3rd Loughborough University Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2018: Educating for Success

We are delighted to announce the themes for our annual Learning and Teaching Conference, which is being held in West Park Teaching Hub on 27th June 2018. The themes are:

  • Digital Literacy
  • Engaging students in the learning process
  • Student Wellbeing
  • How do students learn?

The call for abstracts of approximately 300 words is now open and full papers will not be required. Abstracts should be emailed to Glynis Perkin (g.perkin@lboro.ac.uk) and Sarah Bamforth (s.e.bamforth@lboro.ac.uk)

This year there are several different types of sessions from which presenters will be able to choose.

  • 5-minute presentations – Themed Sessions
  • 10-minute presentations – Mini Master class
  • 50-minute sessions – Interactive Workshop or Presentation. Suggested Topics are Virtual Reality or Inclusivity, however, abstracts under the broader themes of the conference are also welcome.
  • 30-minute Campfire sessions (introduce a topic, facilitate and drive a discussion on the topic but not the content).

There are also other opportunities to contribute (abstract not required)

  • World Café – facilitate small group discussions on a pre-determined issue.
  • Technology Showcase – book a stand to demonstrate the technology you use to enhance learning. For example: virtual reality; subject in a box.

The conference website is now being developed and may be viewed at: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/cap/lborolt18/ 

We look forward to welcoming you to a vibrant event showcasing current areas of interest.

Video Podcasts to Support Student Placement Searching

Six final year students from the School of Business and Economics (SBE) have shared their experiences of placements to help those now hunting for a place for next year.

The students worked for a range of different companies, from KPMG to Nottingham Panthers. Their experiences had been very different with one exception – all said there was irreplaceable value in their placement. They saw benefit to them as individuals and to their studies.


Filming took place in the English and Drama lecture theatre.


The students all volunteered as part of a Teaching Innovation Award project led by Dr. Amanda Berry from the SBE.  They had a list of interview questions in advance so that they could prepare their answers; each list tailored to each student. This allowed them to really think through what they wanted to say to share the best insight into their journeys.

Sound advice for placement-seeking students is rich – from how organized you need to be to secure a placement; interview preparations; and also the amount of time demanded for making applications and researching companies.

The raw video files are now being edited and answers collated for each specific question.  A compilation of voices of experience will create a final film which will be available for use by the Careers Education Centre (CEC) and school placement teams.

The final films will be made available on Learn and on the CEC webpages.


Changes are a-coming in Disabled Students’ Allowances

This blog post has been contributed by Karisa Krcmar from the Counselling and Disability Service at Loughborough University.

Image of students in a lecture theatreI am a little hesitant about writing about disability legislation and cuts in funding in a month Centre for Academic Practice have dedicated to inclusive learning.

In an ideal word there would be no need to talk about adjustments in teaching or assessments because teaching and assessment and learning would all be … well, inclusive.

A disability, or medical, model of teaching puts the emphasis on the individual: this person has a particular problem and so we, as an institution, have to make special arrangements to adapt to this individual so that he or she can reach his or her potential.  We have a bumpy playing field and we engage someone else to build a raised pathway across it for a recognised individual.  At the same time, there are other players, without a recognised difficulty, but for a whole variety of reasons, they are struggling to cope with those bumps.  They get ignored.  Then … guess what?  The funding for the raised pathway is withdrawn and the cost of maintenance reverts to the owners of the field.  The best response to this might take a bit of thought and planning, but why not just level off the whole playing field, making it accessible for all players whatever their individual strengths and weaknesses.

This, in effect, is the scenario we are facing in the HE sector.

The Equality Act 2010 requires us to make reasonable adjustments for disabilities.  The law defines disability as:

“A physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term effect on a  person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”

This includes:

  • Physical disabilities
  • Sensory impairments (visual impairment, hearing impairment)
  • Mental health difficulties (even if these are no longer ‘present’)
  • Specific learning differences (dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, ADHD, autistic spectrum disorders, etc.)
  • Autistic spectrum disorders
  • A number of medical conditions, including diabetes, asthma, ME, epilepsy
  • HIV, cancer, MS (from the point of diagnosis)
  • Severe disfigurements

All the different services within the Counselling and Disability Service (mental health support team; study support service; counselling service; note taking service; disability office and needs assessment centre) work with students and departments to provide that pathway through the playing field and help departments to understand, and comply with, the law.  Students with disabilities have also been able to access a grant called Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) and this has paid for many of the services: for example, specialist study support and note taking.  This has allowed students to successfully access the curriculum and complete their degrees.

Changes are a-coming …

Funding is being seriously cut …

We don’t yet know the full implications …

We do know that the Equality Act of 2010 has not changed.

But we anticipate that funding the pathway will change from DSA to the university – i.e. your department and you will be asked to provide more in the way of support for your students.

Wouldn’t it be easier to spend the time now just to consider how you can level the whole playing field and make it more inclusive for all students?  Design for inclusivity; teach for inclusivity; assess for inclusivity and feedback for inclusivity.  That way, there will be real inclusive learning which embraces all students – it will be legally compliant but even better, it will be good planning, teaching and learning.

Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL)

PeerAssistedLogo_FINALWhen someone [other than a lecturer] explains it, because it’s us – the students − explaining it to other students, normally the explanations aren’t great. But that’s good, because they explain it once, and you’re like, “I’m not sure I get that” and then the student leader will go over it again. And then, because you’ve had that explanation twice, first with a bit of uncertainty and then with a proper explanation afterwards, it makes so much more sense, I think.                                                       

 The Loughborough University PAL scheme was launched in 2011 as an initiative to provide regular peer-assisted learning support for second year Mathematics students.  The goal was to address the “cooling off” phenomenon many students experience in their second year of study, when the difficulty of their course increases, but the level of available support has decreased from the first year.  The project coordinator, Prof Tony Croft of the MEC, together with two second year Mathematics lecturers, worked with four student interns over the summer of 2011 to develop materials for the scheme. Launched that autumn with 13 trained peer facilitators, the scheme has continued to run in each subsequent year.

The scheme consists of optional weekly sessions that support the module learning, timetabled for all students on the modules and independent of formal lecture and tutorial times.  The scheme is staffed and run by students from the third and fourth years who have previously taken the modules involved, then have undergone training developed based on the Supplemental Instruction Model developed at the University of Missouri, and run by Student Voice.  The peer facilitators who run the sessions use techniques that enable students to go over the content from the module and the lectures in a way that encourages deep learning through discussions with other students and facilitators. Feedback from students attending the sessions indicates that they appreciate that the facilitators have experienced the modules as students and know how it feels if a concept is a bit tricky to get your head around. The sessions are informal and all about extra time with others on the module to work through the content.  Analysis carried out by Duah, Croft and Inglis on PAL participation indicates that each session raises students’ final module marks by an average of 1%.

Since its original creation, the management of the PAL Scheme has been taken over by Student Voice, and been extended additionally to students in Politics, History and International Relations.

Dr Eugénie Hunsicker
School of Mathematical Sciences

Jonathon Brooks
Student PAL Scheme


Equality and diversity for academics – updated resources

The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), a body that centres on advancing equality and diversity across universities and colleges, has updated its online resources for academics. As the ECU says, these tools are aimed at “ensuring that higher education institutions are inclusive and accessible, and encourage good relations between the diverse groups that study, work, or otherwise engage with them”. Now located at http://ecu.wpengine.com/publications/e-and-d-for-academics-factsheets/, and further to a previous Equality and diversity for academics posting on this Teaching and Learning Blog, these resources “are designed to help raise awareness among academic staff of their responsibilities in this area and promote the development of equality and diversity expertise as a key competence for teaching and learning”. The four short ECU factsheets that colleagues might find to be particularly useful are as follows:

  • The legal framework: England, Wales – as this document says, “domestic and European legislation relating to equality and human rights provides the context within which teaching and learning are delivered”;
  • Inclusive practice – this resource states that 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. Inclusive practice values the diversity of the student body as a resource that enhances the learning experience”;
  • Pastoral care – in terms of pastoral care, it is clear that academic staff “have a critical role to play, being best placed to observe behaviour in the learning environment that might indicate that a student is in need of support. The relationship between academic achievement and resilience in dealing with personal issues is well documented, and a student who receives relevant and timely support in dealing with the problems of everyday life is more likely to have the energy and motivation to do well in their studies”; and
  • Promoting good relations – finally, it is also readily apparent that academic staff also “have a critical role to play in promoting good relations in the design and delivery of courses, and in the relationships they build with students”.

More information on these resources is available from Abida Akram (Staff Development Adviser (Equality & Diversity), Staff Development) via email at A.P.Akram@lboro.ac.uk or by telephone on 01509 222389. Co-presented with Nick Allsopp (Head of Academic Practice, Teaching Centre), contactable via email at N.J.Allsopp@lboro.ac.uk or by telephone on 01509 564662, the ‘Designing for Inclusivity’ workshop which will make use of these materials is part of the Teaching Centre’s CPD provision for Loughborough University staff.

Your new and improved Co-Tutor is coming – September 2014.

CT_logoFrom 2014/15 a new and improved Co-Tutor will be rolled out across Loughborough. CEDE would like to celebrate and thank the many colleagues that have been involved along the way and will be hosting a launch event on the 24th September 2014 at 12 noon.

Register for the event here: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/co-tutor-launch-event-tickets-5255206464

For the past year Co-Tutor has been undergoing developments as part of a HEIF funded commercialization project.  Phase I of the project has been such a success that the JISC and HEIF are continuing to fund a Phase II of further developments.

Co-Tutor’s new additional features include:

  • Refreshed and responsive new interface, optimized for tablets
  • You can cc’ in co-tutorrecord@lboro.ac.uk to add comments to Co-Tutor straight from your Outlook.
  • Access more information within a student’s record, e.g. timetables and Learn activity.

The Co-Tutor team would like to welcome Charles Shields, Jenny Narborough and Sasha Dosanjh (E-Learning team) to Loughborough’s support team.  They will be the first point of contact for enquiries and training.  Allison Dunbobbin (Careers and Employability Centre) will also be on hand to support the placement management features within Co-Tutor.

For more information on new features and upcoming events and further announcements see http://co-tutor.lboro.ac.uk/new/

Maths – student representatives video

Maths student representativesThe student representatives in the Department of Mathematical Sciences have put together a video aimed at making reps more visible while also signposting students to the different feedback routes open to them – go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPYSBr4GObs to learn more.

Please note that information on the role of student representatives is available at locations such as these Loughborough Students’ Union pages:

Supporting our Joint Honours students

Code of PracticeThere is an increasingly significant number of Joint Honours students here at Loughborough, which is one of the reasons why a Code of Practice for Joint Honours Degree Progammes was developed as part of Academic Quality Procedures Handbook.

In order to support colleagues, we have started to develop a Joint Honours Community of Practice Learn module, but it would benefit from the inputs of those with more local knowledge in each of our Schools/Departments across campus.

We have created this Learn framework to house useful information and resources, including the LTC12-P19 Joint Honours degree programmes – review and recommendations paper which was discussed at Learning and Teaching Committee. Don’t hesitate to let us know how this resource might be improved.

my.Lboro – the student portal


With the soft launch of my.Lboro (also known as the student portal) this time last year, colleagues will be aware that students have been able to access various online resources through this mechanism. These include student email, relevant news and notifications, Learn modules, budgetary information, Library access, etc.

This coming academic year, new students are being encourgaged to use my.Lboro as their entry point to all of these services, and it is expected that returning students will continue to do so through their computer and/or portable device. To support this process, efforts are being made to amend log in buttons at locations such as the Welcome to Loughborough page (maintained by Academic Registry), the Information for students page (maintained by Marketing and Communications), etc., in order to direct students through to the student portal.

Staff involved in learning and teaching will become increasingly aware of this resource as 2013-14 progresses, and of its capacity to support communications with students. One of the many benefits of the student portal is that students only have to log in once to access a number of University services – e.g. their Learn modules, the Careers Online service, etc. – as well as the Loughborough Students’ Union website, while connectivity to other services is being expanded all the time.

For further information, please go the IT Services my.Lboro – Frequently Asked Questions webpage, or explore this service yourself by logging in at https://my.lboro.ac.uk. As a member of staff, you will not see exactly what the students see; it is still suggested though that you encourage your students to access my.Lboro on a daily basis (e.g. so that they read messages sent to their University email account) as their main way of interacting online with the University.

Group work resources


Sometimes we need to be reminded of what we already have! A colleague was recently in touch regarding group work resources, and that set us to thinking. Indeed, it led us to conclude that there is a lot of good advice out there already from which we can draw.

For example, the Learnhigher Centre for Excellence in Teaching & Learning archive continues to function, and they have useful materials such as those regarding Learnhigher – Group Work. Indeed, the Teaching Centre continues to host Derek Blease’s seminal resource entitled Group and Team Work: A Guide for Staff on Learn, and we also deliver the Teaching Small Groups workshop in conjunction with Staff Development.

Obviously, it doesn’t stop there, indeed the Higher Education Academy (HEA) advice regarding Group Work (originally developed for use with international students), Jenny Moon’s HEA ESCalate (Education Subject Centre) publication entitled Making groups work, etc., are all worth considering as colleagues seek to develop student skills in terms of group work, individual responsibility, peer learning, communication skills, etc.