Transformative Learning Spaces


1. General teaching places (seminar rooms, lecture theatres, virtual learning environments)


An alternative approach  to teaching practical coaching skills; Adopting a flipped classroom away from the traditional classroom
Damian Kingsbury and Steve Thompson – Sheffield Hallam University

Often referred to as the ‘inverted classroom’, a flipped classroom (FC) involves reversing the traditional order of events in teaching delivery. By using videos of instructional content as pre-classroom activities, the FC approach enables completion of more engaging content in taught sessions with the intended outcome of more active, experiential learning taking place in the teaching space. In recent years, the FC has increased in popularity, with the approach suggested as a solution to both an observed reduction in student engagement in Higher Education and as a means to transform traditional, more didactic methods of learning and teaching to a more interactive, mastery-based approach. 
Whist the FC has started to receive attention in both the media (e.g. Atteberry 2013; Meyer 2013) and in some educational literature (e.g. Mok 2014, Little 2015), its use beyond the re-design of lecture sessions is still to be fully explored. This paper will contribute to this debate by presenting a trial of an alternative use of the flipped classroom model to encourage active learning and engagement in a practical sport coaching environment (sports hall or playing field).
Specifically, the paper will outline how the FC model was used to facilitate the delivery of coaching and instruction skills in the subject of strength and conditioning on a Level 5, 150-cohort undergraduate module within the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing. The paper will discuss how the approach was adapted for the subject, highlighting how pre-class and in-class resources and teaching were designed and modified, the management of student expectations, student attainment levels and the benefits/limitations of adopting the FC in the teaching of other competency-based skills such as in the laboratory

Analysis on the effects on academic performance of mentoring and supporting international undergraduate Direct Entrant students
Angie Lauener and Mo Rezai – Sheffield Hallam University

The purpose of this research is to comprehend the methods and outcomes of mentoring international students in Sheffield Hallam university to enhance their academic performance. These findings may benefit other UK universities and they build on the work of Iannelli and Huang (2013) on student mentoring and Leslie (2005), Morrison (2005), Myers (2014) and Richardson (2008) on international student performance in the UK. In this research, benefits for the senior students, who acted as the mentors, were also investigated. The research was conducted on a small group of Engineering and Computing undergraduates and their mentors during academic years 2014-5 and 2015-6. The mentors were international postgraduate students who were recruited by interview and trained in mentoring. Findings presented in this paper demonstrate how mentoring can help international students achieve better results in their fields of study. Quantitative research findings showed that there is a direct positive relation between mentors with relevant subject knowledge and the final results of students who engaged. Qualitative research on outcomes for mentors showed benefits, including increase in confidence and enhancement of their CV. This research highlights the advantages of creating an informal learning space outside of the traditional classroom, face-to-face or virtually, bringing together international students from similar disciplines with similar needs. The outcomes of this research have implications for mentor training and practice at Sheffield Hallam University. By capturing the findings of an experienced mentor, this research contributes to the on-going aims to provide relevant, integrated and cost-effective support for international students to enhance their student experience.
Iannelli, Cristina and Huang, Jun (2013). Trends in participation and attainment of Chinese students in UK higher education. Studies in higher education, 39
(5), 805-822.
Leslie, D. (2005). Why people from the UK’s minority ethnic communities achieve weaker degree results than whites. Applied economics, 37, 619-632.
Morrison, J., et al. (2005). Researching the performance of international students in the UK. Studies in higher education, 30 (3), 327-337.
Myers, Gudrun (2014). Commentary on Degree Classifications for Chinese UG students at UK Universities, 2012/13 – Comparison with SHU.
Richardson, J. (2008
). The attainment of ethnic minority students in UK higher education. Studies in higher education, 33 (1), 33-48.


Disciplinary places, epistemological space; English for Specific Academic Purposes
Lisa McGrath – Sheffield Hallam University

English for Specific Academic Purposes (ESAP) is an approach to English language teaching which has specificity at its heart. While English for Academic Purposes (EAP) is tailored to the general needs of university students and scholars, ESAP holds that academic discourse is not a monolithic entity. Writers in the academy operate as members of disciplinary groupings (e.g. Becher, 1989), and their disciplinary discourse is shaped by and shapes their practices, beliefs, and purposes (Hyland, 2004). The role of the ESAP lecturer is to investigate these disciplinary discourses in order to deliver language courses that meet the specific needs of learners. This process of investigation, course design and delivery entails entering into both the physical and cognitive spaces of these disciplinary groupings as an outsider (Belcher, 2009). My aim in this paper is to explore how the physical place, the departmental classrooms and buildings, feed into an understanding of the ‘epistemological space’ a discipline inhabits, and how this informs ESAP course design. Through a description of a course for postgraduates in design skills, I will illustrate how the departmental site at Hallam influenced the various course activities, and how the epistemology of the discipline was integral to the course design. It is hoped that the presentation will raise awareness of the discipline-specific nature of academic discourse, and how students can benefit from targeted ESAP input.
Becher, Tony. 1989. Academic Tribes and Territories: Intellectual Enquiry and the Culture of Disciplines. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press.
Belcher, Diane. 2009
. What ESP is and can be: An Introduction.” Chap. 1 in English for Specific Purposes in Theory and Practice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Hyland, Ken. 2004. Disciplinary Discourses: Social Interactions in Academic Writing. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.


Learning across time and space; ‘smoke, suspense and Scheherazade’ using theatrical devices to engage the student
Rob Baker and Adrian Frost – Sheffield Hallam University

On inspirational teaching: In the early 1970’s and before much focus on ‘Health & Safety in the Workplace’, a lecturer once demonstrated to us Newton’s Third Law of Motion (“every action has an equal and opposite reaction”) by entering the lecture theatre prostrate on a trolley firing off a CO2 fire extinguisher.  How can we ever forget that critical learning experience?
This paper reports workin-progress on a joint tutor-student action-research project undertaken in 2015/16 at Sheffield Business School (‘SBS’), a Faculty of Sheffield Hallam University. Referencing practice and theory, the study is examining potential approaches to incorporating theatre in HE ‘business’ teaching.  Made possible by a successful SBS Pedagogic Innovation Fund bid in 2015, volunteers were invited – both staff and students – to form a research group in October 2015. The resultant mixed-methods study was designed by the group – originally 14 students (our ‘leading actors’) and 4 lecturers (the ‘stage-hands‘). Additionally, student members provided rich qualitative data as focus group contributors; they co-developed several examples of teaching sessions incorporating their ideas; and gained valuable academic experience by presenting the study at conference.
Based on the premise that inclusion of ‘theatrical devices’[1] has engaged the authors’ personal learning over time (see epigraph above) and taking as a fundamental Hains-Wesson’s assertion that “[…] students are generally more motivated by teachers who use performance based teaching practices than those who do not” (2011, p22), our research is investigating different types of ‘devices’ and metaphors, and their applicability and efficacy. We draw upon research by Pineau (1994) and Sawer (2007) who make a clear distinction between conceptualising the use of theatre as, on the one hand, direct instruction and, on the other, the application of theatre techniques as part of an improvisational process. In addition the study is examining potential for information technology to move the application of theatre metaphors beyond the boundaries of space and time (Giddens 1981). We argue that learning for longevity, informing our social systems, transcends  these boundaries when the student is stimulated by such ‘learning hooks’.
The research recognises certain limitations in its context. First, it challenges pedagogical received wisdom: for example, orthodoxy in session planning and execution – the much-vaunted linear sequence of content delivery: Second, it recognises that a raft of the standard HE Business Studies curriculum emanates from realist ontology: for instance topics such as business analytics; quantitative and statistical methods; and decision-making under uncertainty.  These topics, in the main, are declarative knowledge – and therefore according to Bruning et al. (2011, p17),   “[the subject matter] stifles creativity and discourages independent problem-solving and strategy building”. Consequentially a constructivist learning scheme, in the sense of socially-constructed knowledge gained through real experiences and the exchange of perspectives about the experience with others (Piaget & Inhelder 1969; Vygotsky 1978), is ontologically misaligned.
We assert that the Business School lecturer’s challenge to make the pedagogy engaging and active means that innovative classroom tactics must be brought to bear. One such tactic might be the inclusion of theatrical devices in the practice.
[1] A broad term coined by the team, perhaps without specificity of definition. Our working definition includes magic and performance tricks; number puzzles; manipulation of the physical learning environment – dipping lighting levels, playing accompanying stimulating music etc.; the use of ‘props’ and artefacts; and cliff-hanger endings – all serving to catalyse excitement in learning and provide essential learning ‘hooks’.


Student perceptions of flipping classes
Mike Robinson – Sheffield Hallam University

This presentation reports on student and staff experience of significant changes made to the delivery of one module, namely, the introduction of a substantial element of ‘flipped learning’ and the redesign of classes to incorporate more interactivity between students, and tutors.
The motivations were:

  1. There is growing evidence in support of the benefits of ‘flipped learning’ in general(e.g. O’Flaherty and Phillips, 2015) and in particular for the benefits of improved learning in class ( Herreid and Schiller, 2013) and the time spent outside class (Demetry, 2010).
  2. The nature of the material, which requires lengthy calculations and extensive use of PCs, means that the opportunities for meaningful interactivity in a conventional lecture theatre are severely limited.
  3. The subject is such that the process of developing a solution is a key aspect, but is often unrecorded in the final written output. In a conventional approach, students see this the process once, and then practice it outside the classroom without staff present; by providing video lectures and more class activity, students have the opportunity to watch the process repeatedly, and staff can see and intervene in students’ efforts more often. Jordan et al (2012) concluded that screencasts were a ‘powerful tool support student learning’, and Robinson et al (2015) reported one student described videos as feeling ‘like the lecturer is explaining everything to you personally’.
  4. In previous years, whilst lecture attendance was high, tutorial attendance was poor, and the changes aimed to improve this.

The changes were enabled by the increased ease of video production, but also crucially by the provision of a new teaching space, seating up to 50 students in groups of 6-8, with laptops available. The size, larger than most PC labs, enabled reasonably efficient delivery to a large cohort (2 x 50 students), and the arrangement encouraged and facilitated group working.
The presentation will describe the changes in more detail, the challenges faced, and report on staff and student perceptions of this, in particular three student surveys: two, for all students, one administered part way through Semester 1, and another towards the end of the academic year, and a third aimed at students with a poor attendance record.
Demetry, C. (2010). Work in Progress – An innovation merging ‘classroom flip’ and team-based learning, In Proceedings of 40th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference.
Washington DC.
Herreid, C & Schiller, N. (2013). Case Studies and the Flipped Classroom, Journal of College Science Teaching, 42
(5), pp.62-66.
Jordan, C, Loch, B, Lowe, T, Mestel, B and Wilkins, C (2012) Do short screencasts improve student learning of mathematics? MSOR Connections 11
O’Flaherty, J & Phillips, C. (2015). The use of flipped classrooms in higher education: A scoping review, The Internet and Higher Education, 25
, pp.85-98.
Robinson, M, Loch B, Croft, T (2015). Student perceptions of Screencast Feedback on Mathematics Assessment. International
Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education. 1(3), pp.363-385,


Student use of an open learning space in mathematics
Peter Rowlett, Hannah Bartholomew, Claire Cornock, Mike Robinson and Jeff Waldock – Sheffield Hallam University

Suitably-designed open learning space facilitates staff-student and peer interaction by supporting new patterns of social and intellectual behaviour (Oblinger, 2005); providing spaces where faculty and students can ‘run into’ each other increases engagement and learning (Hunley and Schaller, 2009). Working in close proximity to friends or peers to create a sense of community, for co-support and for someone to take a break with was a key learning preference expressed by learners (Harrop and Turpin, 2013). Incorporating a disciplinary focus in the design helps learners identify with that discipline and feel they belong to a professional community; this, together with a managed peer-support network, helps create a partnership learning community within which student engagement can flourish (Boys, 2011; Healey et al., 2014).
Maths at Sheffield Hallam moved in 2015 to a new staff-student shared learning space. This is a large, open student work area surrounded by staff offices. We have been investigating how students use the space and how this contributes to the community of staff and student mathematicians in our subject group.
Data collection has included regular observations of use of the space, analysis of student timetables and a questionnaire to investigate the effect of timetable gaps on use of the space, and interviews with students whose study has been split between the new space and our old location, to investigate how they use the space and what changes have been made to their study between the two locations.
This talk will describe the design of the learning space and what we do to encourage its use, and discuss the initial findings of the research undertaken, focusing on how students make use of the space.
Boys, J. (2011).
Towards creative learning spaces: Re-thinking the architecture of post-compulsory education
. Routledge.
Harrop, D. and Turpin, B. (2013). A study exploring learners’ informal learning space behaviours, attitudes, and preferences. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 19(1). pp.58-77
Healey, M., Flint, A. and Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. The Higher Education Academy.
Hunley, S. and Schaller, M. (2009). Assessment: the Key to Creating Spaces that Promote Learning. Educause review, 44(2), pp. 26-35.
Oblinger, D. G. (2005). Leading the Transition from Classroom to Learning Spaces: the Convergence of Technology, Pedagogy, and Space can Lead to Exciting New Models of Campus Interaction. Educause quarterly, 1, pp. 14-18.


The importance of environment on the research culture on doctoral study
David Broom – Sheffield Hallam University

The Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) includes questions about the ‘research culture’ and findings from the 2015 survey highlights the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing needs to improve. How ‘research culture’ is defined and developed is unclear (Cheetham, 2007; Evans, 2007) and searching has revealed a paucity of literature. Therefore, 14 full-time PhD students (n = 7 health, n = 7 sport) volunteered to participate in a focus group. Prior to, students were asked to consider what they understood by the term ‘research culture’; whether they were provided with enough opportunity to contribute to it; and what the benefits of a vibrant ‘research culture’ were. The 85 minute session was digitally recorded and transcribed, verbatim by two postgraduate research tutors who undertook a thematic analysis.
There were a variety of views as to what ‘research culture’ means to doctoral students but a consistent thread was the need to network, share ideas and engage with others about their research. Students raised a number of ways in which they felt this could be developed, including more presentations via regular research seminars and the development of research clusters to allow deeper understanding of their subject area. Students felt the benefits of a vibrant ‘research culture’ would be greater research partnerships and to achieve this required collaborations both internal and external to the university.
According to Kolb and Kolb (2005) conversations can be where “significant learning can occur” It is recognised that shared offices for doctoral students can be important in promoting learning through informal interactions (Keup 2012). Findings highlighted the strong desire to engage with each other so consideration needs to be given to future accommodation. Work with part-time students is planned and they will be questioned on whether the learning spaces and physical environment at SHU support or hinder the ‘research culture’.


2. Specialist/disciplinary places


An authentic approach to developing holistic graduates
Charmaine Myers – Venture Matrix – Sheffield Hallam University

The Sheffield Hallam University-wide, work-related Venture Matrix Scheme connects undergraduate and postgraduate students with businesses, schools and other organisations, providing each with a mutually beneficial development opportunity.  The project activities, managed by students, are embedded within the curriculum and support learning by requiring students to take responsibility for managing these activities in diverse places including in offices, schools, on sports fields, other public places and virtually using such applications as Skype. The Venture Matrix is currently available to around 4,500 students.
A systematic review of current understandings of employability carried out in 2015 (Williams, Dodd, Steele and Randell, 2015) illustrated that rather than a single theory in understanding employability being evident, there is the need to combine multi-theory to gain a greater understanding.  This supports the earlier work of Dacre-Poole and Sewell (2007), whose model suggests interaction between the various elements of employability; such as work and life experience, generic skills and attributes, degree subject knowledge and understanding, self-awareness and emotional intelligence, career management and development skills.
Mindful of this the Venture Matrix Scheme supports authentic learning within curriculum design and delivery providing realistic contexts that replicate the way knowledge both generally and subject-specific, will be used in real life situations (Herrington, Reeves and Oliver, 2010). Equally, it supports the multifaceted approach of employability, in that it supports students in building a portfolio of experience and development of generic skills.  Furthermore, the Venture Matrix project activities are connected to the student’s future career aspirations, therefore creating intrinsic motivation, which is reflected in student engagement, participation and success (Thomas, 2012).
The student involvement in these activities, additionally, fosters a social context of learning, including learning with and from professionals and gaining feedback from them, along with that from academic and professional staff (Venture Matrix staff team).  Bandura’s social learning theory (1977
) supports the notion of (students) developing self-confidence through practice.
This paper will appeal to both academic educators and practitioners of employability alike. The paper will be presented using 3 case-studies that will provide the audience with working tangible examples of how the authentic learning models of the Venture Matrix Scheme are giving students real-life experience of putting their theory into practice and developing those, all important, graduate capabilities and employability skills. The learning and teaching environments are both on-campus in a traditional setting and in diverse places including in offices, schools, on sports fields, other public places and virtually using such applications as Skype.

This session will appeal to those looking to embed employability within curriculum in a truly holistic way.
BANDURA. A. (1997
). Self-efficacy in changing societies, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
). The key to employability: developing a practical model of graduate employability, Journal of Education & Training. Vol. 49/4. pp. 277-289,
). A guide to authentic e-learning, London, Routledge
THOMAS. L. (2012
). What works?-Student Retention.  York, H.E.A
WILLIAMS.S., DODD. L.J., STEELE.C. & RANDALL. R (2015). A systematic review of current understandings of employability, Journal of Education & Work. Vol.28. pp. 1-22


Any space can be an inspirational learning space (with a little imagination and a lot of hard work)
Janine Timms and Sharyn Edwards – Sheffield Hallam University

As an institution delivering a highly focused vocational course in Paramedic Practice we are constantly challenged to deliver problem based realistic simulated practical learning opportunities within our safe learning environment.
Whilst on placement our students could be called anywhere to deal with anything. We utilise our core teaching space and VLE’s to support our academic content, when it comes to practical delivery, any space is a potential learning space.
By using contextualised simulation with high psychological fidelity to facilitate deep learning (Sadideen H Et al. 2012) the teams from HWB Health Technical and Paramedic Practice Academics collaborated to challenge our students. The students experienced a simulated life threatening casualty found at the bottom of the stairs, stab victim at a rave staged in a small immersive cinema, roadside trauma in the car park and long term cardiac condition within a live staff office, to name a few.
Was the hard work worth all the effort? The immediate responses from the students would suggest so:
Scenarios! Thank you for preparing more realistic scenarios for us. They’re a lot more in line with my experiences on the road so the opportunity to take the lead in patient assessment and treatment (without risk to a real patient!) is a great resource.
…Lots more of these please!” 

From a module leader’s perspective – The students confidence appeared increased when dealing with immersive scenarios mainly due to the preoccupation of the realism – the students were so immersed that they almost forgot that they were acting, behaving much more instinctively. The time consuming planning, coordinating, sourcing of props and equipment was worth every second. The results produced in OSCE assessments following these sessions were outstanding.


Connecting learning communities through technology
Kieran McDonald and Ian Glover – TEL Team – Sheffield Hallam University

This research is focused on developing innovative learning environments through the use of emerging technologies. Sheffield Hallam University’s Art & Design department moved into a new, studio-based learning space in February 2016, offering an opportunity to try new approaches to learning and teaching, and explore the integration of agile learning technologies with studio-based pedagogy. This project investigates how technology can be used to create a smart, connected learning environment that redefines pedagogy for a forward-thinking 21st century university. Through exploring the transformative nature of technology and its interaction with space and pedagogy, the project seeks to develop a road map for future practice across the institution.
The importance of an academic home embodied in physical space is vital to develop a community of practice and enable technology to facilitate context-aware engagement, which links with the growing interest in Connectivist learning theory (Siemens, 2005) where humans, the objects around them, and the interactions between them are considered holistically as part of the knowledge construction process. The growing awareness of technology as a factor in the learning process is an important element in this theory, as Siemens explicitly builds on Social Connectivism by incorporating the important layer of new technology and integrating earlier suggestions by Vygotsky (1978) as a part of the learning process. Siemens argues that through the manipulation of, and connection with, other humans and non-humans possibilities for new learning are created.
Bluetooth beacons offer potential to interweave contextual information and interaction within our students’ everyday experience on campus. At this developmental stage we are interested in the following scenario:
Learning Zones (Studio Spaces)
Imagine the scenario a student enters the building and is automatically notified of a room change for that afternoon lecture. The student spends the morning in self-directed activity in the studio space. As they enter the studio, they receive a web link that the lecturer has pushed to them for stimulus and are directed to a specific learning ‘zone’ in the physical space. As the student leaves the building, a notification reminds them about the next formal session and a pre task activity.
While the context for the current project is grounded in studio-based practice within the creative industries, the principles underlying the development have clear application across many disciplines. Drawing upon examples from the current project, the application of these principles and technologies in other subject areas will be made explicit.


Co-student artefact production to integrate practice and theoretical learning in workshop spaces
Anne Nortcliffe and Alex Day – Sheffield Hallam University

The practical element of an undergraduate engineering degree is an important aspect of their education. Blummenfeld, et al (1991) highlights that a Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach enables students to discuss and research problems and solutions. PBL also;

  • influences student’s motivation and interest (iBid; Matveev & Milter, 2010;Chen, et al., 2010; Goldman, et al., 2008);
  • equips students with skills needed to be competitive in a diverse workforce, (Pomales-Garcia & Cortes, 2012; Specht, 2015)
  • enables students to excel (Rosenfeld, 2016)

One way to incorporate the practical aspect and increase student interest is to build an “artefact”, enabling students to externalize their understanding, take greater ownership, influenced by creative freedom and control of the build, (Blummenfeld, et al., 1991).   As Benjamin Franklin said,

“Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I learn”.  

Carlson & Sullivan (1999) demonstrated a learning environment that supports design and construction increased student retention. Pan, et al.( 2009) emphasised that Production Practical Training in Engineering (PPT) is important for generating engineers fit for practice, especially their workshop ability.   Bryant, et al. (2009) highlighted that blended learning including hands-on learning had the potential to facilitate learning retention.

This paper presents the research and design of an aerospace-related artefact -a model landing gear- for students in their first year to manufacture and assemble. The primary objective was create an artefact that would develop their knowledge and understanding of engineering practice, manufacturing and materials through the production of the artefact using the engineering workshop facilities. The paper will also show how it can then be used across first year modules to complement teaching of subjects including systems, design and mechanics. Furthermore it will be embedded in the second year of the aerospace engineering course to support learning of subjects such as structures and avionics.
Blummenfeld, P. C. et al., 1991. Motivating Project-Based Learning: Sustaining the Doing, Supporting the Learning. Educational Psychologist, 26 ((3&4)), pp. 369-398.
Bryant, A., Gieskes, K. & Mcgrann, R., 2009. The role of active learning through laboartory experimentation pertaining to memory retention in first-year engineering programs. San Antonio, TX, IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, pp. 1-6.
Carlson, L. E. & Sullivan, J. F., 1999. Hands-on engineering: learning by doing the inegrated teaching and learning programme. international journal of Engineering Education, 15(1), pp. 20-31.
Chen, Y., Peng, X. & Sun, J., 2010. National undergraduate electronic design contest: A vehicle for enhancing active learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(4), pp. 660-664.
Goldman, R. H., Cohen, A. P. & Sheahan, F., 2008. Using Seminar Blog to Enhance Student Participation and Learning in Public Health School Classes. merican journal of public health, 98(9), pp. 1658-1663.
Matveev, A. & Milter, R. G., 2010. An implementation of active learning: assessing the effectiveness of the team infomercial assignment. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 47(2), pp. 201-213.
Pomales-Garcia, C. & Cortes, K., 2012. enhancing engineering student skills through project-based learning. Mayagüez, IIE Annual Conference, pp. 1-6.
Rosenfeld, M., 2016. understanding the “surprises” in PBL; An exploration into the learning styles of teachers and their students. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Jan 2016].
Specht, D. M., 2015. Probe Method’s Impact on Students’ Motivation and Critical Thinking Skills, s.l.: Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies.


Dialogic teaching: Talking to Learn 
Marion Engin – Sheffield Hallam University

One of the main premises of dialogic teaching is that teachers and learners use language to harness their powers of thinking (Alexander, 2010). Dialogic teaching is cumulative, supportive, reciprocal, collective, and most importantly, purposeful (Alexander, 2010). A dialogic classroom is one in which learners are encouraged to interact with each other, pose questions, defend their positions, and work together to co-construct knowledge (Mercer, 1995, 2000). Dialogic pedagogy also supports talk which is accountable to the group, to knowledge, and to reasoning (Michaels, O’Connor & Resnick, 2008). Such a classroom can be a challenge for learners who are operating in a second language as well as learning content. This presentation will describe a project in which the presenter integrated a dialogic teaching approach to a semester-long MA TESOL module on Second Language Acquisition with international students. The students were presented with the concepts of dialogic pedagogy and oriented to the main principles and structures. During the module the students were engaged in a variety of different structured activities which developed and supported the students’ skills in asking questions, challenging others, building on ideas, articulating their own arguments, and defending their position. Data were gathered through audio recordings of classes, interviews, stimulated protocols, and module assignments. Results suggest that as well as the actual talk, affective, cognitive, and structural features play a significant role in creating an effective dialogic classroom. This presentation offers insights into the power of talk in a formal, classroom space and presents learning points to all staff regardless of discipline.
Alexander, R. (2010). Dialogic teaching essentials. Retrieved from
Mercer, N. (1995). The guided construction of knowledge: Talk amongst teachers and learners. Multilingual matters.
Mercer, N. (2000). Words and minds: How we use language to think together
. Psychology Press.
Michaels, S., O’Connor, C. and Resnick, L.B. (2008). Deliberative discourse idealized and realized: Accountable talk in the classroom and in civic life. Studies in philosophy and education27(4), pp.283-297.


Pedagogy of learning through practical classes
Anna Nortcliffe and Jack Goodwin-Jones – Sheffield Hallam University

The proposed paper is the results of an investigation into student learning in engineering laboratories.   The bespoke engineering learning spaces utilise unique engineering laboratory equipment that are designed to support student learning.  The role of laboratory whether simulation or real experimentation is to develop students’ learning and ability through moving the learner through all four quadrants of Kolb’s learning theory, Kolb (1985).   However, in practice; is this being achieved?  Are students developing their learning in laboratories? Therefore what is good engineering laboratory practice?  There has been extensive research into the pedagogy of science laboratories, and defining good practice, recent from the HEA (Shallcross, Slaughter, Harrison and Norman, 2015).   However, engineering accrediting bodies still typically cite Dewey (1910) on how laboratories should be used to assist learners to construct knowledge.  Demonstrating there is a disconnect in engineering between the pedagogy development of theoretical understanding and knowledge in the lecture theatre/tutorial to actual practice developed in the laboratory.
Many vocational courses from nursing, physiotherapy, science to engineering require students to be able to transverse theory into practice in order to be successful employable practitioners in their subject..  Feisel and Rosa (2005) identified that instructional laboratories should be designed to develop students’ knowledge, understanding and application abilities.  This paper will present the common observations and results of two research projects that have evaluated student learning in laboratory using quantitative and qualitative research methods that assessed student learning of applying theory into practice post a laboratory experience.  The initial results indicate the timetable timing of the learning theory in a lecture is critical to optimising student applying learning in the laboratory.   The paper will highlight the impact of current laboratory design has on student learning and identify best pedagogy practice for practical learning.
Dewey, John (1910). How we think.
Heath and Company Publishers, D.C.
The Engineering Council (2014). The Accreditation of Higher Education Programme UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence, Third Edition  (AHEP), The Engineering Council, [on-line at]
Feisel, L. D., & Rosa, A. J. (2005). The role of the laboratory in undergraduate engineering education. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), 121-130.
Kolb, D. (1985). Learning styles inventory. The Power of the 2 2 Matrix, 267.
IMechE (2013). The Institution of Mechanical Engineers Academic Accreditation Guidelines, [on-line at]
Shallcross, D. E., Slaughter, J. L., Harrison, T. G., & Norman, N. C.(2015) Innovative pedagogies series: A dynamic laboratory manual, Higher Education Academy


Physical activity film-makers: Using mobile devices to capture learning and develop transferable skills
Ciara O’Hagan and Emily Newton – Sheffield Hallam University

Student-staff interaction and learning on sport and physical activity courses occurs in a range of environments – sports halls, exercise laboratories, fitness facilities and outside spaces, as well as more traditional classrooms. Teaching and learning in these environments is essential to develop key skills but presents challenges (students take few written notes and often develop key skills but not core knowledge). However, these environments also present unique opportunities for development of generic transferable skills through student-led practical activities.
It has been reported that although students and graduates are aware of the importance of developing their transferable skills and employability during their undergraduate course1, many remain unaware of how these have actually been developed through their discipline-specific classes2, or lack the ‘transfer skills’ to enable them to apply skills learnt in one context to a different context3. It has therefore been recommended that the links between discipline specific learning and development of transferable skills should be made more explicit to students4.
In this paper we reflect on a project in which students and tutors on a level 4 module worked together using mobile devices to produce short video summaries of practical class activities, which were later shared via a private Youtube channel. The aims of the project were to use video to promote student engagement5; to enable students to take ‘notes’ in practical learning spaces to reinforce learning, assist revision and catch up on missed material6; to aid in developing a range of recognised key employability skills (planning, problem solving, teamwork, negotiation, communication and creativity)7,8, and to highlight to students how these transferable skills had actually been developed in discipline specific learning spaces.
The impact of the project will be evaluated through student, staff and external examiner reflections, along with quantitative indicators of student engagement and attainment.

  1. Tymona, A. (2013). The student perspective on employability. Studies in higher education, 38 (6), 841-856.
  2. Whittle, S.R. and Eaton, D.G.M. (2001). Attitudes towards transferable skills in medical undergraduates. Medical education, 35(2), 148-153.
  3. Kemp, I.J. and Seagraves, L. (1995). Transferable skills – can higher education deliver?. Studies in higher education, 20(3), 315-328.
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