8 approaches to Inclusive Learning and Teaching

A uniquely collaborative approach to addressing the issues of inclusive learning and teaching (with contributions from 39 people over 30 institutions) has identified 8 approaches to inclusive learning and teaching:

  1. Know your student cohort
  2. Embed inclusivity within institutional processes (including estates)
  3. Co-create curricula with inclusive design
  4. Rearrange lecturing approaches to adopt a range of strategies
  5. Teach academic writing so that students can learn
  6. Create learning assessments that truly assess learning
  7. Adapt for retention
  8. Foster a good work placement ethos

The Inclusivity Gap examines the gap between assumptions of background preparedness for learning that students possess, and those they actually do and presents examples of good practice already happening in higher education providers around the country. 

A range of chapters address a range of questions:

from chapters about disability, students from non-traditional backgrounds and students who are ‘slow learners’ to chapters addressing the ‘elephants in the room’ (issues relating to recruitment, inclusion and difficulties nobody appears to want to discuss);

from chapters about retention to those concerning physical learning spaces;

from chapters written by renowned academics to those offering the student voice (with one chapter where a student argues with passion on behalf of black and minority ethnic students and one where a student bravely describes her experience of mental health issues)

–  this book is a comprehensive contribution to a host of issues surrounding the inclusivity debate with the aim of beginning to close what the editor has termed ‘the inclusivity gap’.

Dr Pauline Hanesworth (senior adviser with Advance HE), commenting on the book’s “broad approach” described it as “an important contribution to the growing work on inclusivity in higher education … [it] will become a must read for all working to develop an inclusive approach to learning and teaching”.  Whilst Dr John Cater (VC of Edge Hill University) said that it “is an outstanding and timely collection of essays, neatly organised and structured to support all of those involved in the student journey, from recruitment through to graduation” and Prof Colin Bryson (RAISE) described it as “a timely and valuable book about a really important issue in higher education”.

The Inclusivity Gap published as an e-book by Inspired by Learning [ www.inspiredbylearning.eu ]  ISBN: 978-1-909876-10-1 

Developing consistent marking and feedback in Learn

Background

More and more Schools within Loughborough University are looking at ways in which they can develop consistency within marking and feedback. Additionally, they are moving towards online submission to support this. As a result, colleagues are looking at ways that they can use rubrics or grid marking schemes to feedback electronically in an efficient and timely manner.

Philip Dawson, (2017) reported that:

“Rubrics can support development of consistency in marking and feedback; speed up giving feedback to save time for feed-forward to students; and can additionally be used pre-assessment with students to enable a framework for self-assessment prior to submission.”  (p. 347-360.)

There are several types of rubrics and marking guides available within Learn and these take on different forms within different activities. Each has different requirements and results. This can make the process of transitioning to online marking a daunting process and, as we found recently, requires a carefully thought out approach.

Loughborough Design School recently made the move to online submission and online marking using the Learn Assignment Activity. Following this decision, we ran several workshops to assist staff with making the transition and specifically a rubric workshop. This blog post explores, explains and offers some options to the issues we encountered in the School and that we are facing more widely across the University.

What is the challenge?

Staff are already using hard-copy versions of feedback sheets that replicate the aims of having a rubric (i.e. consistency of marking and feedback), but many of these existing rubrics do not neatly transition into the Learn Assignment Activity and require a blend of features.

For example, a common feature of rubrics is that as well as providing a set of levels for criteria they often have a space provided to put in a specific mark e.g. 9 out of ten for a specific piece of criteria. This level of granularity can be the difference between a 1st class honours degree and a 2:1 class degree and, crucially, it allows students the opportunity to see where they can gain marks. Rubrics in the Learn Assignment Activity do not allow for this type of granularity – you can assign a range to a level e.g. 60-70% but not a specific mark within this range.

What’s the difference between the Learn Assignment Activity and Turnitin Feedback Studio rubrics?

What’s the difference between a rubric and a marking guide?

A rubric aligns marking criteria with fixed levels of attainment. For instance, a rubric may feature several criteria with attainment levels stretching from Fail, Poor, Average, good and excellent and within these levels a description will inform the student (and tutor) of where they have been awarded and lost marks:

A marking guide is more flexible and simplistic in what it offers. You still have criteria, but instead of levels, the tutor is expected to give a qualitative summary of how they feel the student performed and a mark for the criteria:

 

For both the rubric and marking guide, the criteria can be weighted to reflect the components importance in the overall mark.

Moving forward

The Centre for Academic, Professional and Organisational Development plan to offer a new Rubric workshop in Semester 2 of the 1819 academic year. The aim of this workshop will be to provide clear guidance on the benefits, use and technical considerations behind rubrics and marking guides. Existing workshops can be found on the following page: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/cap/courses-workshops/

We’ll continue to work with Schools and support academics on a one-to-one basis where requested. We recognise that every case is different and recommend getting in touch with the Technology Enhanced Learning Officer and Academic Practice Developer within your School for further support.

Discussions will also continue with Turnitin.co.uk and the Moodle (the system behind Learn) community so we can stay ahead of changes and new rubric features as they arrive.

References

[Phillip Dawson (2017) Assessment rubrics: towards clearer and more replicable design, research and practice, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 42:3, p.347-360.]

 

 

Student engagement: Facilitating critical and criteria-based feedback in large cohorts to improve writing skills

In another of our regular Teaching Innovation Award project blogs, Amanda Harrington explores a key area of student learning engagement.

Background

I am an Occupational Psychologist working in the School of Business and Economics.  Like many of you reading this, I want to find ways of engaging and motivating students in large cohorts.  In 2013, with a previous TIA, I started setting up student study groups, encouraging them to meet between lectures.  Based on positive feedback about the value of these groups, I have continued using this approach with large cohorts.

The TIA money will be used to pay student researchers to run focus groups and to help analyse those data.

Aims

  • To develop an approach to formative feedback that is time-efficient for the lecturer, and is practical within large cohorts
  • To help students with the skills required for essay-based exam papers, and in so doing ensure that their writing abilities impress potential employers both during their placements and at work. (I haven’t begun to think about how to follow up results on a longer-term basis yet!)

Objectives:

  • To develop students’ skills in critical, criteria-based self- and peer-feedback to improve essay-writing in large group teaching.
  • To establish processes of writing practice and feedback, for use within and between lectures not only to improve essay-writing skills but also knowledge of the module’s content.
  • To facilitate such positive experiences of voluntary self-directed study groups in their first semester, that students continue using this approach throughout their degree.

Context:

The project focuses on a first-year module in Organisational Behaviour, in the School of Business and Economics, attended by 300 students.  It is assessed with a 2-hour exam, where students choose two out of a choice of four essay-based questions.

The intention is for students to write essay plans and practice essays throughout the semester, to give each other feedback about their writing and to identify how to improve their own essay writing.

Progress so far:

Week One:  In the lecture, it took 5-10 minutes to have the 300 students form ‘Self-Directed Learning Groups’ of 4-6 students.  These groups sit together in the same seats every week.  All group work is done in these groups.

Students were introduced to a structure for giving feedback and advised, for the first week, to concentrate on giving each other positive feedback only.

‘Homework’ included each student to write an essay introduction and then to discuss this introduction in their Self-Directed Learning Groups.

Week Two:

We discussed what an introduction needs to cover.  I showed one possible introduction, stressing that there are many ways to write an introduction.

‘Homework’ included students writing an explanation for two theories from week 2, to share these explanations within their Self-Directed Learning Groups and to give each other feedback on these.

Week Three:

A slight disappointment, as I had hoped to receive some examples of student writing.  However, on moving around the lecture theatre and in email exchanges with some students, it is clear that a lot of groups have at least produced some written work, and discussed their writing in groups.

In the lecture, in 10 minutes, Self-Directed Learning Groups produced a one-page essay plan for one of two exam questions, about last week’s topic.  Groups were invited to volunteer their essay plans so I could give them feedback.  I gathered about 10 and worked through ALL of them, identifying at least one positive point from each plan.

 

Next week, one of my students from a previous year has agreed to present his experience of working in a Self-Directed Learning Group and how this impacted on his writing.

 

If you have read this far and want to discuss any of these ideas, do email me :

Amanda Harrington

STEMLab Virtual Reality- taking STEM teaching to the next level

The team

Our team consists of various experts across STEMLab subjects project managed and supported by the School of Science Enhanced Learning Team. In the team we have Firat Batmaz (Computer Science), Sandie Dann (Chemistry), Helen Willcock (Materials), Mike Walsh (Physics), Sarah Turner (Biology), Lee Barnett (CAP), Samantha Chester and Aaran Grimley (Science Enhanced Learning).

Background

This project builds upon a previous Teaching Innovation Award which was used to test the concept of virtual reality (VR) in STEM Teaching. After very positive feedback from the virtual reality application created using a Chemistry experiment we now aim to test out different disciplines in the environment and establish some sort of template for future virtual reality use in STEMLab teaching. We also hope to push the VR to the next stage by testing out the differences in individual use and group use, for example using the Igloo on campus too.

Aims

* To expand on a Loughborough specific virtual reality application designed for STEMLab, to allow students to feel familiar in the labs

* Increase the use of learning technology in lab teaching, within pre and post activities

* Increase students understanding of health and safety protocol in labs

* Increase deep learning for students within the lab

Objectives

* Virtual reality application with 1 Chemistry, 1 Materials, 1 Physics and 1 Biology experiment with a health and safety focus within these experiments

* Virtual reality application to be transferable to the Igloo

* Test the difference between student experience of VR on the individual mobile device and the group experience in the Igloo

Progress so far

So far, we have met as a group and began to gather ideas on what each discipline could imagine working well in virtual reality and what could benefit their students the most. We are also beginning to gather extra feedback from students, for example, Mike Walsh (Physics) has shown the current application to his students in a lecture and asked for ideas on what they would like to see. To explore the various avenues with VR Helen Willcock is investigating the use of industry contacts in the Materials activity. Another group meeting is scheduled with the purpose being to determine what each discipline’s VR activity will be about and then Science Enhanced Learning will work with the academics to draw up story boards to work from. We are also in the process of finding a STEMLab Intern too to help develop the application! All systems go, go, go!

Author: Samantha Chester

Tailored Lynda.com Playlists

Lynda.com playlists have been created for each school to showcase some of the courses that might be relevant for staff and students. There are also two Excel playlists available and ready to be watched so you can improve your Excel skills. Statistics are also available showing usage to date of the skills videos including details of what students in the Schools have been watching.

What is Lynda.com?

Lynda.com is an online learning platform that can help you acquire software, technology, business and creative skills to achieve learning, personal and professional goals.

The resource, which offers access to over 5000 video tutorials, has been purchased as part of the Digital Strategy for Learning and Teaching and is now freely available to all Loughborough University staff and students from any desktop or mobile device.

So why not login with your University username and password and take advantage of what www.Lynda.com is offering you. Please click here for guidance on how to login.

School-specific suggested playlists…

The school-specific playlists provide a snapshot of the availability on Lynda.com. All you have to do is click on ‘copy’ then ‘edit playlist’ and you’re ready to add or remove courses/videos to make it more tailored to your subject area.  Please be aware that there may be more content suitable to your school which is not currently on the playlists. Guidance for creating playlists is available here.

To access the playlists, click here to view the list of schools. Click on your School name e.g. Wolfson School and explore the list of recommended courses.

MS Excel and Office 365 playlists…

Two Excel playlists have also been curated suitable for staff and students to watch at any time available on the CAP webpages. Take advantage of these Excel playlists to improve your skills using the key functions and advanced features within Microsoft Excel:

  • MS Excel Overview and Key Features – This playlist combines an introduction to Excel 2016 for those with limited experience or who need a refresher, together with some more in-depth information on the use of formulas, functions and charts. It is an example of how you can create a more tailored list of videos, rather than just a long list of courses.
  • MS Excel 2016 Advanced Features and Functions – This playlist contains selected videos on some of the more commonly used advanced functions and features of Microsoft Excel 2016 and provides links to some in-depth courses for those wishing to explore them in more detail.

Are you using Office 365 Groups? Well now you can watch a playlist which covers the main and important features of Office Groups, helping you to use the tool in the most efficient way. Click here to access the playlist.

What is the engagement on Lynda.com like so far?

Since Oct 2017 to June 2018 a total of 1652 unique users have viewed content on Lynda.com of which 655 were staff/researchers and 997 students. During this time there have been a total of 4170 hours of skills training watched overall, 1944 hours by staff/researchers and 2226 by students.

The word cloud below provides an overview of the content being viewed on Lynda.com.

If you have any further questions or would like access to more in-depth statistics of courses viewed by each department/School, please contact Jaina Pattni.

Disaster risk reduction is child’s play

Recent disasters all around the world have highlighted the importance of incorporating disaster risk reduction (DRR) considerations into design, construction and operation of the built environment; however many built environment professionals (e.g. architects, civil engineers, planners) have not received the training required for dealing with DRR. We thus decided to incorporate DRR into the UG programmes delivered at the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, and with the support from the Teaching Innovation Award, we introduced a ‘Disaster Risk Reduction is Child’s Play’ project, aimed to create a range of interactive models using LEGO and other modular toys that demonstrate a range of important resilient DRR features that are uniquely designed to cope with floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other hazards and threats, and encourage multi-disciplinary collaboration among future built environment professionals.

Throughout the academic year we ran a series of workshops introducing students to disaster risk reduction, with a hands-on session during which the students tested seismic performance of different structures using K’Nex; discussing urbanisation and its role in creating vulnerabilities that turn natural hazards into disasters, with a hands-on session during which students were asked to plan a city using an outlined base map of a city and 3D printed cubes that represented various city elements and densities; and creating ideas for a small post-disaster shelter using the LEGO Designer software.

Once students felt comfortable with the ideas behind disaster risk reduction, a competition was launched. Two student teams worked to build disaster resilient models that were then presented at an evening event and were local practitioners and members of academic and CAP staff.

Whilst the main aim of the competition was to consider disaster risk reduction measures, it also encouraged students from different programmes (architecture and civil engineering) to work together and to realise that in order to build resilience, collaboration is the key.Author: Ksenia Chmutina

Virtual Reality in STEM Teaching – End of project update

A year down the line with our Teaching Innovation Award and we are very proud of how far we have come. What was once a ‘pie in the sky’ idea to create our own Loughborough STEM subject specific virtual reality application has come true and its going even further as we have been awarded a follow up TIA to extend it with different disciplines and onto a module.

The project was to test the concept of using virtual reality in lab teaching, primarily as a pre-lab exercise. We created an application based on the Chemistry experiment ‘Absorption Spectrophotometry’ that was based on the students completing 3 rooms in virtual reality.

The student first enters the ‘Familiarisation room’ where they put on their lab coat, get used to the environment and carry out short tasks like identifying apparatus.

They then enter the room that is most like a lab the ‘Experiment room’ and carry out the experiment using objects in a similar way that they would in the lab but with instructions and graphs on the walls around them for context.

Finally, the students, once getting the correct answer in their experiment, enter the ‘Advanced Molecular room’ where they can look at magnified versions of the atom structures, turn them around and examine their centre of symmetry.

Interwoven into all of this are 360° pictures of our very own STEMLab so the students have a connection to the labs they learn in.

Our student developer Nik Demosthenous was fantastic, he helped bring the academic content to life we are very grateful to him and think it’s great to be able to tap into the talent we have in our student body within these sorts of projects.

So, did we prove the concept was worthwhile? We think so!

We carried out two lots of student tests, with a total of 20 Chemistry student testers who completed surveys before and after using the VR to compare results.

We will be presenting our findings at this year’s Learning and Teaching conference, but the main headline is 80% of the students want more virtual reality and all reported that they felt the VR had improved their learning.

Author: Samantha Chester

Advance HE Mental Well-being Training: Embedding Mental Well-being in the Curriculum

In the following post Dr Sarah Turner (Director of the CAP Taught Course Programme) reflects on the recent Advance HE workshop on ‘Embedding Mental Well-being in the Curriculum’

With many key headlines surrounding Mental Health of students, this workshop was a good reminder to stand back and consider how we can support students (and staff) within our programme design.

Here are some points to digest and consider over the coming months about how we encourage positive learning opportunities that also create a supportive learning environment to promote positive mental health:

  • Teachers are the frontline for students – what could/should we be doing about this? How do we cover this in our tutor roles?
  • Post-graduate / Undergraduates / Foundation students – useful for staff to know the weeks where there are known ‘dips’ in student/staff well-being e.g. period of assessment, after Christmas. Encouraging sharing of well-being as a mode to ‘check-in’ with students.
  • World Health Organisation definition (2014) helpful to consider:
  • It’s everywhere but often invisible so perhaps the challenge is making it more explicit?
  • A5 diagnostic chart for each member of staff (on their wall/desk) so they know who to contact if something arises with a student in a tutorial?
  • 5 ways to embed well-being in a curriculum (by New Economic Foundation NEF):
    • Connect – connecting with students, personal 1:1, making friends in seminars, connections through learning in the classroom
    • Be active –  moving around e.g. walks together
    • Take notice – encourage people to be aware of their environment in Teaching and learning
    • Give – peer support / peer learning / how students give back to the Uni and how they can be citizens
    • Keep learning – foster independence, self-direction amongst students e.g. week 5 is health and well-being week – come along and colour the Uni colour map or come for a massage

Further Resources from the workshop are available below:

 

2018 Research-informed Teaching Awards now open

The Research-informed Teaching Awards (RiTAs) have been launched for 2017/18.
They are designed to “recognise and celebrate academic staff who have made a sustained and outstanding contribution to the promotion of research-informed teaching at Loughborough University”.

There have been a number of changes to the RiTA over recent years, including making this a more competitive process with no limits on the number of applications each School may make.

Applicants for this award will need to submit a claim to their School Operations Manager or ADT by 9th March 2018. As with the Teaching Innovation Awards, our other teaching award, full details are on the CAP website – see http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/cap/procedures-schemes/teaching-awards/