Tag Archives: independent study

A holistic approach to engagement: academic skills development within the discipline

Tanya Miles Berry, Jake Philips, Richard McCarter & Cathy Malone

Parallel session 2,  Short Paper 2.3

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Short Abstract
The aim of the presentation is to give an overview of a project within Criminology which sought to embed ‘skills’ learning in a meaningful way, using the classroom to underpin independent learning – notably around reading and writing skills – and providing the students with an online workbook environment to encourage engagement.

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Detailed Outline
Over the course of the last 2 academic years, members of the Criminology subject group have worked collaboratively with members of both QESS and the E-Learning team to develop a new approach to a traditional study skills module. This paper will outline the result of those collaborations, and look more specifically at attempts to embed reading tasks across level 4, writing in level 5 and ‘writing groups’ in the Level 6 Dissertation module. This is as an add-on to the lecture materials and supervision process in order to provide a safe, focused and constructive environment in which students can ‘do’ their writing (Murray 2014, 2015).

These methods of embedding skills in the degree will be discussed further in light of pedagogic literature (Lillis 2001, Lea & Street 1998, Wingate 2006, Warren 2000, & Hill & Tinker 2013) on how best to support students with core academic skills both within and outside formal teaching environments. Evidence of increased student engagement will be evaluated across the years.

We will also explore the on-line learning environment provided through Pebblepad, and discuss both the benefits and drawbacks experienced as a result of using Pebblepad’s workbook tool. The workbook offered students a method of using a downloaded template which helped to structure learning and helped tutors supply formative and summative feedback.

Re-designing the curriculum to embed skills across the degree will be discussed further evaluating the experience as a whole, very much as an action research project, and with a view towards what will be happening on the newly revalidated degree which begins in September 2015.

Hill P & Tinker A (2013) Integrating learning development into the student experience. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education,5, 1-18.
Lea, M. & Street, B. 1998 Student Writing in HE; An Academic Literacies Approach Studies in HE 23 (2) 157-172
Lillis T. (2001) Student Writing; Access, Regulation and Desire
Murray R. 2014 Doctoral students create new spaces to write in C Aitcheson & Guerin C. (Eds.) Writing Groups for Doctoral Students and Beyond London
Murray R. 2015 Writing in Social Spaces and Social Processes Approach to Writing London Routledge
Warren D. 2000 Curriculum Design in a Context of Widening Participation in Higher Education, Arts & Humanities in Higher Education, 1(1), 85- 99
Wingate U (2006) Doing Away With Study Skills Teaching in HE Vol 11 457-469

2012 Why ‘fun’ is not enough: exploring effective transition into HE

Catherine Arnold and Stella Jones-Devitt

Background: paper addresses two themes – Expectations and Engagement – drawing upon evidence from the Young Persons’ Attributes programme, a recent HWB initiative in collaboration with Local Authorities and regional NHS employers. This aimed to raise expectations and awareness of Level 3 young learners taking non-A Level routes into Higher Education (HE) or workplace. It draws upon work of Dyson and Kerr (2011) advocating that: initiatives which are able to engage with complex local dynamics have an important role to play in tackling links between education, disadvantage and place (p6). 

Key ideas: stakeholders agreed to pilot a project giving learners the opportunity to experience going the extra mile. This aligns with Watson’s assertions (2006) that the most productive form of widening participation gets learners to the matriculation starting point. The intention was to provide a lived experience that improved chances of a positive first year HE experience. By doing this programme, learners have gained: 

  • Experience of HE lectures and workshops.
  • Skills in writing a HE assignment and in receiving feedback. 
  • Understanding of the importance of professional practice in both workplace and HE.
  • Appreciation of the significance of effective communication with employers and HE Institutions. 

Intended outcomes: the experience raises several issues for exploration. Key factor relates to developing ‘critical beings’ advocated by Barnett (1997). We have some ideas to share, seeking to address: 

  • Are we preparing in-coming students with the right skills, attitudes and understandings, in order to have the best opportunities for their future?  
  • As colleges and schools are pressurised to meet targets for course pass rates, are they unable to use supposedly ‘riskier’ teaching methods which develop students’ thinking abilities; hence disadvantaging their students?
  • What can be done constructively to address these gaps?
  • How many of these issues should be the business of HE? 


Barnett, R. (1997) Higher Education: A Critical Business. Buckingham: SRHE/Open University Press.

Dyson, A., & Kerr, K. 2011. Taking action locally: Schools developing area initiatives. Manchester: University of Manchester.

Watson, D. (2006) How to think about widening participation in UK higher education Bristol: HEFCE.

B2 – (EX36 and EX42) 11.50

Presentaion:  Why Fun is not enough  Diagram – Why Fun is not enough

2012 Independent study in occupational therapy

Petra Klompenhouwer

Based on student feedback and driven by the changes in health and social care provision the independent study in occupational therapy module has undergone change.

Students for years complained about staff inconsistency in the support of this module. This has been addressed by the formation of a small team of staff working closely together.

Instead of writing a report and reflection on their experiential learning students now prepare their own learning objectives, engage in experiental learning, write a business proposal and reflection. Developing their business and entrepreneurial skills and in the process improving their employability.

Future plans involve the engagement of the Venture matrix in helping students find experiential learning opportunities, offer international exchanges via Erasmus and other means, engaging the business school in the writing of the business proposal, developing a database of clinical questions for students to engage in.

C1 EX15 2012 LTA Conf IS

C1 – (EX15, EX13, EX18, EX04) 14.20