2019 Oral Presentations – Session 1

Presentation 1: Counting all backgrounds: how do accounting students navigate an interdisciplinary module?

Authors: Jane Neal-Smith and Philip Linsley
The York Management School

Link to Slides – requires York login

The York Management School (TYMS) is at the start of a process of embedding interdisciplinary teaching within its programmes and modules. This has provoked debates amongst TYMS staff as to how we should understand ‘interdisciplinary teaching’ and, in turn, this has prompted the co-deliverers of a postgraduate Accounting and Risk module to (re)consider what interdisciplinary teaching is and the challenges it presents for student learning and for staff developing interdisciplinary modules.

The module examines key risk theories and these originate from a range of disciplines including sociology, anthropology, and psychology. Students then apply these alternative risk perspectives to issues relating to accounting. It is evident students have difficulties navigating their way across the disciplines, not only in terms of assimilating the broad range of content but also in respect of having to ‘learn the language’ of each discipline, in the short space of a nine week term. The majority of the students are international and in their prior undergraduate study have no experience of discipline areas beyond the accounting-management field which further adds to their difficulties.   

We are using our experiences in the module as an opportunity to explore ways we can assist the students and how they can assist one another using a priori knowledge to become more adept at translating the language of different disciplines. In presenting an account of our practice in ‘interdisciplinary’ learning and teaching we also wish to stimulate debate as to what can (and cannot) be described as an ‘interdisciplinary’ module. =

Chair Report

In this presentation, Jane Neal-Smith and Philip Linsley shared their experience moving into interdisciplinary teaching. They researched the best way to do that while also keeping the subject specialism, they thought that maybe it would be a good way to do it embedding it. But first of all they thought it would make sense to research the definition of interdisciplinarity.

In the world of management the concept of risk has in recent years become more relevant within the domain of accounting. Hence the development of the new Management PG Accounting and Risk module (20 credits). It is an interdisciplinary module where each week an idea of risk from a different academic discipline, such as sociology, anthropology and psychology — is chosen to discuss alternative perspectives of risk and apply the concepts to accounting and auditing issues.

Jane Neal-Smith and Philip Linsley presenting the module aims and learning outcomes of the new module

The module has been welcomed by students with good pass rates, including a limited number of merits and distinctions. Plans for the future are:

  • PAL/ peer support
  • Set groups with mixed subject specialisms
  • Pedagogical change

Being a new and interdisciplinary module, perhaps, a pedagogical change could be the combination of PAL/ peer work and a new form of assessment, so that students would do some group work, to foster dialogue and reflection. They would then publish their reflection in an online portfolio — developing more professional skills — which could amount to 20% or so of the total module mark.


Presentation 2: Building effective learning communities for IPC Foundation students at the University of York

Author: Julia Lancaster
International Pathway College

Link to Slides – requires York login

In September 2019, Foundation students progressing from the International Pathway College will start their Undergraduate degrees in twenty departments in the Faculties of Arts & Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences at the University of York. Coming from a wide range of educational and linguistic backgrounds, the Foundation programmes prepare these students with the language, study skills, and experience of UK Higher Education they will need to be successful at undergraduate level. This presentation follows the delivery of a revised curriculum in the IPC in 2018-19, which was designed to better fit the students’ progression degrees at York and create opportunities for progression into the Faculty of Arts & Humanities.

The session will outline the learning experiences of Foundation students in the IPC, including how we use collaborative learning and assessment, create cross-module linkages, foster learning group identities, and facilitate peer support for tutors. Developing these concepts further, the session will then consider ways in which these students can continue to be supported at university, scope for enhancing the experience of all students through sharing cultural knowledge, and opportunities for staff collaboration across departments.

Chair Report

In the second presentation of the session, Julia Lancaster introduced us to the six new Foundation programmes from the International Pathway College (IPC) that started this last academic year with 169 students aiming to progress to 23 degrees/departments at the University. The students were from 26 different countries and their ages ranged from 16 to 23 years old.

In the Foundation pathways they focus on collaborative learning and assessment opportunities, fostering learning and group identities. Students discuss and reflect on the subjects they study, their work preferences and their learning throughout their programme.

Staff development in the IPC is supported with peer observation of the teaching of different disciplines and modules. A good practice that allows for L&T development and staff collaboration, fostering opportunities to enhance the overall student experience.

It was very interesting to find out more about the IPC. I wonder if students do any peer work too with British students as depending on their mother tongue there may be opportunities to collaborate with local schools where students are learning those languages. Perhaps, even with students from my Department, Language and Linguistic Science and LFA students.

Julia Lancaster presenting the learning experiences of the IPC students

Presentation 3: Treading in the footsteps of giants: Creating communities of practice for teaching & scholarship academics

Authors: Jane Neal-Smith and Gill Bishop
The York Management School

Link to Slides – requires York login

Lecturers on Teaching and Scholarship contracts are increasingly interested in being involved in pedagogical research. This brings an interest and passion in the learning processes used to engage and elicit student involvement in the quest to develop critical learners which demands rethinking and reflexing on our academic practices. For experienced lecturers it can often feel uncomfortable re-examining pedagogy and learning processes that have served us well for a number of years.

In reflecting on our own practice, and in a sense taking the position of ‘students’ as we learn, we developed the idea of using inspirational places as the venue for writing retreats and using the concept of action learning sets to provide support (Revans, 2011).

This 15 minute session will be delivered as a conversation between two academic using dialogue as a way of developing understanding of academic writing retreats and how they can support Lecturers on T & S contracts develop confidence and skills preparing for publication. In developing the dialogue we can see how this helps us in becoming more reflexive in our practice and more critical in our understanding of pedagogical issues of importance. Through cultivating academic writing retreats for the subject group, we aim to create communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1998).

Chair Report

Jane Neal-Smith and Gill Bishop wanted to find out ways to develop scholarship for staff on T&S contracts.

After some dialogue and reflection Jane and Gill decided that it would be a good idea to organise a writing retreat with other colleagues. And they thought that a good place to celebrate the retreat would be Ampleforth Abbey, a Benedictine monastery and college located in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, where by sheer coincidence I was invited to speak at a Modern Foreign Language school conference a few years ago. During the writing retreat Jane and Gill would be able to discuss and reflect with the other colleagues — about fifteen or so in total —  challenging ideas to get them out of the ‘shed’, so that they can help one another to find a way forward to see through some of the good ideas they have kept in the ‘shed’ for so long.

They will collect feedback at the retreat to be able to evaluate the experience and think of ways to keep on improving the experience to expand and improve L&T and increase scholarship/development opportunities for academic staff.


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