THE INSTITUTE provides funding, time and support for current and future student education leaders to develop their profile at the university and to carry out research and innovation projects with internal and external impact.
This will give internally appointed fellows the time to develop projects and establish a culture of high quality scholarship for external dissemination and publication.
Here we showcase our Teaching Enhancement Projects (TEPs) and Excellence and Innovation Fellowships (EIFs) with a short summary on each.
Teaching Enhancement Projects 2017/18
Helen Durham, School of Geography
Title: Enhancing the taught postgraduate pre-sessional experience
This project aims to design and develop generic and programme-specific, pre-sessional online resources that will support new taught postgraduate (PGT) students enrolling on campus-based or online distance learning (ODL) Geographical Information Systems (GIS) programmes in the School of Geography. The generic elements will have the potential to be rolled out to other Schools in the future.
By evaluating the impact of the online ODLM1005: ‘Studying in a Digital Age’ module on the quality of undergraduate student education and student experience since its introduction in 2015/16, and drawing on the project leader’s first-hand knowledge of PGT student education in the School of Geography, the objective is to create a series of online resources that can be used to enhance the pre-sessional experience of the PGT community.
As the University expands its PGT programmes, ensuring that students can ‘step-up’ to Masters level study, or adapt to distance learning, will become a challenge that many Schools will face. New geography undergraduates undertake the 5 credit module ‘Studying in a Digital Age’ that provides a mix of generic induction resources, academic skills and School-specific tasks; a similar resource is not available to PGT students.
In view of the academic and experiential diversity of incoming PGT students the project seeks to develop a series of online resources that can be packaged in different ways (e.g. pre-sessional training, pre-course reading equivalent, late arrival activities, taster and outreach resources) to enhance their experience, academic skills and digital literacy in preparation for study.
For information contact Helen at: H.P.Durham@leeds.ac.uk
Brian Henson, School of Mechanical Engineering
Title: Benchmarking assessments of final-year projects
The problem being addressed is the need to maintain consistent standards of assessment of final-year projects, when there is a diversity of types of project, and an assortment of learning outcomes and assessment methods. Final-year projects can include the writing of dissertations, conducting computer simulations, doing laboratory experiments and the creation of software.
Design projects in engineering embrace the idea of practice as research, which is also prevalent in arts subjects through film making, graphics, animations, and creation of web sites.
Learning outcomes can include those that are fundamental to the project (e.g. analysis, awareness of the literature, theoretical understanding); broader skills such as communication and organisation; and an understanding of the need for a high level of ethical, social, cultural, environmental and professional conduct.
The aim of this project is to benchmark standards of assessment of final-year projects, and to make recommendations about the form and assessment of projects to ensure consistent standards across different types of projects using different assessments.
Qualitative and quantitative methods will be used. Probabilistic measurement models, the Rasch model, will be used to establish whether the different categories of marking schemes can be justified, are we really measuring something? And to identify the relative difficulty of obtaining marks in the different categories, and to make the marking schemes linear.
Individual and team project outcomes across the Faculty of Engineering will be compared. Using the same techniques, student evaluations of project-modules will be analysed to identify whether existing feedback captures the important aspects of the student experience.
For ore information contact Brian at: B.Henson@leeds.ac.uk
Bronwin Patrickson, Lifelong Learning Centre
Title: Mobile learning Innovation Project
To actively consult with students regarding the ways that mobile phone applications can best support their learning efforts. By doing so, to create a template for student consultation in higher education research.
In a level 2 discovery module students will co-design and document a collaborative research based task. The module, entitled Mobile Learning Research Project challenges them to find playful ways to engage with and therefore research attitudes amongst the broader student body relevant to mobile learning tools. They will thus test a peer supported remote/blended mobile learning environment both in terms of their own student experience and also their research findings. Students are assessed on their ability to design and document both.
Via a blended learning module delivered using Blackboard Collaborate, supported by intermittent face to face instruction and downloadable interactive lessons, students will be taught research and engagement design skills and asked to collaboratively conduct a practical research project exploring the strengths, weaknesses and ethics of mobile learning.
As they work, students will document their participatory experience. These documents are guided by teacher led prompts including online Q-sorts, drag and drop sorts that rank value statements, or opinions on a visual grid, journal posts, video diaries and data trace prompts, sharing online records of the student’s recorded higher education activity.
In order to ensure free expression, the assessment criteria for this research module will focus upon participation efforts.
For information contact Bronwin at: B.L.Patrickson@leeds.ac.uk
Lata Narayanaswamy, Politics and International Studies
Title: Exploring research partnerships with development NGOs to enhance student skill-building and future employability (starts August 2017)
The project is designed to achieve two mutually beneficially outcomes:
Students gain experience of development policy and practice whilst strengthening their capacity as researchers in ways that respond to real-world problems
Development NGOs are able to draw on a pool of talent as part of a structured, supportive and enabling institutional process that can support the generation of rigorous, academic insights to variously fill research gaps, support new directions for their programming or underpin bids for future funding.
The project will consolidate the lessons from the pilot through:
Revising the formative portfolio assessment to link more closely with development policy and practice priorities
Producing an evaluation report on the pilot with strategies for how to optimise student engagement with development NGOs
Networking and disseminating findings via LITEI seminars and online spaces, the Leeds Student Education conference and highly-regarded peer reviewed education journals
Exploring approaches to scaling up this pathway in POLIS and ESSL
Development NGOs frequently generate vast amounts of data as part of their programmes but rarely do they have the capacity to analyse or reflect on this data in any systematic way or to think outside the narrow parameters set by donors. The proposed project builds on a pilot undertaken in 2015-16 to support MA Global Development students to engage with real-world issues through the MA dissertation process in order to address research gaps and generate new insights on the existing datasets and programmes of development NGOs. Students gain a wide-range of skills, including greater self-awareness and confidence in their ability to work with others, to take individual responsibility for planning and management of research and to appreciate how their knowledge and skills in international development can be transferred and applied in development practice.
For more information contact Lata at: L.Narayanaswamy@leeds.ac.uk
Caroline Campbell, Languages for All, School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, and Karen Llewellyn, Strategy and Planning
Title: Co-Discovery – a student/staff collaborative evaluation of the value of Broadening within the undergraduate student journey; the case for language learning
To explore the ways in which students experience and value discovery modules as a means to broadening their knowledge, skills and graduate attributes and explore employers’ perceptions in relation to Broadening through language learning.
Map the learning experiences of students to the perceptions of employers to reveal the resonance and dissonance in their understandings of Broadening and exemplify to key stakeholders the possibilities and barriers to Broadening from student and employer perspectives.
Provide evaluative research opportunities to undergraduates recruited to the project, enable undergraduates to participate in reflective practice and model good practice in managing student education projects.
The process of evaluating the Leeds Curriculum has begun, seeking to measure the effectiveness of a large-scale curriculum transformation project. One specific priority focuses on the value of Broadening through Discovery Themes; how this value is understood by students and its effect on their learning, their choices and their career aspirations; and how this understanding relates to that of employer perceptions of Broadening.
This specific project seeks to surface that relationship, linking directly to original LC objectives and aligning with the wider University evaluation. Importantly, this will be a collaborative enterprise between the two project leaders and four undergraduate student ‘ambassadors’ who together will co-construct and co-deliver the planning, execution and dissemination of the project’s objectives and outputs.
The focus will be on language learning within two of the Discovery Themes, namely, Languages and Intercultural Understanding (LIU) and Personal and Professional Development (PPD). It will explore the role played by language discovery modules in enhancing UG knowledge, skills and graduate attributes and how this enhances career opportunities.
The work is supported by co-researchers: Akeisha Brown, Chandni Panda and Robert Irnazarow.
Alice Shepherd, Leeds University Business School, and Mark Sumner, School of Design
Title: Year in industry placements: Barriers, challenges and motivations
To develop a methodology allowing extraction of evidence on placement uptake, effect on subsequent academic performance and graduate outcomes relating to social mobility from existing sources
To understand student expectations and experiences relating to year in industry
To provide evidence-based policy recommendations for teaching and support of placement and non-placement students which are transferable
To formulate a structured approach in which placement students can share their experiences and mentor pre and non-placement students
More than 90% of the UK’s leading graduate employers offer paid work experience (High Fliers, 2016). There is evidence suggesting placement completion positively impacts subsequent academic performance (Crawford and Wang, 2016 and Jones et al, 2015) and career development (Hergert, 2009).
The Careers Centre has developed an online resource: Your Placement Year, to support year in industry students. However, barriers to taking a year in industry and challenges faced by students are less clearly understood (HEA, 2014).
Some of these issues may reduce student opportunity in the context of social mobility and widening participation. We believe that a comparative approach between our two schools will generate findings and practical advice which are broadly applicable. The project will start by analysing existing data in our schools. We shall survey pre, peri, non-placement and post-placement students, to understand attitudes, beliefs and decision-making relating to year in industry and how this may be influenced by social mobility factors. Student focus groups will explore issues in greater depth.
For more information contact Alice at: A.K.Shepherd@leeds.ac.uk or Mark at: M.P.Sumner@leeds.ac.uk
Sofia Martinho, School of Languages, Cultures and Societies
Title: Excellence in Speaking Skills
This project aims to enhance the learning experience and the curriculum by better understanding the research underpinning good practice in speaking skills learning and teaching and creating coherence across a very broad spectrum of teaching practices in Languages, Cultures and Societies (LCS); and enable a smoother student transition from A-levels into the University by developing research-informed practices for LCS tutors and ultimately for anyone teaching modern languages.
Also, to encourage and support the development of scholarship in LCS, encouraging colleagues to take an action-research approach to the speaking skills curriculum;
Engage students in the Leeds “student as a researcher” culture, getting students to participate in the discussion and shape of the school’s curriculum and practice.
Alongside a review of the literature concerning learning and teaching Speaking Skills within HE, the project includes the collection and analysis of data – interviews with staff, an online survey about the teaching and assessment of speaking skills in LCS and focus groups with students – in order to explore current practices and suggest how these can be further improved.
The outcomes of the project will include:
A guide to good practice for staff teaching speaking skills, with a literature review, guidelines for the learning, teaching and assessment of oral skills and examples of good practice which can be disseminated across the wider higher education sector.
A student-facing interactive webpage with videos and hyperlinks to the different university platforms and resources for developing speaking skills.
Workshops for students focusing on a) strategies to develop speaking skills; b) capitalising on the Year Aboard to develop oral skills and c) job market and further study opportunities offered by oral skills.
Scholarship output on the experience and support needs for learning and teaching speaking skills at higher education.
For more information contact Sofia at: S.Martinho@leeds.ac.uk
Nimesh Mistry, School of Chemistry
Title: A strategy to enhance conceptual understanding using active learning
There is strong evidence to suggest actively engaging student’s when teaching leads to improved understanding and skills development when compared to the traditional passive method of teaching delivery.
The aim of this project is to develop a strategy for using active learning that translates across disciplines and can be applied in different learning environments. The key feature of this strategy is that it first identifies student misconceptions of a given topic, then uses a learning activity to specifically challenge those misconceptions.
University initiatives such as lecture capture and the flexible lecture theatres provide the technology and learning spaces, respectively, for staff to use active learning. This project complements those initiatives by looking at how active learning can be used during teaching sessions.
The first stage of the project is to identify student’s conceptual understanding using concept inventories. The context of this study will be organic chemistry, the chemistry of carbon-based molecules.
Student responses will be analysed to identify the common misconceptions related to this topic which will then form the basis to develop novel active learning tasks. We will develop tasks that can be used in a lecture, tutorial, and laboratory setting.
The active learning tasks will be piloted with small groups of students with pre and post-intervention tests to measure learning gains. The success of both the overall strategy and individual learning tasks will be analysed.
The findings from this project will be shared to through blogs, publications and educational conferences both during the project and after its completion.
For more information contact Nimesh at: N.Mistry@leeds.ac.uk
Kevin Macnish Teaching Fellow, IDEA, and Chair of Research Ethics Committee, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures
Title: Teaching Research Ethics – A New Resource for an Old Need
This project will develop blended learning materials for teaching research ethics in faculties across the University. It will involve a set of core online course materials, to which bespoke case-based face-to-face discussions sessions, and clinics can be added, with optional units depending on a student’s particular area of research.
An understanding of research ethics is a key part of conducting any research well, and so teaching in the subject is essential for undergraduate students approaching their final year project. Research ethics training is also a key part of the curriculum for all taught postgraduate students who will carry out a research project/dissertation.
The course will equip students to:
Understand the history of the development of research ethics principles.
Recognise key principles of ethical research.
Apply principles of ethical research to a case study in their discipline.
Identify particular ethical issues in their discipline.
Understand the University research ethics approval process.
Design a research project in accordance with the University’s process.
Respond to potential ethical issues that arise during research.
Students and staff will be involved in the consultation stages to ensure that the content provided and the means of its provision is both relevant and engaging. Undergraduate and taught postgraduate student input and assistance in evaluation will also be key to the effective development of this course.
For more information contact Kevin at: K.N.J.Macnish@leeds.ac.uk
Clair Souter, Careers Centre and Melissa Schuessler, Leeds University Business School
Title: Re-entry and Post-Experience Learning: Supporting Placement/Study Abroad Students to Enhance and Articulate their Experience
Raise the profile and value of experiential learning within the cohort of returned placement / study abroad students
Foster a community of academic practice
Merge the two modules, LUBS3910 and CSER3030
Enhance promotion of the module at pre-placement/study stage
Create an alumni network of students who have engaged with the module and track their career progress
Create a toolkit of learning resources to support experiential learning within the cohort of returned placement / study abroad students and for other staff working with them
Leeds does a tremendous job of providing yearlong placement opportunities to students including ‘work placement’ and ‘study year abroad’ options. Supporting learning at the re-entry stage allows students to reflect on this important learning experience and to articulate the skills they gained.
Since academic year 15/16 two modules have supported re-entry, LUBS3910 The Global Business Professional and CSER 3030 Valuing and Articulating the Experience. Both modules have proved successful and were very well received by participants, however they are only accessed by a small number of students in relation to the much larger numbers who could benefit from participating.
This project seeks to ensure wider accessibility and wider dissemination of learning – particularly with students who do not take the module but who will benefit from sharing its output.
Luke Burns, School of Geography, Faculty of Environment
Title: Massive, Open and Online: Credit-bearing courses to help meet the data demands of industry
This timely project proposes the creation of several credit-bearing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to educate and encourage more people to engage with data. It is hoped that this suite of self-paced and interactive courses will go some way to igniting interest in data and showcasing the University of Leeds’ expertise to prospective students.
These courses, to be made available via the FutureLearn platform, will offer the general public and potential University of Leeds students the opportunity to learn core data skills either as part of their own professional development or as a precursor to university education by earning formal academic credit.
Credit-bearing courses are proposed around the key data themes of:  Basic data concepts and problem solving,  Spatial data and Geographical Information Systems (GIS),  Big and Open Data and  Data visualisation and infographics.
This project fuses the University of Leeds’ status as one of eight higher education institutions offering credit-bearing online courses via FutureLearn with the changing face of graduate employment and the increasing demand placed on data skills and problem solving. The output will be a suite of freely available courses with the option to formalise and use towards a degree.
Courses will be developed with the support of two collaborative partners:
The Open Data Institute (ODI), a non-profit organisation with a mission to connect, equip and inspire as many people as possible around the world to innovate with data.
Q-Step, an initiative established in response to the shortage of quantitatively-skilled social science graduates in the UK.
This project not only meets the requirements of an exciting online and credit-bearing suite of courses but also the wider academic remit to generate more quantitatively skilled graduates (Q-Step) and the national objective to engage more people with data (ODI).
For more information contact Luke at: L.P.Burns@leeds.ac.uk
Excellence and Innovation Fellowships 2016/17
Lydia Bleasdale-Hill and Sarah Humphreys, School of Law
Title: Realising Resilience: An Evidence-Based Approach to Embedding Resilience Within the Curriculum
This project considers how Undergraduate student resilience might be enhanced by innovations in education and/or student support.
The project’s starting point is that a person’s resilience can be influenced (positively or negatively) by their surrounding circumstances – their work, their relationships, their wellbeing, and so on.
As an educational institution, we are not able to control or influence every aspect of a person’s life which might undermine or enhance their resilience, but we can influence the experience they have through their education with us, as well as through the student support systems which they might encounter.
This project seeks to understand how the educational and student support context in which undergraduate students are operating might positively or negative affect their resilience levels, and are seeking to establish whether there is anything which we could alter which might positively affect their resilience levels during their time with us, and beyond.
Alongside a review of the literature concerning resilience, the project will involve three points of data collection: interviews with selected staff in the chosen research sites, examining how the students are taught and assessed, for example.
Also online surveys with undergraduate students in those sites, including a measurement of existing resilience levels; and interviews with Undergraduate students in the sites, covering their experiences of University education, and the student support systems which they have encountered.
The research sites will each receive an overview of the project’s findings, including recommendations for site-specific resilience-enhancing student education innovations.
For more information contact Lydia at: Resilience@leeds.ac.uk
Bee Bond, The Language Centre, School of Languages Cultures & Societies
Title: Understanding the significant role language plays in shaping discipline-specific knowledge and understanding; smoothing international student transitions
This project aims to improve learning by better understanding the significant roles language plays in shaping discipline specific knowledge and understanding and thus enable a smoother international student transition into, and enhanced experience of, the UK/Leeds HE context by supporting the development of inclusive language and content teaching practices.
WATCH: LITE Excellence and Innovation Fellow Bee Bond talks about her project, which is already underway.
Within this project, the basic questions I am hoping to answer, or at least better understand, are:
Does the Language for Communication and Society pre-sessional adequately prepare students for academic study on their Masters programme?
How can we improve the learning support we offer to students both on the pre-sessional and once they are in their department?
The area I am focussing on particularly is how best to support students to deal with the high academic language and literacy demands of a Masters programme as well as the content of their academic discipline.
The hope is that developing a better understanding of the role language plays in the communication of knowledge will enable:
better support and development for Language Centre EAP practitioners in working with students on content specific programmes;
better support for subject specialists in making clear the academic literacy expectations of their discipline;
better support for all students, but specifically those for whom English is not a first language, in understanding the specific requirements of their academic programme and navigating the language and discourse around this;
Although one School is the base for the case study for this project, the expectation is that the understanding gained can be used to further a similar approach to language and content across all University Faculties.
For more information contact Bee at: B.Bond@leeds.ac.uk