Parallel session two: extended abstracts

2.1 What can we learn from what’s happening in schools?

Having moved from OFSTED’s ‘notice to improve’ in September 2011 to ‘good’ in September 2012, Highfields Secondary School in Matlock has put a significant emphasis on a range of approaches to enhancing the process and outcomes of learning and teaching. These include: promoting active learning and independence; meeting the needs of all students through differentiated teaching; sharing good practice; and using the outcomes of regular assessment to measure whether students are meeting expectations and intervening if they are not.

A particular initiative has been the introduction of Highfields Heroes, whereby students identify their progress within five Rs – Responsible, Resilient, Reasoning, Resourceful and Reflective.

In this session we will briefly introduce the five Rs and provide examples of the characteristics that students will demonstrate under each one.

We will also provide the cards that students use to provide evidence of their achievements as the basis of an approach which we believe will work equally well in promoting effective and challenging learning in Higher Education. Small teams will take a particular aspect of the five Rs to examine their own practice and the experiences of their students. In plenary we will explore the applicability of the approach to Higher Education.

Damian O’Reilly was previously Head of Music and is now Assistant Head Teacher (Teaching and Learning) at Highfields School, Matlock, an 11-18 community secondary school. He is leading many initiatives across the school including Highfields Heroes and the introduction of tablets in Year 7 (first year at secondary school) as a precursor to them being used across all years to support innovation in learning and teaching.

Ranald Macdonald was, before retirement in 2009, Professor of Academic Development at Sheffield Hallam University and remains an Emeritus Professor. He has been a Governor at Highfields School since 2012, is Chair of the Governors’ Curriculum Committee and is taking a role in the professional development of Governors who are being held to greater account under the new OFSTED framework for inspection.

We will also try to bring some students with us to facilitate the small group sessions but this may be too difficult.

2.2 Enhancing student engagement using a classroom response system (CRS)

Student engagement with course material can be variable. Lectures are often didactic, information being transmitted by the lecturer with student interaction  occurring rarely if at all. Such lectures do not normally require students to actively engage with the taught material, concentrating rather on copying down what is said and not thinking about it for themselves.  A different problem occurs in group tutorials where it is often difficult to get everyone to make productive use of the time.

In-class response systems can provide a solution, promoting cooperative learning with “students becoming active participants in their learning” (Beatty, 2006). The purpose of including these systems in the classroom has multiple benefits – principally to introduce an element of dialogue and team working into the session, but also to maintain engagement and stimulate interest.  Beatty explains the process as involving six stages:

  1. Provision of a question for discussion
  2. Small peer group discussion – probably just for a minute or two
  3. Provision of a peer group response
  4. Class discussion
  5. General tutor observations, possibly presented as a micro-lecture
  6. Closure – summarising the topic, then moving on.

An example of a suitable tool of this kind is ‘Socrative‘, which allows a lecturer to present ad-hoc or prepared quizzes (multiple choice or short-answer) to students in class.  We have used Socrative in many ways within ACES during the last year, and will share our experiences and student feedback, discussing with participants how this approach could be of benefit to them.  Participants will also be invited to join a Socrative Special Interest Group.

If you plan to attend, and own a smartphone or tablet device, please download and install the free ‘Socrative Student’ and ‘Socrative Teacher’ apps first.  If you don’t have a device you will be able to pair up with another participant.

2.3 Audio Feedback to enhance the academic and student feedback experience

Audio feedback describes spoken, recorded feedback given to students on their formative or summative work. It promotes student engagement (Lunt & Curran, 2010) and, depending on the learning context, can clarify detail (Gould & Day, 2013). The advent MP3 devices and accessible audio software has made the production of audio feedback viable (Rotheram, 2007). More recently smartphones have simplified the production and distribution of audio feedback to students further (Nortcliffe & Middleton, 2011).

The essential methods are versatile and this means that academics in most disciplines have discovered how well it meets their own needs and the needs of their students (Middleton, 2011). This CoLab will consider some of the different ways audio feedback is being used at Sheffield Hallam University, for example to,

  • capture feedback conversations in project supervision (Nortcliffe, 2010);
  • support returning-to-study students (Gould and Day, 2014);
  • develop graduate spoken foreign language skills (Bower, 2014);
  • engage diverse students in their feedback (Blackburn and Taylor, 2014).

A World Cafe, Brown (2005) method will be used in this CoLab to promote the exchange of knowledge in the use of audio feedback. This approach creates a framework for involving all participants to converse, share, capture and cross-pollinate ideas and understanding (Schieffer, 2004).  Outputs from the CoLab conversations will be captured using:

  1. Focus group discussion and note-taking (Habermann, 2013), whereby each table host will act as a conversation facilitator and independent note-taker to gather the insights, questions, and patterns in the dialogue.
  2. World Cafe table cloths (Fouche & Light, 2011) to harvest the shared collective reflections on particular audio feedback methods and their enabling and inhibiting factors.

Session Plan

Short Introduction (5 mins) to the purpose of the session, explaining the World Café method and the different audio feedback ‘pitches’ being hosted at each table by the practitioners and their students.

Show’n’tell (40 mins) – The CoLab participants will move to the various tables to learn about the different methods, noting the enabling and inhibiting factors on the table cloth. Each ten minutes the audience will move to the next table, thereby providing the opportunity for the audience to experience the range of different approaches being used or allowing them to return to a previous method.

Summary (5mins) – the methods and their enabling and inhibiting factors will be summarised by table.


2.4 From the “I” to the “we”

Although it is not an original pedagogy for students to work in small groups, and is often done across media disciplines (GWAMP working groups, it is not usual within a photographic discipline, which is traditionally a more individual pursuit. This paper is based on online collaborative work between small groups of photography students, in which they undertook tasks, which would give them the skills to undertake their own independent assignments later on in the term.

The aim of working in small research groups was to encourage students to work collaboratively, be more independent in their learning and realise between them they could problem solve and learn from each other. In essence, enhance their life long learning skills, as well as improve with their subject specialism.

Whilst it is commonly recognised that the learning economy is active outside of the learning academy, I note with a predominately young cohort of undergraduate students, the student emphasis seems to look at the lecturer, as a parent, who is accountable for their learning. Whilst my intention is not to avoid that role, part of my responsibility is to enable the students to understand they can be in charge of their own learning.

With careful consideration to skill sets personalities and group dynamics, the groups were set for the term. Each group was made up of 4 to 5 students, deliberately small so there was mutual obligation to participate in the tasks.

Whilst there was initially slight opposition to the group the work, students fearing their own work would not be rewarded, once the students got used to the set up, they recognised the benefit of pooling their resources.

We regularly met as a larger cohort to discuss, working progress on particular tasks, informal feedback was given and comments made without any student feeling like they were being singled out. I noted an improvement in the confidence of the students within their small groups.

The paper will look at an example of the online group google docs, discuss the tasks undertaken and how the students interacted. Based on student evaluation, it will look at what they learned from each other and how they evaluated their experience.

2.4 The student view on Peer Assisted Learning

This year a Peer Assisted Learning programme was piloted within ACES on Computer Network Engineering whereby 2nd year students facilitated regular PAL sessions with 1st year students.  From a Faculty perspective, the programme aimed to build a sense of belonging amongst participants, support academic skill development and ultimately raise attainment.  Ongoing evaluation will provide evidence as to whether the initial aims of the programme were met with regards to 1st year students.  However, there are also many outcomes for the students who deliver peer support and there has been less focus on this aspect.  This session provides a practical overview as to what is involved in delivering a peer support scheme, gives 2nd year students a chance to voice their experiences and explain what they believe the value of this type of approach can be.

2.4 Midwifery PALS: a student account of Peer Assisted Learning scheme, one year on from a successful pilot.

Extra-curricular PALS (peer assisted learning scheme) has been running for the last two years in Midwifery. The scheme is run following PASS/SI (Peer Assisted Study Sessions/ Supplemental Instruction) model which has proved very successful at universities in Manchester, Bournemouth, Plymouth among 49 other UK HE institutions( National PASS/SI centre 2014). Essentially such schemes provide a framework for more senior students to facilitate study circles for their more junior peers throughout the academic year. This Thunderstorm will present a student account of the scheme, from first years to newly qualified midwives, focusing on their evaluations and perspectives. It will provide an account of the scheme and look in particular at the contribution it makes to becoming a health professional.

2.5 UG Leadership Development programme

The research undertaken by the University of Central Lancashire’s Business School into the reasons why students were opting out of placements Beyond Placement Extinction(2010) revealed the level of support that the student of the 21st Century requires in order to obtain not just a work placement, but also a graduate role.  As a direct result of this research, a number of support and development mechanisms were put into place across the school.  One of these mechanisms is the highly ambitious programme, LaunchPad.

Developed in 2010 and run for the first time in 2011, LaunchPad is an extra-curricular leadership development programme for students within the Lancashire Business School.  The programme is highly competitive and is open to only the most committed students who are chosen via an intense selection programme.  Students entering the second year of their studies can apply for one of the 20 places; if successful they then remain on the programme until graduation.

During the two-year period the students will develop a range of skills including:

  • Team working
  • Leadership
  • Self-awareness
  • Personal branding
  • Effective communication
  • Networking
  • Problem solving

Each student is required to undertake either a 48 week placement or a ‘live’ project in which they work with a company on an identified issue.  Included within the LaunchPadprogramme is an overseas study tour.  Another major element of LaunchPad is that it provides successful students with an additional qualification, a Certificate in Leadership from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and membership of the IoD, together with an industrial mentor.

The workshop aims to provide delegates with:

  • Some key messages to those delegates working with or wishing to further develop highly motivated students;
  • An opportunity to learn how we gain employer mentors;
  • The opportunity to share good practice;
  • An interactive experience in which views are shared and recorded;
  • A number of visual tools to access which show (a) the views of employers and (b) how creative students in a highly competitive market need to be.

2.5 enhance engagement, employability, and learner autonomy

The first year module ‘Making History 2: Aspects of Sheffield History’ was redesigned by the presenters two years ago to incorporate an enquiry based, independent research approach, as well as incorporate an introduction to employability, enhance students’ knowledge of Public History and how to ‘do history’, and foster the development of learner autonomy.

Students taking the module work in groups of two to three to work on a piece of research on any aspect of Sheffield history they wish between 1743 and 1918, with emphasis placed on under-researched or new areas of investigation, and use of primary source material. One of the student’s main outputs is an unassessed poster, which is exhibited at a public exhibition.

This paper will highlight our findings from delivering the module for two years based on our own observations and evaluation of the module, and drawing from our surveying of students undertaking the module in the last two cohorts. In particular, this will demonstrate an effective approach to introducing students to employability, based on feedback received from students. Furthermore, we will show that formative assessment is effective in improving engagement when it has an impact on a student’s ability to complete the module assessment. Finally, we will show how allowing students to choose their own topic and area of research is effective in improving their knowledge, engagement and achievement.

This paper builds on work presented at the SHU L&T Conference in 2013 during a thunderstorm session, and is also currently being prepared for publication in SEEJ in 2014.

2.6 What does it mean to be an inspirational teacher?

Recent research funded by the Quality Assurance Agency into student expectations and perceptions of Higher Education has outlined some of the preferences that students have for teaching staff who are “enthusiastic, experienced and engaged” and who are “passionate and knowledgeable about their subject, with sufficient content knowledge and teaching capability” (Kandiko, C.B. & Mawer, M., 2013).

In 2011 Sheffield Hallam established a student-nominated Inspirational Teaching Awards scheme, as part of our commitment to recognise good transformative teaching and to share innovative practice.  The scheme has been informed by the Higher Education Academy and National Union of Students’ recommendations to establish positive methods of raising the profile of good teaching (

In implementing the scheme, we have sought to develop our understanding of inspirational teaching through the use of qualitative research.  Using an approach based on appreciative inquiry, we have surveyed our award winners about their practice and have used comments from the National Student Survey to inform research into student opinions on what makes a positive learning experience.

In this session we will reflect on some of the perceptions and articulations of good teaching gleaned from the literature and from our own research, referenced to the UK Professional Standards Framework.  We will also consider how our conclusions might be used to inform the development and promotion of teaching excellence.

2.6 Remembering the student in student satisfaction

Two studies were conducted in order to investigate the factors that drive overall course satisfaction scores on the National Student Survey (NSS) in D&S. The first involved the analysis of NSS scores from the 2012 survey across departments in D&S. The second study was larger in scale and scope, being designed to capture what course aspects, psychological factors, and academic strengths related to overall course satisfaction in current students. The first study indicated that of the items captured on the NSS, those that related to teaching excellence and to personal development were the greatest predictors of overall satisfaction. Quite some way behind these two factors came organisation, academic support and resources, in that order. Study two extended study one by matching individuals’ satisfaction scores to person variables such as self-esteem, self-efficacy, basic psychological needs, self-reported study skills and entry points. Participants were 250 level 5 students across D&S departments. All variables except entry points correlated with overall satisfaction, but regression analyses showed that all variance was accounted for by levels of felt competence. Both studies highlight the importance of teaching quality and students’ personal development to the overall satisfaction students report as experiencing on their SHU courses. The implications are that resources aimed at improving student satisfaction should be put towards enabling academic staff to excel as inspirational tutors, tutors who facilitate the development of competence and confidence in the personal journey of SHU students.

2.7 Service user involvement in a simulation exercise for assessing students.

This presentation is an evaluation of service user involvement in assessing first year diagnostic radiography students prior to attending placement. Service users took the role of patients during a simulation exercise undertaken in a general X-ray room.

In recent years the importance of involving service users in all aspects of health care has been promoted (Repper and Breeze 2007); this includes being involved in the education of health care workers (Lathlean et al 2006). The evaluation of service user involvement in the education of health care workers in limited (Repper and Breeze 2007), as is any literature about service user involvement outside nursing, mental health and social work (Towle et al 2010).

Feedback was obtained via email and face to face from academic staff, service users and students using open questions. The benefits of service user involvement are that it gave the exercise a more realistic feel and is an excellent exercise in terms of developing patient care, communication and positioning skills.

The service users enjoyed the experience. Issues for consideration include travel to the venue and the physical demands on the service user. Concerns highlighted by previous authors of preparation and remuneration had been addressed prior to the exercise (Repper and Breeze 2007).

There is increasing diversity in the ways in which service users are involved in education (Towle et al 2010). Service user involvement as patients in a simulation exercise for assessing students has proved successful.

2.7 Establishing effective communities of practice

Against a backdrop of increased student fees and decreased employment opportunities, simulation has established itself as a key ingredient in the success of many H.E. courses.

In simulation modules students are encouraged to work together and with their tutor to develop not only substantive knowledge but also their transferable skills. Having experienced “work” within a comparatively safe simulation environment, students can then feel more confident in applying that knowledge within the workplace; both during work placement opportunities and upon gaining graduate employment .

In a simulation module students take responsibility for their learning; this helps to develop their confidence in problem solving. Placing the students at the centre of their learning not only inspires them but also helps to develop their confidence to take on higher-level modules involving problem-based learning opportunities within an actual work-place environment .  However, whilst the focus of any simulation must necessarily be on the students, the role of the supervisor remains paramount in ensuring a successful experience.

Creation of communities of practice  where students are encouraged to work together to solve practical problems encourages them to take ownership of their work, as they collaboratively explore the application of different ideas and, in doing so, create a new shared knowledge base .

Using the recently-validated, 40 credit Clinical Legal Education module as a case-study, tutors have found that there is generally a direct correlation between the standards that they set for the group and the group’s engagement with the module. Expectations are made clear from the very beginning of the module as to attendance, participation, the quantity of work involved and the quality of work expected. In return, students are supervised by experienced tutors who provide inspiration,  guidance and support, whilst at the same time taking care not to overly direct the students’ learning.

Tutors on simulation modules need to ensure they foster a teaching and learning environment which creates optimal levels of engagement, and results in optimal levels of performance.[1] There is a delicate balance to be drawn;[2] whilst the students may not have experienced a simulation module before, such modules also need to act as key stepping stones towards higher-level, work-based learning opportunities, work placements and graduate employment. Students’ anxieties at the start of the module focus upon concerns about group work, and a tendency to seek direction from the tutor. Tutors find that students develop confidence throughout the year to take the initiative in working out what needs to happen next, and proactively progress their “client’s case”.

2.8 Delineating course identity

BSc Psychology and Sociology students will be invited to participate in a questionnaire on course identity and belonging. A sub group of this sample will later be invited to be interviewed on this topic, in order to generate more detailed responses. This project is currently in progress and the findings will be ready to be discussed at the Learning and Teaching Conference.

This study will provide us with information of key issues to target with interventions intended to improve perceived course identity and student satisfaction; we expect some of these issues will be specific to the course, and others will be relevant to other courses, particularly other joint or dual honours. Promoting course identity may also have a positive impact on academic performance. For example, a strong group (course) identity is essential for the development of an effective ‘in-group’. The sense of belonging that comes with being part of such a group is associated with higher self-esteem and (academic) commitment (e.g., Ellemers, Spears, & Doosje, 1997). It is proposed that a strong course identity would engender a strong community of practice. A community of practice is a way of enhancing learning based on collaboration (Wenger & Snyder, 2000). Communities of practice are defined by the knowledge dimension of social learning and Hughes (2010) suggests that knowledge-related identity congruence is fundamental for learner engagement.

We will conclude by making suggestions for future research within this topic area, and identifying the ways in which we anticipate that this project’s findings and resources could be related to and used to examine course identity for other courses.

2.8 International student integration: The students’ view

Research shows that social integration is important for international students’ academic success and wellbeing, and we see the evidence of this in the students who are regularly involved in the social integration projects we run. Numerous studies of international students in the UK show that international students expect and value the opportunity to make friends with other students, but are rarely satisfied with their integration with UK peers.

Sheffield Hallam University, like many other universities in the UK, has put in considerable investment in developing and promoting extracurricular activities to encourage UK/international student integration. But while we notice steady improvement in the student satisfaction with their experience of integration, we are still lagging behind other institutions.

This prompted us to undertake an impact evaluation of our social integration work, and investigate further international students’ expectations and experiences of meeting and integrating with UK and other international students. The research involved an online survey sent to all international students and two focus groups run by an external moderator.

The findings from this study unsurprisingly showed that international students wanted to meet and make friends with other international and UK students, but had found integrating with UK students more difficult than expected for a number of reasons. The most interesting finding from the research however shows that international students are happy with the level of support they get to integrate socially, but are dissatisfied with the integration at course level – all students who took part in the research expected they would study alongside UK peers on their course. It is the mismatch from this expectation and the reality of studying in predominantly international (sometimes monocultural) courses that leads to their greatest dissatisfaction. Delivering to this expectation will mean we have to provide a multicultural learning experience to all students, not just international.

So, the main questions I will be asking at the end of the presentation are

How can we provide a multicultural learning experience for all students?

How will it impact on course design, the university recruitment strategy (UK and international), the LTA strategy?

How do we ensure that academic staff (are equipped to) deliver a multicultural learning experience?