Dr Jane Tobbell: 2016 National Teaching Fellow

Picture: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian Staff at the University of Huddersfield. PICTURE TAKEN ON MONDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2016

Photo: Lorne Campbell / Guzelian

Over the last six years, the Teaching and Learning Institute (TALI) has coordinated the University of Huddersfield’s internal National Teaching Fellowship selection process. We have worked closely with the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Teaching and Learning and a selection committee to identify and support colleagues to apply for National Teaching Fellowship Awards.

The Higher Education Academy (HEA) in December announced that two colleagues were awarded National Teaching Fellowships. Dr Jess Power and Dr Jane Tobbell are two of the 55 recipients of the 2016 National Teaching Fellowships. You can learn more about the 2016 National Teaching Fellows on the HEA NTF 2016 pages.  

This post highlights some of the work of one of the successful candidates, Dr Jane Tobbell. Dr Tobbell teaches and researches in the discipline of psychology and has worked at the University of Huddersfield since 2006. Jane became a University Teaching Fellow in 2013, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2014 and leads a number of innovative teaching and learning projects. These include an exploration of inclusion/learning environments, peer mentoring, developing an integrated assessment and feedback policy for her School and her research in teaching and learning around transition.

Jane considers that excellence in teaching and learning emerges through interaction between students and teachers, where both are allowed to contribute to a mutually engaging learning relationship. She puts down the success of her approach to her focus on forging enabling learning relationships which allow students to rehearse and perfect academic practices and gives them confidence to perform to the best of their ability.

Working in partnership with students
Jane is currently working with student researchers to investigate what inclusion means to students. One approach was to harness the collective wisdom of existing students to help new students. The project involved placing white boards in common areas in the School and students are invited to offer advice to new students. This project has provided space for the student voice and has resulted in a range of advice from tips on budgeting to how to engage with the library. Over 100 students contributed their advice and this has been disseminated across the School. The participation of so many students enables the collection of data which will represent everybody in the School and so allow a depth and breadth of understanding of what it means to be included which will inform meaningful policy and procedures in the School

Jane is the University lead in implementing peer mentoring programmes for all students. Peer mentoring promotes partnership between students and staff and enhances learning relationships because it enables interaction outside the formal curriculum where staff have the power of assessment. Moreover, it encourages reflection on experience in both mentors and mentees and so improves performance. As part of this, Jane has designed and led training in peer mentoring skills and in collaboration with students produced a job description and job specification for peer mentors. Students were involved in designing the training, identifying the nature of the mentor-mentee relationship and recruiting mentees. In this scheme students are given power to change the learning environment.
Jane believes excellence is enabled through supportive policy and systems and so she has created an Assessment and Feedback Manifesto. The manifesto emerged from consultation with staff and students and gathered NSS and KIS data. A major obstacle identified was ensuring staff have sufficient time to provide the feedback students need. To address this module design now requires assessment and feedback to be integrated into the module. The National Student Survey results reflect the improvements made in assessment and feedback.

Developing teaching and learning excellence
As part of giving all staff the opportunity to reflect on teaching and learning, Jane runs monthly seminars for all University staff and postgraduate students. People are invited to present their teaching and learning projects and Jane then chairs wider discussions about how the ideas might be applied in different areas. A particularly stimulating one involved the purpose and process of ‘the lecture.’ There are many forums for staff to discuss and present their research but fewer opportunities to enable the exploration of teaching and learning activity despite the prominence of this in everybody’s workloads. The seminars have been identified by the School Teaching and Learning Committee as an important part of their teaching and learning strategy to develop excellence.

Researching transition as a process
In a more recent project, she has collected longitudinal data from students over the four years of their degree course. There is very little longitudinal data currently in the literature and in partnership with colleagues from two other HEIs they are analysing these data and preparing it for dissemination. The data allow an understanding of transition and beyond to emerge. In terms of understanding student learning for example, it is clear that students require ongoing, targeted support to acquire and enact academic practices. It fundamentally challenges assumptions that transition is a period between not knowing and knowing; rather it is a process which continues throughout the degree.

For more information about National Teaching Fellows at the University of Huddersfield, see the Teaching and Learning Institute’s web page.

Posted by Kathrine Jensen, Research Assistant, Teaching and Learning Institute. The Teaching and Learning Institute coordinates, evaluates and disseminates inspiring and innovative teaching and learning. Follow TALI on Twitter


About talintuoh

Supporting and connecting colleagues to develop inspiring and innovative teaching and learning
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