Happy New CEN!

A very Happy New Year to you all!

New Year is a great time for new beginnings, and so it is with great pleasure that I’m able to announce the official launch of the Creative Education Network (CEN).

What is CEN?

The CEN is a connected learning community that provides educational development opportunities across UCA’s four campuses. You may well be thinking, ‘how is this different to teaching and learning..?’, so let me explain the choice of words:

  • Creative reflects the creativity that is inherent in learning, and the creative focus of the University. We offer ways to enhance educational activity that are contextualised through the lens of your discipline so that they are consistent with creative practice;
  • Education goes beyond the binary opposition of ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’ and recognises that we constantly switch between ‘teacher’ and ‘learner’ through our work. The term ‘education’ also acknowledges the diversity of educational work that is undertaken at UCA by colleagues in a range of roles;
  • Network describes the expertise that is distributed across the Univeristy, and focuses on connecting people with the knowledge they need.

The CEN is coordinated by myself and Annamarie Mckie, the leader of our HEA Fellowship professional recognition scheme, and its core actvity is driven by the CEN team including Dr. Nicholas Houghton, Sallyanne Theodosiou, Ray Martin, John Sutter, and Gill Wilson. However, the real value lies in the extensive network of knowledge and expertise across the University – this is you. The purpose of the CEN is to provide flexible ways for you to access and participate in this community of excellence in creative education.

What’s in it for you?

The CEN provides contextualised educational development. This means that our focus is on conecting you with the person, the knowledge, or the learning opportunity that can help you solve the problem you are currently facing, and to achieve this through the lens of your discipline. You’ll gain access to:

  • a supportive and extensive community of practice to help you enhance your educational work;
  • contextualised knowledge and expertise to help you tackle a range of issues including retention, achievement and student success;
  • our online database of research and good practice in creative education called ‘Bassline’;
  • assistance with the development and dissemination of pedagogic research outputs Continue reading
Posted in Creative Education, Professional Development | 4 Comments

Why do a PGCert or MA in Creative Education?







Whether you are preparing for your first ever class, or want to become a first class educator, UCA’s PGCert and MA in Creative Education will enhance your confidence and creativity in the classroom.

The courses enable you to improve your knowledge of education and develop a more informed approach to teaching and supporting learning. By enrolling on the PGCert or MA, you gain entry into a supportive community of practitioners within which you can ask challenging questions to help you improve your educational practice. You’ll have the opportunity to review your achievements and develop the knowledge and professional values that underpin your approach to learning.

A PGCert and an MA in Creative Education are transferable qualifiations that demonstrate your commitment to student success. They also look great on your CV.

What topics does the PGCert cover?

From September 2018, the PGCert in Creative Education will cover the following topics (please note that this is an indicative list and subject to change through the periodic review process): Continue reading

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What is excellent teaching in your discipline?


There is a tendency for the Arts to under-value its distinctive disciplinary practices around learning and teaching, but we should be more confident in sharing our practical and creative practices. The arrival of the Teaching Excellence Framework is bringing a greater focus on the need for excellent teaching in universities.

But what is excellent teaching? And what does it mean in the context of the Arts?

We would love you to tell us what excellent teaching looks like in your discipline so that we can share your examples across the university and beyond. The Creative Education Network is here to champion your successes and to connect tutors with creative approaches to education.

Please add your stories in the comments below, or if you would prefer please email them to creatednet@uca.ac.uk.

Thank you in advance for your time, let’s show the world what excellence looks like in Arts education!

Posted in Art & Design Education, Creative Education | 1 Comment

Retention strategies that work


Student retention is a growing issue that affects us all. But what can we do about it?

Since 2008, the Higher Education Academy has been undertaking research into effective strategies for student retention and success. The first phase of their What Works? project led to the creation of a Compendium of Effective Practice for Retention which examines six aspects of retention: Continue reading

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Inclusion project updates


The Learning Support Co-ordinators contributing to the UCA Inclusivity Project are working on a number of projects, some currently in development and others are currently being run as pilots.  Please do contact the colleagues referenced in this update for further information and details.

Campus buddy scheme

This scheme is currently running at Canterbury, Farnham and Rochester (no student volunteers came forward at the Epsom campus). Student volunteers buddy with a new student during their first term and help with some of the general concerns they may have around settling in and making connections with appropriate University services where required. The scheme has initially been offered to students with Autistic spectrum conditions, and over the next term it will be widened to students with other disabilities who may be struggling to settle in for a range of reasons.

Continue reading

Posted in How Students Learn, Inclusivity, Learning Support, Student Centred Learning | 2 Comments

BME student experience report

Black business man pointing up isolated over white

Title: Co-researching beyond the category: a thematic analysis of a student-led focus group study into BME student experiences at the University for the Creative Arts

Author: Steve Dixon-Smith
Co-researchers: Adeola Elugbadebo-Solomons, Bethan Dadson, Samuel Ntim Ababio, Kanndiss Riley
Project sponsor: Allan Atlee, Head of the School of Architecture, UCA

Executive Summary


This report documents a project that set out to generate awareness and understanding of the student experience of BME students across the four UCA campuses in order to aid the development of inclusive practices that complement the diversity of the student body. It provides a thematic analysis of focus group data collected and filtered with the assistance of a team of four student co-researchers working under a ‘students as partners’ model of participatory research. The analysis is followed by a series of institution specific recommendations that respond to a recent HEFCE (2015) commissioned report setting out key areas for Higher Education Institutions to address in relation to these issues. Continue reading

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How can induction tutoring help with retention?

People Studying In A Library

Report authors

  • Lynda Fitzwater (Senior Lecturer, Fashion Promotion and Imaging)
  • Katie Allder (Senior Lecturer, Fashion Promotion and Imaging)

Executive summary

This qualitatively-researched cross-campus UCA report highlights course leaders’ views on level 4 tutoring practices and retention. Email and phone interviews after 2017’s resits, facilitated retrospection. We asked two initial questions around retention, attrition and withdrawal; How is tutorial support for stage one students working on your course? How do you experience this as linked to retention, attrition and withdrawal?

As an institution, we need to respond resiliently to shifts in the HE landscape. The research has shown the demand and need for additional pastoral care and support, and training for lecturers to provide professional for this demand in ameliorating issues with withdrawal. This, in addition to ‘getting to know…students quickly…through regular conversations in the classroom and day-to-day passing’, are all essential for student retention alongside increasing student confidence, mental health and financial issues.


Continue reading

Posted in First Year Experience, Inclusivity, Retention, Student Centred Learning, Student Engagement, Wellbeing | Leave a comment