Dr Jess Power: 2016 National Teaching Fellow

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

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

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.

In 2016 Dr Jess Power, Director of Teaching and Learning in the School of Art, Design and Architecture was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship. Jess is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Member of the Chartered Management Institute and a Trustee of the Textile Institute. Her core discipline area is textiles/apparel and the main body of her research focuses around active learning for large cohorts of apparel/textile students. Jess has developed strategies which have led to a real impact on students learning by creating best practice models using active learning techniques and introducing approaches such as peer-learning and team-teaching.

Since joining the University in 2012 Jess has led a number of initiatives to transform the under-graduate student experience by embedding collaboration both within and out of the curriculum. Primarily focusing on encouraging students to work across and beyond disciplines to encourage the co-creation of knowledge and the development of networks. This has led to students broadening their interests and ambitions and improving skills relevant to industry, enterprise and employability.

Jess says:

“Throughout my teaching career I have aimed to find the right blend of surroundings and pedagogical theories to create supportive environments which bring together students and staff, from many disciplines, to engage in creating sustainable learning networks across Higher Education, commercial sectors and Professional Bodies.”

Interdisciplinarity projects: Honeypot and ICE

ICE, which stands for Innovation and Creative Exchange is a series of lectures, workshops, networking events and skill exchanges which is aimed at fostering collaboration between design and engineering students – the next generation of employees for UK knowledge based industries.

The aim is to bring the best of innovative design and industry thinking into the undergraduate curriculum and to embed the latest innovation and design methodologies. Events include design challenges, industrial briefs and visits from high-profile professionals; with a key focus of providing interdisciplinarity opportunities to work on real-world challenges such as the 24-hour challenges on ‘sustainable solutions to global challenges’, the ‘ageing population’ and the ‘internet of things’. The impact of ICE has been demonstrated through companies recruiting students, through further research projects, and five discipline-hopping interns (engineering student placed in a design company and vice-versa).

Through this structures Jess has created interdisciplinarity which has become firmly established; resulting in the showcasing and sharing of School-based resources and the further development of interdisciplinarity challenges and networking opportunities across the entire University. One of the outputs of this project was an Industry award-winning product design which has been further developed by an industrial partner. 

Technology focused initiatives

Jess has been involved in investigating Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) usage within the creative arts in a collaborative project between the School of Art, Design and Architecture and Music, Humanities and Media. The research showed that the VLE was integrated less into practice-based subjects with three main barriers being identified; technical ability, navigation and aesthetics.

As a result of this research a framework was developed and implemented which promoted a blended approach to integrating the VLE into creative practice, specifically targeting navigation, aesthetics and digital literacy. The impact on both the student and staff experience was evident and subsequently, engagement with the VLE in creative arts has risen dramatically.

Jess also initiated a technician-led Teaching and Learning enhancement week which showcased the innovative technology available within the School and opened up these facilities for collaborative research and T&L projects. This has resulted in the School overcoming many technology-based restrictions and has had far-reaching benefits for students’ learning and the continuing professional development of staff.

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

The Teaching and Learning Institute coordinates, evaluates and disseminates inspiring and innovative teaching and learning. Follow TALI on Twitter

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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
PICTURE TAKEN ON MONDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2016

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

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Approaches to developing students’ oral presentation skills

This blog post was written by Chris Ireland, Academic Skills Tutor in the Business School at the University of Huddersfield. In this post he presents his experiences with supporting students to improve their oral presentation skills. Chris is currently undertaking doctoral research in which a main objective is to ascertain which aspects of the approach described are seen by the most apprehensive students as contributing towards their development as presenters.

Illustration of student presenting

One of the aims of the first year Accountancy and Finance module Accountants in Organisations that I work on with John English is the development of key competencies which are demanded by professionally focussed employers but are also useful for study at university. One of these areas is oral communication and within this being able to deliver oral presentations. Over the years that the module has been delivered the approach taken to helping the students develop in the delivery of oral presentations has evolved as we have researched how best we can help the students improve in this area. One complication in the development of oral presentation skills concerns the levels of apprehension that students can feel towards such activities. This is of particular concern for those studying accountancy who are often reported as experiencing higher levels of apprehension towards oral communication than students studying other disciplines (see Aly & Islam, 2003; Byrne et al, 2012).

The high levels of apprehension can have a demotivating effect, preventing students from engaging in activities designed to help them learn. There is some evidence (see Hassall, et al, 2013) that a focus on improving students’ self-efficacy will help towards overcoming the high levels of apprehension and at the same time will contribute to towards their personal development in this area. The presentation activities incorporated in the module are designed to take this into account.

When the module was initiated ten years ago the intention was to provide the students with progressively more challenging presentation tasks. In doing so the module incorporates three group presentations beginning with a short simple project in the autumn and ending with a longer high stakes presentation in spring. This approach is designed to help students become accustomed to presenting to an audience, feel a sense of achievement and have time to practice by encouraging them to make appointments with the Business School’s Learning Development Group. The fact that the projects are prepared and delivered as groups is important as it takes advantage of the social element of learning which is key in supporting the most apprehensive and in encouraging groups to practice their presentations.

The presentations are delivered in class with those groups who are not presenting forming part of the audience, providing feedback and conducting a peer assessment for which they gain some credit towards the module. The structure of the feedback and assessment form encourages the students to focus on the presentations thus providing more purpose than if these elements were not included.

In the days that follow the students receive the feedback from both the tutors and the peers. The volume of feedback is considerable, given that it has been provided by up to twenty peers and two tutors.  The students are then encouraged to use this feedback along with their own experiences of presenting when writing reflections that are required after each activity.

All members of the cohort are encouraged to engage in these aspects. However, those who are most apprehensive about presenting are invited for a one-to-one discussion. Those eligible are determined by their score on the well-established Oral Communication questionnaire: the PRCA-24 which was devised by Professor James McCroskey in the 1970s. Given the complex nature of the sources of apprehension, individual discussions allow us to explore specific strategies that each of these apprehensive students might adopt as they progress through the course.

If you are interested in reading more you can access a number of presentations and articles.

Ireland, Chris (2016) Student oral presentations: developing the skills and reducing the apprehension. In: Proceedings of 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference Valencia, Spain. 7-9 March, 2016. IATED (2016). IATED, Valencia, Spain, pp. 1474-1483. ISBN 978-84-608-5617-7

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

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‘Discover, dream, design and deliver’ curriculum design workshops

License: CC0 Public Domain. From http://pixabay.com/en/gears-rotation-into-each-other-94221/

License: CC0 Public Domain

This blog post was written by Dr Liz Bennett, Director of Teaching and Learning in the School of Education and Professional Development and Dr Sue Folley, Academic Developer with a focus on the use of digital tools within teaching.

In this post they present their approach to curriculum design using appreciative inquiry and share the tools they have developed. University of Huddersfield colleagues can contact Liz and Sue if they want them to run a workshop.

The workshops are for colleagues at the University of Huddersfield who want to improve an aspect of their curriculum. They workshops can be adapted to a relevant theme or have a specific focus. Currently, we have worked with colleague to address the following areas:

  • employability
  • retention
  • attainment
  • students’ digital capability

We have developed a series of D4 Workshops to help Course Teams develop aspects of the curriculum. The workshop are designed around an Appreciative Inquiry model of change management which frames change in a positive way using a four stage process: Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver (Fifolt & Lander 2013).

All D4 Workshops have a time efficient starting point for the discussion, providing teams with tools to use as part of the ongoing process of curriculum review. They help to stimulate discussions amongst the course team in order to identify and address issues many of which are cross curricula. They are also:

  • positively framed (based on the appreciative inquiry approach);
  • practical and experiential (workshops are focused on four tasks relating to the discover, dream, design deliver stages of the appreciative inquiry model);
  • action-orientated (the deliver stage is about action planning).

The D4 Workshop resources can be found at http://ipark.hud.ac.uk/content/training-development. The evaluation of the workshops has shown that the approach is extremely valuable to the course teams providing them with tools to aid their thinking and a focus and forum for the curriculum review process. (The direct impact on students is harder to measure as the changes that arise are embedded in the curriculum).

Quote from participant:

“It created a space and structure for us to think clearly and practically about how to enhance our curriculum and pedagogy to respond to TEF whist not losing sight of the intrinsic value of education…It facilitated us to come up with a clear and focused ‘to do’ list….It made us aware that some small changes to teaching delivery could have a big impact if handled well”

Reference

Fifolt, M., & Lander, L. (2013). Cultivating Change Using Appreciative Inquiry. New Directions for Student Services, 2013(143), 19-30. doi:10.1002/ss.20056

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

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Making student research available to the world

Fields: Journal of Huddersfield Student Research is now in its third year and potential authors are currently revising their work for publication in volume 3. The journal articles in Fields are in the University repository so it is possible to monitor the number of downloads. Looking at the download numbers for the two current volumes there appears to be ongoing interest the research carried out by the students. Volume 2 has already had more than 1,400 downloads since it was launched in January 2016.

Fields_graph1
It is important not to underestimate how much work it is for the students to return to their work, which they have submitted a while ago and possibly not considered since. One student commented on the process of revising their work.

‘It was not an easy task as I was required to alter some terminology and expand on explanations of certain topics in order to reach a larger audience. This took time, energy, and commitment but the fact that I really love what I was writing about helped a great deal. Being asked to rewrite also provided the opportunity to increase the scope of the work and engage with issues I had initially had to sidestep or ignore due to the constraints of the word count for the assignment. Again, this meant a bit more research and writing but I feel as though it was worth it.’

Writing retreat: supporting students to revise their work
In order to support students to revise their work for the journal requirements, the project team organised a writing retreat to offer students the opportunity to learn more about the Fields submission process, take time to rewrite and revise their work, introduce the idea of open access and ask any questions they might have about submitting their work.

‘The retreat was a great opportunity to refocus on my submission and to develop a better understanding of the standards expected for a successful Fields submission. Meeting fellow potential contributors to Fields and sharing the experiences/challenges in submitting to Fields was quite inspiring’

The two stage review process that Fields employs is rigorous and does require the students to engage with revisiting their work and address the feedback that they get from their School. The students, who did not make it into Fields despite undertaking revisions, were understandably disappointed. We did include suggestions for alternative dissemination options in the feedback but it was nevertheless tough for them. The students, who made it all the way through the process, were really excited about seeing their work published.

‘Having my research published in Fields has been the pinnacle of my achievements, particularly as I am a mature student working full-time with a young family. It has enabled me to finally believe in my own abilities as a writer and researcher, as well as raising my professional status in my workplace’

Read more about the process of setting up the Fields journal in a recent article:

Stone, Graham, Jensen, Kathrine and Beech, Megan (2016). Publishing undergraduate research: linking teaching and research through a dedicated peer reviewed open access journal. Journal of scholarly publishing, 47 (2). pp. 147-170. ISSN 1198-9742

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

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Collaborating and connecting in learning spaces

The Teaching and Learning Institute carried out a small scale evaluation of a new classroom named the ‘collaborative learning suite. We interviewed three members of staff, a technical manager and undertook four classroom observations between Sep 2015 and June 2016.

The classroom had been redesigned by the School of Music, Humanities and Media as part of a review exploring innovative methods of teaching delivery using technology.
The room set up features four group areas. Each area has a table with lots of connectors, a large plasma screen and all four can transfer the group screen to a central screen at the front of the room. The idea was to make it easier for students to collaborate in groups, enable them to bring their own devices to plug in and present, discuss and produce material. Ideally, the students could then spend class time on being engaged in collaborative, active, hands-on problem-solving activities. This new set up with furniture and technology differs from more traditional classrooms on campus with rows of tables and chairs.

A photo of a classroom set up

The Collaborative Learning Suite at the University of Huddersfield

Learning space: benefit of clear and tidy group layout
In the interviews, staff highlighted the furniture layout with four group areas as a real positive difference to other classrooms. The nicely clean and structured layout, regardless of the connectivity and technology in the room, meant that the ethos of the room was seen as different to other classroom spaces. The architecture of the room coupled with the autonomy of their own works stations meant that working groups were generated effectively.

One member of staff commented that the shape of the room and the lay-out was conducive to collaboration (“it is a tidy learning space”) and this was not dependent on the technology available to students. Staff considered that it was valuable the way the students worked in groups in the space but they recognised that this could probably be achieved in another space with less connectivity.

The general view was that the set-up of the spatial layout was effective in enabling discussion, an informal atmosphere and one where staff worked alongside students in a facilitator position rather than a position at the front of the room.

Connectivity and collaboration
The connectivity in the room made it possible for students to access archives and data bases in real-time whilst undertaking tasks so this was a useful feature of the learning space. Generally, the group seating (and the nature of the tasks set) contributed to students having conversations and working together to solve problems and give feedback. However, during the observations, we noted a few students did not engage in the group work or join conversations. These students only responded to direct questions from staff. The students seated in the position with the mouse and therefore more in control of the screen were generally always engaged simply by the placement they were in.

Students did bring some devices, like laptops and tablets, but the majority were working from paper, presentation print outs and making notes on paper. So for example, some students had brought a print out of a research proposal that was to be peer-reviewed which meant a lot of improvisation in order to be able to share this on a screen.

There was limited switching of group screens to central screen, mainly as staff could not get this aspect to work consistently.

Developing the habit of learning and working together
There needs to be further evaluation of how much students actually bring their devices to plug-in and showcase from. We did not collect enough data to conclude anything about the impact of the connectivity aspects of the space. Observation findings do underline the importance of making sure students feel safe and are confident enough to share, show and discuss their work with their peers. Some work needs to go into preparing students for working in a collaborative learning space, especially in terms of the expectations of what they bring to class and the device(s) they may be working on.

Staff recognised that they needed to change the way they designed learning activities in order to get the most out of the space and the findings highlight that there needs to be investment in training and engagement of staff to develop appropriate pedagogical approaches.

These findings ares similar to outcomes from research into active learning classrooms carried out at University of North Caroline Charlotte (UNC), namely that building the classroom is simply a starting point and that there needs to be investment in staff development in order to bring about pedagogical changes. You can read more about the findings in the blog posts by Associate Professor for Anthropological Research Donna Lanclos: ‘When the Active Learning Agenda Comes to Town’ and ‘Places, Spaces, Teaching, Learning, Planning‘.

You may also want to take a look at these infokits about learning spaces:
UCISA
JISC

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

Posted in academic practice, Learning design, Learning experience, Learning technology, pedagogy, Research, student engagement, Training, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Coffee stimulates student and staff conversation

The Teaching and Learning Institute logoThe Teaching and Learning Institute (TALI) in collaboration with Huddersfield Students’ Union (SU), offered students a voucher to ‘take a lecturer for a coffee’. The aim was to promote student and staff conversations about teaching and learning and is part of developing a partnership approach to the educational experience at Huddersfield. Below is the feedback from a student who made use of the coffee vouchers.

‘I found the coffee voucher incentive whilst browsing through the Course Rep Hub on the Student Union website. I thought it sounded like a great way to engage with my course tutors in a more informal environment – after all who could refuse free coffee?

My main aim for the chat was to find out more about my tutor’s PhD. The research is in the same area in which I wish to concentrate my future studies and so our discussions centered around our shared interest in the field. The discussion was extremely useful as it gave me real insight into PhD research, plus a list of relevant books to add to my already teetering summer reading.

Following the coffee and chat, I have received follow-up emails with suggestions for study and links to useful information, for which I am extremely grateful. It certainly cuts down on the library browsing time, although the reality is probably not so due to my love of library browsing.

I think that the Coffee voucher scheme certainly allowed me a reason to invite the tutor in the first place and has therefore aided my intellectual development. I would absolutely recommend the scheme to other students and I will be considering applying again soon!’

The Teaching and Learning Institute is currently evaluating the scheme to decide whether to continue it for next academic year.

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

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