Tag Archives: short paper

2012 What Gok Wan can teach us about HE

Will Reader

The increasing rationalisation of higher education and the forthcoming increase in tuition fees appears to have resulted in a millenarian crisis of identity within universities. What is our purpose and how does the concept of a university as a business square with traditional academic values and practices? And if a university is a business, what does it sell (Collini, 2012a; 2012b)? These are practical questions relating to the anticipated changes in student expectations and how universities should best meet them. For example, will students (or their parents) demand more contact time and personal tuition? Will academic values be slain at the altar of customer service? Such fears partly stem from confusion over what it is that we sell; academic values need not be sacrificed as a result of increasing consumerism if we remember that the core of our product is not an experience or knowledge but positive change. I further argue that current assessment systems result in students experiencing the “Red Queen” paradox – they always feel they are running to stand still – and can be oblivious to the positive changes in their skills, knowledge and attitudes that university life has produced. I conclude by suggesting ways we can resolve this. 


Collini, S. (2012a). What are Universities For? London: Penguin.

Collini, S. (2012b). The threat to our universities. The Guardian, 24th February, 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/feb/24/threat-to-our-univerisities (retrieved, 23/3/2012)

See link for presentation: D1 EX49 What Gok Wan can teach us about higher

D1 – (EX49, EX41, EX48) 15.30

2012 Students’ perceptions of academic online journal and increased work quality

James Orr and Angela Maye-Banbury

This study is researching what students in the Architecture and Planning department feel about having their dissertation project as part of an online academic journal. The motivation for this research is to see if students will produce a better quality dissertation if it is published in a peer review journal. Also, we would want to see if publishing their dissertation in the journal would support their engagement in the Applied Research Methods module and the dissertation as a whole. Finally, we want to see if the students feel the academic journal will provide benefits to future students who will do the same masters. Participants will be students from Sheffield Hallam University doing a masters degree in the Architecture and Planning field. A questionnaire will be generated to see what views the students have. Focus groups will then be run to provide a more detailed understanding to what the students think about the idea. From the data collected we hope to show that students will show an interest in the idea and they will want to put more effort into their work. Also, we hope to show that the students will see the benefits for them and future students.

Click to presentation:  Students’ perceptions of academic online journal and increased work quality

D5 – (EN47 and EN40) 15.30

2012 Internships: insiders’ perspectives, issues and questions

Rachel Barton

The question of internships is an innovatory policy development within the University and in particular for the Business School. Using graduate internships as an example, the paper explores the use of critical reflection to consider the insights and tensions which can occur when graduates are brought into the University as interns. Critical reflection is defined here as a continuous process of sense-making. Sheffield Business School currently employs five graduate interns on six month fixed term contracts. These posts involve, four “project sponsors” and one mentor. In my capacity as intern mentor, I have sought to explore the dominant academic discourses surrounding employability and internships and the often unidentified assumptions underpinning them. The paper advocates that greater critical academic engagement is required, in for example, the processes of role development and consideration of the purpose and value of internships both at an institutional and individual level. Drawing on the perspectives of the participants and the academic literature, this paper seeks to raise issues and questions about the legitimacy of aspects of the assumptions underpinning the institutional rhetoric and practice surrounding internships generally and my role, position and practice in particular.

B4 – (FU43 and FU01) 11.50

2012 Transitions into postgraduate study

Anna Heussi

Much previous research into the area of student transitions has mainly focussed on the transition from high school to university (Palmer, O’Kane, & Owens, 2009). However it may be that the difficulties experienced by those transitioning into postgraduate study are much greater as new difficulties come into play. For example, for those who have not been to university before, or those who also have a full-time job. The current research wanted to explore student perceptions about the transition into postgraduate study. In particular, perceptions with regards to difficulties encountered and suggestions for improvements to aid this transition.

 After attaining questionnaire data surrounding student experience, it became apparent that student transition experience was a key area that required attention, especially with regards to: receiving support, commitments outside of university, and knowing what they needed to do in order to succeed on the course. In order to explore these key areas of concern two focus groups session were conducted with students from some of the courses that completed the initial survey. Focus groups were conducted at the university and lasted approximately 40 minutes. Within these focus groups the discussion was prompted into the key areas of concern identified in the survey.

Participants were collected via opportunistic sampling in lectures. The first focus group contained 4, more mature, participants and the second contained 5 younger participants. Each focus group was recorded and then transcribed. Analysis will consist of firstly, identifying key themes in the discussions. Secondly key areas of concern will be highlighted to focus on things that aren’t quite working in the university. Lastly things that work well and improvements suggested by students will be highlighted. Hopefully the findings will have important implications for improving future student experience in experiencing the transition into postgraduate study.

Link:  Presentation and blog

B2 – (EX42 and EX36) 11.50

2012 Enhancing student engagement and employability: experiments with Web 2.0 technologies


Evidence from an evaluation of student perspectives on work-related learning with South Yorkshire Police has demonstrated that the quality of the work-related learning experience is dependent upon strong support structures to manage the complexities that arise in the world of professional work and potentially come into conflict with the demands of the academic environment. In response to this, virtual support has been embedded into a work-related learning module via the use of blogs/journals to aid both academic and professional development yet challenges persist in the effective engagement of students within this process. This presentation will outline the provisional findings of a project designed to generate a better understanding of how and why students engage/disengage with different types of 2.0 technologies at SHU.

D5 – (EN40 and EN47) 15.30


2012 Enhancing students’ employability through foreign study and work placements

Chris Lyne and Rachel Bower

Developing employability skills has always been at the core of the language degree programme at Sheffield Hallam University, with a combined 18 month study and work placement abroad being a key component of this philosophy. This extended period abroad is unique amongst H.E. institutions and has played a key role in continuing to attract students to the languages programme at a time when numbers nationally have been in decline.  

This paper will describe how employability is embedded into the curriculum of the languages degree programme at SHU.  It will focus specifically on the central role of foreign study and work placements in developing a range of employability, entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship skills and how the curriculum is designed to prepare and support students during the period abroad.  It will also examine the specific skills and attributes which students acquire through studying, living and working abroad.  These include not only high level language skills and the ability to operate across cultures, but also a range of personal attributes such as the ability to deal with uncertainty, independence, resilience, flexibility, self-reliance and personal efficacy. 

As these skills are highly prized by employers, the paper will look at the opportunities to extend the offer of study and work placements  to students in other subject areas in order to further internationalise the curriculum at SHU and prepare students to compete in the global workplace.

Presentation:  Developing the Global Graduate

A6 – (FU39 and FU33) 11.00

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 Understanding student learning from feedback

Stuart Hepplestone and Gladson Chikwa

The importance of feedback on student learning is universally accepted (e.g. Handley et al. 2011; Hattie and Timperley 2007). However do we know the practices that students use when using feedback effectively for future learning? It will be argued that the way students engage with feedback determines its utility (Handley et al. (ibid.)), a position consistent with Carless et al. (2010, p.396) when they advocate that, ‘the crux of the matter is how students interpret and use feedback’. 

A recent research project undertaken with a small number of undergraduate students at Sheffield Hallam University attempted to address this question. Using Tweets, reflective diaries and interviews, this longitudinal study encouraged the participants to articulate the strategies that students use at a subconscious level to manage their feedback. We were interested in the process that students use to engage with, act upon, store and recall their feedback, and the strategies that they use to feed forward into future learning and the connections they see between each learning activity and the curriculum as a whole. Attention was also drawn to the differences in how students interact with feedback delivered through existing technologies and different media.

This session will outline the background to the project and how the data was collected. Initial findings from the data will be shared on how students use feedback immediately after an assessment task, before their next assessment, between modules and years of study. We will discuss how we are aiming to make explicit the currently implicit processes that students use to deal with feedback. 


Carless, D., Salter, D., Yang, M. and Lam, J. (2010). Developing sustainable feedback practices. Studies in Higher Education, 36 (4), 395-407. 

Handley, K., Price, M. and Millar, J. (2011). Beyond ‘doing time’: investigating the concept of student engagement with feedback. Oxford Review of Education, 37 (4), 543-560.

Hattie, J. and Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback.Review of Educational Research, 77 (1), 81-112.

C6 – (EN34 and EN03) 14.20

2012 iPhone feedback to develop student employability in sandwich engineering degrees

Anne Nortcliffe

Work based and placement learning opportunities have been recognised as a critical importance for future graduate employment, as a third of graduate posts are filled with students who have already worked for the organization, Highfliers (2011).    Placements have been a feature of the curriculum design for engineering courses for a number of Higher Education institutions since the 1960s, (Osbourne-Moss, 1968;Silver, 2007) .   However, the number of students undertaking placements are declining, Wilson (2012).  Equally modern recruitment processes require students to provide evidence of key competencies, though students do successfully develop these key competencies whilst on placement, Hall et al (2009), however in our experience at Sheffield Hallam University in the placement team; large employers are increasingly using techniques similar or the same as their graduate recruitment processes to filter the applications.    The employers require the engineering students to demonstrate in their placement applications a level of competency in key technical and employability skills.  Therefore any student employability development and feedback in engineering courses needs to provide appropriate support that continues to empower students to self identify, reflect, and articulate their relevant technical and employability skills for placement and graduate roles.   Is audio feedback via iPhone the solution to the problem and if yes, how effective is such approach?   What is the longitudinal effect of the feedback?  Do students continue to use the feedback in their final year?  This paper will present an example of an embedding iPhone feedback into computing and engineering courses and will provide critical analysis of the evidence from the qualitative and quantitive studies of the student reflections as to their perceptions of the impact of the audio feedback upon their employability and whether it has had a positive contributing factor in assisting them to secure a placement/graduate opportunity.

B8 – (FU09, EN25) 11.50

2012 What happens when you don’t have time for Blackboard? Engaging busy professional Post Graduates using mobile learning technology

Alison Hramiak

The technological advantages provided by mobile technology are currently being explored in Higher Education with institutions investigating and implementing new ways of reaching students through their mobile devices (Rose, 2008). This paper describes a pilot study that was intended to capitalise on the culture of exploration in this exciting area, and also to try and capture good practice in doing so. It describes a small study that examined how ‘SmartPhones’ could be used with trainee teachers on placement in schools, to communicate with them, and to disseminate course information to them.

After setting up a BlackBoard© (BB) site for the trainees a review at a university session revealed that they did not find accessing the site convenient either from home or school but all had and used SmartPhones on a daily basis. A decision was then taken to utilise their mobile phones to replace the functions that would have been covered by the BB site. For the remainder of their course, the tutor used text and email to communicate with the trainees rather than posting announcements and resources on the BB site.

Trainees were questioned about the use of these mobile devices using surveys and a group interview at the end of the course. An initial quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis of this data using suggests that trainees strongly prefer being able to access course information and communicate with their tutor via their phone rather than through a VLE. The mobile technology provided a more convenient and accessible means to gain the information they needed, and because they could access course information when they wanted, rather than having to find a PC or laptop from which to log onto the VLE, they felt much more connected with their tutor and the other trainees who were placed in other schools geographically separated from them. 

Rose, (2008) Switch that phone on! Extending higher education opportunities for the iPod generation at http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/search/search?qt=mobile+learning&sb=relevance

C6 – (EN03 and EN34) 14.20

Presentation:  It’s easier to use my phone’