Student Engagement in Curriculum Design

History prospectus print screenMarcus Collins from the Department of Politics History and International Relations won one of seven Teaching Innovation Awards this year. The project title was ‘Student Engagement in Curriculum Design’ and involved a group of 7 students (plus himself) carrying out research and work on the creation of a new single-honours History course set to run from September 2014 here at Loughborough.

To begin with they met a number of people to help formulate and strengthen their ideas. Including a meeting with the Vice Chancellor Professor Robert Allison to talk about some of the strengths already evident in the History Joint-honours course such as the innovative learning technologies. The team also hosted a talk given by Grace Barker from the University of Newcastle, known for her work on Student Engagement. In addition to this, once the project was in full swing, the students took their work to present at this year’s RAISE conference held at Nottingham Trent University.

The project’s research was focused on asking the current History joint-honours students for their feedback to find out what currently works best, and what perhaps could be changed. Research methods included surveys, questionnaires and focus groups. Other than paper copies of surveys being handed out in class some of the questions were put onto lecture slides and asked for a vote via the Turning Point clickers which added variety and captured large numbers of respondents.

history resultsResults from the project showed that the current History joint-honours students enjoy the use of innovative technology; examples listed were the recorded lectures via ReVIEW, the Turning Point Clickers and also the use of Twitter for asking questions and making points during the lectures.

When asked about the History lecturers and what they liked about the methods and styles of teaching, students used words such as ‘enthusiastic’, ‘approachable’ and that the students ‘are more of a name than a number’.

Findings also showed that students prefer flexible assessment methods, for example, being able to choose essay questions, sources and a dissertation topic. They said that they found a greater enjoyment of the module through choice.

The project has developed 12 draft recommendations for the new single-honours History course. These recommendations were opened up for discussion at the History Forum on the 14th October where students and staff were invited to hear about the findings and to add their thoughts on the recommendations.

Extracts from the draft recommendations include:

  • more of an emphasis on transferable skills
  • a greater choice of modules
  • a greater emphasis on presentations and group work
  • a high-visibility Learn page that outlines assessment criteria
  • greater utilisation or audio feedback
  • adjustments on the amount of weekly reading set
  • a compulsory Careers and Employability module.

These recommendations are yet to be set in stone but the amount of research and valuable data included in this project really has come from the student voice. The team have done a great job in capturing this and have been immersed in the design of this single-honours course which in practise will produce a student centred and excellent degree programme.

Peer Support at Lboro event – programme update

Peer Support at LboroThe Peer Support at Lboro: Enhancing the Student Experience event, which is being jointly hosted by the Mathematics Education Centre and the Teaching Centre, will be held in James France (Room CC.1.11) from 1:30pm to 4:30pm on Wednesday, 24 April 2013.

Further to the details posted previously regarding this Peer Support at Lboro event, we can now confirm that it will include information regarding:

  • different ways peer support is employed at Loughborough
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) in Mathematics
  • benefits from student involvement
  • positive outcomes for student learning and performance
  • factors for successful peer support
  • practical ideas for people to take away

Colleagues will be encouraged to network with others from across campus, to reflect upon current practice, and to consider how future initiatives in this area might best be supported.

This resource was funded through the Loughborough University Development Trust. The Trust exists to support the University in giving students an outstanding quality of educational experience. It raises funds from former students and other friends of the University. Their generosity has made this support possible.

Peer Support at Lboro: Enhancing the Student Experience

The Mathematics Education Centre and the Teaching Centre have teamed up to host a practice sharing event entitled Peer Support at Lboro: Enhancing the Student Experience in James France (Room CC.1.11) from 1:30pm to 4:30pm on Wednesday, 24 April 2013.

This is just one element of a wider peer support project which has been facilitated by Loughborough University Development Trust’s Loughborough Fund, and also includes the public-facing Peer Support Directory, as well as a Learn module entitled Peer Support Community of Practice. The main drivers behind this event and these resources are as follows:

  1. to stop colleagues from reinventing the wheel when it comes to peer support, but to encourage learning from one another;
  2. to get a better idea of the range of possibilities out there, both internally and externally, whether they are academic and/or pastoral in nature;
  3. to encourage more examples of peer support to spring up across the University, and in turn to attract ever greater buy-in from staff and students; and
  4. to provide mechanisms for connecting people, sharing experiences and developing effective practice so that objectives 1) to 3) are met.

More details regarding the practice sharing event will become available in due course.

This resource was funded through the Loughborough University Development Trust. The Trust exists to support the University in giving students an outstanding quality of educational experience. It raises funds from former students and other friends of the University. Their generosity has made this support possible.

Peer Support Directory – new online resource

Peer Support directoryIn looking to support a variety of peer support initiatives which have been taking place across campus in recent years, the Teaching Centre is in the process of creating a new online resource to support staff and students.

Called a Peer Support Directory, it promotes the idea that students are particularly well positioned to support other students, while themselves gaining invaluable experience which can contribute towards their employability.

A beta version of this resource is currently available at http://www.lboro.ac.uk/service/teachingcentre/info/Lee_dev/psd.html and will soon become available on the Teaching Centre’s revamped website. It will work in conjunction with a Peer Support Community of Practice which recently met for the first time, as well as a dedicated intranet site.

Feedback is very welcome regarding these peer support initiatives, and should be addressed to Maurice FitzGerald (Quality Enhancement Officer) or Lee Barnett (E-learning Officer).

SYMBoL: making 2nd year maths more engaging

SYMBoL Student InternsAs part of the SYMBoL project (Second Year Mathematics Beyond Lectures), four mathematics undergraduate students have been working this summer as interns on a six-week placement. Naomi, Robert, John and Matthew conducted several focus groups with second year undergraduates to find ways of making student learning more effective and their modules more engaging.

The long-term goal of the project is to produce well-qualified mathematics graduates who report a positive experience of
studying mathematics. This will be accomplished through innovations to the second year experience that improve engagement, enthusiasm and satisfaction. The pedagogical changes will be within two key modules: Vector Spaces and Complex Variables delivered in 2011/12.

Working very closely with staff, the interns are reworking lecture notes, advising on sections where the clarity might be improved, and producing additional resources. These include video screencasts (recorded and edited using Camtasia) that illustrate step-by-step solutions to second-year mathematics problems that students find particularly difficult. In addition they are developing resources and activities to be used in peer-led problem sessions in the coming year.

Calculating a Laurent series
This screenshot is taken from a narrated Camtasia sequence to be used in the Complex Variables module. The sequence provides step-by-step support on calculating a Laurent series.

For more information, contact Tony Croft (a.c.croft [at] lboro.ac.uk) or Steven Kenny (s.d.kenny [at] lboro.ac.uk).

The project website is at http://sym.lboro.ac.uk .