Leaning and teaching support activities

In the latest of our monthly posts from the Forum committee, Helen Bedford from Health Sciences encourages us to take advantage of the York Professional and Academic Development scheme.

As a relative newcomer to the University of York and rookie member of the Learning and Teaching Forum, I am enjoying accessing opportunities to enhance my scholarship of learning and teaching and to network across the institution. For this blog, I have been reflecting on some of these activities, and I would encourage colleagues to get involved with what’s on offer.

As a facilitator for the York Professional and Academic Development (YPAD) scheme, it’s a privilege to work with colleagues seeking recognition within the Fellowship category of the Higher Education Academy (HEA). YPAD is a pilot programme founded on the University’s Peer Support for Teaching (PST) Policy. The recently revised PST Policy Appendices articulate the breadth and scope of PST activities. These are invaluable within our YPAD Action Learning Group, where colleagues are planning and progressing individual PST projects amongst ‘critical friends’.

Joining the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching (SoLT) Network has been thought provoking and challenging. The SoLT network operates via a journal club over an informal lunch. Delving into pedagogical literature that I may not otherwise have accessed has caused me to rethink the extent and nature of evidence that supports effective learning and teaching in HE in general, and in my professional discipline of midwifery in particular. Typically I leave the sessions with more questions than answers, but having engaged with a welcoming and vibrant multi-disciplinary membership.

As I write I’m poised to attend one of the regular workshops organised by the Learning and Teaching Forum. Forum workshops offer collegial opportunities to explore and respond to common challenges, issues and opportunities encountered in practice, or to showcase initiatives and innovations. Reflections on this most recent one, ‘The Workshop’ Workshop’ will form a future blog post from the Learning and Teaching Forum, so watch this space.

Finally, plans for the annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2016Value added graduates: enabling our students to be successful’ (7th June 2016) are progressing well. The programme will be announced soon and you will be able to book your place. In the meantime, if you have an initiative to showcase on any learning and teaching topic, not just the specific conference theme, poster submissions are welcomed. There’s plenty of time before the submission deadline of 6th April 2016, so why not submit and get involved.


Happy New Year and welcome back

Happy New Year! We hope you had a relaxing and recuperative Christmas break…

We are already in the thick of term, but whether you are emerging from piles of marking, working with final year students on their dissertations and projects, planning lectures, or all of these and more all at once, we hope you might find time to take a break and come along to one of our Learning and Teach Forum workshops this term.

the20workshop-218x105We kick off with ‘the Workshop’ workshop on Friday 29 January, 12:45-2:15pm in Law and Managment LMB/023, where Celine Kingman (TFTV) and Jenny Gibbons (Law) ask what we mean by ‘workshopping an idea’ or ‘to do a workshop’?

computer20based20testing-218x142On Monday 8 February, 12:30-2:00pm, you can hear from Zoe Handley (Education) and Richard Walker (Head of E-Learning, ASO) discuss the potential of e-exams in their workshop, ‘Engaging learners with computer-based testing‘, in Heslington Hall HG/21.


technology-218x145Sara Perry (Archaeology) and Tom Smith (IT Support) return to talk about technology in practice, in ‘Creativity in the connected classroom‘, covering everything from social media and networking to Google apps, tools and Awesome Tables. How awesome, you ask? Find out on Monday 22 February, 12:30-2:00pm, also in Heslington Hall HG/21.

a20question20of20peer20assessment-218x105The last workshop of the term, on Tuesday 15 March, 12:30-2:00pm, looks at the role of peer-review and assessment, led by  Ollie Jones (TFTV). More details can be found at ‘Deep learning or easy marks? A question of peer assessment.’

For all these workshops, you can sign up via this booking form or by emailing learning-and-teaching-forum@york.ac.uk

team20image-218x348Don’t forget that in June we will hold our Annual Learning and Teaching Conference – Value added graduates: enabling our students to be successful – on Tuesday 7 June. The deadlines for applications to contribute and present are coming up: Wednesday 20 January for workshops, and Wednesday 6 April for posters.

And lastly, if you have ideas for any workshops for 2016/17 you think you would like to see, or perhaps run yourself, we are always looking for ideas and volunteers – drop us a line at learning-and-teaching-forum@york.ac.uk.

Have a great term!



Facilitating reflective practice within the university

In the latest of our monthly posts from the Forum committee, Jenny Gibbons from the York Law School reflects on teaching reflection.


Following discussions with colleagues from other departments at Forum workshops and the 2015 Learning and Teaching Conference, it is apparent that reflective writing is increasingly becoming an assessed component on undergraduate and postgraduate courses at York. A dilemma we have faced at York Law School (YLS) and the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) is; how can we assess reflective writing appropriately if we haven’t had the opportunity to develop the skillset to be reflective practitioners ourselves?

My colleague, John Gray, and I decided to address this issue in a peer-to-peer training session within our department, which was based on activities and techniques John has developed in his role as a leadership coach and trainer (see http://johngray.org.uk/). The aims of the session were to build on the linkage between being a reflective practitioner and assessing reflection at YLS and CAHR.

We provided an opportunity for staff to develop their understanding of the concept of reflective practice and its relevance to their own work, and to share practice on the assessment of reflection. This turned out to be a fascinating and illuminating event, and one that we have been asked to repeat for staff members who were not able to attend.

I was told by one of the participants that it provided a rare and welcome space for colleagues to discuss their own practice in a neutral and mutually supportive environment. Another person said it had led to the longest and most meaningful conversation they had ever had with a colleague they had worked with for three years!

The prezi slides for this event are available here: http://prezi.com/azwymrt_stbk/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share.

If you would like to discuss how you could run similar events within your department, please contact me on jenny.gibbons@york.ac.uk.


Deparment of Chemistry to host Teaching Fellows Network Meeting

The Royal Society of Chemistry supports a Teaching Fellows Network. The group encourages colleagues to  discuss common issues, share practice, ask questions and make new contacts. The next meeting will be hosted by the University of York.

Royal Society of Chemistry Teaching Fellows Network Meeting
9th December 2015, 10:30-16:30, Department of Chemistry, University of York

The event is supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry and attendance is free to both members and non-members. Registration is now open, along with inviting programme contributions from all fields of chemistry (and related) teaching. If you would like to attend please register here: https://goo.gl/FFfFW3
Please report to Reception at the Department of Chemistry upon arrival.

Please contact Glenn Hurst (glenn.hurst@york.ac.uk) or David Pugh (david.pugh@york.ac.uk) in the Department of Chemistry for further information.

Korean students’ Shakespeare

Sarah Olive, Department of Education, reflects on educational experiences of Shakespeare in South Korea.

Yohangza Theatre Company

Yohangza Theatre Company

Twenty university students and academics from three institutions in South Korea – mainly in the North West, around Seoul – contributed to a vox pop about Shakespeare in the South Korean education system, to be published in issue 9 of the British Shakespeare Association’s Teaching Shakespeare magazine that I edit. Here, I offer a preview of the vox pop and my preliminary analysis of it. In doing so, I draw on my previous research into teaching Shakespeare in South East Asian education. I aim to problematize currently fashionable but homogenising notions of ‘Asian Shakespeare’ by tracing differences – in addition to similarities – in South East Asian nation’s teaching and learning of his works: Asian Shakespeares, at least.

My hope for this blog post and the forthcoming vox pop is that gaining insight into South Korean educational experiences of Shakespeare, alongside those of other nations in the region, will encourage academics and post-graduates who teach Shakespeare in Education, English and Theatre departments at York and other British universities to resist generalising about students’ previous exposure to and experience with the bard. These pieces therefore intend to stimulate reflection on and improvements to UK Shakespeareans’ practice with these students.

I would love to include even more educators and students working in or from South East/East Asia in the vox pop, regardless of current discipline (in fact, there is no need ever to have studied Shakespeare). Please visit my website & choose the green ‘Download’ button on the right hand side of the vox pop document.

My sincere thanks are due to the British Council, whose researcher mobility scheme enabled me to compile this vox pop and experience Shakespeare in South Korean education first hand, as well as the participating institutions.

Who does Shakespeare, when?

  • Just over half the contributors had studied Shakespeare at some point in their formal education
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Merchant of Venice, Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, and the sonnets were the most mentioned.
  • All but 1 in English, a subject within foreign language departments. 1 in drama.
  • 6 studied at UG in South Korea, 5 at secondary school – 4 of these were in English-speaking countries, 1 at a South Korean foreign language high school, 2 at Korean primary schools
  • Students’ impressions of Shakespeare’s works: tragic, romantic, accidentally funny e.g. encountering the word ‘bosom’, universal, superior in their handling of emotions, morally/ philosophically educational.

How is Shakespeare taught?

  • Most received their Shakespeare teaching in Korean, though this was closely followed by English, and a combination of the two languages
  • Of the texts contributors had used 4/11 stated they were in English, 2 contained parallel text in both languages.
  • 4 had been taught about Shakespeare’s life
  • 3 had been taught about Shakespeare’s times
  • 3 had watched videos in class
  • 1 had performed plays in class
  • There was some emphasis on private reading of the texts, they were most frequently referred to as ‘books’, and one person explained that there is an emphasis on your assignment ‘score over speaking’ in English in South Korea
  • One older participant’s classes had involved memorisation, translation and study of leading criticism
  • 64% had seen a live production or cinema relay thereof. Many of these were from one class.

How do Koreans meet Shakespeare outside formal education?

  • Those who first learnt of Shakespeare outside formal education encountered him in books, movies, visiting Stratford upon Avon, drama club, and seeing a French musical version of Romeo & Juliet.
  • The age at which these encounters happened ranged from 10-24 years old. Most took place at secondary school or in HE – only one in primary school. Average and median = 18. Mode= 14-15.

What would be ideal Shakespeare for Korean children & young adults?

  • Only one contributor advocated learning Shakespeare before secondary school or HE. One reason for this was to smooth the transition to studying him at HE level. One participant suggested this currently feels like a huge leap.
  • Reasons against starting it earlier included teenagers’ egocentrism; a cramming-oriented secondary school education, seen as not conducive to thinking about the texts deeply; ‘Shakespeare’s information’ not being ‘ in immediate need’; the need for readers’ life experience to understand and enjoy Shakespeare; the better likelihood of finding classmates who are interested and knowledgeable in HE.
  • Ideal methods still favoured reading (including learning definitions of unfamiliar words), matched by films. Speaking aloud and hearing his words as well as instruction from ‘Shakespearean experts’ were also suggested.
  • Three participants suggested the South Korean Ministry of Education mandate Shakespeare in national education policy beyond English subject students.

In terms of thinking about Shakespeares in education in the region, the South Korean vox pop articulated a few resonances with teaching Shakespeare in Japan. These include some quite functional/pragmatic reasons for studying English: to travel, make and maintain work and pleasure-related relationships internationally, fulfil parents’ wishes. Like Japanese students and educators, some South Korean contributors’ rationales alluded to citizenship education objectives such as to broaden students’ worldviews and become responsible global leaders.

Historically, both countries have in common periods of withdrawal from and opening up to Western influences, involving world and domestic economy, regional and national politics, censorship and sporting events which has impacted on Shakespeare’s place in their education systems and culture. South Korean vox pop contributors never alluded to the history of Japanese colonial rule in Korea explicitly. It is discussed by contributors to the edited collection Glocalising Shakespeare in Korea and Beyond. They depict Shakespeare being mediated through Japanese texts and productions in early 20th century and offer some sense of the way in which Shakespeare’s alliance with Japanese language and culture was problematic for Korean patriots. However, this vox pop found that there is much that is proudly, nationally distinctive about Shakespeare in South Korean education. Music education and musicals, both traditional and contemporary, are important in South Korea and this influences what Shakespeare productions students experience, within and beyond the classroom, and how. Furthermore, Shakespeare seems to have become more established in South Korea since its scholars and practitioners cut out the mediation described above, sourcing Shakespeare directly from English-speaking nations, less tainted by regional, colonial politics. However, the discourse with which some students talk about Shakespeare is still inflected with a wariness of cultural imperialism (Japanese, Anglophone or North Korean). One student memorably declared that ‘Shakespeare has not yet invaded Korea’.


Rethinking feedback in light of the York pedagogy

Monday 2 November 2015, room HG21, Heslington Hall, 12.30-2.00pm

The next Forum workshop will be run by Cathy Dantec and Bill Soden and will explore the theme of ‘Rethinking feedback in light of the York pedagogy’.

Cathy and Bill would like participants to consider the following questions before the workshop:

  1. What do you include under the term feedback, and what do you think your students understand by the term feedback?
  2. Are there aspects of your feedback practice that you have changed / developed in recent years, or aspects of feedback practice that you would like to change?

Please think about these questions and add any comments to this post. Specific points will not be focused on during the workshop.