Academic Exchange 2A

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Engaging students as partners in their learning

What are Academic Exchanges?

Our Academic Exchanges showcase innovative academic practice and support for learning from staff across the institution and partner colleges. Each colleague participating in an Exchange has produced a short digital artefact, which addresses an aspect of good practice in learning design. Many colleagues share their direct experiences of moving teaching online, whilst others showcase pedagogic approaches that are important to transfer to blended learning environments. These approaches include engaging with students as partners, delivery of inclusive and personalised learning, and embedding learning-oriented assessment.

Recording of the Q&A webinar

i. Democratic learning? The benefits and challenges of students as partners in an Applied Sociology project

Hazel Roberts (Natural & Social Sciences)

This presentation explores the benefits and challenges of a students-as-partners approach to project design and working within a Level 6 Applied Sociology module. It includes the perspectives of students and module tutor on their experiences of working on a group project which was not fixed at the module outset but rather developed through team work and group decision-making throughout the module. After some initial information gathering and stakeholder meetings to identify potential project partners, students were able to vote for their preferred project.

Significant benefits in relation to motivation, engagement and relevance to the workplace have been reported by students. The team working approach was valued by students and module tutor alike, and the piece will include a reflection from the module tutor on student-tutor power and leadership dynamics and how it felt to relinquish some forms of democratic ‘control’ in module decision-making and group discussions.

Challenges included the transfer to online team meetings in light of Covid-19, and the importance of finding the right topic and project partner. There will also be a discussion of the applicability of small group working within larger module cohorts. 

ii. Building a framework for creative peer critique

Lania Knight (Education & Humanities)

This session demonstrates a framework for helping students engage with peer critique in meaningful, constructive ways.

First, the session will examine the utilisation of enquiry-based and practise-oriented learning techniques in the creative writing workshop.

Then, the presentation will offer suggestions for applying these techniques to any discipline where students generate creative work and are asked to critique the work of their peers.

iii. Cross-national peer-to-peer mentoring in the context of teacher training: Reflective student exchange as a collaborative and complementary academic activity

Alex Masardo (Education & Humanities)

This presentation sets out the process and preliminary results of an international peer exchange involving student teacher trainees from the Universities of Gloucestershire (UK) and Girona (Spain).

The arguments underlying the initiative are based on the implicit benefits of cultural exchange as a complementary academic activity, the value of peer learning and the implementation of virtual training spaces (VTS) in higher education.

The context chosen for this project was the teaching practices of the students (n=16). The primary medium for reflection and discussion was a shared space on the VLE platform ELearn. This was bookended by student visits, which provided opportunities for socialisation and inculturation.

Qualitative analysis of the data shows high initial motivation that was difficult to sustain over time. An appreciation of the playful-cultural dimension of the project exceeded the specifically professional inputs, which included issues relating to innovation, classroom management, language teaching and digital literacies.

iv. Sustaining engagement in practical seminars

Alison Croad (Sport & Exercise)

This presentation will outline the process adopted for practical seminars on a level 5 module in the Sports Leadership, Education & Society (SLES) community.

Previous runs of the module had suffered with a drop off in student numbers as the semester progressed. This meant students were missing out on vital opportunities to practice their coaching techniques and implement the theoretical frameworks taught in the module.

The focus of the module is to develop coaches to think innovatively about their delivery and to understand the way that participants learn. The impact is to support coaches to use innovative coaching approaches to develop better participant decision makers.

To encourage engagement the module was designed to ensure coaches deliver every other week; thus, ensuring regular contact, engagement and progression of their practice. They received peer feedback, tutor feedback and had to self-reflect after each session.

The information gathered from their multiple sources of feedback then informed the topic of their presentation, assessment 002, and using the feedback to feed forward to show how they could innovate their practice further.

This intervention has been extremely successful with ensuring continued engagement as well as seeing significant improvements with the delivery of coaching sessions.

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