Tag Archives: belonging

Engaging practice-based learners

Aileen Watson, Andrew Fowler & Jacky Burrows

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.8

Short Abstract
This session will consider the design and delivery of an academic module studied by volunteers working for Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability. Our aim is to explore the use of blended learning in engaging practice-based students utilising our own experience and student feedback.

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Detailed Outline
This paper will explore the challenges of engaging practice-based learners in a blended learning experience, with specific reference to a joint project between Sheffield Hallam’s Department of Law and Criminology and Yorkshire and Humberside Circles of Support and Accountability (YHCOSA). This project involved a group of YHCOSA volunteers engaging in a standalone academic module entitled ‘Working with Sex Offenders’, which aimed to improve their volunteering through integrating theory and practice. Students completed the course by engaging in one face to face session and twelve online lectures delivered by Sheffield Hallam, and four face to face sessions delivered by YHCOSA. The project had a number of specific challenges including the wide geographic distribution of students, the range of their previous academic experience, and the challenging nature of the subject material and volunteers’ specific roles; however the paper will also address broader issues relevant to blended learning including establishing course identity, sustaining motivation, and maximising potential. It will therefore consider the specific learning needs of practice-based adult learners and maximising the effectiveness of the blended/hybrid of model of face to face teaching and technology-facilitated learning for them, as well as ways of increasing motivation and student satisfaction such as formal and informal reward and recognition and ensuring adequate support (see for example, Ausburn, 2011).

The blended learning approach can be regarded as both a practical solution to the learning needs of geographically diverse, practice-based learners and a theoretically sound mode of engaging adult learners, especially those learning for practical application. The authors take the view that the project’s blended learning approach fits well with Knowles’ model of androgogy (see for example Atherton, 2013) and in particular allows students to learn in a constructivist manner, thus facilitating deep learning (e.g. Sharpe, Benfield, Roberts, and Francis, 2006). The paper will therefore consider blended-learning through those lenses.
The paper will conclude with ideas for future directions including the role of evaluation for transformative practice and the increasing focus on blended learning as part of the wider agenda of ‘flexible learning’ (HEA, 2015)
ATHERTON, J. S. (2013). Learning and Teaching; Knowles’ andragogy: an angle on adult learning [onlline] Last updates 10 February 2013 http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/knowlesa.htm
AUSBURN, L. J. (2011). Course design elements most valued by adult learners in blended online education environments: an American perspective. Educational Media International, 41, 327-337
HEA (2015). Flexible Learning [online]. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/workstreams-research/themes/flexible-learning
SHARPE, R. BENFIELD,G,. ROBERTS, G., and FRANCIS, R.(2006). The undergraduate experience of blended e-learning: a review of UK literature and practice.

Student-Generated Induction – Pedagogy for Belonging

Dr Nicholas Bowskill.

Parallel session 1, Short Paper 1.5

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Short Abstract
Belonging is often discussed in terms of an individual’s relationship to an institution. In terms of student retention, could this be a secondary issue? The development of social-group membership is discussed as a primary focus and a mediator of institutional belonging. ‘Student-Generated Induction’ is introduced as ‘Pedagogy for Belonging.’

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Detailed Outline
Belonging is usually discussed in terms of an individual’s relationship to an institution. At the same time, pedagogy of belonging is often conceptualised as the development of tutor-student relationships (Beck and Malley, 1998, Malsbary, 2012).

These relationships may be of secondary importance. The suggestion here is that peer-group membership offers a more effective basis through which to address institutional retention. Significantly, the peer-group can mediate between individuals and institutional belonging (Haslam et al., 2003). This sub-group membership may also be more meaningful to students and more practical to achieve. Focusing upon this peer-relationship, ‘Student-Generated Induction’ is introduced as pedagogy for belonging.

According to social identity theory (Tajfel, 1974, Turner, 1975), we may belong to many different social groups (race, gender, social class, nationality, etc.). Each of these groups has values, beliefs and practices held in common by its members. These norms are re-constituted in each social interaction. Therefore it can be potentially useful to uncover these ad-hoc (for this) norms through dialogue conceptualised as group-work for student induction. This is work which is about, at, and for the group level.

If we can create a sense of group membership in the student cohort, and have them co-construct their ad-hoc norms, then we will have a window on how each individual may think, feel and behave on a group-relevant issue (Swaab et al., 2007). This is because social norms are held, albeit subjectively, in the mind of each individual member. By transforming student induction into this group-work, we may achieve several important aims. Firstly, we may induce a sense of belonging and secondly, we create the opportunity to provide a socially-contingent response.

Rather than broadcasting information to a room full of individuals at induction, ‘Student-Generated Induction’ (Bowskill, 2013) is a social and participative practice organised around the development of entitativity (a sense of being a group), group-situated thinking (what the group is currently thinking) and a sense of group-membership. This is achieved through the use of various protocols each of which supports dialogue and social interaction. Underpinning this process is the aim to make explicit the common ground which exists amongst students as a group of new arrivals at this university.

Walton describes a technique specifically designed to promote a sense of belonging (Walton and Cohen, 2011). This is discussed as “a non-academic intervention that may have academic consequences.” ‘Student-Generated Induction’ is a similar intervention, for the same purposes, developed into ‘pedagogy for belonging.’

Multiple benefits may be achieved by using this approach. They include support for improved mental health, well-being, socialisation and learning performance. This is because each of these benefits is positively associated with a sense of belonging to various social-groups (Sani, 2011, Jetten et al., 2009).


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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?

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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.

3.8 Understanding Postgraduate Communities at Sheffield Hallam University through the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES)

The postgraduate offering and experience is extremely diverse at Sheffield Hallam University, but evidence from the Postgraduate Experience Survey (PTES) shows some common expectation among all postgraduate students regardless of course of study. They all expect and value challenging and stimulating environments that fosters a sense of belonging and develops a strong academic/practitioner community.

This session will begin by sharing the quantitative and qualitative findings from the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey as to why these themes are so important to postgraduate students and what the barriers to developing strong academic/practitioner communities are. While postgraduate expectations may be similar the barriers to developing belonging and strong communities are more diverse and depend on a number of variables, including motivation to study, transition, support, academic challenge, time and location of study, and the culture and design of the course. The barriers will be introduced by the presenter and will provide the basis for the rest of the session.

The remainder of the session will be used to facilitate discussion among participants, that will encourage them to:

  • Identify which barriers they can help remove
  • Share practice of overcoming specific barriers (such as keeping part-time students motivated or developing online communities for distance learners)
  • Enhance the Postgraduate Experience through developing belonging and communities.

The findings from the discussion will then be developed further into specific case studies of best practice that will be provided as a resource through Teaching Essentials which can be used by staff to enhance the Postgraduate Experience.  It is also hoped that the current findings from PTES and the work from the CoLab will help shape the postgraduate experience at Sheffield Hallam University.

The Essence of Belonging: Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union ethnographic research into student communities (2014)

Jessica Baily, Emily Connor & Emmet Cleaver, SHU Students’ Union

Sheffield Hallam Students Union conducted a research project on the theme of ‘belonging’. The Education Officer and Welfare and Community Officer ran a series of filmed student interviews from a large range of demographics to discover exactly how students at Sheffield Hallam found their sense of belonging to their course, campus, sports team, society or within the institution. Following the interview, students were issued with cameras and were required to visually ‘capture’ this sense of belonging in a series of photographs. The research culminated in ‘The Belonging Hub’, a room and event at the Students Union of the students photographs coupled with a video documentary displaying all of their responses.

Following on from Sheffield Hallam Students Union’s research into how students forge a sense of belonging with their course, society or institution, this session was designed to engage staff with an approach to understanding how to create communities in the classroom. Using the research as a basis for discussion, participants will relate and apply the student perspective into the various challenges of teaching from classroom engagement, attendance and feedback. Members will hopefully leave with an understanding of the kinds of atmospheres students work best in and have ideas of how to replicate if not recreate these climates in their own practices.

263 – Using e-learning to enhance personal and professional development: how reflective blogs can illustrate transformational learning – Emma Taylor, Claire Craig

The module Occupational Approaches to Health   and Wellbeing is a distance learning (DL) module that considers how the   Lifestyle Redesign Model can be applied in the context of health promotion.   The module delivery was structured over five teaching sessions that involved   online collaboration between the students.    The module had a small cohort of 10.
Students were also asked to complete a reflective blog after each session.   The blog was a shared one which allowed other students to read and comment on   it. The students were given directed questions, relating to the session   content, to reflect on in their respective blogs

 Why   did I choose this module?
How does policy impact on both your personal and professional life?
New knowledge and you: has the earning impacted on you personally in any way?
How can you integrate behaviour change principles into your work?
What now? Reflect on your new knowledge both personally and professionally.
What transpired over the period of the module was a clear development of the   students both professionally and personally.

Students consistently applied the principles from some of the sessions to   their work and shared the successes and frustrations of this on their blogs.   Peers offered encouragement via the blogs which initiated further blog   dialogue between the students and supported each other in applying their   learning in practice.

What was particularly interesting was how students started to apply the   theories being taught to their personal lives and also shared these in their   blogs (e.g. joining weight loss programmes). What was apparent was the   support from the other students in making these changes in their lives.   Students that blogged would receive   comments from tutors and students which seemed to motivate them to add   further comments.  The tutor could have   moderated the discussions should this have been necessary.

Student feedback was very positive and so the use of reflective blogs has   been introduced in all the DL modules on the course to help with personal and   professional development.

ref: Cranton (2010) Transformational learning in an online environment. International Journal of Adult Vocational Education & Technology 1(2). 1-9.

 263 Using e-learning to enhance personal and professional development

288 – Course community: students are people too – Neil Challis, Michael Robinson

Presenter including contact details: Prof Neil Challis (n.challis@shu.ac.uk) Strand: Course identity Anticipated outcomes: A better shared understanding of lessons drawn from research as part of the More Math Grads project and experience with our own Mathematics course. Session outline:  When students arrive at university, they have often left their familiar – and familial –networks. This is self-evidently true for those who leave the home town and family to come to Sheffield, but it is just as true that a mature student who has lived all their life in Sheffield will find themselves in an unfamiliar environment, with new people and new challenges. Drawing on our work with the More Maths Grads project, working with students and staff from four institutions, and our experience with our own course, we start this presentation with the belief that perhaps the most important element of a “good course” is the development of a strong sense of community. This yields several important benefits, crucially including a happier and more motivated student body. In turn this provides students with a vital support network, both academic and pastoral, which reduces staff workload in the long run, and a sense of belonging and a sunnier disposition when it comes to the National Student Survey. A sense of community may include many different identities, but in an academic context the most critical is that within the course. Crucially, such a community needs to include the student’s peers, students from other years, and the staff. A subject group identity can be encouraged in a variety of ways and in this presentation we will give examples of different ideas which have worked at Sheffield Hallam or elsewhere. These include both curricular and extra-curricular activities, the physical environment, online tools, and the attitudes which staff have towards the students.

Click to view:  288 course community – students are people too