Mental health – be prepared


Mental health issues now affect a significant number of university students. In this post, UCA’s Ray Martin highlights key warning signs for both Home/EU and International students, and provides guidance about what you can do.

What are the statistics?

  • 29% of university students have mental illnesses.
  • 78% think they have had a mental problem at some point.
  • 1.5% disclose to HEIs.
  • 75% disclose their mental health conditions to fellow students.
    (UMHAN, 2017)

Key warning signs

  • Changes in mood e.g. elevated or decreased mood, increased anxiety
  • Irritability or tearfulness
  • Restlessness
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss
  • Reduced concentration and memory
  • Loss of initiative or desire to participate
  • Decrease or increase in speech speed
  • Increased difficulty making decisions
  • Placement non-attendance e.g. unexplained absence or sick leave
  • Reduced communication or withdrawal
  • Changes in presentation and cleanliness
  • Reduced performance
  • Poor organisation and time management
  • Changes in ability to think logically
    (UMHAN, 2017)

Continue reading

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Inclusive fashion curriculum

Welters and Lillethun

We are delighted to have our first guest post from Professor Victoria Kelley, UCA’s Director of Research and Education.  Here, Victoria reflects on a recent seminar she attended on decolonising the fashion curriculum.  The speaker, Dr Elizabeth Kutesko discussed decolonising the fashion curriculum, based on her research on fashion cultures in Brazil.

It is all too easy to assume that ‘fashion’ is an exclusively western phenomenon, a symptom of modernity that has its roots in capitalist economies and societies—and to allow the canonical history of western high fashion to be over-dominant in teaching fashion. Fashion historians have debated both when and where fashion first appeared, but most of the answers they have come up with have been Euro-centric. As Giorgio Riello and Peter McNeil assert ‘most of the world, including Africa and Asia, as well as great parts of the Americas and Eastern Europe, are sidelined and often totally ignored in histories of fashion’. I’ve found their collection, The Fashion History Reader: global perspectives (2010) to be a great starting point in taking a wider view. Linda Welters and Abby Lillethun’s new publication, Fashion History: a global view (2018) also looks very useful. Continue reading

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Opportunities for professional development

Girls with book roundUCA offers a range of professional development opportunities for staff. Whether you are looking to obtain a formal teaching qualification, or explore new ways of enhancing your teaching or supporting learning, we can provide you with the support you need.

  • PGCert in Creative Education: this is an 8-month online course that is a recognised teaching qualification for staff working in Higher Education. The course enables you to learn about inclusive learning, teaching, and assessment in creative contexts, and to relate your role to the wider context of the Higher Education sector. The course enables you to achieve professional recognition as an Associate Fellow and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Find out more.
  • HEA Professional Recognition: this is a 5-month programme that enables you to become an Associate Fellow, Fellow or Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). These routes to fellowship of the HEA are also recognised teaching qualifications for staff working in Higher Education. Our Professional. Recognition programme provides you with opportunities to review and reflect on your experiences of teaching and/or supporting learning, and to make connections with colleagues from across the university. Find out more.
  • myLearning and Development: this area contains a range of e-learning modules. These provide a quick and easy way for you to develop your knowledge and skills in a range of teaching related areas, including:
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High impact learning strategies

Sometimes you come across research that you just can’t ignore. While a lot of educational research can be context-dependent and difficult to generalise, just occasionally somebody pulls it all together. In his seminal book on teaching and learning in higher education, John Biggs highlights a piece of research done by Hattie (2009) into ‘what works […]

via High impact learning strategies — tonyjreeves

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Engaging students with the reading by re-thinking the reading list

People Studying In A Library

In her recent article for UCA’s journal JUICE entitled ‘Rethinking the reading list’, Ray Martin offers the provocation that the reading list might be dead. Ray observes that there are lots of things we should be doing  in our teaching practice to recognize diversity in all its forms. But how do we enact this in practice, particularly when we have so little time to reflect on our teaching practice and we may feel hide bound by quality assurance guidelines?

James Walker, Senior Lecturer in Illustration at UCA Farnham, decided to have a radical re-think of the way he was engaging students with the reading for first year study in Illustration.  He devised a ‘Pecha Kucha assignment ’, whereby Year 1 students research an artist and select a particular piece of work to build a presentation around. Their research must include at least 3 books, 2 journals. To help students with this, James  devised an Inclusive Resource List of Artists.  The artist list is more international in focus in attempt to move away from a overly Western focus. It also provides a link to an article or interview on the artists to help students.

For further help on developing a more inclusive set of readings for your students, Martin (2018) gives the following advice to course teams undertaking validation and review: Continue reading

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Become a mentor in creative education?


  • Have you achieved HEA Fellowship in the last 5 years?
  • Are you familiar with the UKPSF and see its value as a pedagogical tool to reflect on creative education?
  • Are you interested in non-formal, practice based learning opportunities at your campus?
  • Do you enjoy ‘talking about teaching’ and see this as way of meeting new colleagues and developing your own professional learning
  • Are you looking to build more evidence of D3 criteria, D3.VII, to make a claim for Senior Fellowship.

If this has ticked off some interests, how about becoming a mentor in creative education at UCA? Continue reading

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Online social learning spaces for building campus communities?

Self actualisationUCASU provide a number of groups, societies and activities for students at UCA to join at each campus.  Many students at UCA take up this offer, but providing campus experiences is a key challenge for our four campus communities.  Some of this may be about student availability (ie holding down jobs, needing to get back home), but it seems there might also be some value to moving beyond the physical and exploring the possibilities of creating online collaborative spaces, co-created by students.  These could be used for online peer groups, mentoring, study groups, etc.  Whilst we have anecdotal evidence of the range of social media tools used across UCA courses (What’s App, Facebook, Instagram, Base Camp, Linked In), we have never conducted a study of this area and we have never really captured the student voice around this.

Between 2017 and 2018, we commissioned George Charman, Senior Lecturer (FE), Epsom, to lead a learning and teaching project to explore this area.  The study explored the literature around online social learning and talked to UCA students to find out what online tools they were engaging with, and what tools they would help build more of a sense of community and belonging with their course and campus.  The final study, entitled Towards a digital Village- The Use of Online Social Learning within Higher Education is published here.

The key conclusions from the research invite us to reconsider how we facilitate the use of spaces on campus (studio, library, workshops, refectory) as places to de-compress dialectic online communication through active and more expressive dialogic critical engagement.  If we expanded our definitions of campus spaces, we could activate the campus as a trans-disciplinary tool for informal, self-actualized learning.  Our research suggests that we consider the benefit of an opening out of the institution through the creation of shared collaborative spaces, co-created by students that move ‘beyond the usual physical learning environment into collaborative open spaces’ that are both digital and physical.

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