Tag Archives: peer supported learning

3.3 Supporting Writing Development

This Thunderstorm session will contextualise the use of writers’ workshop through the provision of outline information on the aims, learning outcomes and assessment strategy of the module. The role of the writers’ workshop in supporting student learning will be identified and the methodology briefly described.

The Thunderstorm presenters include two students as well as the module tutor and student perspectives on the experience of the writers’ workshop will form the main part of the presentation. The benefits and challenges of introducing peer-supported learning in relation to writing development will be offered. Student presenters will share examples of their development as writers during the module and will offer some reflections on the contribution of the module to their personal and professional development.

The session will conclude with some implications of writers’ workshop for the role of the tutor in managing student experience and promoting effective learning.

290 – Student Voices – Student Vision – Cathy Malone

This Thunderstorm presents two projects: an account of a collaboration between Falmouth University iWrite project and Sheffield Hallam Animation and Visual Effects. Falmouth students were recorded discussing approaches to writing at university and our students provided a visual track for these short accounts. The initial work was completed as part of a first year module  ‘Researching Creative Industries’, where students developed their ideas with an external client. The best animatics were chosen for development using a small ALDHE grant to fund an employability project for four students. In the second project second year students created animated student advice for younger peers within a module on Visual Narrative. Both  projects were guided by the desire to incorporate authentic student perspective into advice and support for learning, and accounts of student experience.  It has been influenced by the wider discussion on ‘student voice’ in particular Fielding’s ideas of students as collaborative partners and change agents (Fielding 2001 & 2004). While most of the discussion has focused on slightly different contexts this project raises a number of interesting questions about the role and function of student support in HE and how we can best act as collaborative and supportive partners in learning. Session activities for engagement: Overview of the projects  Student presentation of animations from Year 1 and 2 Evaluation student work – feedback  Participants will be asked to discuss and identify aspects of student academic life that they would nominate for such intensive treatment

278 – Collaborative Learning – Mark Boylan, Jackie Cawkwell

Jackie and Mark aimed to facilitate:

  • a developed understanding of the nature of collaboration
  • a map of the experience of collaborative learning
  • an identification of student support needs
  • a cross-course understanding of differences and similarities in practice
  • a possible SEEJ paper
  • an experience of a model of collaborative enquiry to inform practice

Using (literally) brown paper as a way of visualising the experience of collaborative learning, small groups mapped a real-life scenario, identifying strengths and weaknesses of the approach and discussing what student support activities might enhance the student experience. Whilst this methodology offers an effective way of unpicking different elements of a process, or in this case an experience, we did find that it takes more time than you’d think! Consequently we did well on charting the experience and on understanding the nature and different aspects of the experience  but barely began to explore differences and similarities between courses. Nevertheless, the enquiry group on collaborative learning will take this discussion forward into 2013/14, with a possible SEEJ paper and Student as Researchers project. And we also now have 7 or 8 charted and mapped course experiences of students working together!

Everyone who contributed to the Co-Lab will now have their names added to the Enquiry Group email list. Many thanks to all who joined in.

Session outline as in Conference Programme:

Collaborative learning is an important aspect of the student learning experience, taking many different forms, including peer supported learning of various types and assessed group work. Developing and practicing the capacity to collaborate is itself an important life skill as well as a pedagogical approach widely recognised as supporting different and greater learning than individual activity might alone. It is central to problem based and enquiry based learning. It is also often challenging for students and this can be accentuated by socio-economic, disability and other student characteristics. Often the experience of collaborative learning across the course or programme is not sufficiently considered either.

The focus of this Co-lab is on the student experience of collaboration across a range of courses, the experience of progression and on the support needs of students (generally and specifically). There will be a brief introduction to the work of the SHU Collaborative Learning Enquiry Group; we will share the methodology and outcomes from an earlier activity by the Group, adapting a method called ‘Brown Paper mapping’, a technique that allows processes and experiences to be visualised and adapted from industrial and business contexts. We will undertake our own Brown paper mapping exercise, charting the journey of the students and identifying:

  • what is experienced positively by staff and students
  • what challenges staff and students
  • further opportunities for the development of effective approaches to collaborative learning
  • what support students receive and what further support could be offered
  • an agreed number of action points to inform the future work of the Enquiry Group


Boylan, M. & Smith, P.  (2012). Tutor roles in collaborative group work. Student Engagement and Experience Journal, 1(1). Available at: http://research.shu.ac.uk/SEEJ/index.php/seej/article/view/34/Boylan

Falchikov, N. (2001) Peer Tutoring in Higher Education New York, Routledge Falmer.

Lizzio, A. & Wilson, K. (2006). Enhancing the effectiveness of self-managed learning groups: understanding students’ choices and concerns, Studies in Higher Education, 31(6), 689-703

Nortcliffe, A. (2012) Can students assess themselves and their peers? A five year study. Student Engagement and Experience Journal, 1,(2) Available at: http://research.shu.ac.uk/SEEJ/index.php/seej/article/view/29/Nortcliffe

Thorley, L. & Gregory, R. (eds.) (1994) Using group based learning in higher education. Kogan Page.


277 – Ethnographic research into interactions between home and international students in the classroom setting – Miyoung Oh

Strand: Short Conference paper

Anticipated outcomes: widening understanding of the subject area


Sheffield Hallam University as many other universities in the UK has been attracting a great number of students from around the world. International students bring with them different cultural heritage and traditions, enriching their own, as well as home students’, experience at the University. Furthermore, they motivate home students, along with themselves, to develop intercultural skills, which are becoming vital in today’s globalised world. In this sense, international students are valuable resources.

This potential, however, has been often underestimated while rather negative perceptions of them, especially non-EU students, popularly prevail, resulting at times in their segregation from home students in classroom, friendship groups and social life in general. International students have plenty to offer to home students, facilitating them to further develop essential skills and attributes. In this manner, international students’ welfare and their experiences at the University are directly relevant to home students’ learning experiences.

The aims of the research are to investigate interactions amongst students with an emphasis on interactions between home and international students in the classroom setting. In particular, it explores the way they approach, and relate to, one another, the way they form groups and friendship, and how they handle dilemmas and conflicts. The main purpose of this research is to improve integration and cooperation between home and international students and develop intercultural skills.

The postgraduate students enrolled in the Master’s on Sport Business Management programme in the Department of Sport at SHU were the participants of the research. Ethnographic research offered guiding principles for the research. The researchers have observed the students in a number of sessions from October 2012 throughout April 2013. In addition, we have also employed informal and formal interviews with the students to gather fuller and ‘thick’ data.

Click to view presentation:  277 LTA conference presentation 2013

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

251 – Peer-Support, Peer-Feedback and Self-Reflection in Assessment – Alison Purvis

Strand: Technology Enhanced Course

Anticipated outcomes: An approach to online peer-supported assessment will be presented and the value of peer-support and peer-feedback will be discussed.

Session outline (or abstract): Assessment is often the driving force for learning and student engagement (Taras 2002).  The alignment of learning activities to assessment outcomes can increase the perceived value of those activities. A level 6 blended learning module (Applied Physiology of Sport Performance, Department of Sport, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing), was developed from a “little-and-often” assessment model to a 2-task model in response to changes in assessment regulations and policies.  The regulatory changes allowed the module teaching team an opportunity to review of the learning, teaching and assessment strategy in the module and as a result significant changes were made to both delivery and methods of assessment. The place of the module within the course and the connections between students as members of a course were also considerations of the module redesign. One of the two assessment tasks was specifically designed to encourage both face-to-face and virtual connections between student course-mates.  A combination of face-to-face groups and online peer-support and feedback groups were implemented as mechanisms to engage the cohort of 74 students with assessment and to increase student collaboration and communication (Boud, Cohen and Sampson 1999).  Following the peer-support and feedback, students engaged in a reflection of their experience which was included within their assessment submission.  Towards the end of the module delivery, students were also asked for their feedback on the peer-support activity (38 responses).  The staff and student experience of the changes in learning, teaching and assessment in the module will be presented.

BOUD, David, COHEN, Ruth and SAMPSON, Jane (1999). Peer learning and assessment. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 24 (4), 413-416.

TARAS, Maddalena (2002). Using Assessment for Learning and Learning from Assessment. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 27 (6), 501-510.

Session activities for engagement: Opportunities for discussion will be encouraged during and following the presentation.

Click to view presentation:  251 Peer-Support & Self-reflection in Assessment

240 – Creating and sustaining Peer Supported Learning (PSL) groups – Jeff Waldock

Both through observation and experience it is evident that a powerful student support mechanism is the small scale peer support groups (PSG) that often form naturally within the course cohort.  This poster describes a mechanism for encouraging the development of such groups. As part of a first year module on the mathematics programme, students work in small groups on a project during semester 1, leading to a report, poster and presentation.  The purpose is twofold – firstly to initiate a peer support group from day 1, and secondly to help students develop some key employability skills, such as team work, organisation, leadership, interpersonal skills and communication.  A final year student volunteer is recruited to facilitate this group, through the Peer Assisted Learning scheme.  This scheme has been in operation for four years, having been initiated through a project funded by the Centre for Promoting Learner Autonomy.  The final year PAL leaders, most of whom have been on industrial placement, develop additional employability skills and an enhanced CV through engagement with this process. This poster will summarise the scheme and provide evidence, in the form of student reflective comments, on its benefits. PAL Leader: “It’s certainly made me more confident speaking up in front of a group of people I don’t know. It gave me a good idea of how people work together in a group too, something that you don’t notice as much if you’re actually working within the group.” First year student: “I learnt that to meet new people isn’t as hard as I thought and that we having a group of friends to bounce ideas from one another is a good thing.”

Click to view poster:  240 SHU_LTA_2013_Waldock_PSL