T&L Exchange

Centre for Quality Support and Development

Category: Employability

Inter-Professional Practical Workshop: Registered Intermediaries & Advocates in a Mock Criminal Court

Amanda Millmore, Law, a.millmore@reading.ac.uk  Alison Cox, PCLS, a.cox@reading.ac.uk

Overview

This was a collaboration between 2 schools (Law & PCLS) to introduce students to the work of Registered Intermediaries in Court in a practical way by offering co-curricular training. Registered Intermediaries are communication specialists who work in criminal cases to assist vulnerable people with significant communication difficulties to communicate their answers more effectively during a criminal trial. 30 students from across the 2 schools attended.

Objectives

  • Finalist Speech and Language Therapy students gained a practical understanding of criminal Court practice and procedure and experienced hands-on how Registered Intermediaries work with witnesses.
  • LLB Law students learned about the work of intermediaries and gained practical advocacy experience, learning how to question witnesses successfully, and work effectively with intermediaries in a mock courtroom setting.

Context

This was a co-curricular week 6 activity designed to provide students with real-life experiences of their potential careers. It was an interactive workshop to enable the students from the 2 schools to come together to learn more about the work of each other in the context of a mock criminal case. They gained practical understanding  of the practice and procedure of the criminal courts and of the work of intermediaries. This is so important as the Courts are becoming increasingly aware of the communication difficulties experienced by witnesses and Defendants and the importance of mitigating those issues.

Implementation

We planned a day of workshop activities, starting with interactive lectures from Amanda about the practice and procedure in the criminal Courts, and how to question a witness, then hearing from Alison about the work of intermediaries and how they assist vulnerable witnesses. The students were given a mock trial brief, and worked collaboratively as advocates and intermediaries to prepare for a robbery trial. Amanda created the legal briefs, whilst Alison prepared intermediary reports about the various witnesses for the intermediaries to use. We then ran 2 mock trials simultaneously, giving every student an opportunity to participate as a lawyer, intermediary or witness. Intermediaries were encouraged to speak up to intervene in the trial proceedings to require the advocates to improve their questioning techniques.

Impact

Students worked collaboratively all day and acquired a range of key employability skills and an insight into real life practice. Law students have highlighted this work within their LinkedIn profiles and when applying for work experience and placements.

Feedback from questionnaires completed at the beginning and end of the day showed that all students felt the day contributed to understanding of the roles of advocates and intermediaries:

Qualitative feedback included many positive comments including:

‘the trial was a unique experience putting theory into practice’

‘would be great to see more joint sessions with different courses’

‘enjoyed meeting and working with law students’

‘enjoyed learning the challenges of questioning vulnerable people’

‘absolutely wonderful!’ ‘positive atmosphere’,

‘loved the detail of criminal practice’

Final year law student, Oyin Arikawe said, "We were able to put what we learned into action towards the end of the day when we had a mock trial in which I got to practice my advocacy skills. The workshop was very useful and insightful as it gave me the opportunity to see and experience how intermediaries and barristers work together in court. I enjoyed every part of it!"

Whilst Part 1 student Kiiti Opesanwo said, "It was truly a great learning experience and provided great clarity towards how court cases are run in the UK. I am now encouraged to sit in at one of the Crown court trials in Reading to witness a real one.”

We were commended on Twitter by The Secret Barrister who is an award winning author on the subject of the criminal justice system.

Reflections

The planning process was extensive, but led to a really interactive, practical workshop. We now have a set of materials which can be reused for further workshops.

The real success of the activity was the positive impact of mixing students from 2 very different schools, and giving them the opportunity to work together. This added a deeper dimension to their learning and raised awareness of the work of other aspiring professionals and how their paths may cross in future.

Mentimeter feedback from the end of the day:

Follow up

We are now looking to see if we can secure sufficient funding to run the workshop again. We could have filled the places at the workshop twice over, and have had significant interest from other students who did not sign up initially.

Links and References

http://www.reading.ac.uk/Psychology/News/word-is-law.aspx 

http://www.reading.ac.uk/law/News/law-news-and-events.aspx 

Piloting General Practice (GP) experiential learning for MPharm Year 3 students

Catherine Langran, Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy

Daniel Mercer & Selen Morelle, MPharm Part 4 students, School of Pharmacy

Background

Throughout the Masters of Pharmacy degree (MPharm) students undertake experiential learning in hospital and community pharmacies. Experiential learning through placements is an important approach to teaching and learning; providing a safe learning environment for students, bridging the gap between theory and practice, and encouraging independent learning and reflective practice.

In 2016, the National Health Service (NHS) launched a programme “Building the General Practice Workforce” creating a new career pathway for pharmacists performing clinical tasks in a primary care setting. Over the past 3 years a steadily increasing number of pharmacists are pursuing this career option, and this is now a graduate opportunity for our MPharm students.  It is therefore crucial that Reading School of Pharmacy provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to experience this new role to give students more insight into their career options, encourage professional and personal development, and boost employability.

This collaborative partnership project piloted placements within GP practices for Part 3 pharmacy students to assess the students’ perceptions and evaluate the benefits and practicality of the placements.

Method

59 Part 3 students (46% of the cohort) attended a voluntary session in November 2018, prior to submitting the PLanT application. This session demonstrated a high level of student interest in this placement opportunity and also involved discussion of the practicalities (e.g. placement length, positioning within timetable, location) and perceived advantages of offering GP placements.

Following a successful bid to the PLanT fund, a second voluntary session was attended by 22 students who collaboratively worked with the project lead to determine the process of student recruitment and allocation to placements, define the placement learning outcomes, placement activities, evaluation methods and how to collect feedback. Subsequently, the two project lead students worked with the lead academic to construct an online application process, review student applications, finalise the student handbook and evaluate the student feedback.

The main objectives of this project were:

  • To evaluate the benefits of undertaking the GP placements for MPharm students.
  • To evaluate the placement provider’s feedback on the acceptability, practicality and scalability of providing placements for students.

Five GP practices were recruited to take part in the pilot, located in Reading and London. From April-June 2019, a total of 37 part 3 MPharm students completed a half to one day placement in one of five GP practices. Students predominately shadowed the GP Pharmacist within a clinic environment, and others had the opportunity to shadow GPs, nurses, physician associates and reception teams to provide a greater understanding on how General Practices function as a business.

Data was collected via student completion of online questionnaires pre and post GP placements to compare their:

  • Understanding of the role of GP pharmacists and how GP surgeries work (with 0=no knowledge to 10=complete knowledge)
  • Confidence building rapport and being empathetic when talking to patients (0=no confidence to 10=fully confident)

Students also decided that they would like to prepare and deliver a short 5-minute verbal presentation to their peers and the project group to share experiences and insights from their GP placement.

We also collected feedback from placement providers after completion of the placements.

Results

37 students completed the pre-placement questionnaire, and 30 students completed the post-placement questionnaire. Analysis of the data shows that the students who undertook the placement displayed a significant improvement in their understanding of the GP pharmacist role and the structure and running of a GP practice. A moderate increase in empathy and building rapport was also seen.

Students’ evaluation of the GP placements were overwhelmingly positive, highlighting improved knowledge of the role of GP pharmacists and having gained insight into their potential career choices:

 

In their peer presentations, students described key learning points:

–  An understanding of how different health care professionals skills can work together to offer best care to patients

– The value of observing pharmacist consultations with patients, and reflecting on how treatment decisions are made

– An increased understanding of the options available to them after graduation, enabling them to make a more informed career choice.

Feedback from placement providers showed they found hosting the placement enjoyable/rewarding, they felt the students were enthusiastic, and the organisation/communication from the university was excellent.

Limitations

Whilst the cohort of students who attended the placement days appear to have improved their understanding of GP pharmacy, we are aware that the students undertook the placements voluntarily. These students had a desire to explore the role of GP pharmacists and this implies that they had an interest in the area prior to undertaking the placement. Therefore, opinions may be favoured towards the role.

Impact

The student co-design element ensured this pilot delivered an authentic and valuable experience, with high levels of student engagement.

As a result of this pilot, funding has been secured from our Head of Department to implement GP placements for all part 3 students (cohort size 106) from December 2019. Working partnerships have been established with the 5 GP practices and this has now been expanded to 16 GP practices for 2019/2020. Embedding GP placements for our students will have a positive impact on the MPharm re-accreditation by our regulators the General Pharmaceutical council in March 2020.

There is the potential for this project to have a long term impact on NSS and employability which will be explore in June 2020. Offering these placement sets us apart from other Schools of Pharmacies, and is a key selling point in our new UCAS brochure.

Clinical skills development: using controlled condition assessment to develop behavioural competence aligned to Miller’s pyramid

Kat Hall,  School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, k.a.hall@reading.ac.uk

Overview

The Centre for Inter-Professional Postgraduate Education and Training (CIPPET) provide PGT training for healthcare professionals through a flexible Masters programme built around blended learning modules alongside workplace-based learning and assessment.  This project aimed to evolve the department’s approach to delivering one of our clinical skills workshops which sits within a larger 60 credit module.  The impact was shown via positive student and staff feedback, as well as interest to develop a standalone module for continuing further learning in advanced clinical skills.

Objectives

The aim of this project was to use controlled condition assessment approaches to develop behavioural competence at the higher levels of Miller’s pyramid of clinical competence 1.

Miller’s Pyramid of Clinical Competence

The objectives included:

  1. engage students in enquiry by promoting competence at higher levels of Miller’s pyramid
  2. develop highly employable graduates by identifying appropriate skills to teach
  3. evolve the workshop design by using innovative methods
  4. recruit expert clinical practitioners to support academic staff

Context

Health Education England are promoting a national strategy to increase the clinical skills training provided to pharmacists, therefore this project aimed to evolve the department’s approach to delivering this workshop.  The current module design contained a workshop on clinical skills, but it was loosely designed as a large group exercise which was delivered slightly differently for each cohort.  This prevented students from fully embedding their learning through opportunities to practise skills in alongside controlled formative assessment.

Implementation

Equipment purchase: As part of this project matched funding was received from the School to support the purchase of simulation equipment which meant a range a clinical skills teaching tools could be utilised in the workshops.  This step was undertaking collaboratively with the physician associate programme to share learning and support meeting objective 2 across the School.

Workshop design: the workshops were redesigned by the module convenor, Sue Slade, to focus on specific aspects of clinical skills that small groups could focus on with a facilitator.  The facilitators were supported to embed the clinical skills equipment within the activities therefore promoting students in active learning activities.  The equipment allowed students the opportunity to simulate the skills test to identify if they could demonstrate competence at the Knows How and Shows How level of Miller’s Pyramid of Clinical Competence.  Where possible the workshop stations were facilitated by practising clinical practitioners.  This step was focused on meeting objectives 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Workbook design: a workbook was produced that students could use to identify core clinical skills they required in their scope of practice and thus needed to practise in the workshop and further in their workplace-based learning.  This scaffolding supported their transition to the Does level of Miller’s Pyramid of Clinical Competence.  This step was focused on meeting objectives 1 and 3.

Impact

All four objectives were met and have since been mapped to the principles of Curriculum Framework to provide evidence of their impact.

Mastery of the discipline / discipline based / contextual: this project has supported the academic team to redesign the workshop around the evolving baseline core knowledge and skills required of students.  Doing this collaboratively between programme teams ensures it is fit for purpose.

Personal effectiveness and self-awareness / diverse and inclusive: the positive staff and student feedback received reflects that the workshop provides a better environment for student learning, enabling them to reflect on their experiences and take their learning back to their workplace more easily.

Learning cycle: the student feedback has shown that they want more of this type of training and so the team have designed a new stand-alone module to facilitate extending the impact of increasingly advanced clinical skills training to a wider student cohort.

Reflections

What went well? The purchase of the equipment and redesigning the workshop was a relatively simple task for an engaged team, and low effort for the potential return in improved experience.  By having one lead for the workshop, whilst another wrote the workbook and purchased the equipment, this ensured that staff across the team could contribute as change champions.  Recruitment for an advanced nurse practitioner to support the team more broadly was completed quickly and provided support and guidance across the year.

What did not go as well?  Whilst the purchase of the equipment and workshop redesign was relatively simple, encouraging clinical practitioners to engage with the workshop proved much harder.  We were unable to recruit consistent clinical support which made it harder to fully embed the project aims in a routine approach to teaching the workshop.  We considered using the expertise of the physician associate programme team but, as anticipated, timetabling made it impossible to coordinate the staffing needs.

Reflections: The success of the project lay in having the School engaged in supporting the objectives and the programme team invested in improving the workshop.  Focusing this project on a small part of the module meant it remained achievable to complete one cycle of change to deliver initial positive outcomes whilst planning for the following cycles of change needed to fully embed the objectives into routine practice.

Follow up

In planning the next series of workshops, we plan to draw more widely on the University alumni from the physician associate programme to continue the collaborative approach and attract clinical practitioners more willing to support us who are less constrained by timetables and clinical activities.

Based on student and staff feedback there is clearly a desire for more teaching and learning of this approach and being able to launch a new standalone module in 2020 is a successful output of this project.

Links and References

Miller, G.E. (1990). The assessment of clinical skills/competence/performance. Acad Med, 65(9):S63-7.

Developing the use of the interactive whiteboard for initial teacher trainees (2011-12)

Catherine Foley, Institute of Education
c.m.foley@reading.ac.uk

Overview

With interactive whiteboards becoming a well-established feature of English primary schools classrooms over the last decade, it is vital that the primary Post-Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) programme taught at the University of Reading’s Institute of Education prepares it graduates to be confident and competent in using interactive whiteboard technology in the classroom, including making pedagogically sound, informed decisions about when, when not, and how the interactive whiteboard can enhance learning.

Objectives

    • Explore how trainees can be supported to use the interactive whiteboard in their teaching of mathematics.
    • Gain an informed view of the entry- and exit-level interactive whiteboard skills and understanding of trainees to inform future programme planning.
    • Ensure that the trainee voice is incorporated into developmental planning.
    • Make recommendations regarding embedding the use of interactive whiteboard technology into our wider initial teacher training provision.

Implementation

Initial data collection was conducted through a questionnaire, which was administered towards the end of the trainees’ first week on the programme. This questionnaire was used to gather data on skills and competencies with regards interactive whiteboard technology.

The results of the initial questionnaire revealed that trainees on the programme generally had little or no experience of using interactive whiteboard technology, and that confidence levels for using the interactive whiteboard for general teaching and learning, and specifically within mathematics lessons, were low. The questionnaire had also asked trainees to rank statements in order to indicate the most important to meet their needs. The most preferred statement was that trainees would like support for the skills of how to use an interactive whiteboard. Second was that the use of the interactive whiteboard for teaching and learning be modelled within sessions.

On the basis of the questionnaire results, the following action plan was discussed and agreed with the programme director:

  1. Modelling of interactive whiteboard use throughout taught mathematics sessions. Where interactive whiteboard use was modelled, the ‘stepping out’ technique, as described in Lunenberg et al., was used explicitly to focus trainee’ attention on how the interactive whiteboard has been used, and more importantly, why and to what effect.
  2. Optional workshops during free-time within Autumn and Spring Terms.  These were aimed to ensure a basic level of skills, tied in with the interactive functions most likely to have an impact.  These workshops were limited to 10 trainees, to allow greater access to the interactive whiteboard and less pressure on ‘getting it right’.  The skills addressed during these workshops were based on a combination of student requests, the experience of the project leader, and those outlined in Beauchamp and Parkinson.
  3. Provision for peer sharing of resources created on school experience later in the programme.  In workshops, trainees who had developed interactive whiteboard skills while on placement were invited to share their expertise with other trainees.
  4. Opportunities for peer modelling within starter activities.  Trainees were encouraged to use the interactive whiteboard where appropriate in the presentation of starter activities to their peers, which occurs on a rolling programme throughout the module.

At the end of the module a follow-up questionnaire was administered. This contained a mixture of identical questions to the initial questionnaire, to allow comparison with the results that were gained at the beginning of the programme, and items designed to evaluate the different forms of support that had been provided.

Reflections

Trainees had, by the conclusion of the module, improved their experience with the use of interactive whiteboards, their confidence in doing so, their preparedness to use interactive whiteboard technology for the teaching of mathematics, and increased the level of skill they possessed in writing, manipulating shapes or images, and inserting children’s work or photographs.

It was possible as a result of the project to make the following recommendations for the Institute of Education, which may be useful for related subjects across the University of Reading:

  1. If staff are expected to integrate modelling of appropriate use of interactive whiteboards into their practice, they will need both technical and peer support in order to develop their own confidence. This could be tackled through teaching and learning seminars, practical workshops, software provision and technician time, in much the same way as the project itself supported trainees.
  2. Some of the technical skills could be integrated into ICT modules, allowing subject modules to focus on the most effective pedagogy within their subject.
  3. Primary programmes could consider some kind of formative collaborative tasks to develop and review interactive whiteboard-based activities within subject areas.
  4. The interactive whiteboard provisions in schools could be audited in order to ensure that the Institute of Education’s software and hardware provision is appropriately matched to what trainees will encounter, and incorporated a request for supervising students to comment on their tutees’ interactive whiteboard use as a quality assurance check.
  5. Time support so that trainees reach a basic level of confidence with the use of interactive whiteboard technology before their first school placement.

Links and Resources

Mieke Lunenberg, Fred Korthagen, and Anja Swennen (2007): The teacher educator as role model.  Teaching and Teacher Education, 23 (5)
Gary Beauchamp and John Parkinson (2005): Beyond the ‘wow’ factor: developing interactivity with the interactive whiteboard.  School Science Review, 86 (316)

Embedding Employability Through Collaborative Curriculum Design

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 new module.  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. 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.

Implementation

Identifying Employability Skills – I built upon previous work within the Law School which had identified (through consultation with multiple stakeholders) 11 graduate attributes. The focus was then upon how to embed them within a module.

Participant Sampling – student volunteers were sought via requests in lectures and email, and 5 joined our core partnership group.

Developing the Collaborative Relationship – brainstorming with student partners led to the idea of using student focus groups to find out what they thought of assessments and employability.

Focus Groups – the student partners were empowered to facilitate 2 focus groups, whereas I dealt with the administrative logistics (room booking, catering, preparing supporting materials to stimulate discussion). The focus groups considered their preferences in relation to a range of assessment types, then developed a plan for assessment of the new module, focusing upon the type, weight and timing of assessments. Finally they mapped the employability attributes to the proposed assessments.

Assessment Co-Design – student partners then used the information gained from the focus groups to create the final assessment plan for the new module, with more diverse timing and type of assessments than are typical for the Law School.

Impact

Employability: The student partners have all developed employability skills from their involvement, in particular improved confidence, communication skills and leadership skills. 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 module is oversubscribed in 2019/20 and is operating a waiting list.

Student Engagement & Collaboration: Students feel that they have been listened to, and been treated as true equitable partners in the process. This has created greater feelings of community and power-sharing within the School of Law. Students are interested in extending this trailblazing process to other modules, and colleagues and I are looking at expanding it to programme level.

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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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. Looking to scale up the process to programme level within the School of Law.  One of the challenges will be how we can widen and diversify the range of students in future curriculum design partnerships.

Links and references

Useful pedagogic literature:

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.

Photos

Focus Groups

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mapping Employability Skills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Co-Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Student Dissemination at Conferences

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.

 

Embedding employment in the curriculum: the MSci graduate showcase!

Tamara Wiehe     School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences     t.wiehe@reading.ac.uk

Overview

Students on our programme – MSci Applied Psychology (Clinical) – are training to become qualified Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs) so employment is naturally embedded in the curriculum. However, the existing career development session was originally designed for students on the postgraduate course so it required some adaptation for undergraduates. This is where the MSci Graduate Showcase event came in! I organised and facilitated a 45-minute ‘speed dating’ type event where our previous students who are employed in a range of roles in clinical psychology came to share their experiences and support our current students with their career development.

Objectives

  • To learn about a wide range of career options within clinical psychology from MSci graduates.
  • To consider the steps to put in place during Part 4 that will help students work towards their chosen career path.
  • Encourage networking between graduates and current students.

Context

Aspects of the original career development session were used to create the new session. It was appropriate to keep the event on the final teaching day of the year as this is when students are close to qualifying and are starting to think about the next steps in their career. However, the original session was created for postgraduate students who are employed by an NHS service so the career options reflected this. Educators used their experience as practitioners to make the session as engaging as possible but we all felt as though it needed a new lease of life. The new event aimed to address these two issues by discussing a wider range of career options in clinical psychology for our undergraduate students and by inviting some of our MSci graduates who are employed in the field back to the University to share their first hand experiences.

Implementation

After delivering the same session about 5 times over the past few years, I knew it was time to make some changes when it came to planning the event for the current cohort. The following steps took place over the past 4 months:

  1. Identifying the issues with original session and sharing these with the programme director to see if there was scope to make changes.
  2. Planning the event with the programme director to ensure it met the learning objectives and remained in line with the national PWP curriculum and BPS standards.
  3. Contacting some of our MSci graduates to invite them to the event.
  4. Sharing the plans for the event with our current students so that they had time to prepare.
  5. Confirming the MSci graduates attendance and sharing ideas on how to engage students during the event.
  6. Organising the layout of the room so that students were sat in small groups and formatting the activity using the ‘speed dating’ approach to maximise engagement.
  7. Facilitating the event on the teaching day.
  8. Evaluating the outcomes to then amend the event for future cohorts.

Impact

The event was a success and met the learning objectives!

Our students said that they enjoyed speaking to people who are currently doing the role and a wide range of roles were represented. They learned about how the graduates got to where they are now as they were sat in the same position not too long ago and also where they are heading. It gave them time to think about the next steps in their career.

Our MSci graduates said that the students were engaged as they were asking lots of relevant questions and it also gave them a chance to reflect on how far they have come and where they are heading.

Whilst looking around the room, I felt a sense of pride for how far both my current and previous students have come since I’ve known them. They are all extremely dedicated and passionate about their chosen career path and will go on to make a real difference in the world, what a testament to themselves and the University.

Reflections

I believe that the event was successful due to three main reasons:

  1. I created a session that reflected the needs of the students and made sure that the atmosphere was relaxed to encourage engagement.
  2. The students who took part were engaged and willing to learn from others who were in their position not too long ago.
  3. The MSci graduates were willing to volunteer their time and expertise for the event.

In terms of improving this event, our students suggested that we could find someone who is currently training to become a clinical psychologist; this is something we will explore when preparing for the event next year. I reflected that we needed to number the tables (simple really!) to aid the transitions when moving the graduates around the room.

Based on the success of this event, we definitely want to continue it with future cohorts. As well as the above suggestions, we will review any further comments that arise from more formal student evaluation and amend the event for future cohorts.

Can students and academics benefit from peer assisted learning (PAL) sessions?

Caroline Crolla, Student Success and Engagement Team, Student Services                                                                          c.s.crolla@reading.ac.uk

Overview

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) is a globally recognised scheme where more experienced students who have already successfully completed a module work with students who are studying the module for the first time.   One hour, weekly PAL sessions are run by trained and experienced student PAL Leaders, who are regularly debriefed by programme academics, and supported by a PAL Coordinator.   Students who attend PAL sessions seem to do better than those who do not.

Objectives

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 in-module feedback.

The principles underpinning Peer Assisted Learning include:

  • the PAL scheme should target high risk modules, not high risk students
  • student participation should be voluntary
  • student PAL Leaders are facilitators and not quasi-lecturers

Context

Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) was first introduced at the University of Reading in 2015-16 in a few departments as pilot schemes. Early adopters were academics teaching modules in Art, Economics, Mathematics, Creative Writing and Speech & Language Therapy.

The provision of Peer Assisted Learning is now in its fourth year at the University of Reading.  In both the autumn and spring terms, there are PAL sessions supporting specific modules in an ever-growing number of subjects: Agriculture, Biosciences, Classics, Clinical Language Sciences, Economics, Language & Literature, Food Nutritional Sciences, Law, Mathematics and Statistics, Pharmacy and Psychology.

Implementation

Peer Assisted Learning sessions work best in modules that are recognised as cognitively challenging, where student results are low and where student module feedback is less positive.

To implement PAL sessions, module convenors or lecturers select modules in which students would benefit from the offer of PAL sessions and contacting the PAL Coordinator (pal@reading.ac.uk or c.s.crolla@reading.ac.uk). The PAL Coordinator helps with recruitment, taster sessions, promotion and providing high-quality training. The compulsory, two-day PAL Leader training takes place before the autumn modules start, and again in January before the spring term modules start.  So academics contact the PAL Coordinator to agree PAL publicity, interviews, selection and recruitment of Leaders, ideally a term before the module runs.

The role of PAL Leader is voluntary. PAL Leaders can be recruited if they have successfully completed the module that PAL sessions are supporting.  The module convenor has the final say about the selection of PAL Leaders. PAL Leadership develops students’ facilitation and coaching skills, communication and organisational skills and the role shows employers that students have gone above and beyond their degree.  PAL Leadership is included on students’ degree transcripts and counts for the RED Award. PAL Leaders help with problem solving, study skills, exam techniques and coursework. PAL Leaders know that they do not teach, re-teach nor give answers and make this clear to their PAL participants. PAL Leaders will have regular support from the module convenor / academic contact.

Impact

Quantitative data

We collect PAL session attendance data which is then matched against module results.  In 2017-18 we had a significant amount of data, which showed that there seemed to be a positive correlation between attendance at PAL sessions and higher average results.   Accepting that attendance at PAL is voluntary and students going to PAL may already have positive study habits, in Pharmacy, Economics and Maths modules results show that on average those students who attend 4 or more PAL sessions achieve higher results than those students who do not.

Qualitative data

We also collect PAL Leaders’ and PAL participants’ views about the impact of PAL on their understanding of their work.   Participants answered the following free text questions: 1) What did you gain from attending PAL sessions and 2) How could PAL be improved to meet your academic needs better?  Key benefits were perceived to be: an increase of understanding and an increase of confidence; the benefits of collaborating with peers; appreciating the “real world” connections better in terms of the value of placements or coursework and the benefits of learning and thinking collaboratively.

  • I’ve gained more knowledge regarding the module & find it easier to ask for help.
  • Good to have opportunity to interact with students in the year above.
  • A more interactive way of working, more group work, some sharing of 4th year placement and usefulness of this module for next year

PAL leaders reported that they had developed their organisational and leadership skills; they understood facilitation of learning better and were clearer about how students can be encouraged to learn better.  Team work skills were also mentioned as was the value of consolidating and reviewing one’s own learning as leader because of reviewing materials with their participants.

  • I learnt a lot about organising my time and coming up with creative ways to engage with content
  • I learnt about different ways to make group activities fun. I also learnt the value of having structured tasks i.e. snowballing, as opposed to simply asking a question and hoping that someone would answer!
  • Being a PAL leader also helped me to consolidate my learning of the module, whilst developing methods to effectively communicate this learning to students in lower years.

Reflections

As the PAL scheme has developed at the University of Reading over the past three years, all three groups involved in PAL, the PAL Leaders, the PAL participants and the PAL academics see PAL as a “win – win” scheme.  As the scheme is voluntary, there are no significant costs to the subjects implementing PAL.  The PAL Coordinator and Senior PAL Leaders, a paid role, take responsibility for the majority of the implementation of the scheme.

For more students to benefit from peer assisted learning sessions, four key issues need to be addressed: PAL sessions need to appear in students’ timetables; peer assisted learning needs to be clearly presented and understood, through PAL specific publicity and authentic Leader and participant voices explaining that the sessions are about collaborative learning and not remedial support; academics need to understand and support the principles of peer assisted learning and regularly endorse the scheme and review progress with the PAL leaders and the role of the Senior PAL Leader can be developed further.

Link

The University of Reading is a member of the UK PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) and European SI (Supplemental Instruction) peer-learning network with its centre at Lund University in Sweden https://www.si-pass.lu.se/en/about-si-pass/si-pass-around-the-world .

References

Boud ,D., Cohen, R. & Sampson, J. (1999) Peer Learning and Assessment, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 24:4, 413-426,

Capstick, S. (2004). Benefits and Shortcomings of Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) in Higher Education: an appraisal by students. In Peer Assisted Learning Conference.

Congos, D. H., & Schoeps, N. (1993). Does supplemental instruction really work and what is it anyway? Studies in Higher Education18(2), 165-176.

Smith, J., May, S., & Burke, L. (2007). Peer Assisted Learning: a case study into the value to student mentors and mentees. Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education2(2), 80-109.

 

Supporting diversity through targeted language skills development

Alison Fenner, International Study and Language Institute                                                                                                         j.a.fenner@reading.ac.uk

Overview

The project responded to a perceived need for additional support in the development of oral language skills among some students learning a language with the Institution-Wide Language Programme. It took place within the context of the IWLP Language Learning Advisors’ peer advisory scheme. There were clear benefits in terms of the development of coaching skills and increased employability for the Advisors, and improved oral performance and confidence for the students they supported.

Objectives

  • To provide and monitor targeted support sessions in oral work and pronunciation
  • To improve student speaking skills and confidence
  • To work with and train selected Language Learning Advisors in this area
  • To create a body of material for use in future years
  • To disseminate the practice through student presentation within a School staff forum

Context

With the increasingly international nature of IWLP classes, it has become evident that some groups of students at beginner level find oral work and pronunciation more of a challenge than others, depending on their linguistic background. (For example, some Asian students may find European pronunciation challenging and vice versa.) The Language Learning Advisor scheme, which I have run since 2012 and which usually operates on a one-to-one basis, was extended to small groups of students to provide additional support in this area.

Implementation

As IWLP German Co-ordinator, I decided to set up these sessions with German beginner classes in 2016-17. I had already trained a cohort of Language Learning Advisors for the year. Advisors (students recruited from the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies and higher IWLP classes) normally offer one-to-one advice to IWLP and DMLES students on the acquisition of effective language learning strategies and independent learning.  I invited three Advisors with relevant experience, ability and pedagogic commitment to run regular small-group sessions with the emphasis on oral work and pronunciation. I successfully applied for PLanT funding to pay the students for the sessions. During the year, I held feedback meetings with the Advisors in which they shared their experience and developing expertise. I also sought feedback from the IWLP students attending the sessions, and was able to perceive a clear improvement in oral performance and confidence in students in my own beginners’ German class. In June 2017 the Advisors and I presented the project to ISLI staff at the ISLI Learning and Teaching Research Forum.

Impact

The project worked well. The beginner students reported an improvement in pronunciation and increased class participation and confidence, and spoke of enjoyable learning sessions and friendly and helpful Advisors. The Advisors acquired intensive coaching skills which will benefit their future employability as well as the opportunity to present to University of Reading staff within a tutor forum. The Advisors’ reports on their activities and experience gained this year can be passed on to future Advisors.

Reflections

The enthusiasm and commitment of the Advisors were a major factor in the success of the project. They were willing to commit time and effort and enjoyed seeing improvement in ‘their’ students. They are all interested in teaching as a future career and so were doubly motivated in developing their teaching skills. We had some very useful meetings in which students’ needs were analysed, and ideas and activities were shared and their effectiveness evaluated. The students with whom they worked appreciated the help and the benefits to their oral performance. The only challenge was to maintain regular attendance at the small-group sessions at times when students had a particularly heavy workload; at times attendance decreased, which is perhaps unavoidable since the sessions were not compulsory.

 

 

 

 

 

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