Using video to help with anxiety

This post was created by PGCert participants as part of their assessment for Unit 1 of the 2019/20 course. The brief was to choose two specific learning needs and evaluate technologies that could help students with these needs to learn more effectively.

Anxiety can be hard to manage, especially while studying in higher education. It is defined as a “subjective feeling of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry” which is strong enough to substantially hinder an individual’s daily activities and social life (Vitasari et al., 2010: 490). Fear of deadlines, presentations and being in a busy environment can take its toll. Anxiety can present itself in different ways and is very individual. You do not have to be diagnosed to suffer with anxiety. Experiencing symptoms and feeling anxious is universal.

Using digital technologies such as video recording can help to reduce anxiety within learning. Students should be provided with opportunities and active experiences, forming of activities and resources that allow them to construct their own experiences in line with theories or active learning (Aubrey and Riley, 2019). The option to pre-record a video for a crit or a tutorial could take away the ‘in the moment’ anxiety of presenting work. Continue reading

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Using OneNote to help students with dyslexia

This post was created by PGCert participants as part of their assessment for Unit 1 of the course. The brief was to choose two specific learning needs and evaluate technologies that could help students with these needs to learn more effectively.

Individuals with dyslexia face a range of challenges during higher education courses, particularly during tasks which require intensive reading and writing. OneNote software has various functions which could be useful for some dyslexic students. Microsoft advertises the app as a ‘free organizer-productivity notebook app’, and it does have some features which certainly could help students with particular forms of dyslexia become more productive.

The immersive reader and accessibility functions responds to many of the issues highlighted by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA, 2018) as challenges for those with dyslexia, including producing:

  • Readable fonts (e.g. spacing between letters, avoiding ‘visual crowding’)
  • Easy addition of headings and sub-headings
  • Appropriate colour contrasts

Continue reading

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Transition in: Level 4 strategies to keep students ‘on board’


As the new term begins and we start to build in activities to transition our new students into UCA courses, we thought you might find it useful to see what other programmes at UCA have done to keep Level 4 (first year) students ‘on board’ with their studies.  The Creative Education team talked to our Performing Arts and Architecture courses, about their success in non-continuation practices at Level 4.  Here are some tips from both courses: Continue reading

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Building student engagement and belonging through personal development tutoring


The university has recently introduced a new personal development policy across all UCA courses, but why have we introduced this, what does this mean for the student experience and how are we going to implement this?

Why have we introduced Personal Development Tutoring?

At UCA, we annually monitor student retention data, reporting on patterns of interruption and withdrawal across the student lifecycle.  These studies have revealed particular attrition issues around level 4, where students are at greatest risk of dropping out of their studies with us.  There may be a variety of reasons why students drop out at this stage.  Academic issues, feelings of isolation and/or not fitting in and concern about achieving future aspirations as the primary reasons why students think about leaving. In 2018, we conducted in-house research on the first year experience (Barratt, 2018) BAME student experience (Dixon-Smith, 2018) and Induction Tutoring (Allder & Fitzwater, 2018).  All of these studies reveal the value and benefit of ongoing pastoral support to enable students navigate university life and work life balance to achieve success in their studies.

So..what is personal development tutoring? Continue reading

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“It is not about the mark, but the feedback experience you get”

Formative assessment

There are often varied interpretations and understandings, held by students and academics, on what is feedback, how feedback is defined (ie difference between formative and summative) and how this can inform learning.  From the student perspective, most complaints focus on the technicalities of feedback, including content, organization of assessment activities, timing, and lack of clarity about requirements (Higgins, Hartley, & Skelton, 2001), and from the lecturer perspective, the issues revolve around students not making use of or acting on feedback.  Rather disappointingly, these extrinsic aspects of assessment and feedback practice continue to dominate the National Student Survey (NSS).  Such perceptions and experiences of the assessment and feedback process can sometimes mean that students are unaware or unappreciative of formative assessment experiences as opportunities for learning, instead fixating on the assessment process: the turnaround of marks, the costs of involved to produce work for assessment and the perceived lack of fairness with grades and feedback. These experiences often mask the potential of formative assessment to shift learners away from extrinsic motivation towards intrinsic motivation and autonomous learning. Continue reading

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Second year blues: transitioning beyond the second year


With the increasing focus on retention and student success being placed on universities, the process of transition into higher education and the first year experience have been subject to extensive research. Based on that research, most institutions have developed a range of activities and interventions to support the process of transition through activities such as pre-arrival orientations, induction activities, peer mentoring schemes etc (Gardner et al, 2001; Schnell et al, 2003; Harvey et al, 2006; Hultberg et al, 2008).  Here at UCA, we have conducted research into the transition of students into university life and the factors impacting student success.  In-house research has included studies of interruption and withdrawal, the first year experience and induction tutoring.   Interventions we have put in place include Personal Development Tutoring and specific improvements in student induction to mitigate against student interruption and withdrawal. Continue reading

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Student as consultant?

Students as consultant

In 2014/15, the Higher Education Academy (HEA) developed a ‘Framework for partnership in learning and teaching in higher education’ as a way to bring focus to discussions about student engagement and the concept of partnership. In the framework:

‘…partnership is understood as a relationship in which all involved are actively engaged in and stand to gain from the process of learning and working together to foster engaged student learning and engaging learning and teaching enhancement. Partnership is essentially a way of doing things, rather than an outcome in itself.’ (HEA 2014)

There are many ways we can work with in partnership with students.  These include the following:

Learning, teaching and assessment: this type of partnership casts students as active participants in their learning. Partnership approaches might be typified by the following:

  • focusing on collaborative and active learning (e.g. flipping the classroom, experiential learning, community building and placement learning);
  • giving students a level of choice and ownership in learning experiences;
  • placing students in different roles (e.g. as tutors, mentors or assessors) and as co-designers of learning materials and resources.

Continue reading

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