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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Addressing the attainment gap at UCA

Students in the libraryOver the last few decades, the widening participation policies of successive UK governments have led to higher participation rates among 18 to 21 year old black and minority ethnic (BME) students (Sanders and Rose-Adams, 2014).  At the same time, the difference in degree attainment remains at just over a 15% gap between BME students and non-BME students in terms of achieving a 2:1 or 1st degree outcome.  In September, Advance HE published the data for 2016-17, which revealed:

  • 75.1% of Chinese students were awarded a good honours degree (a degree attainment gap of 4.5 pp)
  • 68.7% of Asian students (a gap of 10.9 pp)
  • 55.5% of black students (a gap of 24.1 pp)

It is vital that we explore intersectionality as we seek to address these gaps. For example, 52.8% of black male students gained a good honours degree in 2016-17 (a gap of 24.8 pp from white male students) while 28.6% of white students gained a first class degree compared to 12.3% of black students (a gap of 16.3 pp). Students’ chosen subject also affects their chances of attaining a good honours degree. In 2016-17, the BME attainment gap was 11.3% in science, engineering and technology (SET) subjects and 15.4% in non-SET subjects.

These figures show that Higher Education currently reproduces racial inequalities. As a result, action is being taken to address this across the sector. Continue reading

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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?


I 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. Continue reading

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