Creative Arts Technicians in Academia – Tim Savage


Webinar recording: Creative arts technicians in academic: to transition or not to transition?


How do technicians feel after moving into an academic role? UCA’s Tim Savage conducted research into the experiences of UCA technicians who have become academic staff, and his study was recently published in the Journal of Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education.

Tim’s research investigated whether the factors that have elevated the status of technicians have also eroded traditional academic roles, and whether this enables individuals to transition between what many experience as disparate camps. In this webinar, Tim will be talking about what he found out during the research, and will be discussing the relationship between technical and academic staff in higher education.


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Co-creation as a tool for course enhancement?

co-creation.pngI have been hearing a lot about the benefits of co-creation as a collaborative approach to including students as partners in pedagogical planning processes.

But just how do we go about shifting perspectives of students as stakeholders to students as co-creators?  Perhaps before we explore this, we should define what we mean by co-creation, what its value might be to staff and students and how we might use it as a curriculum enhancement tool.

What is co-creation?

Co-creation is the development of student-led, collaborative initiatives leading to co-created outputs. The outputs may be part of the curriculum (unit assessment driven for example) or co-curricular (related to the programme but not to a particular unit assessment/expectation). Co-creation can be applied to many areas of HE, in particular in curriculum development and research where students work in partnership with academics to improve the student experience.

Pedagogic perspective

Working on co-created initiatives enables active, experiential and problem-based learning, and facilitates student engagement. This helps students to develop new skills and confidence, learn how to apply knowledge, and has the potential to guide their career decisions and increase employability.

What is its value?

Co-creation has the potential to significantly impact upon institutional culture and enhance the student learning experience by creating a sense of a learning community. This is particularly likely where students are involved in curricular development and research, and work collaboratively with academics. At the same time, staff can gain much inspiration from the new, creative ideas of students and some co-creation projects have the potential to open up opportunities to work in partnership with external agencies and promote the reputation of the University for the Creative Arts to the wider community.

How might we use co-creation on UCA courses?

The Graphic Design courses at Epsom and Farnham piloted ‘co-creation’ as a tool for upcoming course periodic review.  The course teams felt that Co-creation would provide an opportunity to progress student inclusivity and development of robust practices for both creation and enhancement of their courses.  To this end, the course teams hosted an event, inviting academic colleagues, industry professionals, alumni, current students, external examiners and representatives from the Quality Assurance department to explore ideology and pedagogical enhancement.

The event was broken down into three parts:

  • introduction presentations from Course Leaders on course ideology and proposed changes, noting uniqueness of each course within the school portfolio.
  • part two explored ideology, career destination, relevance and added value of degree learning through small group discussion, groups clustered by whether the delegate was student, professional or academic etc.
  • part three explored the proposed course content in small mixed groups.

This event took place four months prior to the periodic review of these graphic design courses; however, as below, to best utilise the practice, it should begin at the start of either course creation or initial considerations of substantial course changes or review process.

The event took approximately six weeks to organise, dedicating a few hours per week. Workplace was predominantly used to collaborate on status and organisation. This time was devoted to: online, telephone and Skype planning; contacting stakeholders; creating an appropriate guest list; location scouting and organising catering for the event; devising the events activities; and promoting the event.

Students and alumni were invited to contribute from their unique experiences of their course within the school portfolio. The project was interested in finding out their views and understanding of the portfolio, their choices, their aspirations, whether the courses meet their aspirations, and if their expectations are compatible with the expectations of academics and industry professionals.

For a full report of the experience of using co-creation on the Graphic Design courses see Graphic Design Co-creation Event Notes

Links, resources and further information

Tools that support co-creation activities

  • Student Voice using Padlet Boards
  • Web seminars, webcasts and peer-level interactive learning using Collaborate
  • Audience response systems eg Mentimeter, Poll Anywhere
  • Peer learning and self assessment 




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NSS Student Success stories

Music journalism students Epsom

The Creative Education team have been talking to UCA courses with 90% or above in the National Student Survey.  The idea of the conversations has been to explore some of the creative pedagogies used to keep students satisfied with their course experiences.

We capture the first of these here, with an interview with Mark O’Connor, Course Leader for Music Journalism.

What approaches to learning, teaching and student engagement did you take last year?

We monitor everything unit by unit and always close the feedback loop at Course Boards.  This helps us to improve practice year on year.  Students are encouraged to feed back on the experience of doing the unit through a Unit Evaluation Form.  These are then gathered up by our Course Administrator in Campus Registry.  She minutes them and puts them into an action plan to form negative and positive feedback.

What do you think was distinctive about your approaches last year? How do you think this might have helped with NSS scores? Continue reading

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Nicholas’ teaching tips #4 and #5


A double helping of teaching tips this week from Dr. H – here they are:

If a learner has an unfamiliar ‘non-UK’ name, it is important to pronounce it as well as possible (rather than mess it up, or avoid using it). It is fine to ask for guidance from the student while you learn an unfamiliar name.

When giving feedback, have a checklist of things you will feedback on. (This might be informed by the assessment rubrics.) In this way, you make sure that all students receive parity of feedback on all the important points.

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Nicholas’ teaching tip #3


It’s time for Nicholas Houghton’s teaching tip of the week. This week’s tips is:

Learn all students’ names as soon as possible. You’ll find you can do it; we all can. By using their name every time you address them, you not only help them to feel valued, you help yourself to learn their name. The first session you might consider giving them post-its to wear with their names on, so you don’t have to keep asking their name.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash
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Creative Education professional development opportunities at UCA 2018-19

Grad hats in air copy

To support the university ambitions to develop excellent teaching, the Creative Education team have worked with key stakeholders across the university re-accredit our provision with the Higher Education Academy (part of Advance HE).  We have now developed an overarching framework of taught and experiential CPD learning and teaching, mapped against the UK Professional Standards Framework.  The Creative Education Professional Development Framework offers both taught and experiential routes to teaching qualification and/or professional recognition (see Visual on attached which articulates this) designed to fit around busy teaching schedules, as follows:

  • The new Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Education offers a 60-credit taught route to achieving HEA professional recognition aimed at newer teaching staff.
  • The Creative Education CPD scheme (UKPSF Descriptor 1-3) provides a self-directed route to achieving HEA professional recognition for experienced teaching staff.
  • Both routes provide an online, collaborative experience with face to face campus support, provided by a dedicated teaching team and/or network of campus based Creative Education Mentors.
  • Rather than produce a written account of professional practice, all participants are now required to ‘present their claim’ for recognition based on the evidence they have from reflecting on their teaching/supporting learning practice through the UKPSF (eg teaching observations and reflective commentaries)

If any teaching staff are interested in doing either a teacher qualification and/or making a claim for HEA Fellowship, please see the Creative Education Professional Development Framework.  If you require any further information please email the CEN team on


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Nicholas’ teaching tip #2


Nicholas Houghton’s tip for this week is:

If your teaching involves using technology, arrive early enough to be able to set it all up and ensure it is all working; ensure you have the contact details of the person to contact if it goes wrong and always have ‘up your sleeve’ [in reserve] a plan  B, that doesn’t involve technology, so that the session can proceed if the technology doesn’t work.

Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash

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