L&T Session C3: Greater than a sum of it parts? Adding value to combined honours programme design

Maeve Pearson (Academic Support Office), Scott Slorach (York Law School), Roddy Vann (Natural Sciences Programme Director), and Lisa O’Malley (Department of Social Policy and Social Work)

Abstract | Presentation | Recording

Do combined programmes have the capacity to “add value”
to students’ learning? This was the question posed by the panel in this insightful workshop at the Learning & Teaching conference 2016.

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Jonathan, the student rep for Natural Sciences, shared his experiences of undertaking a combined degree across multiple departments. He felt that combined degrees certainly provided added value as he could approach problems from multiple perspectives, using tools from Maths, Chemistry and Physics. The design of the programme was a key factor in it’s success with all first year modules being core and then more flexibility in the second year once students were in a position to make
a more informed decision about choices.

The panel went on to discuss some of the practicalities of designing and delivering combined degrees. This was made difficult by the infrastructure being designed for single subject degrees. However, it was clear that the benefits of these programmes outweighed the issues and that a well designed combined programme could provide students with a an opportunity to approach problems from two or more perspectives.


L&T Session A3: The design and assessment of skills based learning points at York Law School

Chris Wilkinson and Patrick Gallimore, York Law School

Abstract | Presentation | Recording

What do our undergraduates do with degrees? In this workshop Chris Wilkinson and Patrick Gallimore explored the relevance of a law degree to wider education and employment.

The majority of students who embark on a law degree do so with the ambition of gaining employment in the legal sector. However, only about 50% of graduates pursue a career in law, with the other 50% choosing to look outside the legal sector. With this in mind how meaningful is a law degree to other professions and disciplines?

At York Law School thLT Event Talk 61.jpgey have introduced a Careers and Development Programme, which provides students with the opportunity to attend link days and employer events, as well as being involved in mentoring schemes and attending careers presentations and workshops. The Careers and Development Programme has been designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills that students need to make informed decisions about their future work, and the opportunities available to them. The programme aims to balance its appeal to both the students who would like work within the legal profession and those who want to work outside of it.    

Employability skills are also embedded in the core curriculum through the problem based learning that the students are engaged in and the legal skills modules. Students engage in collaborative learning through the student law firms to work on the weekly problems, which are linked to skills simulations which involve a collection of transactions taking place over a couple of weeks, for example a client interview, case evaluation, draft letter. The simulations provide students with the opportunity to apply legal theory and knowledge, through experience of different scenarios.

The presentation ended with a lively discussion about changes to the legal education and how other departments have approach employability.  


L&T Session B2: Is there evidence for the filpped classroom in STEM teaching

Mike Dodds, Department of Computer Science

AbstractPresentation | Recording

The flipped classroom (or flipping) is a new educational technique which seeks to invert the traditional model of in-classroom lectures and out-of-class homework. Instead, it advocates in-class interactive group learning, and out-of-class instruction via videos or podcasts. Intuitively, this moves classroom time away from mere dissemination of information, and allows teachers to focus on solving student problems and eLT Event Talk 84.jpgnabling learning. This connects with the increasing evidence that problem-based learning is an effective teaching technique.

The intuition for flipping seems compelling, reflected in attention in the non-academic media. However, flipping is not trivial to apply. Applying it means restructuring the entire course to focus on group learning, while also recording supporting instructional material. Given the up-front costs, it is important to know whether flipping is truly effective before applying it in practice.

Mike presented the evidence that flipping is effective in improving student learning outcomes in STEM subjects, and also examined some of the pitfalls and opportunities flipping presents.

Within Computer Science, the example Mike referred to has been written up as a Case Study on Flipped Approaches where you can view the approach used by Dr Louis Rose with a third-year module.

For me there were two key discussion points: first on the time and workload of running a flipped learning course; second on how the structure of a flipped course can ensure student engagement. The two are intrinsically related.

Recording good video captures is something that will require practice, new technical skills and careful planning. As we discussed in the session, if you can break down the course content into short (5-10 minute) recordings, you are both thinking more carefully about the key learning points students should take away, and creating resources that are better adapted to students learning online. Short videos should not include tangential information, but deliver new knowledge in a succinct way. For each video, explicitly state what students should learn as a result. This enables students to judge for themselves whether they understood the new concepts. The risks of longer videos is that they try to convey too many points, and aside from that it can be difficult to watch a longer video without succumbing to other online distractions.

With shorter videos, clustered around specific topics, as an instructor you can include activities that relate to those videos requiring students to demonstrate their understanding through evaluation, collaboration and application. This can be in the form of a online quiz, or more aligned to the discipline practices, as shown in Computer Science where students had to take their understanding from video-lectures and apply to a programming task. There is a clear and designed-in link between the student work outside the face-to-face contact time and what they can achieve through activity and interaction in class.

If you are interested in the ideas presented by Mike Dodds, then please do watch the recordings from our recent ELDT Webinars and blog posts with further case studies and references on Flipped Learning Design and Flipped Learning Technical.

Matt Cornock (ELDT), Workshop Chair

L&T Session C5: Making a drama out of learning!

Sinead McCotter, Senior Lecturer HRM (Teaching and Scholarship), The York Management School

Abstract | Presentation | Recording

This workshop was a revelation and the highlight of the conference! Difficult and sensitive conversations are part of every organisation whether associated with HR, student support, career development or discussion of poor assessment/performance scores. Whilst websites provide factual support, this doesn’t come close to preparing the individual for the encounter in terms of the way in which he or she manages the interaction and becomes effective in the role. Role-play is widely used as an educational technique. It is however often viewed with anxiety by participants, in part because of the lack of clear structure and unpredictability of the encounter.

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The use here of a group of actors under the direction of the audience provides great insight into the dynamics of the interaction, allowing the students to pause, consider, discuss and rewind the encounter, developing a deep and complete appreciation of key challenges. This active learning process is hugely engaging and effective, allowing students to become immersed in the process from a position of safety, without worrying about how they are perceived.

Launched in 2009 Flying Cloud is a successful collective of international artists expert in transferring skills learnt on the professional stage into a commercial and educational context. Their performance was perfect. Overstated at times for effect, their awareness of the learning outcomes of the session and deep knowledge of content were reflected in the ways in which they effortlessly responded to audience requests to modify their behaviour in terms of, for example, body posture, organisation of space, and tone of voice. Note that this was only the briefest of insights into the first part of a far more extensive delivery which culminates in students working in role-playing pairs to put newly developed skills into practice.

This workshop builds a strong case for the inclusion of dramatic arts in HR management, but it also demonstrates the potential of this format to address many other facets of university life such as career development meetings, interview readiness, effective personal and project supervision, mental health first aid training, staff CPD activities associated with management of teams and negotiation of both HR and research goals. It’s clearly a labour intensive exercise in terms of preparing and facilitating the sessions, but the benefits are both clear and significant. Unfortunately for ethical reasons the video of the session cannot be released, but please consider how this might be applied to your practice.

Phil Lightfoot, Physics, University of York 

L&T Session C4: Chemical communications projects: inspiring the teachers of the future

Annie Hodgson, Department of Chemistry

Abstract | Presentation | Recording

Annie shared her innovative chemistry communications project with us. This project is offered as an alternative to a traditional lab based project to BSc (Hons) Chemistry students who aspire to a career in teaching. The project offers students the opportunity to engage with the educational theory they might encounter on a PGCE whilst enabling them to spend some time in a school. Students are required to spend at least 10 full days in the classroom of their project school and then devise a project which is in some way meaningful for the school they work with. Past students have undertaken a wide range of projects which have included the production of resources for project schools or working with individuals who may benefit from one-to- one support. Assessment for the module is part reflection, part teaching observation, part written assessment and part presentation.

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What struck me about this project was the opportunities it gives students to develop a wide variety of skills that are relevant not just to teaching but to any type of graduate career. This type of project and the out-reach variant Annie has created, would work equally well in other academic disciplines or in settings other than education. The project forms a great template for work based learning that could be incorporated in many of our programmes.

Jill Webb, York Management School, University of York 

L&T Session C2: How could we incorporate work based learning into the current 3 year curriculum structure

Sarah Leith Experiential Learning, Careers

Abstract | Presentation | Recording

Using a presentation, a student case study (in the form of a real student!) and a groupwork task, Sarah Leith explained the current @Work projects that are undertaken every summer by over 200 students, and posed the question above to an enthusiastic and talkative audience.

The buzzwords of the session were ‘real’, ‘challenging’ and ‘relevant’, and audience members had a range of opinions on what these words meant in relation to work based learning for their discipline areas.

‘Real’ was explained with enthusiasm by Emily when she discussed her involvement in the Law and Justice project, which included her fear of standing in front of a class of children. She talked about the impact this project had had on her understanding of career options beyond teaching, and how it had helped her to bridge the gap between her study and career options.

Sarah talked about ‘challenging’ as projects are all live briefs, so students have a tangible outcome to deliver and they have to shape and drive the project forward – and in just a term. She explained the positive aspects of such challenges, which included success stories about students being offered ‘real’ work after undertaking projects, and the emotional engagement in student participants supporting the learning gained from the projects.

‘Relevant’ was the focus of the group discussions. On my table we discussed this in relation to the students’ ambitions for their future, the needs of the community (both in York and further afield), the staff members perceptions of the needs of employers, and the links between the projects and the curriculum. This was a great opportunity to share ideas and consider potential future projects.LT Event Talk 95.jpg

In answer to Sarah’s opening question, the audience members in the session answered with ‘In many ways!’ Now delegates have their own real, challenging and relevant project – to educate their departments about the @Work scheme.

Jenny Gibbons, York Law School, University of York