Paul Hernandez-Martinez (Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University) and Julian Williams (University of Manchester) recently published an article entitled “Against the odds: resilience in mathematics students in transition” in the British Educational Research Journal.
The abstract reads: “This paper examines ‘resilience’ of mathematics students in transition from a sociocultural perspective, in which resilience is viewed as relational and in particular as a function of the social and cultural capital students may bring to the new field. We draw on two students’ stories of transition, in which we recognise elements traditionally viewed as ‘risks’ for mathematics students in transition into institutions where new demands are made. However, in each case it seems that some of their apparent background ‘risk factors’—coming from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds and disadvantaged schools—have come to serve to constitute capital, buttressing their particular resilience, as they provide a crucial kind of autonomy that is particularly valued in the new institution. We identify the learners’ reflexivity as having been crucial to this accumulation of capital and we discuss some educational implications.”
Having framed their research within the literature and theory, as well as employing an appropriate methodology, Hernandez-Martinez and Williams provide us with engaging and insightful accounts regarding the experiences of two students as they transition to university life. Given the structures which are being developed to facilitate student engagement (including support at and beyond induction, personal tutoring, peer support, etc.), it is worth remembering that each individual undertakes their own journey into becoming an increasingly independent student, and ultimately that the main determinants of success lie within them.
This is the second in our series of blog posts regarding publications by Loughborough University staff on pedagogical issues. Further information regarding this particular publication is available online via LUPIN; the full citation follows: Hernandez-Martinez, P. and Williams, J. (2013), Against the odds: resilience in mathematics students in transition. British Educational Research Journal, 39: 45–59. doi: 10.1080/01411926.2011.623153
There is some work going on across the University to establish a Code of Practice on Plagiarism Detection. Therefore, it’s probably timely to refresh our memories on issues surrounding plagiarism through these series of webinars from http://www.plagiarismadvice.org which deal with a range of subjects from identifying plagiarism in student work to case processing. For more information, and to register, please visit the following: http://www.plagiarismadvice.org/webinars
Provisionally entitled “Partnership between staff and students in Higher Education”, Grace Barker (University Mentoring Co-ordinator, Newcastle University) is giving a talk at 5pm on Monday, May 20th, in Room A.2.04 (Schofield).
Organised by Dr Marcus Collins (Department of Politics, History and International Relations (PHIR)), this talk will centre on aspects of student engagement; if you are interested in attending, you might let Marcus know. Further details regarding PHIR peer support initiatives – which include the internationalisation of degrees, peer mentoring to support student transition to University, etc. – are available on the Peer Support Directory and on Learn.
Grace is particularly interested in peer support – further details regarding her work are available on Newcastle University’s Quality in Learning and Teaching webpages here and on her RAISE (Research, Advancing & Inspiring Student Engagement) webpage here.
Please note that the Peer Support Community of Practice pages, which aim to capture examples of peer support taking place across Loughborough University and to put colleagues in contact with one another, will catch up with these initiatives in due course. For further information regarding Peer Support at Loughborough more generally, please contact Dr Maurice FitzGerald (Teaching Centre).
The Teaching Centre has now advertised for an intern, with further information regarding the post available at https://vacancies.lboro.ac.uk/tlive_webrecruitment/wrd/run/ETREC107GF.open?VACANCY_ID%3d1720181H3O%1B&WVID=5913100PrZ&LANG=USA
The post is fixed-term for one year and this vacancy is only open to current Loughborough University students who are graduating this academic year.
The successful candidate will provide support to the Teaching Centre team by working on various work strands, including E-Learning, Quality Enhancement and Accredited Course Provision, as well as contributing to Marketing and Communication of the work of the Teaching Centre. This is a one year training and development programme and incorporates further development opportunities from the courses run by the Teaching Centre and Staff Development.
It is anticipated that during this placement, the successful candidate would gain a good appreciation of all aspects of the work of the Teaching Centre, in particular gaining experience in the use of e-learning tools and staff support. The position of intern to the Teaching Centre provides an opportunity for the individual appointed to make a real difference to the learning and teaching experience of students at Loughborough University and the partnership role that they play in their own education and our wider academic community.
The Higher Education Academy (HEA) has just launched a new online New to Teaching Toolkit for staff who are starting out on, or returning to, a Higher Education (HE) career which will involve teaching. It includes guidance, literature and exercises in a number of areas including assessment and feedback, as well as large and small group teaching. In doing so, it draws upon the experiences of new and experienced academic staff from across a number of disciplines and presents their reflections on the challenges and opportunities regarding teaching in HE today. Colleagues undertaking the New Lecturers’ Course will be particularly interested in this set of resouces, but there is plenty here for other, more experienced colleagues to consider and utilise as well.
Formative assessment has been shown to considerably aid learning by providing students with feedback on how their learning is progressing before they engage with ‘high-stakes’ summative assessment. However, a common concern amongst staff (and students) is that it will be an additional burden in an already busy teaching schedule.
A recent paper (López-Pastor, Pintor, Muros & Webb, 2013) suggests that the perception of an increase in workload is perhaps worse than the reality. The paper analyses two aspects of formative assessment processes within universities in Spain: the academic performance of the students and the workload that formative assessment creates for both academic staff and students.
The research highlights:
(a) the positive impact that formative assessment has on student engagement and performance;
(b) the reduction in student failures and withdrawals; and
(c) the disparity between the subjective views of students and tutors regarding the workload created by using more formative assessment.
The final analysis suggests that it is true that moving from traditional assessment methods to include more formative assessment does increase student and tutor workload, but not to the degree that students and staff might perceive.
Victor M. López-Pastor , Patricia Pintor , Beatriz Muros & Graham Webb (2013):
Formative assessment strategies and their effect on student performance and on student and tutor workload: the results of research projects undertaken in preparation for greater convergence of universities in Spain within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), Journal of Further and Higher Education, 37:2, 163-180
Equality and diversity are increasingly central considerations in all of the decisions we make and the actions we take as Loughborough University staff. The Equality Challenge Unit (which promotes equality and diversity across Higher Education) has created a specific set of resources for use by academic staff; this includes a briefing document regarding the legal context and a set of accessible checklists espousing effective practice in research, learning and teaching undertakings with our undergraduate and postgraduate students, their representatives and our colleagues:
- The legal framework: England, Wales - ”domestic and European legislation relating to equality and human rights provides the context within which teaching and learning are delivered”
- Inclusive practice - ”recognises the diversity of students, enabling all students to access course content, fully participate in learning activities and demonstrate their knowledge and strengths at assessment”
- Pastoral care - “Academic staff have a crucial role to play in providing pastoral support, being best placed to observe behaviour in the learning environment that might indicate a student is in need of support”
- Promoting good relations - “Academic staff have a role to play in promoting good relations in the design and delivery of courses, and in the relationships they build with students”
It is worth noting that these materials are eminently transferable to other roles within this institution and across our sector, and that equality and diversity undertakings and obligations are not just limited to academic staff.
In addition to the Designing for Inclusivity Staff Development session delivered in conjunction with the Teaching Centre, colleagues will also be interested in other Staff Development courses in this area which include the online Diversity in the Workplace activity, which is a very useful refresher course, as well as the mandatory Respecting Diversity workshop for all staff.