L&T Session B5: Skilling up for international communication

Victoria Jack and Paul Roberts Education/CELT

AbstractPresentation | Recording

A recent (2015) British Council Report suggests that “A common challenge shared by employers around the world is finding employees with adequate intercultural skills”. For today’s graduates, it is becoming ever more compelling not just to be able to communicate across cultures, but to develop communication skills in multilingual settings, and to do so quickly. These skills can be further enhanced, for those aspiring to leadership positions, by the ability to analyse and evaluate the success of international discussions and to provide ad hoc advice to conversation participants.

LT Event Talk 99.jpg

This discussion paper, given by staff and students from CELT, presented CELT’s work in Transcultural Communication addressing the above needs and to focus in particular on:

(i) how students meet the challenges of moving between self- and peer-assessment (by developing criteria for the evaluation of successful communication) and selfmonitored practice (applying and modifying those criteria)

(ii) how ‘home’ students struggle where ‘international’ students succeed.

The presentation included video clips of students’ transcultural interactions, with their self-assessing commentaries. Delegates were then invited to discuss the effectiveness of the self-assessment process and ways in which more students might be engaged in this essential skill building process, for example by embedding TC into programmes being redesigned within the York Pedagogy.


L&T Session B4: Exploring learning gain

John Robinson Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Students

AbstractReferences | Recording

Professor John Robinson Pro Vice Chancellor for Teaching, Learning and Students facilitated a highly interactive session on exploring the meaning, measurement and implications of learning gain. John used the teaching space creatively to take participants through the history of thinking about learning gain by using the walls to create a giant timeline.



Since 1983, there has been frequent reference to “Learning Gain” in the educational literature and methods for improving student engagement, assessment design, etc. have often been advanced on the basis that they increase Learning Gain. But there is still no widely-agreed definition of Learning Gain. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) held a conference on learning gain in 2015 whereby Learning Gain was broadly defined as “an attempt to measure the improvement in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development made by students during their time spent in higher education”. Five ways to categorise methodologies for measuring learning gain were proposed: standardised tests, grades, self-reporting surveys, other qualitative methods (such as the York Award) and mixed methods. Following the conference, HEFCE research projects in learning gain were launched whereby the University of York is participating in a programme led by the University of Warwick on using a range of methods, including longitudinal and cross-sectional approaches, to test and develop tools to effectively measure learning gain related to the curriculum and employability.

John then gave participants the opportunity to explore the timeline whilst empowering them to choose which aspects of learning gain (to include engagement, satisfaction and measurement) they would like to explore in groups. Groups then reported back to discuss their findings.


To conclude, universities claim that their own graduates have the necessary skills to be successful. However, it is imperative to test such claims in an appropriate and fair manner in order to enable universities who can demonstrate significant learning gains in their students to prosper. It is hoped that our unique York Pedagogy with distinctive programme learning outcomes will provide us with a good platform to deliver on demonstrating a significant learning gain for all of our students.

This highly topical and engaging session provided participants with a unique insight into learning gain and helped us all to consider as to how we can demonstrate and maximise learning gain for our students at the support, departmental and institutional levels.


Glenn Hurst, Department of Chemistry, University of York


L&T Session A5: Engaging students with employability within the programme

Janice Simpson, Vicky Barton and Claire McMahon, Careers Education Advice and Guidance 

Abstract | Presentation | Recording

After a thought LT Event Talk 52.jpgprovoking start to the conference with Tom Banham, Director of Employability and Careers at the University of York, it was a timely transition to host and participate in this inspiring workshop. After an overview of key context, Janice, Vicky and Claire outlined three unique case studies which sought to engage students and develop employability, responding to differing programme needs.

Each activity was characterised by the forging of effective partnerships between academic and careers staff, promoting dialogue and designing activities tailored to individual student communities.

The three diverse examples included skills reflection in Theatre, Film and Television (TFTV), the development of a flood defence care study in Environment and embedding an exploration of careers within a social research methods module in Sociology. The benefits and challenges of each case were highlighted in reflective summaries. Each articulated the dynamic and evolving nature of the activities undertaken, identifying clear motivations and suggestions for improvements, such as the refinement and timing of objectives and activities.

Lively group discussion followed. Facilitated by careers staff, delegates were challenged to consider:

* What are you doing well in terms of embedding employability in your department?

* What could be improved?

* How could you overcome any challenges?

Our concluding thoughts included the following:

  • Introducing employability at a very early stage – e.g. via engagement with employers and including a focus from student recruitment days onwards
  • Embedding employability in programme learning outcomes
  • Increasing engagement between academic and careers staff
  • Challenging and enabling academic staff to creatively ‘free up’ parts of the syllabus to engage in employability-related activities
  • Considering the value of formal credit-bearing activities which enhance employability within programmes

Helen Bedford, Health Sciences, University of York 

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference: One size does not fit all: ensuring all students reach their potential

Logo_LTConf2015_Rev2The 2015 Learning and Teaching conference was held on 10 June 2015, with almost 150 delegates, from across the university and externally present. This is the University’s annual event to celebrate, showcase and disseminate the wealth of good practice in learning and teaching across the University.

This year, the main conference theme was based around addressing inclusivity, diversity and equality within the classroom and curricula. The conference will explore the implications of diversifying delivery of programmes and how students are supported in the process of achieving their potential.

Session summaries and materials are now available for the sessions.

Workshop follow-up: PBL a fairy tale

The Forum workshop earlier this week explored Problem Based Learning (PBL) and provided a fascinating and inspiring insight from the York Law School (YLS) into the realities of designing and delivering an entire curriculum with PBL at its heart. From the outset though the presenters were at pains to point out that this was not a “sales” pitch for PBL, nor was the approach discussed the only was that PBL can be delivered – this was just a discussion of how YLS have gone about implementing it and how it has worked out for them.

Jenny Gibbons, Scott Slorach and Richard Grimes, highlighted the approach that YLS has taken to delivering PBL. Weekly problems are devised spanning the core themes of the programme, engaging students with real life issues which integrate with the curriculum but transcend boundaries of module content. Students are introduced to the PBL process from the outset, developing transferable skills in problem solving, group work and collaboration that has significant impacts on graduate employability (and KIS data!)

The session attempted to address three core questions:

  1. How much work is involved in creating resources to support PBL? The reality is that designing and developing well thought out and effective resources to support PBL is not a trivial task. Even when an entire department’s pedagogic approach is centred on a  well established PBL structure (right down to the design and layout of the building) and maintaining PBL resources to ensure they are up to date and reflect changes to law is a significant task. Much of this work comes from the amount of collaboration across the modules required to ensure that the problems and resources can be truly cross-curricula. However, Jenny et al clearly felt that this investment was clearly worth it to produce such a rich and effective learning experience.
  2. Can the model adapt to change? In short yes, and it is continuing to do so, influenced by other disciplines, particularly in response to joint modules such as Law for Art Historians.
  3. Can PBL support student learning? Ultimately this is clearly the key question and the answer seemed to be an emphatic “Yes!”. There is more detail on the rationale, challenges and benefits of PBL in the handouts provided (attached below) but the take home message seemed to be that this is well worth the effort and if you want to discuss your ideas for how PBL could be applied in your discipline then you should get in touch with Jenny, Scott or Richard from the Law School.

Handouts / resources from the session

Students work on whiteboard collaboratively

17/11/14 Teaching research methods: engaging students in an inquiry-based research process

When: Monday 17 November 2014 (week 8) 12.30-2.00pm
Where: Room HG09, Heslington Hall
Who: Ted Hewitt, Department of Health Sciences

Engaging students with research has often been difficult particularly in nursing for a number of reasons.  Primarily because the starting point has usually been a series of lectures describing the main methods employed in health care research making it difficult for the students to make the links to real research.  The recent development of a module required the students to engage with the evidence to answer a clinical uncertainty.  This produced a way of making the research relevant and also required the students to develop an evaluative understaning of the research methods used in the evidence they presented.

Within this new module the students were required to find an uncertainty from practice, devise an answerable question (along the lines of a research question), find relevant evidence from a range of sources and synthesise this to answer the questions, offering appraisal of this evidence and the continuing uncertainty that may exist.  In doing this the students were supported in seminar groups to develop a poster that would ultimately be presented as the summative assessment for the module.

This workshop will consider ways of engaging students actively in exploring research and evaluation of research methods and the evidence produced.  To achieve this, participants will explore the learning expected of their students and how current approaches might be adapted to achieve an active engagement.  It is suggested that participants bring along module descriptors or research learning outcomes associated with their programmes to aid this exploration.

Booking form