Writing ‘boot’ camp to foster proactive and supportive writing cultures for undergraduates.

The Teaching and Learning Institute logoThe Teaching and Learning Institute is gathering short case studies of academic practice to enable colleagues to share their approaches to teaching and learning more widely and encourage interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning.

The Teaching and Learning Institute coordinates, evaluates and disseminates inspiring and innovative teaching and learning

In this case study, Cheryl Reynolds, senior lecturer in the School of Education and Professional Development, writes about using writing ‘boot camps’. As part of a two-year, blended learning degree in Education, undergraduates need to develop the confidence and expertise to write convincingly about their own educational research. One way to support this is to foster proactive and supportive writing cultures for undergraduates. A two-day, writing ‘boot camp’ that sought to initiate such a culture was devised.

Why did you decide to try this out?

Many students struggle to meet the challenge of writing academically and were frequently requesting more emphasis on academic strategies and skills. However, support for academic writing in the institution is preponderantly remedial in character, coming as help from academic skills tutors for struggling writers or as feedback and feed-forward on problematic aspects of finished work. The need to establish proactive cultures that model and foster good writing as the writing is taking shape has been convincingly argued for at doctoral level (Kamler & Thomson, 2014) but scant attention has been paid to the potential benefits of such a culture introduced for undergraduates.

Where did you get the idea from?

The idea came from my own participation as a postgraduate student in a Thesis Boot Camp run at the University by Dr Peta Freestone.  I felt there was potential for this kind of approach to be used productively with undergraduates, too.

What were the benefits and challenges for you?

The Boot Camp was relatively easy to initiate and organise. The supporting materials were adapted from the Thesis version mentioned above and thereafter, all that was needed was to set a date and book a suitable room, explaining the idea to students and sending interested students some preparatory emails.  These, too were adapted from those I had been sent for Thesis Boot Camp.   We booked students onto a register, sent them joining instructions and delivered the event.

The benefits students reported included a sense of liberation from an overly anxious ‘internal editor’ which increased the speed with which they were able to write and the quality of their academic voice in the final written work. They also described some productive shifts in their relationship to the text, and in their scholarly identity.

What’s next?

These findings indicates that this approach potentially has a range of attendant benefits that make it worthy of further development and wider take-up at undergraduate level. Our second writing boot camp to help students working on their Reflexive Study will take place in May.  We are currently writing a collaborative paper on this intervention which has been accepted for presentation at the Association for Research in Post Compulsory Education Conference in July and I am writing a single-authored paper which has been accepted for presentation at the Standing Conference  on University Teaching and Research in the Education of Adults.

Kamler, B., & Thomson, P. (2014). Helping doctoral students write: pedagogies for supervision. London; New York: Routledge.

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen), 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 experience, writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Personalised library support for academic staff

The Teaching and Learning Institute logo

The Teaching and Learning Institute is gathering short case studies of academic practice to enable colleagues to share their approaches to teaching and learning more widely and encourage interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning.

The Teaching and Learning Institute coordinates, evaluates and disseminates inspiring and innovative teaching and learning.

In this case study Penelope Dunn, Subject librarian, Computing & Library Services, writes about developing personalised library support activities to promote the usage of library resources. These activities are part of the outcomes of the Library Impact Data Project (LIDP), which provided evidence of a correlation between library usage and student attainment (White & Stone, 2010).

Why did you decide to try this out?

Following research conducted at the University of Huddersfield which found that different academic schools used the library to varying degrees and in different ways (Stone, Sharman & McGuinn, 2015; Stone, Sharman, Dunn & Woods, 2015), we decided to take a targeted approach when marketing services to our users.

In January and February 2015 desktop visits, personalised library support appointments, were offered to academic staff in schools where student use of the library was low. Academics staff were identified as core figures the promotion of library resources and therefore by raising staff awareness of resources they could in-turn recommend them to students where appropriate.

Subject Librarians contacted each academic individually via a personalised email offering them an appointment; they were asked to sign up for an appointment via Google forms. The forms listed topics that could be covered in the desktop visit e.g. Summon, using the repository and setting up journal alerts but also had a section where the academic could identify additional items they wanted to discuss.

Initially, only a few academic staff booked desktop visits although it did open up the dialogue for other queries via phone or email. Following suggestions to have them later in the year we contacted staff again in June 2015, we also widened our focus to include other academic schools. The offer of appointments in June was more popular and more desktop visits were held.

What were the benefits and challenges for you?

The main challenge we faced was actually getting the visits booked in with academics due to their busy workload however, by offering them in June we did receive more requests for appointments so we have decided to take this forward for 2016.

The desktop visits were beneficial for us as we were able to learn more about individual academics research areas (if they had asked for research support) so we can better advise them in the future. It was also a good opportunity for us to promote resources staff may not have used before or had not used to their full potential. Academics were then able to promote these resources to their students and even include them on their reading lists.

Staff feedback:

Positive feedback was received from all academic staff who requested a desktop visit as the content was relevant as it covered specifically what they had requested and they appreciated that the library came to them.

What’s next?

We are planning to offer the desktop visits again this summer and we will hopefully be able to offer them to more academic schools. We published some articles discussing our desktop visits and other engagement activities in more detail, you can find it here:

Stone, G., Sharman, A. & McGuinn, K. (2015) Using library impact data to inform student marketing campaigns. Journal of the European Association for Health Information and Libraries, 11 (4). pp. 29-32. ISSN 1841- 0715.

Stone, G., Sharman, A., Dunn, P. & Woods, L. (2015) Increasing the Impact: Building on the Library Impact Data Project. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41 (4). pp. 517-520. ISSN 00991333. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2015.06.003

White, S. & Stone, G. (2010) Maximising use of library resources at the University of Huddersfield Serials, 23 (2) (2010), pp. 83–90 http://dx.doi.org./10.1629/2383

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen), 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, professional development, Research, Training | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching and Research Beyond Text

The Teaching and Learning Institute organises a seminar series where National Teaching Fellows from the University of Huddersfield share their expertise and experience.

In this session on 27th April,  Professor Michael Clarke talked about and demonstrated some of the interactive software for enhancing the teaching of music, which he has been involved in developing. Michael was awarded National Teaching Fellowship in 2011 and is Dean of the Graduate School; prior to taking up this role he was Director of Research in the School of Music, Humanities and Media.

A photo of Professor Michael Clarke presenting

Professor Michael Clarke

 

Being involved in Music Technology, Michael’s work has always used technology as a means of producing sound. He has been keen to explore how technology can open up new possibilities and expand the range of options in teaching and research beyond what is possible using written and spoken text alone.

 

The challenges of teaching music and sound

Michael talked about how music is temporal, transitory, dynamic and evolving and how these characteristics do not lend themselves to the traditional fixed and static nature of graphics in subject textbooks. These issues can be addressed by interactive software where students can play around with live data and there is direct link to the audio and visuals of sound and music. Michael has been involved in developing software to use in teaching synthesis/processing, musicology skills and interactive aural analysis.

At the moment, Michael is working on the Technology and Creativity in Electroacoustic Music (TaCEM) project investigating the impact of technology on the creative processes of composing electroacoustic music. The project team consists of:

  • Principal Investigator: Prof. Michael Clarke (CeReNeM, University of Huddersfield)
  • Co-Investigator: Prof. Peter Manning (Durham University)
  • Post Doctoral Research Assistant: Dr Frédéric Dufeu (CeReNeM, University of Huddersfield)

You can find out more at: http://www.hud.ac.uk/research/researchcentres/tacem/

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen), 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 experience, Learning technology, MHM, Research, student engagement, Teaching, UTF/NTF | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Immediate feedback for large student groups

The Teaching and Learning Institute logo

The Teaching and Learning Institute is gathering short case studies of academic practice to enable colleagues to share their approaches to teaching and learning more widely and encourage interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning.

The Teaching and Learning Institute coordinates, evaluates and disseminates inspiring and innovative teaching and learning.

In this case study Dr Deborah Allcock from the Business School writes about techniques for giving students immediate feedback in team based learning activities on a module that she leads. The team teaching Strategy implemented these techniques to promote the learning of some of the core knowledge and definitions for their subject.

Why did you decide to try this out?

It all started with Dr Deborah Allcock’s research looking at studies that showed significantly better performance in students who were given immediate feedback over those with delayed feedback.  This was also demonstrated in team-based learning techniques. However, with over 350 students taking the module, timely feedback provides a challenge, but doing something more immediate was an idea that appealed to the team.  This year, they have used an exciting and innovative technique that transformed knowledge and understanding concepts via multiple choice testing.  This was not the traditional right or wrong answer type of multiple choice practices though.  For strategy, they combined this with partial credit scoring that is based on the concept of rewarding the certainty of students’ answers; they also used this both individually and in team activities. With strategy as the driver, this was used in a top management team scenario to encourage team thinking, but the technique could be applied to other contexts, individual or team learning.  Immediate feedback back requested and provided all with planning and the aid of scratch cards.

Unlike the lottery, partial credit marking takes away the randomness of the guess.  The scratch cards are provided with question numbers and covered a-d answers, which mean that students consider their answer and when certain, they scratch off the corresponding letter, just like scratching off a lottery ticket, but hopefully with better results.  If correct, a star is revealed (4 points) and it’s time to celebrate! If  it’s the wrong answer, then students are required to review the question and keep going, scratching off a second (2 points), hopefully not a third (1 point), until the correct answer is identified.  Importantly, the student never leaves the question without knowing the correct answer.  Immediate feedback achieved.

The strategy team used this with student teams, but this could be used individually and in many different styles of modules.  The students found it fun and the use of team discussions enhanced the learning further, with some session scorings getting very competitive.  So far we have used this formatively, and the technique worked well with the large numbers. It has also turned out to be a great technique for promoting understanding of core concepts.  Looking at students’ choices provides the opportunity to review misconceptions at the time, but also gives us the chance to go on to practice-based skills, which are so important for future graduate employment.

What’s next?

The technique was also part of work that Debbie developed for the Inspire Conference module*, which provided a useful opportunity to think about new techniques. Debbie is looking forward to presenting about implementing the techniques at the 2016 Inspire Conference on 21st June (there are a number of places available for University of Huddersfield staff – book a place)

“it has been an excellent opportunity to put time aside to consider teaching, learning and assessment, there are so many different aspects that can be used to bring innovative techniques in to students’ learning”

The project has grown significantly from the Inspire Conference module, and future conference and publications are now in progress.  If you want to know more about immediate feedback techniques or team based learning, then why not contact Debbie in the Business School.

*The Inspire Conference is a 20-credit module, built around a one-day conference, at which delegates present a paper which discusses an experimental teaching session which they have developed.

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen), 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 experience, pedagogy, professional development, student engagement, Teaching | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Engaging hard-to-reach students with online information skills resources

The Teaching and Learning Institute logoThe Teaching and Learning Institute is gathering short case studies of academic practice to enable colleagues to share their approaches to teaching and learning more widely and encourage interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning.

The Teaching and Learning Institute coordinates, evaluates and disseminates inspiring and innovative teaching and learning.

In this case study, Laura Woods, Subject Librarian from the Computing & Library Services writes about using Articulate Storyline to develop online resources that students can access at point of need in the University virtual learning environment (UniLearn).

Why did you decide to try this out?

Since autumn 2013, the Subject and Academic Librarians for the School of Computing and Engineering (SCE) have been running optional information skills sessions during the School’s Guidance Week, in collaboration with the SCE Academic Skills Tutor. These have covered topics including finding and using journal articles, academic writing skills, and referencing.

While these have been well received by the students who attended, attendance has often been low. This could be due to a number of factors, e.g. students treating Guidance Week as an extra holiday and going home for that period, challenges in promoting the sessions to students effectively, etc.

In 2015, it was agreed to produce some online resources in place of these in-person sessions. We decided to produce short e-learning modules using Articulate Storyline, which would allow for self-directed, interactive learning. The plan was to produce modules that could either be used in-class, if we decided to re-run the face-to-face workshops, or could be just as easily accessed by students via UniLearn to use on their own.

Over the summer, two of the Subject Librarians each created one Articulate module, based on two of the existing workshop topics: searching for information, and referencing. These were completed and uploaded to UniLearn in August 2015.

Two more Articulate modules, based on the remaining two workshop topics (literature reviews, and locating and using journal articles) are currently in progress.

What were the benefits and challenges for you?

The main benefit of producing these Articulate modules is to allow students to access them at point of need. Scheduling optional workshops is always a challenge: it is difficult to fit in with the existing timetable, students have many demands on their time so can be reluctant to attend optional workshops, and promoting workshops to students is challenging as they are already overloaded with emails and communications from many sources. Students may also not see the benefit of a workshop on academic or information skills unless it meets an immediate need (i.e. they are in the process of researching a literature review), by which point scheduling an appropriate workshop is almost impossible.

Online modules allow for students to find appropriate guidance as and when they need it, rather than attending a workshop that may either be too early or too late to be relevant to them. Using Articulate allows us to embed interactive learning activities such as short quizzes to check learning, which is more engaging than a simple PowerPoint presentation.

Articulate is straightforward to use. It’s very similar in design and functionality to PowerPoint – in fact, it’s often easier to create your outline in PowerPoint to begin with, then import the .ppt file into Articulate to edit and add interactive features. We got to grips with using the software fairly quickly, by sharing our experience and making use of online tutorials available through the University’s subscription to Lynda.com.

Can you share some student feedback?

We do not yet have student feedback, however we have had some positive feedback and useful suggestions for improvement from staff within SCE. Once all four Articulate modules are finished, we intend to pilot test them with a small group of students and request feedback, to ensure they are usable and all concepts are clearly explained.

What’s next?

Once the modules have been pilot tested and refined as necessary, we will upload them to the SCE Academic Skills module on UniLearn. We will also contact relevant lecturers to request that they highlight these resources to students, and/or embed them in their own UniLearn modules as appropriate (for example, they could be uploaded to Final Year Project modules).

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen), 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 experience, Learning technology, professional development, student engagement | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

University of Huddersfield students at the British Conference for Undergraduate Research 2016

The British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) was held on the 22-23rd March 2016 at Manchester Metropolitan University. It was a two-day programme featuring more than 400 students presenting across all disciplines from research into the representation of ballerinas in the work of Degas to the potential of flavonoids to inhibit proteolytic enzymes in snake venom.

Huddersfield students, whose research was submitted to Fields – a journal publishing peer reviewed student research, were funded to attend the conference. The students were Beth O’Donnell, Jamie Washington, Naomi Cubillo-Barsi, Sophie Cherrington and James Fox.

Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves, who developed BCUR, was the keynote on day one and entertained with an interpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet as an example of an undergraduate research project.

Beth O'Donnell presents at BCUR16

Beth O’Donnell presents at BCUR16

Beth O’ Donnell presented her research into gendered representations of male and female murderers in newspapers, full paper available at http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/26724/

Below Beth reflects on the BCUR experience:

“I feel privileged to have been a part of BCUR 16. Initially the thought of presenting my research to an audience was daunting, however it was empowering to share my findings with students from universities across the country. It was interesting to gain feedback on my research and to have an insight into people’s interpretations of my work. BCUR 16 was a great opportunity for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.”

Naomi Cubillo-Barsi showcased her research into the public benefit requirement relating to charitable causes with a poster presentation, full paper available at http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/26725/

Naomi comments on the conference:

“The conference was an ideal platform for undergraduate students from an array of different academic backgrounds to share their research. I was particularly interested in a presentation on how open access could improve the rate and fidelity of drug translation. The research showed that sharing research at the initial stages of drug testing could actually increase the number of patents, thereby challenging the rationale behind the principle of research confidentiality.”

BCUR16 Poster by Naomi Cubillo-Barsi

BCUR16 Poster by Naomi Cubillo-Barsi

Sophie Cherrington was part of a team of science students who explored membrane proteins from Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato and they also presented a poster, the full paper available at http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/26728/

Jamie Washington presented his research into the rise of the far-right in Germany post- unification.

Jamie Washington presents at BCUR16

Jamie Washington presents at BCUR16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Fox presented his research on changes and similarities in the composition of early Nintendo video game music, full paper available at http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/26721/

James Fox presents at BCUR16

James Fox presents at BCUR16

Below James reflects on the BCUR experience:

“It was great to share experiences from other schools and disciplines; not just from Huddersfield but also from other universities. I think this sort of event is essential for an individual to expand their thought processes and actually experience the wider sphere of academia and how we might find our own place in a professional capacity one day.

Aside from the greatest experience of actually presenting an oral paper, which I’ll come onto later, having the chance to listen to so much information from very disparate fields was fantastic, but getting to ask questions about other people’s research was really enlightening: I always like to know what brought people to their research and what they perceive to be the next stage to move on to, as well as how they will use the research and what sort of impact it might have. These are questions I’ve been engaged with since before I started my Masters’ degree this year and know that they can sometimes be quite difficult questions to answer.

The experience of presenting and promoting my work, whilst representing the University of Huddersfield, was fairly daunting but exhilarating. My preparation for the presentation felt quite extensive as I wanted to try and use the time wisely. I decided that showing the audience the interesting, relevant, and entertaining findings using media rather than discussing methodology or data would be the best way to present my research along with examples most could relate to. Thankfully all the video and sound clips worked flawlessly and my timing seemed quite strong.

Hopefully I will have another chance to speak about my work publicly, and when that day comes the information and experience I’ve gathered from my time at the BCUR16 will be essential for informing my approach: another set of lessons have been learned and I feel far stronger for it.”

The Teaching and Learning Institute logo

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen), 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, student engagement | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Peer assessment using Turnitin

The Teaching and Learning Institute logoThe Teaching and Learning Institute is gathering short case studies of academic practice to enable colleagues to share their approaches to teaching and learning more widely and encourage interdisciplinary and interprofessional learning.

The Teaching and Learning Institute coordinates, evaluates and disseminates inspiring and innovative teaching and learning

 

In this case study, University Teaching Fellow and Director for Teaching and Learning in the School of Education and Professional Development Dr Liz Bennett writes about using the PeerMark tool available in Turnitin to develop a peer review activity as part of a module on Action Research for Teaching and Learning.

Why did you decide to try this out?

The main driver for the activity has been to help the student to understand the assessment and the assessment criteria for their assignment. The process is that students provide feedback on a draft assignment of another student’s work and through this process develop this understanding along with their critical and evaluative skills. The students doing the peer reviews do so anonymously although given the nature of the assignment and the relatively small class (36 students) they may well be able to guess whose work they are reading.

Peer assessment is something that we, as academics are familiar with as part of the peer review process. Hence I pitch this as an authentic academic activity. I used it earlier in my career whilst at the Open University, when I designed peer review activities for large scale online course, but it has been made easier through Turnitin’s PeerMark tool.

Turnitin is a service that is provided via Unilearn for checking students’ work for its originality score. It is also extensively used for providing feedback on their work through the GradeMark tool. The third part of Turnitin is the PeerMark tool. The instructions for setting up a PeerMark is available from the Turnitin instructor guides.

What were the benefits and challenges for you?

The benefit to me has been that students learn a lot from the exercise by reading what other people have done about what the assignment is asking of them. I was also delighted with their feedback (see below) and especially the comment about feeling more confident and no longer needing to meet with me.

However, I still gave the group draft feedback, so it didn’t eliminate this task. Setting up the tool is straightforward and the Instructor manual is clear on how to do this.

Student feedback on using PeerMark

Student A: It was really helpful, and yes I would recommend it to other students.

Student B: Just done my two it was a good process, after reading the first one I was slightly worried that it was just about a finished piece of work and I started feeling sorry for who had to read mine, as it was probably draft 2 with small gaps, the second one was good to read as it was probably in the same place as my submission. So I think clarity somewhere on the assignment were the author feels that they are up, i.e 1st draft or nearly completed,  I could have spent the rest of the day depressed if I had not read someone else’s as well. Useful process as it reassured that I was on the same playing field as everyone else, not sure how useful my comments will be but I think reading a couple of others helps you to develop your own piece and definitely strengthen mine from reading the other two

Student C: Reading a couple of others students papers I to need to untangle my Literature review from the actually results

Student D: … However some people may not want to share their work due to lack of confidence

Student E: I am now unable to meet with you as I have been called into a planning meeting. However after looking at the peer review exercise I am confident that this will help me with the areas I need to develop.

What’s next? I’m hoping to share this exercise with other modules on the MA Education programme.

Further reading: University of Edinburgh has used PeerMark with large cohorts of students

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen), 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, Education and Professional Development, Learning technology, pedagogy, professional development | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment