YALTA talks – an opportunity to hear four outstanding presentations from the recent York Learning and Teaching Award cohort

Monday 15 May 2017, 12.30pm to 2.00pm
Lecture room D/L/036, Derwent College

We will be hearing from the recent York Learning and Teaching Award cohort on the following:

Jet Sanders, Psychology
Applying behavioural insights to feedback engagement and other areas of education
How do individuals decide whether to drop out of their course? Or what their next career choice will be? These are considered personal decisions, but studies of behavioural economics, nudging and choice architecture identify systematic patterns in these decisions on a population level. This knowledge can be used to guide decisions in the context of education. The government’s Behavioural Insights Teams are doing exactly that. This talk introduces these concepts and how they are being used. In particular, it will focus on the potential to apply these techniques to increase engagement with feedback in our undergraduate population.

Video introduction

Joy Ogbemudia, Centre for Women’s Studies
Assessment in class or after class: moving from quality control to quality assurance
There is continuous awareness of the impact of assessment on students learning in every field of study, particularly in the Higher Education Academy (HEA). What is however yet to be fully embraced, is the move from assessment of learning to assessment for learning. This move, according to Leahy et al (2005), is a shift from quality control to quality assurance. While quality control is product oriented (traditional summative approach to assessment, which is assessing students at the end of a module), quality assurance is process oriented (formative approach to assessment, which is carried out while learning is still taking place). In compliance with the York Pedagogy (Robinson 2015), Constructive Alignment theory (Biggs 2003) and the UK Professional Standards Framework, I explore how I designed student-centred environment to teach first year Sociology undergraduates, using formative assessment to achieve quality assurance.

Video introduction

David Jennings, Archaeology
How to make case studies and abstract academic concepts relevant and interesting to newly-arrived undergraduate students
In this presentation I will discuss the challenge of truly engaging students when discussing academic theories and concepts that can seem – at first glance – dry, remote and abstract constructions. Using a recent example from my own teaching, I will suggest that applying a theoretical method to a relevant, understandable and instantly ‘interesting’ artefact that all students can identify with was a transformative and effective technique. Within archaeology, ‘typology’ is a key interpretive technique, and can be considered to be an example of a ‘Threshold Concept’ (Meyer and Land 2003). Reflecting the ‘Deep Approach’ to learning (Entwistle and Ramsden 1983), I will show that when I framed the discussion around an artefact that is “related to personal knowledge and previous experience” (Clegg 2016) students instantly engaged with the theory of typology, a lively and wide ranging debate ensued, and the class found the subsequent academic application easier to understand.

Video introduction

Sharon Winfield, Centre for Women’s Studies
Student engagement: how do we build the bridge to functional knowledge?
Now that students are fee-paying ‘customers’ it stands to reason that many will think in terms of ‘value for money’ in teaching, sometimes linking this to ideas about the transfer of knowledge and access to assessment success, a threat to a mature and deep learning experience. The challenge for HE teaching is to develop practices that enable the students’ own bridge building from declarative to functional knowledge. I will use an example from my own teaching of feminist perspectives in religion to discuss engagement of students in ways that might help develop self-directed learning and reducing over-dependence on teacher-led delivery of knowledge. My teaching plan experimented in co-developing a key to a broad and complex subject. Was I successful in creating a learning experience that stimulated the reach for functional knowledge? Or did I fail to give enough ready-made knowledge, leaving students feeling empty-handed?

Video introduction

To register, please use the booking form.

Exploring 360° feedback to develop undergraduates’ communication skills

Workshop presented by Helen Bedford, Lecturer in Midwifery, and Rachel Lavelle, Deputy Programme Lead. 21 March 2017.

Helen and Rachel facilitated an excellent workshop on discussing how the development of communication skills can be facilitated throughout degree programmes together with associated assessment and feedback mechanisms. To accomplish this in the Department of Health Sciences, they place particular emphasis on utilising ‘360°degree feedback

A cohort size studying BA (Hons) Midwifery Practice at York will typically consist of 23 students and the programme has been specifically designed to embed the enhancement of student communication skills throughout. During University based clinical skills and theory modules which have core communication components, students typically receive feedback via self-reflection and from peers and lecturers. In clinical practice modules students engage in self-assessment and professional midwives act as mentors and assessors. During the second year Professional Relationships module, midwifery practice scenarios/active simulations are created with the help of professional actors for individual students, where their performances providing care and communicating effectively are formatively assessed. These sessions are also video-recorded to allow for subsequent self-reflection. A typical example would be to simulate a telephone conversation with a pregnant woman where the student must establish a relationship with the woman, use their tone of voice effectively and demonstrate negotiation skills. Summative assessment takes the form of a reflective essay.

Workshop participants were encouraged to consider how they develop, assess and provide feedback for the development of student communication skills. Examples included peer-to-peer learning, presentations, vivas, team-based learning and facilitation of teaching/outreach sessions to school pupils.

Helen Bedford & Rachel Lavelle

Helen and Rachel then went on to describe what 360° degree feedback is (a system where students can receive feedback from those around them) and how they have applied this to inform their practice. An adapted version of Pendleton’s rules1 are used as a model to inform how feedback is provided following the simulated scenarios in midwifery:

  1. Student reflects on performance and identifies what went well
  2. Actor (in-character) reflects on performance and identifies what went well
  3. Student peers reflect on performance and identify what went well
  4. Actor (out-of-character) reflects on performance and identifies what went well
  5. Academic reflects on performance and identifies what went well
  6. Student identifies ways to improve
  7. Actor (in-character) identifies ways to improve
  8. Student peers identify ways to improve
  9. Actor (out-of-character) identifies ways to improve
  10. Academic identifies ways to improve

The sessions ended with participants discussing the challenges of providing 360° feedback and considering as to whether such a system could be implemented with their own students.

[1]: http://www.gptraining.net/training/educational_theory/feedback/pendleton.htm

Summary by Glenn Hurst

Making learning authentic: ‘real-world’ assessments for Masters level study

Workshop presented by Jude Brereton, Lecturer (T&S) in Audio and Music Technology, Deparment of Electronics. 30 January 2017.

Jude presented in her workshop the assessment method developed for her Masters students which can be adapted and implemented with any students, from any discipline, as it can be tailor-made and used in most modules, thus ensuring its relevancy, authenticity and meaningfulness.

When Jude devised the new assessment, she reflected on the experience of her alumni to help future students build a portfolio – making them aware of how important it is to develop their employability skills -, that they would be able to show to prospective employers, something that in her own words, would ‘survive beyond the programme’. Jude developed the assessment for a brand new MSc in Audio Music Technology taking into account the module learning outcomes and programme level learning outcomes as well as other essential criteria needed to design the new 180-credit Masters course.

She wanted students to be highly motivated in their learning and while working on their assessments, being able to both see the benefits and enjoy the process, incorporating active learning and Problem Based Learning (PBL), widely used in the Department of Electronics. Assessment tasks had to be real, not ‘pretend’ real, but actually authentic, and challenging for Masters level students. It is important to note that although the term ‘authentic’ means real, also carries the connotation of meaningful, and what is meaningful for one person might not be the same for another and so on. Therefore, when designing ‘authentic’ assessment it must be diverse and inclusive – appealing to the broad spectrum of learners, their interests and personalities.

Recently, Jude was told by an international employer that a degree was not considered essential for his company, as long as a candidate could demonstrate the appropriate professional attitude, ability, innovative thinking and could do the things that they would be expected to do at the workplace – someone with the desirable transferable skills. The employer added that for them the most important requirement was to be able to programme. Furthermore, the ideal candidate would be someone with cross-discipline skills, who could appreciate the final product, being able to work and develop the different layers of the task/job: someone who could do and understand both software and hardware; who could do programming and was able to appreciate music – in Jude’s field – aesthetically; who could do Maths but also would know how to reflect and write about the job and the process; someone who knows all the technical words but at the same time is able to communicate and engage with the general public. As Jude has put it, the future is ‘hybrid’: in this day and age, mastering one thing is not good enough; her advice to students is to do as much as you can – variety and quality – and to make sure you can show it.

In the workshop Jude also showed how she uses Google Docs to share and follow group work and provide individual feedback to each group.

Zepke’s and Leach’s article titled Improving student engagement: Ten proposals for action (2010) clearly resonates behind Jude’s assessment model – follow the hyperlink to access it.

Click here to view Jude Brereton’s presentation

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Making learning authentic: ‘real-world’ assessments for Masters level study

Dr Jude Brereton, Department of Electronics, will report on recent ‘real-world’ assessment tasks incorporated into a new masters level programme in Audio and Music Technology.

Four different types of ‘real-world’ tasks will be presented:

  • a research blog
  • a data-gathering exercise made available to the wider research community
  • a science communication event for school students
  • a self-promotion video.

Please bring your own laptop to the workshop, and to register, use the booking form.

360° Employability Skills: Understanding, Cultivating and Applying Professional and Continual Development Skills

Workshop presented by Carmen Álvarez-Mayo, Associate Lecturer and Spanish & Portuguese Coordinator, Languages for All, Department of Language and Linguistic Science. 31 October 2016.

The term employability as we know it has been around since the 1980s, when international corporations, global competition/trade and technology cemented the foundations for a new economic environment. The influx of new technologies set the pace of change, and has been shaping communication and trade ever since. We live in a global world where IT keeps on developing faster and faster, highly impacting in our lives and determining the employability skills required for a successful career. It is essential to understand this in order to develop the motivation and skills required to be able to keep on evolving along its side.

Education itself no longer defines learning, but rather technology does. To set out on a prosperous career, now more than ever it is necessary to keep on learning and developing good independent/self study skills and CPD competencies. It is paramount to instil in our students a taste for trying out and doing new things – that, learning is fun; exploring and discovering new ways is not only fun but necessary. In the 21st century reading and writing are not enough; IT literacy skills and an understanding of IT’s ongoing development are essential in order to be able to keep up with progress and change, and to be successful.

Furthermore, in a global world, developing intercultural competence and communication will equip graduates and postgraduates with international skills to augment their potential and scope for work opportunities and prosper. Such skills can only be acquired through learning and using a foreign language, either spending long periods of time immersed in the culture: living/studying/working abroad, or through an international bilingual collaborative e-learning project like TANGO.

Therefore, current student work and assessment practice should be reviewed and updated in order to ensure that all skills, traditional and ‘new’ can be tested – as well as to allow equal opportunities of assessment ensuring inclusivity and accessibility. We need to make sure that our graduates and postgraduates are fully equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century job market, who need to be all-rounders and possess the full range of skills, 360° skills.

A more holistic approach to the York Pedagogy and employability would be appropriate to ensure that all the good principles and ideas endorsed in the Pedagogy are taken into account and applied, sharing them effectively with our students to allow for a successful implementation of the University’s approach to excellence in education, thereby having a positive impact in society – as underpinned in the five values of the Learning & Teaching Strategy.

Summary by Carmen Álvarez-Mayo

How do you solve a problem like literature searching?

How do you solve a problem like literature searching? Adding professional value to academic skills development

David Brown, Acting Academic Liaison Team Manager at Information Services, delivered on 14 November the third 2016/17 Forum workshop.

As the title suggests, there is a link between ‘literature searching’ and professional skills. Employability is a key word currently echoing in most university/academic contexts. The topic was discussed and highlighted from other angles in the two previous workshops (see Articulate – A toolkit to help us support students in the game of understanding and articulating their competencies), and today has been reflected upon and further discussed from another perspective.

David shared good practice reflecting on his experience working with the Nursing programme in the Department of Health Sciences and the Social Work programme in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work. As discussed in the workshop, some students, especially those from ‘professional programmes’ like Nursing or Social Work, find it difficult to see the value of ‘advance literature searching’ in their fields and, future, day-to-day jobs. Critical thinking and document use are two very important professional skills/competencies that university students will be able to acquire and further develop throughout their degrees. In order to foster appreciation of the skills among students, we must ensure that they understand the value of those skills now and in their future careers.

David worked with BSc Nursing and BA Social Work students using a flipped-classroom approach to have more productive face-to-face sessions with the students. He wanted to ensure that the students understood the why and how, not just the what, providing them with a more holistic yet concrete, meaningful and long-lasting knowledge.

View David’s presentation and find out more about his approach, which can be adapted and used with students from all departments. Included in the presentation there is a very interesting video for Health Sciences students where current students, academic staff, a practising nurse and himself discuss the importance of ‘literature searching’.

Summary by Carmen Álvarez-Mayo