Tag Archives: student engagement

Thinking ahead


By Jill Lebihan

(Student Engagement, Evaluation and Research)

Don’t judge me too harshly but I was pleased that this week (9th June 2016) saw the release of the results of the 2016 HEPI Student Academic Experience survey.  The HEPI report is based on a relatively large survey of the student population (a bit over 15,000 respondents from across the HE sector).  The report covers the usual satisfaction and value-for-money/student-as-consumer stuff, but it also reports on students’ happiness and their own sense of motivation and responsibility for learning.  Many of the issues that the report considers will be discussed at SHU’s forthcoming Learning and Teaching Conference and I have a vested interest or two.

One area of the report which shows there is dissatisfaction is in support for students to develop their own interests. So I’m drawn to sessions in the Learning and Teaching conference that address this problem, in particular to the solution of co-designNatasha Taylor and Will Roberts have used Google+ to engage students as active participants and co-producers of their learning resources, rather than passive consumers.  Getting students to design their own learning package is a way to support them to develop their own interests and share those with peers, so I’m going to see what practical tips Natasha and Will have to offer.  Stella Jones-Devitt is also concerned with student engagement and she is going to be looking at ways of making barriers to participation more permeable, allowing a bit more flux and flow between roles of teacher and student.  She’s asked me to do a bit of roller-derby-style blocking in that session, so I’ll be digging out my shin pads.

HEPI, with impeccable timing, have also just published a report on students’ views on freedom of speech on campus, and their conclusions provide food for thought for Liz Austen and my own session on ‘Safe Spaces’.  The HEPI/YouthSight report suggests that many students are not as opposed to restrictions on speech and discussion on campus as we might assume, even though the NUS has been very vocal in its opposition to Prevent.  The report concludes that students are, at the very least, confused in their views on freedom of speech.  I think we may find, in our workshop, that lots of us are conflicted on this matter.  I’m looking forward to having the chance to explore all of this a bit further with colleagues at the event.

Evaluating Motivational Interviewing Workshop training for academics and support staff to enhance student engagement

Trevor Simper & Ray Nolan

Parallel session 2, Short Paper 2.10

Listen to the presentation (opens in new window)

Short Abstract
The aim of this work is to evaluate the effectiveness of a basic level of training in the approach of Motivational Interviewing with some follow-up coaching- as a potentially useful tool for academics and student support staff to enhance student engagement in and out of the classroom.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
Dr Trevor Simper will provide a conceptual context and guidance around the approach of Motivational Interviewing (MI) and its potential application to teaching and learning. Ray Nolan will critically discuss the benefits derived from completing a 2-day introductory workshop on MI.

MI is an approach used in the addictions and healthcare field proven to be effective in facilitating behaviour change (Miller, Rollnick & Butler, 2008) examples include: substance abuse, diabetes and weight management. Central to the approach of MI is a four-step process; engaging, evoking, focussing and planning between client and practitioner (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). In the context of this study MI helps student identify solutions to their own problems and engender engagement which is fostered through accurate empathy. Thus the benefits of MI in teaching and learning arise from improved educator-learner engagement. This supports the learner and equally promotes self-directed learning in the classroom as well as personal and professional development outside the classroom. MI can be connected with ‘self-determination theory’ (Ryan and Deci, 1986) which essentially asserts that autonomous motivation to perform a given behaviour is stronger than extrinsically motivated reason for change.

The approach of MI was interpreted and applied with a variety of learners in one to one and group sessions; support within professional academic advisor sessions, one to one dyslexia support sessions and group teaching within module seminars at level 6 (year three undergraduate). The effectiveness of the approach, relative to the tutors experience will be discussed alongside initial impressions from students in relation to engagement- in this ongoing psr/research activity.

The results from this investigation are suggestive of how a brief introduction to motivational interviewing with coaching and feedback can enhance engagement with learners. Specific techniques or ‘micro-skills’ such as: Open Questions, Affirmations, Reflections, Summaries (OARS) and E-P-E (Elicit Provide Elicit) are contextualized to classroom and non-classroom settings and discussed briefly.

DECI, E.L. RYAN, R.M. (1986). The empirical exploration of intrinsic motivational processes in L. Berkowitz (ed) Advances in experimental social psychology Vol.13, pp39-80 new York, academic Press
MILLER, W.R. ROLLNICK, S. (2012). Meeting in the middle: motivational interviewing and self-determination theory. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 9:25.
MILLER, W.R. ROLLNICK, S. (2013). Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change. NY: Guilford Press
MILLER, W.R. ROLLNICK, S. BUTLER, C (2008). Motivational Interviewing: Helping People Change. NY: Guilford Press

Learning beyond borders: Pioneering interdisciplinary learning and teaching approaches to promote socially responsible design practices

Roger Bateman, Claire Craig, Eve Stirling & Glyn Hawley

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.9

Listen to the presentation (opens in new window)

Short Abstract
Social design is the use of the design process to bring about social change. In this session, staff and students share their experiences of participating in a pioneering interdisciplinary approach to social design at Sheffield Hallam University. Key learning will be highlighted including: how can learning and teaching practices be socially situated, what makes a holistic learning and teaching experience and what happens when learning and teaching moves beyond the classroom to bring transformation to real world issues.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
Social design highlights design-based practices towards collective and social ends rather than predominantly commercial or consumer-orientated objectives. This session describes the key learning that arose from the implementation of a pioneering approach to the teaching of social design practice in the MA Design Programme (Graphics, Product, Interiors, Jewellery & Metalwork, Packaging, Illustration & Fashion) at Sheffield Hallam University. Staff reflections on the process of crafting the learning experience will be situated alongside the student voice of how it felt to participate in the module and to work alongside people in real-world scenarios.
Taking the conference themes of valuing informal learning spaces and designing learning experiences holistically the session particularly highlights the value of situating learning beyond the classroom in real-world contexts. Holism here relates to the recognition that learning is socially situated, that it draws on the individual strengths and resources the student brings and that by involving practitioners from different specialisms learning has the potential to bring about real-world transformation and change beyond the boundaries of the subject discipline.

Using Facebook to enhance collaborative learning for media law students in journalism

Dr David Clarke & Julie Gillin
@shuclarke / @juliegillin

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.8

Short Abstract
In 2014 a Facebook page was launched to support teaching and learning for Level 6 and 7 journalism students studying media law. This paper explores how the site provides a secure, private learning environment in which students and staff can discuss and share examples of journalistic practice.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
The Media Law Facebook page is being used to promote TEL (technology enhanced learning) to provide a safe environment where L6 and 7 students studying Media Law, Regulation and Court Reporting can benefit from collaborative and social learning. At the same time it supports digital literacy skills and ethical practice that are essential to journalists.
The FB site allows them to develop their knowledge of media law and practical court reporting in a professional, supportive context. The module leader facilitates the site which is moderated by colleagues from the teaching staff. Both staff and students contribute content and reflect on their experience reporting upon the criminal courts and coroner’s inquests in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.
Social media use can been seen as disruptive and confusing when there are too many competing platforms, particularly Blackboard (Halverson, 2011). While staff recognise the benefits of social media, at the same time we have concerns about ethical and legal practice online and about privacy. This is of particular significance in the light of the recent Leveson Inquiry into the conduct and ethical practice within the print media.
Journalism educators are faced with the challenge of trying to prepare journalism students for a rapidly changing professional landscape (Rohumaa and Bradshaw, 2011) in which social media is an essential tool and platform. This presents challenges in that we also are required to control their use of social media as students of the university following SHU Social Media Guidelines.
As a result, the journalism team have discussed our individual and group use of Facebook and other social media and agreed a best practice policy.
This development in teaching and learning practice is ongoing and is being used as a template for best practice in related modules and disciplines. Student feedback on their experience of the module will be collected and analysed for use in future research and publications.

HALVERSON, E.R. (2011) Do social networking technologies have a place in formal learning environments ? On the Horizon 19:1, p62-7.
ROHUMAA, L., and BRADSHAW, P. (2011) The Online Journalism Handbook: skills to survive and thrive in the digital age. London: Pearson

Curiouser and curiouser: How curriculum change can inspire a creative approach to information skills development

Angela Davies & Deborah Taylor

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.7

Listen to the presentation (opens in new window)

Short Abstract
This paper describes the activities of HWB librarians to adapt their teaching approaches in the light of changes to teaching and learning. It will describe how university TEL initiatives were used to develop a holistic programme with a wider range of methods and resources, inside and outside the classroom.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
Information advisers in the Health and Wellbeing team at SHU operated an established and embedded information literacy programme for students at all levels of study. Due to changes in teaching and learning at SHU introduced for the academic year 14/15 we needed to adapt our approach to align with new course structures and module content.

This paper outlines the actions information advisers undertook to introduce a new programme of IL teaching and support. The opportunity to start from scratch encouraged a critical review of past practice, provided an impetus to capitalise on good practice in the sector and led to greater collaboration with academics to ensure we were contributing to desired graduate outcomes and delivering tangible impact.

We will set our activities in the context of curriculum change. For our purposes , we were able to draw on university initiatives such as Changing the Learning Landscape – a framework designed to assist colleagues in identifying different teaching approaches. This gave us a tool to analyse current practice and we will describe how this led us to develop new and creative approaches to skills development both inside and outside the classroom.

We will outline how we structured the new approach into an Information Literacy framework focussed on student led sessions, with the aim of inspiring a curiosity to learn more. “Skills not tools” and “self discovery” became our driving mantras. We will share top tips and will discuss lessons learned from two programme deliveries in 14/15. . We hope the presentation will generate a lively discussion and we will encourage participants to share their own experiences.

Lawyer in London: inspiring students through extra-curricular work-related learning activities

Teri-Lisa Griffiths & Jill Dickinson
@TerilisaCareers / @Jill_Dickinson1

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.6

Listen to the presentation (opens in new window)

Short abstract
This paper focuses upon work-related, extra-curricular learning activities which have been designed and delivered in conjunction with a global employer, and analyses students’ engagement both with the activities themselves and their wider learning. In doing so, it evaluates collaborative methods between teaching staff, the Careers Service, and employers and their impact on students.

Back to event programme

Detailed outline
In recognition of current thinking that ‘targeting graduate employability skills… [is] not confined to career departments’, this paper utilises the example of the extra-curricular, Lawyer in London event to help illustrate effective, inter-professional collaboration between the careers service, teaching staff and an international law firm.
The event’s purpose was many-fold including: encouraging students to both reach their career potential and further invest within their course and developing both their confidence and also their familiarity with the working environment. The paper will also acknowledge the wider context of organisations recognising the need for greater diversity, particularly in the legal sector.
The initiative itself was inspired by the University’s developing relationship with Freshfields, as part of the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme.
With an overarching focus on the tripartite relationship between the university, employer and student, the paper outlines the practicalities of creating such pilot, extra-curricular schemes including: accessing funding, stakeholder-identification and emgagement and selecting/preparing students for the process.
Whilst the paper briefly outlines the event itself and the activities included, its main focus analyses and evaluates how the event met the team’s wider aims of encouraging student motivation, developing student employability and developing effective working methods between different stakeholders.
An important component comprised the feedback gained to help provide an insight into the viability, design and implementation of future events, and further development of the University’s relationships with external partners.
In outlining their conclusions, the authors suggest how others could utilise the idea of an inter-professional collaboration for the benefit of their own programmes and suggest how extra-curricular events may have a wider impact on students’ learning and career motivation.

The role of assessment in learner engagement in and out of the classroom

Christine O’Leary

Parallel session 2,  Short Paper 2.5

Watch the presentation on YouTube (opens in new window)

Short Abstract
The session will explore the role of assessment in fostering learner engagement in and out of the classroom, based on undergraduate students’ learning logs as well as individual and group feedback. It will consider the assessment design principles associated with this approach.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
The growing recognition within current educational literature that student engagement and motivation are essential to successful learning (Coates, 2006; Zepke and Leach, 2010) supports a student-centred approach to Teaching and Learning. Cognitive and more particularly constructivist views of student learning suggest that learners’ active and independent/ interdependent involvement in their own learning increases motivation to learn (Raya and Lamb, 2008; Hoidn and Kärkkäinen, 2014). Furthermore, the ability to influence one’s own learning has been associated with improved academic performance (Andrade and Valtcheva, 2009; Ramsden, 2003). The shift to a more student-centred curriculum and the need to align assessment with Learning and Teaching practices (Biggs, 2003) has prompted the development of new approaches to assessment in all sectors of education, including higher education. Assessment for and as learning approaches recognise the role of assessment as a vehicle for learning as well as a means of measuring achievement (Gardner, 2012; Nicol and MacFarlane-Dick, 2006). The active use of assessment in learning necessitates engagement both within and outside the classroom.

This session will examine the use of assessment for and as learning as a means of fostering learner engagement both in and out of the classroom, based a group of undergraduate Languages and Business/ TESOL students’ learning logs covering reflection, metacognitive and affective strategies as well as self/peer feedback. Participants will be given the opportunity to discuss and explore the assessment design principles associated with this approach.

Andrade, H and Valtcheva, A 2009. Promoting Learning and Achievement through Self-Assessment. London: Routledge.
BIGGS, J. 2003. Teaching for Quality Learning in Higher Education. Buckingham, England: Open University Press.
COATES, H 2006. The value of student engagement for higher education quality assurance. Quality in Higher Education, 11 (1), 25-36.
HOIDN, S and KÄRKKÄINEN, K 2014. Promoting Skills for Innovation in Higher Education: a literature review on the effectiveness of problem-based learning and of teaching behaviours. [online]. OECD. OECD Education Working Papers, 100. http://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/publicdisplaydocumentpdf/?cote=EDU/WKP(2013)15&docLanguage=En
GARDNER, J 2012. Assessment and Learning. London: Sage
NICOL D.J. & MACFARLANE-DICK D. 2006. Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Studies in Higher Education, 31(2): 199-218
RAMSDEN, P 2008. The future of higher education teaching and the student experience. [online].
Raya, MJ and Lamb, T 2008. Pedagogy for Autonomy in Language Education. Dublin: Authentik.
ZEPKE, N and LEACH, L 2010. Improving student engagement: Ten proposals for action. Active Learning in Higher Educatio n, 11 (3), 167-177


Student engagement with reflection – Re-imagining PPDP for the Social Age

Graham Holden & Andrew Middleton
@GrahamJHolden / @andrewmid

Parallel session 2,  Short Paper 2.4

Listen to the presentation (opens in new window)

Short Abstract
Student engagement with reflection can be challenging. The combination of life-wide ecologies and personal technologies facilitates a place for creativity and reflection, enabling students to broaden their thinking and look at how their wider experiences contribute to who they are and where they are going as they ‘become professional’.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
‘The best thing any education can bequeath is the habit of reflection and questioning.’ (AC Grayling, 2000)

Reflection on action (Schon, 1991) is a key ingredient of student attainment and graduate employment prospects. This importance is reflected in the University’s strategies (Education for Employability) and frameworks (Personal and Professional Development Planning [PPDP]) and it is a requirement of all validated programmes. So why is it so difficult to engage our students with reflection and PPDP?

The concepts of life-wide learning and learning ecologies (Jackson, 2013) present the opportunity to re-imagine and re-design PPDP and promote the value of reflection. Learning ecologies are the means by which we connect and integrate our past and current experiences, learning and development. In the context of HE they embrace all the activities that students engage in and the learning and the meaning that they gain from them. In so doing we can inspire and enable learners to discover and engage with their purposes (personal and professional) across diverse learner contexts and disciplines.

This session will explore the outcomes from a HEA Strategic Enhancement Programme project awarded in October 2014 to re-imagine PPDP which will be ready to disseminate at the conference. The project’s starting point was to develop the concept of learning ecologies to transform the ways in which students engage with, reflect on, and record their journeys to ‘becoming professional’. The project also considers the use of personal technologies (BYOD) which offer students greater flexibility for when and where learning occurs. Bringing these together offers the potential to provide students with a place for creativity and reflection. Engaging students in this way will enable them to broaden their thinking and look at how their wider experiences contribute to who they are and where they are going and enhance their skills, confidence and competence as they ‘become professional’.

Having established a lifewide learning and learning ecologies view of PPDP the paper will set out challenges and opportunities within and outside of the curriculum for applying PPDP and consider what this means for developing and supporting reflective learners throughout their time at university.

UK Engagement Survey (UKES): Findings of Sheffield Hallam’s 2014 Pilot Survey

Alan Donnelly & Dr Helen Kay

Parallel session 2,  Short Paper 2.3

Listen to the presentation (opens in new window)

Short Abstract
This paper will share the key findings of Sheffield Hallam’s pilot of the UK Engagement Survey (UKES) in 2014, which was co-ordinated by the Higher Education Academy. It will explore how students engage with their learning and compare the University’s results against the aggregate UK results.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
The UK Engagement Survey (UKES) is a national survey on student engagement which was first piloted by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) in 2013. The principal aim of the survey is to inform enhancements to the student experience and provide institutions with feedback on the level of effort students’ invest in a range of educational activities. The UKES is based on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), which is used in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland.

Sheffield Hallam participated in the second year of the pilot between March and May 2014 and it was targeted at Level 5 students. Participating in the UKES allows the University’s students to have an active involvement in the enhancement of their own educational experience and “address how they themselves participate in their own learning” (HEA, 2014).

The findings indicate that Level 5 students at Sheffield Hallam are more positively engaged with their learning when compared with their peers in the sector. This paper will compare the University’s results against the UK results for several key areas of student engagement: academic integration; course challenge; collaborative learning; higher-order learning; reflective and integrative learning; skills development; and engagement with research. The paper will also explore the relationship between student engagement and attainment.

Managing informal learning spaces outside the classroom to create an effective partnership learning community

Jeff Waldock

Parallel session 1, Short Paper 1.4

Short Abstract
By helping create a shared, supportive, learning community, the use of virtual and physical learning spaces outside the classroom has a major impact on student engagement. In this presentation I will describe how this has been achieved and currently delivered in Mathematics and provide evidence for its success.

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
Student engagement, satisfaction and academic success is built upon a sense of belonging – of being part of a professional community, providing comprehensive support. This can be achieved through a culture of expectation and behaviour, suitable support structures … and the effective use of carefully-designed physical and virtual learning space.

Open learning space that facilitates staff-student interaction outside the classroom helps a student identify with the discipline and feel that they belong to a professional community. This, together with a managed peer-support network, helps create a partnership learning community within which this process can flourish (Boys, 2011; Healey et. al., 2014).

For some years, we have observed our students gathering to work in open space close to staff offices. A cross-level supportive network began to develop naturally as a result and this together with the success of our Peer-Assisted Learning initiative, in which final year volunteers facilitate a first year group task, informed our thinking when offered the chance to design a new learning space for Mathematics on Norfolk level 6.

Alongside the new use of physical space outside the classroom, we have for many years made extensive use of virtual space to provide student support.
The space on Norfolk 6 has been in use now for three months, and early indications are that our expectations are being met, more students engaging proactively in group work outside taught sessions and feeling better supported by staff and peers. There is a clear discipline specific focus to the space, and participation in events it hosts such as the Maths Arcade (developing logical thinking through strategy games) have risen significantly.

In this presentation I will describe these initiatives in more detail, outline how they have been designed to create an effective partnership learning community and present evidence for their success.

Boys J., (2011), “Towards creative learning spaces: Re-thinking the architecture of post-compulsory education”. Routledge.
Healey M., Flint A. and Harrington K., (2014), “Engagement through partnership: Students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education”. HEA