SEDA Autumn Conference 2019 – New Frontiers in educational and curriculum development 14th and 15th November 2019 in Leeds

Day 2 started with a Key note by Michelle Morgan titled New frontiers in improving the way we support and relate to students. Michelle discussed the need to review who is participating in higher education. Whilst full time students have increased the part time students have decreased. The 17/18 figures how that 85.6% of students come from the UK, 5.4% come from the EU and 9% from overseas. There is currently a decrease in 18 year old students and this will continue with a further 2% decrease over the next two years but there will then be an increase again due to demographics.

The student body is very diverse and there has been an increase in mental health issues. Student expectations are that they will have better employment chances and value for money. There are many challenges for staff with metrics driving the sector which is providing immense work pressures on staff with reduced funding , declining resources and increased administration duties. Added to this are the increasing number of initiatives that staff have to engage with. However, we assume that students know how to study and we do not find out what their expectations are which include being concerned about their level of study, worries about fitting into their new class and a lack of confidence. Student engagement is important but it is difficult to measure and attendance does not equate to engagement. We need to manage study expectations and set boundaries and milestones. Student Minds have published two guides for students called “Know before you go” and “Transitions” which can be found here When students start we should focus on academic activities as well as induction information and provide an introduction to study.

There were a range of parallel sessions again and Mary Kitchener, Jackie Potter and Kathryna Kwok provided a session on Bringing the backstage conversations front of stage: a whole organisational approach to inclusive teaching They discussed an initiative that was focused on fostering practices that are collective rather than individual which Oxford Brookes started in 2015. They had developed an inclusive curriculum framework using the universal design principles and had engaged staff and students in a range of sandpit events to focus on actions that could be taken. This provided a place for conversations to take place. They had also developed a range of resources to support staff with this and these can be found

There were some assessment sessions about using rubrics and engaging students with feedback through using a visual which the students and staff mapped the assessment grade too. here

Tim Herrick discussed a Student observation of Teaching scheme which he was supporting. This is a scheme that students apply for and staff volunteer to take part. The students and staff then are paired and this is an across department scheme. There is ethical approval for the project and students are given preparation with workshops and drop ins provided. The observations take place between January and April and at the end of the observation both students and staff are asked to engage in a written reflection. The students felt that they gained a sense of autonomy and achievement but also an appreciation of teaching and had a clearer sense of partnership. The staff felt this helped develop their practice, they gained feedback on their practice and there was a fostering of a community around learning and teaching.

The conference then finished with a final key note by Phil Race titled I was born under a wandering star – where next in learning, teaching and assessment? 

Phil talked about the uncertain future at present but outlined the eight concurrent paradigms we work with.
1. Online information and the internet is normal, ‘digital’ has now ‘grown up’ and is no longer something different and we should stop seeing this as separate.
2. There is more attention on learning rather than teaching which is right
3. There is less focus on classes as transmission occasions
4. Learning – centred approaches to assessment of student outcomes is more common place
5. There is a greater focus on feedback dialogues, and development of feedback literacy by students
6. There is increased recognition of the skills, attitudes and behaviours graduates need to be work-ready
7. It is the responsibility of institutions to prepare students for active citizenship in their own communities, nations and globally
8. There is increased recognition of the need for teaching staff to be trained, qualified and accredited as teachers.

Phil then discussed the need for us to support our students ownership of their learning and to keep them learning by doing practice, trial and error and repetition. We need to ensure they really use feedback from us as lecturers but also from each other. We need to help them make sense of what they are learning and deepen this learning by verbalising and explaining this learning. We also need to support them assessing their learning and assessing each other’s learning.


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