Category Archives: Thunderstorm

Adding value to your course offer: sponsored language study

Rachel Bower

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.6

Listen to the presentation (opens in new window)

Short Abstract
What can we offer to add value to our courses? What are our competitors offering? In the context of research in progress, discover how sponsored language study can add value & differentiation to your course offer, a personalised learning experience, and wider graduate prospects for your students.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
This session will be of particular interest to course leaders, programme leaders, heads of departments and placement officers.

Higher Education in the UK is becoming more and more market-driven. In the light of these changes, it is appropriate to ask how we can differentiate the SHU student offer from our competitors.
This in progress research project presents the initial findings of a discourse analysis of the value-added activities for students promoted on the external websites of SHU and our key competitor post-1992 universities. The findings analyse re-occurring themes, and the extent to which institutions are diversifying from common themes (such as, the student experience and employability).

The session then proposes an option for adding value to a course offer through faculty-sponsored language study, where students apply for a limited number of places to study a language at an appropriate level as an additional module for one academic year. SHU’s University Language Scheme offers 7 languages from beginners and the majority to advanced levels, delivering personalised learning and a programme of intercultural activities.
Findings of the successful pilots of sponsored language study for level 5 students in SBS and level 4 students in D&S in 2013/14 and 2014/15 are analysed in terms of engagement, learning success in assessment, and motivation to continue learning the language.

The session makes the case for language study in developing key attributes required by graduate recruiters and widening students’ opportunities in the graduate employment market, and that the understanding of others’ culture and language is part of an holistic education.

Delegates will have the opportunity to discuss and question whether sponsored language study would add value to course offers.

Using artefact building to engage students in reflective practice

Dr Mary Fitzpatrick

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.2

Listen to the presentation (opens in new window)

Short Abstract
Engaging students in reflective practice can be a challenge. Encouraging active involvement and reflection through artefact building can provide a rich and meaningful experience. This short session will introduce the idea of artefact building as a means of engaging students through a short presentation and round table discussion.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
Engaging students in reflective practice can be a challenge as many do not regard this as important or relevant to their practice in ‘real life’. On our PG cert equivalent*, I work with early academics on developing their teaching philosophy and teaching portfolio. They regard this as a mammoth task and it is one that creates, for many, a mental block. The overall programme itself is very reflective and so this activity is hugely useful in engaging students in reflective practice.

In order to get the students thinking and reflecting on their teaching philosophy, I endeavor to make it as enjoyable and relevant as I can. I take students further out of their comfort zone by inviting them to develop an artefact which illustrates their reflections on their teaching philosophy. I provide students with a variety of crafting materials (colours, newspapers, magazines, ribbon, felt, glue, flipchart, etc) to work with and, to date, the artefacts developed have included 3D models, mosaics, posters and masks. All students then give a short presentation on their artifact which provides them with the opportunity to articulate their teaching philosophy through a novel lens.

This activity works very well in assisting students with the development of their teaching philosophy and their stance on teaching – how it has evolved, how it is present and how they may develop it in the future. Many students include evidence of this exercise in their draft portfolio and it really kick starts their engagement in reflective practice, both in and beyond the classroom, within their roles as academics.

‘This exercise reverberated long after the teaching session. It really allowed me to look at key micro and macro elements of my teaching philosophy and approach but from a novel and unique perspective’ (Student feedback, 2014)

In this short presentation slot, I will give an overview of the activity, the outcomes and the application of same. Participants will be asked to discuss how they might use this activity to illustrate their role in engaging their students wherever they are in a round table with other participants.

* Specialist Diploma in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship (level 9 programme)

Distributed teaching on a dissertation module: Taking the load off supervisors

Diarmuid Verrier & Catherine Day

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.2

Listen to the presentation (opens in new window)

Short abstract
A description of changes made to the structure of the psychology dissertation module. One-to-one supervision is now supported by lectures, specialist workshops, and drop-in support sessions.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
The psychology section of the department of psychology, sociology, and politics, has recently restructured the way teaching is delivered on its dissertation module. In psychology, this dissertation must be an empirical piece of work, typically involving the collection of primary data. In order to make the process of supervision less onerous, and to homogenise the quality of the supervisee experience, the number of hours staff spend on one-to-one meetings with students has been reduced. Instead, students now receive substantial support via lectures, structured group workshops, and drop-in sessions. For example, there are lectures on ethics; drop-in sessions to support students with their analysis (typically done via SPSS); and specialist workshops that deal with data collection in semester 1 (e.g., using online questionnaire software, conducting interviews), and data analysis in semester 2 (including a wide array of qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques). The curriculum and timing of sessions has been designed to provide a coherent and effective package, making sure that students know the skills they need to succeed at their dissertation. It is also necessary that students perceive the provision of support as seamless and generous, a real concern in a context where the NSS is a constant looming presence, and on a module where it would be easy to generate negative comparisons with previous years (e.g., in relation to the reduction in one-to-one hours). This paper will describe the key changes that have been made, discuss its worth as a model for how dissertation modules could be run, and report on student feedback on the module’s debut year.

Question: Is the one-to-one supervisor-supervisee relationship sufficient for dissertation modules?

Putting students in the hot seat: Using a Viva to assess and engage students in career development planning.

Karen Soulby

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.2

Listen to the presentation (opens in new window)

Short Abstract
This paper looks at a module which has been designed holistically to use informal experiential learning and a module assessment package, a Viva, which requires students to actively engage in their own employability journey. The positive outcomes of this have been improved student engagement in their career development plans, high levels of student satisfaction, and improved student self-confidence.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
In response to the Sheffield Business School employability imperative, a student centred module was introduced onto the BSc Tourism Management programme. Entitled ‘Tourism Industry Experience’ the aim of the module is to focus students in their efforts to begin their career path and development at level 5. As each student has differing career goals, and the impetus to achieving these goals needs to come from within the individual the emphasis of the module was that it should be student driven and created. Formal lectures and seminars were eschewed as it was felt they may encourage students to rely on directed content which was against the aims of the module. With minimal input to outline the requirements of the module, the module leader sets the task for the students to individually research by a number of means possible, desirable career pathways, suitable employers, desirable jobs including the knowledge and skills required and a first-hand experiential account of that job. Students are encouraged to project their career path into the next 10 years and design a plan in order for them to achieve their goal. The module makes use of informal learning spaces and uses a field trip to an international industry B2B event to inspire students. An innovative assessment strategy, seldom seen at UG level, the Viva, was used. Students are asked to present their career plan over 15 minutes to the module leader without the use of technology and ideally without notes. A mock event is videoed to allow students to reflect on their performance.
This presentation will examine what happened when students were deprived of their pens, phones, tablets, laptops etc. and asked to talk about themselves and their future in an interview situation. Despite student protests when faced with the challenge, the benefits of the student focus of the exercise were clear.

The outcomes of the module were:

• High levels of student engagement in their career development process
• High levels of student achievement
• High levels of staff satisfaction
• Positive student feedback
• High levels of student stress and anxiety

Using Pebblepad to create a clinical skills workbook for Midwifery students

Rosalind Haddrill

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.1

Short Abstract

The aim of the project was to replace paper-based clinical skills workbooks currently used by student midwives for supplementary learning, reflection and professional development. Pebblepad was used to create an interactive workbook, currently being piloted by year 1 students, with potential for further development across midwifery and other HWB curricula.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
Paper-based workbooks make a significant contribution to student midwives’ learning at SHU, and are currently used throughout all three years of the course. They are assessed formatively, but can also be used as evidence to support students’ claims for competence in their practice modules. Issues with lost and incomplete workbooks and out of date information and resources have led to the development of an electronic infant feeding workbook in Pebblepad. The new workbook contains links to digital resources, quizzes testing student’s knowledge of anatomy and physiology and public health issues, and spaces for recording clinical experiences, evidence critique and reflection. The workbook provides examples of creative applications which students can use for revision of theory and mapping experiences, such as LinoIt and Popplet.

Linking the workbooks through Atlas allows staff to monitor progress and provide feedback remotely whilst students are on placement. This easy to use resource is currently being trialed by 1st year students; Year 2 and 3 sections to the workbook are under development. It is hoped that other workbooks can be developed, to complement the work being completed by students for their webfolios, and to allow for future integration with CPD requirements within the NHS and professional bodies such as the NMC. The flexible and portable Pebblepad workbook format offers great potential for incorporation across multiple curricula within and outside healthcare. It remains to be seen if staff and students embrace the move away from paper-based to more interactive study resources, and if it can encourage greater creativity in their production and use, to complement face-to-face learning.

Does screencasting improve the student experience in the teaching of radiotherapy planning?

Mark Collins

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.1

Short Abstract
Radiotherapy planning sessions have traditionally been facilitated using paper guides. The nature of a paper guide limits the content and opportunity for explanation. In 2014 the guides were replaced with screencasts and the sessions evaluated using Survey Monkey.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
The problem
Radiotherapy treatment planning forms a key part of the pre-registration training for Therapy Radiographers. It involves the use of complex software to produce radiotherapy plans. Students undertake a number of activities in the second and third year of their studies and are required to produce plans for a variety of treatment sites.

This has traditionally been done with a staff: student ratio of 2:18 and facilitated with the use of paper guides. The large staff:student ratio can be challenging and students have fed back that it has often taken some time for the member of staff to work their way around the class answering individuals queries.

The limitations of a paper guide mean that concepts can not be fully explained. A section of each practical is dedicated to a group teach, but some students still struggle to understand the fundamental principles behind the process, limiting their understanding and enjoyment of the sessions.

The solution
In 2014, 13 screencasts were produced by the module leader (MC) using Screencastomatic and uploaded onto youtube The screencasts range in length from 1:30 to 6:00 minutes and explain everything from how to login, to how to develop a complex plan and the rationale for the various methods. The students were encouraged to work through them at their own pace using headphones, pausing them where necessary.

Following 4, 2 hour sessions an eight question online questionnaire was sent to 46 students containing 6 likert questions and two open ended questions. The aim of the questionnaire was to assess the impact of the screencasts and to determine whether they should be rolled out on other modules.

61% (n=28) of the students replied.
96% agreed or strongly agreed that “The screencasts helped me to understand the treatment planning process”
87% agreed or strongly agreed that “The screencasts helped to reduce the amount of help I needed from the lecturer”
93% agreed or strongly agreed that “In future sessions I would prefer to use screencasts rather than follow instructions in a workbook”
Comments included:
– I could learn at my own pace and rewind sessions
– The screencast were very helpful to understand the principles of treatment planning , also I did look through the booklets that were previously used before and compare the two ; booklets or screencasts and I personally prefer the screencasts
– Easy to follow, good to have a visual on how to do it
– I can keep referring back to them if i missed something – nice to have a real time example
It was noted that some of the students struggled to swap between applications on one screen, so iPads will be used in future sessions to show the videos, which will future enhance the student experience.

The future
More screencasts will be developed in the team and rolled out into the other treatment planning modules.

Using MyProfile to engage students on the English Programme with PDP

Alison McHale & Bob Freeborn

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.1


To share the rationale and operational practice of the My Profile google site.

To showcase the site and explain the holistic approach.
To examine the impact on students/ staff interactions -including Academic Advisers and
Careers and Employment Advisers.
To look at operational implications for delivery and roll out across years/courses.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
The problem: English students do not attend Academic Advice meetings: staff don’t get to talk to the students or know about their interests or wider abilities. Employability is laced though the non-vocational degree programmes but there is no PDP capture that is useful to students towards graduate job applications. Many students do not engage fully with the wider university offer through central services or maximise opportunities towards graduate level employment.

The solution: The ‘My Profile’ template google site is created to bring together the student, tutor and university experience. It is designed to capture the individual student’s experience across 3 years enabling them to share with specific staff such academic advisers and career/ employment advisers. The student can bespoke their site to suit their needs and interests showcasing information about themselves: photographs, blogs, film clips, writing, even feedback and awards.

Various sections capture meetings and conversations with Academic Advisers, skills audits, career self-assessment, feedback store, action plans and it suggested ideas to broaden their university experience. It enables Academic Advisers to know the students more; be able to signpost useful SHU support and engage more immediately with the student. Students in turn, feel more understood and ‘known.’ They have something tangible to build upon in readiness for a confident promotion towards the graduate market.

The departmental Employment Adviser can develop a quick understanding of the student and make greater use of time and appropriate intervention because of a shared knowledge and viewpoint.

The use of technology and operational management of this innovation needs planning, induction launch, curriculum space, resources and above all, buy-in from both the staff and students to make this work.

This session gives a candid account on how this has been achieved in its pilot year.

Using Socrative to enhance in-class student engagement and collaboration

Dr. Sam Dakka

Parallel session 1, Short Paper 1.9
Short Abstract

The presentation describes the impact of using SRS (Student Response System) software, Socrative, on student engagement and collaboration in various Aerospace Engineering modules at level 5. Socrative is a cloud-based SRS system available free of charge that can be accessed via a wi-fi or mobile connection through smartphones, tablets and laptops. Socrative provides the lecturer and the student an instant feedback therefore capturing areas of misunderstanding. The research focused on the performance of students and interactions at two different modules, enabling student feedback to be gathered and comparisons made between same student performance, with and without the utilization of Socrative. Did Socrative made a difference?

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
The presentation describes the impact of using SRS (Student Response System) software, Socrative, on student engagement and collaboration based on two Aerospace engineering modules at level 5. Socrative is a cloud-based SRS system available free of charge that can be accessed via a wi-fi or mobile connection through smartphones, tablets and laptops. It eliminates the need for clickers and makes the cost and hardware associated with it redundant. Socrative provides the lecturer and the student an immediate feedback therefore identifying area of misunderstanding.

The primary objective of this study is investigating the performance of the students for two distinct paths of engagement and collaboration. Socrative can be used in multitude interactive feedback directions, through direct interactive feedback by answering questions that the lecturer prepared in advance while the lecturer can control the progress of the session or forming student teams that are competing with each other to enhance student interaction and collaboration. The main advantage of the software is the immediate feedback on student performance.

The current study is focused on collecting feedback from the student to identify gaps in their understanding and knowledge. The outcome of the research is concentrated on the performance of students and engagement with the lecturer for two different modules but with the same students, therefore the current research advantage is not only based on gathering student feedback, but also by comparing same student performance with and without utilizing Socrative for different modules. The presentation will illustrate the results of this collaboration and engagement initiative.

Not just fun: The importance for social transition

Krassimira Teneva, Samantha Jane Logan &  Jess Inglis

Parallel session 1, Thunderstorm 1.1

Short Abstract
Research (Katanis, 2000) shows that students who do not make a successful social transition into university in the first year of study are less likely to persist. They are more likely to experience difficulties with their academic work and underachievement. This places more demands on academics to facilitate the students’ social transition as an integral part of the course delivery. This session will focus on ways you can make this happen, and on the help and support available from Student Support Services.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
In 2013-14 1446 students withdrew from the university without completing their course. They would have been affected by a number of issues (at SHU currently we haven’t got a robust process to record reasons for withdrawal) but research would suggest that failure to make friends, to feel that they belong to a community is likely to have contributed to the decision (Bers and Smith, 1991). Research (Kantanis, 2000; Urquhart & Pooley, 2007) also indicates that students who do not make a successful social transition into university in the first year of study are less likely to persist. They are more likely to experience difficulties with their academic work and underachieve. Lack of friendship networks can affect students’ self-esteem and confidence which hinders their ability to engage fully with the academic process (Thomas 2002; Tinto, 1998, 2000). The clear correlation between successful social transition and successful academic transition would indicate that academics and support staff need to do more to facilitate the students’ social transition as an integral part of the course delivery.

This session will focus on ways we can make this happen, and on the help and support available from Student Support Services. We will look at examples of projects which enhance the social experience of students, and enable them to develop friendship networks and learning communities, from SHU and other HEs

• Kantanis, T. (2000). The role of social transition in students’ adjustment to the first-year of university. Journal of Institutional Research 9 (1), 100-110,%20No.%201%20May%202000/Kantanis.pdf
• Tinto, V. (1998) Learning Communities and the Reconstruction of Remedial Education in Higher Education, Replacing Remediation in Higher Education Conference, Stamford University, Jan 26-27
• Tinto, V. (2000) Reconstructing the first year of college, in Student Support Services Model Retention Strategies for Two-year Colleges, Washington DC: Council for Opportunity in Education
• Thomas, L. (2002) ‘Student retention in Higher Education: the role of institutional habitus’, Journal of Educational Policy, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 423-32

On the day this session was merged with another session, as the themes overlapped. The details of that can be found here: Culture Connect: Engaging students through mentoring and supporting their transitions

Culture Connect – engaging students through mentoring and supporting their transitions

Samantha Jane Logan & Krassimira Teneva
@SheffHallamINT / @SammyJaneLogan

Parallel session 1, Thunderstorm 1.1

Short Abstract
Culture Connect cross-cultural peer mentoring scheme helps new students settle in and encourages social integration between home/international students. Volunteers develop their multi-cultural awareness, preparing them to work in diverse organisations. The session will share best practice. How can we make cross-cultural mentoring an integral part of the student experience?

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
Culture Connect is a cross-cultural peer mentoring scheme, which supports new students through transitions and encourages social integration between home/international students. The scheme includes 146 students from 33 countries. Culture Connect is part of the SHU GoGlobal campaign organised by International Student Support, which aims to inspire students to participate in projects that will foster their global outlook and expand their horizons.

Students get to know someone from a different country, through a one-to-one supportive mentoring relationship. They are also allocated to a learning set – a small, intimate group of mentees or mentors of different nationalities which enables them to gain a wide range of perspectives and develop their multi-cultural awareness. These activities give students the chance to reflect, discuss challenges and share helpful advice and resources to support each other on their student journey. Thus fostering shared learning and improving their student experience.

‘You get a friend who walks along with you as you get to know about life at university. I now have many friends and I feel fully integrated in the university.’
Judith Khamoni mentee from Kenya

Monthly soft skills training with other members, challenges their stereotypes in a safe environment and prepares them to work in diverse organisations. Regular social activities contribute to their sense of belonging to a wide support network, which celebrates cultural diversity.

‘It brings together the university community because it gives British students first-hand experience of engaging with international students. The media constantly portrays international students in a negative light and Culture Connect dispels media falsehoods.’ Sami Riaz mentor from Britain

This session will discuss the importance of supporting transitions in order to enhance student engagement, sharing best practice and student feedback of how the programme can assist. The scheme designer/coordinator Samantha Jane Logan will indicate some of her initial dissertation findings.