2018 Teaching Innovation Awards now open

Do you want to make your teaching and learning more engaging, inspiring and innovative? Would you like to resolve an issue in teaching or learning in your discipline? Tackle issues of working in a group or team?

The 2018 Teaching Innovation Awards are now open for applications so this may be the chance to secure funding to support your work. Forms and guidance appear on the TIA webpage.

Open to anyone in the institution – staff, students, colleagues in the Students’ Union and professional services – these awards seek to enhance teaching and students’ academic experience.

All submissions go before a panel of colleagues drawn from across the University and LSU.

Awards range from £3,000 to £5,000 and are generally made to fund action research projects.

Previous winners have looked at improving the University’s use of: LEARN, feedback, new technologies in teaching, and student-led learning as well as ways of teaching practical skills and critical thinking.

This year’s awards are also open to previous winners who want to develop further impact from their original application.

The awards are administered by the Centre for Academic Practice on behalf of the University.

Applications will remain open until 28 February 2018. Applicants will need to discuss, develop and submit their ideas before then.

For more information visit the Teaching Innovation Awards page. If you would like a one-to-one bespoke session to discuss the awards, or a session for your School about the awards contact Deena Ingham at D.Ingham@lboro.ac.uk

European principles in Learning and Teaching

Colleagues in the Higher Education Academy have been working to co-author a set of European principles for L&T in HE as part of the EFFECT Project coordinated by the European Universities Association http://www.eua.be/activities-services/projects/current-projects/higher-education-policy/effect. The Principles have been drafted with the intention of having pan-European relevance, and the collaborative drafting process has aimed at achieving broad consensus. The Principles have also been designed to allow institutions to consider them and adapt them to their local context. Later iterations of the document will be augmented by guiding questions to help institutions evaluate their current position and establish strategies for enhancement, and will signpost to resources and examples from different countries to help with local adaptation.

The Principles can be accessed at http://www.eua.be/Libraries/default-document-library/web_effect-principles-one-pager16102017.pdf?sfvrsn=2

At Loughborough we have reviewed our PGCAP for new academics and have recently submitted an iteration of this taught provision to the HEA for accreditation. Both the existing PGCAP and the new taught course encompass the European principles and we will continue to deliver a high quality taught course which is relevant to our academics and makes links to the wider context within which higher education operates.

How to Evidence Excellence in Teaching and Learning – Reflective Goal Setting

Cheryl Travers (School of Business and Economics) was delighted this year to be one of the recipients of the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. In the post below, Cheryl explains why she is passionate about innovating and improving the student learning experiences.

Arriving at Loughborough more than 24 years ago now, I was passionate about finding ways to deliver innovative, developmental, transferable and impactful student learning experiences. I wanted to give Psychology away to our students, to maximise their potential as employable, successful, resilient and happy future leaders and members of society. Over the years I have eagerly shared my approach and enthusiasm for learning and teaching with other faculty across campus to aid their own personal and professional development, as well as provide ideas for advancing androgogy. In addition, I have sought to spread the word via other means, e.g., online materials (https://youtu.be/yfT8_t9c8JE), regular contributions to SBE blogs and in house magazine ‘Inspire’, the media, key notes at SBE client conferences, and TEDx talks to reach a wider international audience. (https://youtu.be/8oSEQ7f6QRQ and https://youtu.be/q52A0aCFcq0). The impact for me, personally, has been a very satisfying and fulfilling learning and teaching career to date, sprinkled with a number of learning and teaching related awards (SBE Teacher of the Year award (2012), USA Academy of Management ‘Management Education Division’ award for ‘Most innovative contribution to management education’ (2014); Loughborough RiTA award (2016); BPS Division of Occupational Psychology Academic Contribution to Practice (2017) in addition to the VC excellence award this year). I am very proud of the academic, professional and international recognition I have received for my teaching and research.

I feel my most influential and far reaching contribution has been the design and dissemination of my Reflective Goal Setting (RGS) model, which was created to; support the transfer of learning across a range of UG, PG and Executive Education programmes; turn our students into highly interpersonally skilled and adaptable goal setters; and to enhance students’ employment and leadership potential. The resulting data gathered on their goal experiences has provided evidence for the ongoing impact of RGS and has resulted in a number of outputs so far (e.g. Travers, C.J. (2011), Unveiling a reflective diary methodology for exploring the lived experiences of stress and coping, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 79 (204-216); Travers, C.J. (2013),Using Goal Setting Theory to Promote Personal Development, Ch 36 pp 603-621 in New Developments in Goal Setting and Task Performance, Ed Locke and Gary Latham (Eds), Routledge; Travers, C, Morisano, D, & Lock, E. A. (2015). Growth goals and academic achievement: A qualitative study. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(2), 224-241). Currently we are carrying out evaluation and impact research on this model and the findings so far suggest that it can have far reaching impact for individuals, their teams and the organisations within which they work.

HEA National Teaching Fellowship Scheme – Applications

The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) run by the Higher Education Academy opens its application ‘window’ in January 2018. Each University is able to support up to three candidates for NTF and Loughborough University now has an established process for choosing and then mentoring potential candidates for submission.

The first stage in this process is attendance at a workshop design to provide further information and to discuss the requirements for submission. The workshop will take place on 21st November 2017 from 12.00 – 1.00pm in Rutland 1.13a.

In preparation for the workshop colleagues are asked to write around 500 words about their teaching practice and bring this to the session. This should address the NTFS criteria:

  • Individual excellence: evidence of enhancing and transforming the student learning experience commensurate with the individual’s context and the opportunities afforded by it.
  • Raising the profile of excellence: evidence of supporting colleagues and influencing support for student learning; demonstrating impact and engagement beyond the nominee’s immediate academic or professional role
  • Developing excellence: evidence of the nominee’s commitment to her/his ongoing professional development with regard to teaching and learning and/or learning support

You can find out more about the NTFS on https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/professional-recognition/awards/national-teaching-fellowship-scheme-ntfs

All enquires to Nick Allsopp in CAP- email: N.J.Allsopp@lboro.ac.uk

Key changes to GCE and A Levels

The following post is by Dr Glynis Perkin.

Fundamental changes to the content and structure are taking place in the GCE A Level curriculum. There are 14 subjects with the new curriculum that have been examined for the first time in summer 2017 and many students entering university in the 2017/18 academic year will have taken these examinations. The 14 subjects are:

  • Art and Design
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • English Language
  • English Language and Literature
  • English Literature A
  • English Literature B
  • History
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

The key changes to these A Levels are that they are now non-modular with most subjects being assessed mainly by examination at the end of the course. AS Level is a stand-alone qualification and no longer counts towards a GCE A Level. Furthermore, content has been reviewed and updated with input from university staff.

The key changes for each subject have been collated with links to more detailed information also provided; the slides are available on the CAP website at: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/cap/documents-resources/

EAT – it’s good for you!

Loughborough University and the Higher Education Academy Community of Practice: on Assessment and Feedback are pleased to offer a one-day event focusing on developing and implementing a self-regulatory approach to assessment. The event is taking place on Wednesday 20th September 2017 in the Stuart Mason Building and is being facilitated by the Centre for Academic Practice.

The day will be split into two parts:

Developing a Self-Regulatory Approach to Assessment: The EAT Framework (10.30 – 12.30, SMB 0.14)
Professor Carol Evans, University of Southampton

Assessment practice is a key driver in promoting high impact pedagogies and student engagement in learning. A step change is needed to advance how higher education institutions implement assessment practice to enhance student engagement and to maximise student learning outcomes. The session will describe how the EAT self-regulatory framework, a holistic inclusive assessment feedback framework, has evolved and how it can be used to support student and staff development of assessment literacy, feedback and design in partnership with each other as part of sustainable assessment feedback practice. Core to the development of this approach is an understanding of cognitive, metacognitive, and emotional regulation of learning informed by the Personal Learning Styles Pedagogy Framework (Waring & Evans, 2015).

Lunch will be provided from 12.30 – 1.30

Implementing EAT: Key lessons in scaling-up (1.30 – 3.30, SMB 0.02)
Professor Carol Evans, University of Southampton

This session is designed for Associate Deans and all those responsible for leading assessment and feedback practice. In the session, key considerations in scaling-up assessment and feedback practices mindful of institutional and faculty priorities and specific disciplinary needs will be explored with the intention of identifying strategies to support key priorities as an integral part of ‘ the fabric of things’ within the university. The potential of being a core member of the HEA Assessment and Feedback online Community of Practice will also be highlighted.

You can book onto this event on My.HR by following this link: https://myhr.lboro.ac.uk/tlive_ess/ess/index.html#/summary/careerdev/scheduledlearningactivity/474418AXK5

VR in STEM teaching – innovations from Science

The team
Our ‘Virtual Reality in STEM teaching’ team is from the School of Science and CAP. We are a mixture of academics, technicians, E-learning support and most importantly a student developer; Dr Sandie Dann, Dr Firat Batmaz, Rod Dring, Sean Slingsby, Samantha Davis, Lee Barnett and Nikolaos Demosthenous. This grouping of both staff and students has so far been a successful blend of knowledge, kickstarting our Teaching Innovation Award project with real energy.

Aims
• Encourage deep learning within lab based teaching
• Allow more focused time for exploration of the experiments without being at risk to themselves or others
• Increase students awareness of the equipment available to them in the labs

Objectives
• Create an interactive resource that allows for practice, familiarisation and visualisation before students enter a lab session.
• Increase student engagement in the module by encouraging them to see beyond the procedural aspects of an experiment.
• Evaluate the tool’s impact on student learning and ability to be transferable.

Progress so far
So far so good as they say… or are these famous last words?
We have met as a group a number of times now to discuss the way we would like our final application to work and which Chemistry experiment in particular to concentrate on developing the virtual reality (VR) for. The real crux of this project is to not get carried away with wanting to try too much. Instead we are concentrating on 1 or 2 activities within the VR as our aim for this project is to prove the concept, rather than becoming carried away with new toys. Following this we would look to expand the offering of different experiments and activities within the application through further projects.
Part of our discussions also included a trip to STEMLab whilst taking a look at what our talented student developer Nik has been testing to date.

Next stages
The next step in our project is to decide on the exact final product we would like to create and for our student developer Nik to begin paid work in September. We will also be visiting STEMLab again to take the 360° images that we hope to include in the virtual reality environment. After Christmas we will be recruiting student testers in order to carry out evaluation of the effect that virtual reality has on their learning.

Giving Students, Parents and Employers Confidence: Geography’s Experiences of Accreditation

Dr Richard Hodgkins, Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography, has recently received a Vice-Chancellor’s Award from Loughborough University for his contribution to Learning and Teaching. In this post, Dr Hodgkins details the recent experiences in gaining accreditation for some, rather different, programmes offered by the Department of Geography at Loughborough.

On the face of it, some academic disciplines, with more obvious career pathways, lend themselves naturally to accreditation, and others less so. However, all degree programmes benefit from being able to display some kind of quality stamp.

These programmes are the MSci (Hons) Geography and BA (Hons) Geography, both also available as sandwich programmes, the latter leading to the additional qualification of Diploma in Professional Studies (DPS) for those undertaking an industrial placement, or Diploma in International Studies (DIntS), for those undertaking study abroad. The main goal of each is to offer the most appropriate curriculum and outcome for somewhat different communities of potential geography students. The MSci takes the route of specialisation, being a four-year integrated Masters’ programme with a strong focus on physical and environmental geography. The BA takes the route of generalisation, stemming from the nature of geography as a diverse discipline spanning the sciences and humanities, offering those favouring its social and cultural aspects the opportunity to graduate with a qualification which, more closely than the current BSc, reflects the content they have pursued.

What are the challengers ?

It’s difficult to persuade an accreditor to look favourably on your programmes if you don’t have a clear sense of their strengths, which can be articulated cogently. So for each programme, it’s been important to step back, and to see the wood for the trees. Why offer it? What are the real benefits for students: are they being offered a distinctive curriculum with a clear sense of purpose and outcome, rather than a mash-up of pre-existing modules? The MSci is therefore specified to provide a pathway to environmental employment through a focused, practically-orientated and progressive menu of physical geography modules, which engage extensively by design with both contemporary research and with environmental monitoring for the purpose of effective management. The BA, on the other hand, is specified to provide the widest coherent menu of options possible, given that a significant proportion of geography students (particular those aspiring to become teachers) prefer to study both human and physical aspects of the discipline. The latter is consistent with the unique nature of geography as the integrated study of landscapes, peoples, places and environments, and is a view of geography that is strongly favoured by the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)(RGS-IBG), of which more below.

What are the benefits of offering a diverse range of programmes? 

From a departmental perspective, these recently-approved programmes have manageably diversified our offering, which contributes to admissions robustness. From a student perspective, enhanced satisfaction is the aim, through offering more tailored outcomes with specific awards. From the personal perspective of a departmental Director of Studies, there is a lot to be learned about matters that can get taken for granted, such as understanding how curricula should be consistently mapped to appropriate ILOs for different communities of students, and how Subject Benchmarking informs this process. I’m not under the illusion that ILO mapping is the stuff of dreams, but it’s vital that we retain the coherence of our programmes in the face of change and churn, so that students actually get what they believe they’ve signed up for, and so that accreditors can express their confidence in what they see.

We obtained accreditation for the MSci from the Institution of Environmental Sciences (Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences, CHES) in May 2016. The key to the case was demonstrating, with evidence, how the modules aligned clearly with Subject Benchmarks, and with the specific expectations of the accrediting body; for instance, CHES places a particularly strong emphasis on environmental career development and links with professional practice, so it was important to establish in some depth that our modules did in fact do this in a substantive way that was both assessed and credited. In September 2016, we similarly obtained accreditation for the MSci and three other of our programmes – BA/BSc (Hons) Geography and BSc (Hons) Geography with Economics, including their DPS/DIntS versions – from the newly-established scheme of the Research and Higher Education Division of the RGS-IBG, now the key accreditor for the discipline. All four programmes were among the very first to be accredited: only 20 departments nationally achieved this distinction. In its evaluation, the RGS-IBG noted that the case contained “Clear and detailed description of aims achieved through core and optional modules… cross-referencing to the benchmark statement is evident”, underlining the value of all that ILO mapping, and that this is an ongoing process shared by all teaching staff. This is a significant accomplishment in a discipline a very wide range of alternative career pathways in which accreditation has not traditionally played an important role.

In our efforts to build our profile, Loughborough Geography can now justifiably claim a quality assurance “Kitemark” from the UK’s flagship accreditor. By the same token, our graduates – our ambassadors! – can be confident that their degrees are well-regarded when they pursue further study or enter the jobs market.

CAP Forum: Research-informed curriculum design: successes and challenges

Our most recent CAP Forum focused on research-informed curriculum design. As a recent Research-informed Teaching Award winner, Dr Line Nyhagen took us through some of her wonderful successes and some of the challenges she has faced in four specific innovative teaching practices which were designed to enhance student engagement.

  • The first is a field visit to a local mosque in order to allow her students to understand ‘lived religion’, where she emphasised that it is important that the pedagogic intention of any field visit is clear. Previously, there had been no field visits in the Social Sciences Department, and so she sought advice from the Geography department on the basics and reflected on what went well and what she could improve after the first year of running the trip. The trip was very successful; the feedback from participating students was overwhelmingly positive, alongside a post on the department newsfeed talking of its success. However, the main challenge she faced was that the attendance on the trip was quite low. The following year, Line took on board feedback on that particular issue and added organised transport and included an assessment element related to the trip that was worth 10%, which dramatically increased the attendance.
  • The second example discussed was a ‘Coursework Topic Approval Forum’ which was used instead of a list of essays from students to select from. It involved students having to use a forum on Learn to get approval and feedback for their coursework title which could be about any topic they were interested in on the module. This fostered the sharing of ideas and allowed transparent formative feedback to be given to all students. Although this had many successes, it generated quite a lot of additional work for Line, and made a small proportion of students uncomfortable. Upon reflection, this year Line has chosen to produce both a list of essay titles and allow students to choose their own titles if they wish, nonetheless they must use the new general coursework forum for any questions related to coursework so that formative feedback continues to be shared among all students. A lot of the discussion afterwards focused on this area and suggested ideas such as having the group as a whole come up with the list of questions and queried why it was online and not in person in a session which was agreed would also work.
  • Line also spoke about ‘Memory Work’ as a method to teach gender and other identities, which is a research method she has used in her own research. This encouraged students to see themselves as both the researcher and the research subject, and allowing students to feel an ownership of the material being used to teach as it was generated by themselves. This in turn increased student engagement. This topic also generated lots of questions and discussion about how the technique could be applied to teaching in other areas, for example as an aid to reflecting on group assignments.
  • The final topic discussed was her ‘In-class Policy Awareness Event’ which she used as a new technique for increasing student engagement this year. She did this by trying to find topics directly relevant to her students, and this year chose sexual harassment policy due to the recent focus of the NUS on the topic, as well as it being one of her students’ dissertation topics last year. She took the students through the University’s Zero Tolerance policy, conducted research in-class using a quick SurveyMonkey questionnaire with results immediately available in the classroom. She also asked her students to come up with campaign ideas and proposals for increasing awareness, which was an identified problem. As an unintended consequence of this session, Line was able to take these suggestions to the Athena SWAN Team in her the school, which she leads. She has also shared the class findings and policy proposals with the Director of Student Services.

If you have any questions for Line about her experiences please feel free to contact her at l.nyhagen@lboro.ac.uk or take a look at her twitter at @Line_Nyhagen. Alternatively, if you have any ideas of topics you would like to deliver on or hear about for future CAP Forums, please let us know by emailing Dr Glynis Perkin at G.Perkin@lboro.ac.uk or take a look at our Twitter at @LboroCAP.

 

Further Information:

The department’s newsfeed about the mosque visit:

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/socialsciences/news-events/2017/leicester-central-mosque-march-2017.html

A blog post related to Dr Line Nyhagen’s research:

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/socialsciences/news-events/2017/leicester-central-mosque-march-2017.html

Dr Line Nyhagen’s staff webpage:

http://www.lboro.ac.uk/departments/socialsciences/staff/line-nyhagen/

Authentic, inclusive assessment – takeaways from a workshop

Yesterday the School of Business and Economics was privileged to host Prof. Pauline Kneale, PVC for Teaching & Learning at Plymouth University (PU), as speaker at a seminar and workshop on authentic, inclusive assessment. PU has, in recent years, completely overhauled its institutional assessment policy, and PU’s teaching and learning support team has produced some excellent resources to help staff and students manage assessment better. We wanted to hear from Pauline what the main changes were that Plymouth had made, and what we could learn from their experience about enhancing our own assessment at Loughborough.

At the risk of oversimplifying the very rich discussion we had, I will summarise Pauline’s main points under seven key themes below:

  1. What is the best kind of assessment for learning – as opposed to the best assessment of learning? As soon as we frame assessment in this way, we have to ask ourselves why we are doing many things that we take for granted as part of ‘normal’ teaching and assessment.
  2. Assessment for learning requires us to think about inclusivity and fairness. PU found they had an average of 8-10% of students per cohort with special needs, for example requiring additional invigilators and infrastructure for exams. They decided to stop producing modified exams, and instead to create a single assessment that would be applicable to everybody. This had the dual effect of making the standards more consistent for all students and making the assessment tasks more interesting, flexible and varied. One way they achieved this was to give students choices regarding the type of assessment (e.g. an exam or a portfolio); another solution was to allow flexible time frames for exams (e.g. a 24-hour, open-book, non-invigilated exam).
  3. Thinking about assessment for learning also leads to authentic assessment tasks – i.e. tasks that would be done in the real world. Pauline gave examples of assessments for undergraduates involving them analysing real data sets (e.g. the data set from the lecturer’s own PhD thesis – even if this was done 30 years ago!) and coming up with new interpretations. Other examples involved accessing relevant data sets from employers on real problems they were trying to solve.
  4. The advantage of authentic assessment tasks is that they tend to be more challenging and interesting for students than tasks contrived by lecturers for assessment purposes, and they also serve the purpose of increasing work-readiness. As an added bonus, they are more interesting for lecturers to mark!
  5. Authentic, inclusive tasks often require students to carry out group work. This is both a good reflection of the world of employment, and also an efficient way of managing assessment in large cohorts. The most common mistake made in designing group work tasks is to set a task that is not challenging enough – the task needs to be so big that it cannot possibly be done by one person, and complex enough that every group could potentially approach it from a different angle. This keeps all individuals engaged, and also makes the sharing/presenting of group work much more interesting to the other groups because they are all interested to see how others tackled the task.
  6. Policy and rules (both at institutional and departmental/School level) need to be in place to support the development of assessment for learning. Needless to say, if any rules (or perceived rules) exist that run counter to the spirit of assessment for learning (for example, students not being allowed to see their exam scripts after marking), these need to be changed.
  7. Effective assessment requires planning and organisation. Time needs to be allocated to marking and giving feedback, and postgraduate students trained/supported to help with marking on larger cohorts (over 50). If a module is being ‘over-assessed’, time needs to be allocated for the module leader and other colleagues who teach on the programme to review the module and brainstorm solutions. A common problem is that module outlines contain too many ‘knowledge’ Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs), so that students are forced into regurgitating content in exams, rather than developing skills (teamwork, report-writing, critical thinking, etc.) by working on meaty tasks.

The workshop provided plenty of food for thought. The simple act of asking ourselves how we can assess for learning can have a powerful effect on the way we design courses and programmes.