Author Archives: Christopher McEwan

The benefits of BYOD in higher education (2014)

Brent Littler

Bring your own device (BYOD) has become increasingly popular over the last few years. A recent study (Hincha-Ownby, 2013) suggests that by 2017 half of all employers will require employees to supply their own devices for work purposes. This shows that many organisations are no longer choosing to ignore BYOD and that they are actually choosing to embrace it. A global survey of IT executives (Dell, 2013) also revealed that 59% of companies now believe they would be at a competitive disadvantage without BYOD.

The popularity of BYOD is also having an effect in education. Teachers, administrators, and staff are working smarter and more efficiently thanks to their tablets and smart phones (Cisco, 2012). This poster explores the concept of using personal devices in education, with a particular focus on the way apps are being used to benefit teaching staff and students all over the world. Findings into the relationship that students now have with their smart devices will be shared and through the use of surveys, the best way to embrace this change to benefit education will be explored.

The outcome of this work is to help academics make the most of their smart devices. If the current popularity of smart devices can be channelled to help make a positive change for education as a whole, then this is surely a big step forward into changing the landscape of education for the future.

Cisco, (2012) BYOD in Education article [online] [Accessed 21/10/13] Available from World Wide Web:

Dell, (2013) Dell website [online] [Accessed 21/10/13] Available from World Wide Web:

Hincha-Ownby, (2013).  MNN website [online] [Accessed 21/10/13] Available from World Wide Web:  


The student experience and effectiveness of semi-automated personalised feedback (2014)

Christopher Wilson, Teeside University

Despite increasing research into the topic, students report that feedback is often difficult to understand, while time pressure on academics limits the detail that can be provided. Software that enables feedback to be constructed in a semi-automated fashion (e.g. Turnitin GradeMark) aims to speed up the process by providing a database of pre-determined comments – potentially useful for psychology reports, which are written in a standard format. However, there has been limited research on the effectiveness of these tools. The current project will test the use of a semi-automated feedback program across all levels of an undergraduate psychology course

The project is in its early stages and this contribution will focus on the background to the project, aims and methodology.


(in 3.6) Supporting students to reference well

Peter Gledhill, Bea Turpin and Paul Stewart, Sheffield Hallam University

There are two main elements to referencing: incorporating appropriate sources into academic writing; formatting citations and reference lists/bibliographies

This poster will share best practice in teaching and supporting students with these key aspects of referencing. The first part will focus on referencing for academic writing.   How can we best support students with this?  Who should deliver this support/these sessions? We explore some of the reasons we see for poor and inappropriate use of referencing and summarise the relevant literature, including reasons for plagiarism, and the difficulties that students experience.  Do students have sufficient understanding of what is expected of them or the skills to put that into place?  Are there differences between students at different levels, different backgrounds?

The second part looks at formatting references and consideration of referencing styles.  Does it really matter what referencing style is used?  We look at the different referencing tools being supported at SHU, virtual referencing help and some new products we are considering.

There are opportunities to use alternative products such as RefWorks Flow and to sign up to current trial; we are always keen to explore with interested parties how we can work with a wider range of courses.


(in 3.5) #Success! Using Twitter to create networks for employability

Emma Taylor and Kat Low, Sheffield Hallam University

Engaging with social media in learning and teaching is becoming more and more common (Tess 2013) with research showing that using Twitter for educationally relevant activities can increase student engagement (Junco, Heiberger & Loken 2011).  Organisations and future employers of our students are also using social media to engage with others and share information with.  In the occupational therapy (OT) profession the use of social media is being encouraged (Gray 2008) and Facebook and Twitter have become common place with the professional body who use it to communicate with members.  There is a well-established weekly Twitter discussion (@Occhat/Twitter Tuesday) based around topical issues that engage the whole OT community.

This poster demonstrates how  a 3rd year module on the BSc Occupational Therapy course uses Twitter to engage in topical discussion and subsequently allow students to develop new networks which has potential in terms of future employability.  In groups students chose their topic and facilitated #tapit discussions around this, encouraging external participation beyond the cohort.  Discussions brought in contributions from OTs across the country and even as far as California.  Students that were quite prolific tweeters then found they were able to develop contacts that should be useful when they start to search for work.  One group went on to develop their own Twitter campaign #whatisOT/ #operationstealth which resulted in an article being published in the profession’s monthly magazine, OT News.  Their Youtube recording to date has received over 700 views.

Potential employers have been exposed to the energy of these students and the students’ profile has been raised before they start looking for jobs, something that prior to the use of social media wasn’t always possible.


(in 3.8) A Reflective Account of How Technology Can Support the Learning Experience

Michelle Newberry and Alessandro Soranzo, Sheffield Hallam University

This account reflects on how technology can be used innovatively to support the learning experience. A case study is provided of a seminar taught on the Individual Differences and Abnormal Psychology module of the BSc Psychology course at Sheffield Hallam University.

It can be argued that traditional methods of teaching may not be the most effective way to teach students about the complexity of assessment (e.g. of a patient, offender, etc.). As Ravenscroft (2009) states, experiential learning is the optimum way to learn and it is expected that “students engage more fully with material that closely resembles their future work environment” (Harkins et al., 2011, p.3).

Following a short Powerpoint presentation to introduce the topic of study (antisocial personality traits), a video clip of an infamous serial killer was shown to students. In this clip the offender displays particular personality traits associated with psychopathy/antisocial personality disorder. Before playing the clip students were asked to make notes about which traits they thought the offender possessed (from a list shown on the slides). Following this, students were shown a hypothetical written case study of an offender and they were again asked to note down which of the traits they felt he possessed. Students were then asked to feedback which traits they had noted in both situations and there was a general discussion about what students felt the purpose of the session was. Nearly all students correctly identified that the purpose of the session was to highlight the importance of both dynamic visual assessment of an individual as well as written information. This is consistent with previous studies which have found that different settings offer richer information with which to judge certain traits and that more traits can be more accurately judged when nonverbal expressive behaviour is available (e.g. Naumann et al., 2012). Specifically, students noted that personality traits (e.g. narcissism) were easier to rate from the video clip whereas more behaviourally-based traits (e.g. risk taking behaviour) were easier to rate from the written case study. In conclusion it appears that dynamic visual information and written information are both important for a comprehensive learning experience.

Smart Curation [digital poster] (2014)

Anne Nortcliffe

Real student research projects provide project based learning opportunities, that provide opportunities for students to develop student learning autonomy, to become independent researchers, enquirers and learners (Winn ,1995;  Ritchie and Rigano, 1996).   The Literature review of any project is critical to inform the researcher(s) of the previous research in the field and how to proceed in the research.

The internet and publication databases has led to proliferation of ready access to literature material, therefore the need for bibliographic management software has been necessity, and led to the desktop applications; EndNote, RefWorks, BibTeX, and Zotero, Fitsgibbons and Meert (2010), these have become time saving research and academic writing tools.  However, students are increasingly mobile learners as result of smart devices, Nortcliffe (2013), researching, developing and writing on their final year dissertation on their mobile devices, taking every opportunity to engage and participate in their learning.  Therefore students need mobile bibliographic management apps to assist in the collating, management, and organisation of the literature sources.   The digital poster will demonstrate three curating tools currently available on smart devices (smart phones and tablets); EndNotes, Diigo and Mendeley.


Fitzgibbons, M., & Meert, D. (2010). Are bibliographic management software search interfaces reliable?: A comparison between search results obtained using database interfaces and the EndNote online search function. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 36(2), 144-150.

Nortcliffe and A. Middlleton  (2013) The innovative use of personal smart devices by students to support their learning, In Increasing Student Engagement and Retention using Mobile Applications: Smartphones, Skype and Texting Technologies, (Eds) Wankel, L. and Blessinger, P. (eds), (Cutting Edge Technologies in Higher Education). 175-210, Emerald, Bingley, UK.

Ritchie, S. M., & Rigano, D. L. (1996). Laboratory apprenticeship through a student research project. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 33(7), 799-815.

Winn, S. (1995). Learning by doing: Teaching research methods through student participation in a commissioned research project. Studies in Higher Education, 20(2), 203-214.

Use of tablets computers to provide annotated digital feedback (2014)

Andrew Garrard

Digital assignment submission and feedback is more convenient and accessible for students (particularly part time students), provides a secure and traceable receipting method for the work and reduces the environment/financial cost of paper based assignments. A traditional computer can provide various methods of digital feedback, such as typed, video or audio. However, feedback to technical engineering reports benefit from the ability to produce sketches to illustrates physical principles, which is difficult to produce using a mouse and the results are often poor. A range of tablet computer, manufactured by Samsung, under the brand name “Galaxy Note” provide a stylus capable of producing very precise annotations onto pdf documents. The aim of the study is to assess if the use of this technology to provide annotated digital feedback to a technical engineering assignment is of greater value to the students than other forms of feedback that they have received previously. Three level 5 modules, delivered to Aerospace, Mechanical, Energy and Automotive Engineers, all with a similar styles of assignment, will trial this method of digital feedback.  The value the students gain from this method of feedback will be assessed by requesting they complete a short survey.  The combination of modules contains approximately 250 students, so even a modest return rate should produce a statistically significant result. While randomly assigning each student to receive either the annotated digital feedback or traditional typed feedback and then surveying the students would produce a more controlled study, providing all students with the annotated digital feedback and asking students to compare their experience to feedback they have received from other modules will provide comparison to a broader range of different feedback methods.

Studio learning, staff collaboration and the holistic curriculum (2014)

David Dennison & Adam Mead, School of Journalism and Media, University of Central Lancashire

Having high expectations of students, particularly students new to HE, presupposes that they are well motivated, understand the academic regime they are working within and have a positive attitude to their studies. This session takes a student-centred perspective on curriculum design & integration, induction and academic & social integration.

The session discusses the integration of modular schemes and the impact on students new to HE with particular reference to creative practice but it should be of interest to any academic staff teaching on modular schemes, as well as personal tutors, year tutors and technical & demonstrator staff.

We examine the ways in which studio practice can be integrated within a holistic approach to learning: discuss the role of expert technical staff in the context of a broader programme of work and make specific reference to first year students and their transition to HE studies.
We argue against looking at any aspect of the curriculum (e.g. contextual and critical studies, professional development, studio practice and creative development) in isolation. Instead we should look to create an experience that encourages students, particularly new students, to engage with all aspects of the curriculum and at the same time, offer them creative challenges and encourage their social and academic integration into the programme.
We draw references from a range of writers: Tinto (1975), Grossman, Hammerness and McDonald (2009), Martinez (2001) and Thomas (2002) who all promote, in subtly different ways, an emphasis on integration, group support, academic support, shared values and a community of learning. We discuss how expert technical staff can give valuable feedback without the pressure of the formal critique (Day, 2012) and how they can encourage the development of peer group support that now seems an essential aspect of success in HE (University of Leicester, 2010).
With specific reference to our own subject area, Photography, we examine how we have created a more holistic experience within a modular scheme, how we have co-ordinated the curriculum across a range of subject areas, integrated the role of personal tutors, encouraged academic and social integration among new students and how we have actively supported students at risk of withdrawing. We also discuss how a balance of new technologies and traditional methods can engender a balanced and productive approach to creative practice, examples of which can be seen on the course blog:

Day, P. (2012) ‘The Art Group Crit. How do you make a Firing Squad Less Scary?’
Available at:
Grossman, P., Hammerness, K. and McDonald, M. (2009) ‘Redefining teaching, re-imagining teacher education’ Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 15:2, 273-289.
Martinez, P. (2001) ‘Improving student retention and achievement – What do we know and what do we need to find out?’ LSDA
Thomas,E.A.M. (2002) ‘Student retention in Higher Education: The role of institutional habitus’ Journal of Educational Policy vol.17 no.4
Tinto,V. (1975) ‘Dropout from Higher Education: A Theoretical Synthesis of Recent Research’ Review of Educational Research vol.45
University of Leicester (2010). An initial analysis of a survey of students withdrawing early from their courses at the University of Leicester during 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Available at:

An evaluation of a flipped approach to teaching biomechanics (2014)

2.2 Flipping Poster

Sarah Churchill, Sheffield Hallam University and M. Polly McGuigan, University of Bath

‘Flipping’ the module involved students undertaking directed pre-lecture work (online lectures/directed reading and weekly online quizzes) to acquire new “Fact-based” knowledge, which was built upon in lecture time, allowing higher level skills such as discussion,  critical analysis, calculations and problem solving, which were traditionally completed outside of lecture time to be undertaken with tutor guidance.

There was no evidence of higher marks in summative assessments when compared to non-flipped years. However, students’ responses to questions regarding how well they felt they had met the learning outcomes were relatively positive.

Student attendance and completion of preparatory work decreased as the module progressed. Whilst there was no previous data to compare this to, this was a worrying pattern.  Comparing responses of the same cohort to selected questions from the National Survey of Student Engagement in this and a non-flipped module found that were similarly challenged by the two units, but reported that they were more likely to come to lectures prepared for the flipped unit than the traditionally taught unit.  Students were similarly likely to ask questions in taught sessions in the two units, but more likely to ask questions via email or online in the flipped unit.

Student feedback (informal, module evaluation and focus group) found that, in general, students who responded appeared to like the flipped approach.  They valued lectures being more applied and liked the self-paced nature of the online lectures, although often found they were too long.

Tutors on the module enjoyed the more applied nature of the lectures. However, flipping the whole module increased workload. Additionally, when some students had not engaged with the preparatory material this meant lecture time was lost to going over content that should have already been covered. This was demotivating to students who were prepared.  Staff felt that students suffered “quiz fatigue” and disengaged as the module progressed.

We would recommend that this approach be continued but with a greater balance between flipped and traditional lectures and fewer quizzes in order to maintain variety and engagement with the module. Additionally, online lectures need to be relatively short (~10 minutes) to maintain attention.

E-Exams – Could We and Should We? Exploring Options and Opinions (2014)

Catherine Duckett and Laura Frost

In recent years there has been expansion in the usage of technology at University level, with the development of computer simulations, video-conferencing and virtual learning environments (McGill and Hobbs, 2007). Therefore, it seems like a logical progression for Universities to introduce online electronic computer based examinations. Studies have shown advantages of electronic examinations to be faster marking times, no more need for double marking, quick analysis of results and more portable tests (Mason, 1995). More recent studies have been concerned with student’s responses to online assessments and performance comparisons. Escudier et al. (2011) compared student performance in a traditional paper exam and an electronic exam, then gathered information on how fair the students perceived the computerised exam to have been. They found very consistent results between the two test types, with only a small minority performing higher in the online exam. 90% of students did not feel that the online exam put them at any disadvantage and over 70% rated it as acceptable.

There is not currently a lot of research in this area, but what there is focuses on the student’s attitudes towards electronic examinations. There is a gap in the research in regards to the teaching staff’s perceptions of computerised exams.

This poster will present results of recent surveys of staff and students at SHU, on their opinions towards electronic examinations. It will briefly highlight the technology platforms available for introducing this initiative, and then instigate debate amongst academics whether SHU should stand still or move forward on this.