professional vocational training at postgraduate level for lawyers. One of the challenges will be how we can widen and diversify the range of students in future curriculum design partnerships.

TEF

TQ1-5, SO1-3.

Links and references

ADVANCE HE 2016. Framework for embedding employability in higher education. Available from: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/framework-embedding-employability-higher-education.

ADVANCE HE 2016. Framework for student engagement through partnership. Available from: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/student-enagagement-through-partnership-new.pdf.

BOVILL, C. 2017. A Framework to Explore Roles Within Student-Staff Partnerships in Higher Education: Which Students Are Partners, When, and in What Ways?  International Journal for Students As Partners,  1 (1). https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v1i1.3062, 1.

HEALEY, M., FLINT, A & HARRINGTON, K. 2014. Students as Partners in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education [Online]. York: Higher Education Academy. [Viewed on 1 July 2019] Available from: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/engagement-through-partnership-students-partners-learning-and-teaching-higher.

Developing diversity and inclusion teaching: Sexuality

Dr Allán Laville     School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences     a.laville@reading.ac.uk

Overview

In line with the Equality Act (2010) and Department of Health (2011), sexual orientation needs to be considered in the training of the psychological workforce. Since 2011, I have been developing clinical teaching on sexual orientation with student satisfaction rates of 95-100%. This blog details my journey in the continual development of this training.

Objectives

  • To deliver clinical training on sexual orientation that meets the requirements of the British Psychological Society Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (BPS PWP) national curriculum. PWPs work with individuals with anxiety and depression who are aged 16+.
  • To support students to be critical of the current psychological literature on sexual orientation and what action plans need to be completed as part of their own clinical development.

Context

As part of the BPS PWP national curriculum, we need to have excellent standards of Diversity and Inclusion teaching. This is contained within the Values, Employment and Context module (PY3VEC1 and PYMVEC) in both PWP training programmes at the University.  I was tasked, by the Director of Training in the Charlie Waller Institute (CWI), to create teaching on sexual orientation as this was previously not included in the module overview.

Implementation

The first step was to review the current literature on sexual orientation and tie it to mental health. Overwhelmingly, the literature suggests that individuals who identify as Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) are at a significantly higher risk of developing a common mental health problem than individuals who identify as heterosexual.

The second step was to explore national policies and approaches, i.e. Department of Health (2011), to supporting individuals who identify as LGB.  It was interesting to see that data collection for sexual orientation is disproportionally under-collected compared to other protected characteristics e.g. race, age, within the Equality Act (2010). This was concerning as data by sexual orientation is not well understood, yet LGB individuals are at a higher risk of developing a mental health problem as well as risk taking behaviours.

The final step was to create a training session that incorporated current literature, tied to national policy, which clearly highlighted how we can work with sexual orientation within clinical practice, such as considering risk as well as appropriate signposting.

Impact

The student satisfaction scores were overwhelming positive with comments such as ‘this training is awesome’ and ‘this training really made me think about sexual orientation, and I hadn’t thought about it before’.  The training has now also been delivered to High Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapists in CWI as well as at the National British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies Conference at Imperial College, London. Overall, I think that the activity did meet the objectives however, an unexpected outcome was the need to publish the key factors of this training session to better inform the wider workforce.

Reflections

The continual review and updating of this session made sure that it is still relevant for each cohort and meets the requirements of the national curriculum. One large factor that led to the success of this activity was the engagement and contribution of the students. Each time I deliver this session, there are different viewpoints, which challenge my thinking, and this is so valuable for me to develop as a clinician and as an academic.

In relation to better implementation, the earlier versions of the session did not include very much on multi-discrimination and so, it now includes discussion points on considering intersectionality within our clinical practice. This has been received well by students and further promotes critical thinking. It also ties more closely with the intersectionality inclusion aims of Stonewall, Europe’s largest LGBT+ charity.

Follow up

I have now been approached by the Director of Children and Young Persons (CYP) programmes in CWI to consider how sexual orientation training can be delivered to CYP clinicians. This will be an interesting task as I will need to consider generational differences as well as how my work can be applied to a different group of clinicians.

Links and references

https://www.babcp.com/files/CBT-Today/cbt-today-december-2017.pdf

Laville, A. (2017). The importance of data collection, signposting and ‘appropriate’ awareness in working with sexual orientation. CBT Today, 45 (4), 14-15.

Department of Health and Social Care. (2011). NO HEALTH WITHOUT MENTAL HEALTH: A cross- Government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages. Analysis of the Impact on Equality (AIE). London: Department of Health and Social Care.

Communicating Ancient Sport

Barbara Goff     School of Humanities     b.e.goff@reading.ac.uk

Overview

In my Part 2 module ‘Ancient Sport’ I offer students a choice between a traditional essay and an ‘outreach project’, which requires them to communicate an aspect of ancient sport to a non-academic audience, perhaps for schools or for the general public.

Objectives

  • To develop students’ communication skills in an attractive way
  • To diversify assessment in a relevant way (I first taught the module in an Olympics year)
  • To foster students’ sense of their own employability by developing a range of skills.
  • To engage students more fully in an assessment that draws on creativity and imagination.
  • I also hoped that students would have fun with the assessment, which they definitely have done.

Context

The module ‘Ancient Sport’ investigates Ancient Greek and Roman sporting activities with a focus on relating these to concepts of gender, desire, citizen identity, political power, and empire.  The histories of art, architecture and engineering are also important.  Amy Smith, the Curator of the Ure Museum, suggested the outreach project when I started planning the new module.  I consulted with other colleagues in Study Advice, and the then Teaching and Learning Dean, in order to design the assessment effectively.   I monitored the success of the outreach project via evaluations and discussion with students as well as via assessing the work itself, and recursively amended rubric and feedback sheet in order to communicate what students needed to do, and to guide their practice by clarifying criteria.

Implementation

Each outreach project has to be accompanied by a commentary on a relevant ancient text, a bibliography of secondary literature, and a reflective essay.   I start talking to the students about the assessment choices at the beginning of term.  Towards the end of term, students discuss their chosen project with me and get some feedback on how it is developing.   The module includes a workshop on outreach communications, run by Kim Shahabudin, a colleague from Study Advice, and we share with the students the specific rubric and feedback form which I have developed to address the various elements of the assessment.  We also situate the assessment in the context of employability, pointing towards the importance of being able to reflect on one’s own work, as well as stressing research and communication skills.

Impact

The outreach project assessment has been very successful, with many evaluations picking it out as a strength of the module.  In informal conversations, it has become clear that students understand the link with employability, e.g. with their ambitions towards teaching, journalism or museum work. Over the years students have produced work such as videos both educational and entertaining, board games, museum trails, short stories, comics and magazines.  I have been impressed by the effort, imagination, humour and creativity that students have put into their work, and also by their ability to reflect on their achievements, any limitations of their projects, and the decisions that they had to make along the way.  I have been particularly gratified when students who have struggled with the traditional essay, for a variety of reasons, have found an assessment activity in which they can really shine.  We have used several projects on Open Days and in workshops for local schools.

Reflections

What has mainly contributed to the success of this activity is simply the effort and commitment of the students, and I am very glad to have elicited such good work.  This activity has also been very well supported by colleagues in Study Advice and in the Ure Museum, for which I am grateful.  The activity has required me to rethink things like assessment criteria and rubrics, which I have found useful overall in my teaching.

Follow up

I find it very productive to approach assessment as a way of fostering employability and a variety of skills.  As Departmental Director of Teaching and Learning I am keen for the Department to continue to extend such opportunities for students to engage with a variety of assessment.  I have given extra publicity to our Independent Project module, which offers an alternative to the dissertation.  Although I shall rest ‘Ancient Sport’ for a while, I shall develop a creative writing assessment in a Part 3 module.  We are going to investigate the transformations of the figure of Helen of Troy, across different literary genres and periods, and students will have the opportunity to produce their own version of Helen, in poetry, short story, script, or other text.  Reflection as well as research will be a significant part of this assessment.