Thursday, 8 December 2011

Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Today we held the first Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning presented by Malcolm (Vice Chancellor) and Rod. (Pro VC)  There were 28  Award winners in a total  5 categories:

Individual Awards
Excellence in teaching delivery and intellectual stimulation of students
Cliff Olsson, School of Sport Tourism and the Outdoors
Amanda Taylor, School of Social Work

Innovation in teaching and assessment
Andy Bainbridge, School of Art, Design and Performance
Martin Salisbury, Lancashire Law School

Best practice to improve the student progression and performance
Matt Horn, School Of Journalism, Media and Communication
Sarla Ghandi, School of Health

Excellence in research informed learning and teaching
Pam Qualter, School of Psychology
Darren Tunstall, School of Art, Design and Performance

Team Awards

Creation of a superlative student experience overall
Graduate Diploma in Law team - Lancashire Law School
The Media Technology team -School Of Journalism, Media and Communication

Congratulations all! Its nice to see your hard work being rewarded and valued. Also congrats to the LDU (Learning Development Unit) for all your hard work setting up and organising the event.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Universities UK launches guide to quality and standards

As mentioned in their media release, UUK have launched  a new publication which outlines how quality and standards are assessed and assured within UK universities. The are 6 key features in the UK system for safeguarding standards :

1.       National tools that are used by all universities (the ‘Academic Infrastructure’) including Frameworks for higher education qualifications, Subject Benchmark Statements and a  sector-wide Code of practice for the assurance  of academic quality and standards in higher education;

2.       Universities’ own systems for ensuring their standards are right and quality is maintained, such as procedures for the design and review of courses and the use of external examiners;

3.       Independent external review of each university by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), resulting in published reports;

4.       Effective engagement with students and employers, including professional, statutory and regulatory bodies, which helps to shape what universities do;

5.       Mechanisms to support improvements in quality, for example by learning from the experience of others, sharing good practice and ways of supporting professionalism in teaching;

6.       Measures to address complaints.

These features provide the backbone of the quality standards assessment. This document helps clarify the way this system works.
  There is an increasing request for transparency of the HE system and provisions. This seems to be another way of demonstrating the value of UK universities.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Impact of Pedagogic Research!

Yesterday we held a highly successful event concerning the Impact of Pedagogic Research, where we launched our Impact of Pedagogic Research guide and showcased inspirational teaching from members of staff in the PRF. The place was full and we had talks from members of the PRF and the Pro VC (student experience) who stated that it was immensely important that we allow the time to reflect on our teaching and develop our teaching through pedagogic research whether informally or formally. The value of forums like the PRF are increasingly important to support our development through a supportive community of practice.
see the guide here
and the PRF here

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Free learning platform from Pearson and Google

A free learning management system from education giant Pearson and internet giant Google.
"OpenClass, a free LMS that combines standard course-management tools with advanced social networking and community-building, and an open architecture that allows instructors to import whatever material they want, from e-books to YouTube videos."

The program will be available via Google apps for education which is becoming increasingly popular in schools and colleges, due its free and user friendly nature. It could potentially save universities and colleges a lot of money that currently goes towards expensive and not very user friendly VLE's
Another useful  tool for the 21st century learner!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

And the award for best lecturer goes to....

"Its about time good teaching was recognised in HE as a valuable commodity. there are enough student surveys and websites criticising lecturers, so I'm very glad to see the Student Led Teaching Awards  making the news.

This idea has been implemented by the Higher Education Academy  and is a very worthwhile activity to help recognise good teaching when and where its happens. we want lecturers to feel recognised for their good work, because its not an easy job that just seems to get harder every year. The criteria mentioned is quite interesting as an example of what good teachers do.

  "the criteria for which an award was made – enthusiasm, feedback and the ability to prompt questions and critical thinking."

not only is the recognition a encouraging boost for the really good lecturers, who can feel disheartened in todays economic climate but it also has;

"unexpected benefits, strengthening a sense of community on campus, empowering students and making them reflect on their learning."

I am now looking forward to this being implemented in my university as we already have a cadre of dedicated teachers who work with the pedagogic research forum to improve their teaching, but don't get enough credit from their colleagues or management.  

See our impact guides for examples of inspirational teaching 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Putting student engagement at the heart of HE

Student engagement is a popular topic at the moment, especially with the increased fees. but what is it and how do you know you are doing it right?  What with the HEA and QAA putting their two pennyworth in, at least you have a place to start.

The guardian has a live chat scheduled for  Friday October 14 "we will bring together a panel composed of some of the people trying to answer these questions and others. Join us from 12pm to 2pm to identify the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead as well as to share what student engagement looks like at your own institution."

Join the debate and voice your views!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

New learners of the 21st century!

A good blog and short video on new learners of the 21st century.
Key points are embracing change, learning to join (there is usually already a community of practice to join.) and the power of play.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Alternative White Paper!

In defence of public Higher Education
 Hundreds of academics have signed an alternative white paper which claims that the government's planned education reforms are fundamentally misguided. They state nine propositions in defence of public Higher Education, and draw a clear definition of what a university is and does.

1.       Higher education serves public benefits as well as private ones. These require financial support if these benefits are to continue to be provided.
2.  Public universities are necessary to build and maintain confidence in public debate.
3.       Public universities have a social mission, contributing to the amelioration of social inequality, which is the corollary of the promotion of social mobility.
4.       Public higher education is part of a generational contract in which an older generation invests in the wellbeing of future generations that will support them in turn.
5.       Public institutions providing similar programmes of study should be funded at a similar level.
6.       Education cannot be treated as a simple consumer good; consumer sovereignty is an inappropriate means of placing students at the heart of the system.
7.       Training in skills is not the same as a university education. While the first is valuable in its own terms, a university education provides more than technical training. This should be clearly recognised in the title of a university.
8.       The university is a community made up of diverse disciplines as well as different activities of teaching, research and external collaboration. These activities are maintained by academics, managers, administrators and a range of support staff, all of whom contribute to what is distinctive about the university as a community.
9.       Universities are not only global institutions. They also serve their local and regional communities and their different traditions and contexts are important

What do you think of the above points?
Is the government confused on the real purpose of Public Higher Education.  What about for profit providers should they be treated the same as public universities would they bring the same benefits?

Friday, 23 September 2011

UUK response to HE white paper: changes needed!

The Higher Education White Paper promises to put students at the heart of the system. Universities always have been and remain unequivocally committed to delivering this. What the white paper doesn't do is think through the process properly and its actions do not match its aims!

White Paper fails to capture the full extent of the contribution  that universities make to society and to the economy. Too much focus is given to the Undergrad recruitment and teaching. This is a large part but by no means the only thing universities do, and should not be isolated from the rest of the universities activities!

"The excellence of the UK  university system, and the value it creates for the economy and for society,
is based not just on the exceptionally high quality of undergraduate  teaching, but on a range of factors, including:
a.  the inter-connection between teaching and research, and the fact  that all teaching in UK universities takes place within a research informed framework
b.  the contribution that universities make to their communities, to  citizenship, and to the wider social and public good
c.  the transformative impact that the university experience has on those who pass through the system"

The UUK has come up with a well thought out and reasonable response to the HE white paper. Lets just hope the Government listens!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The current impact agenda could consider the impact of inspirational teaching, not just research

"Some academics are unhappy with the focus of the research impact agenda and have questioned the new framework and criteria. John Parkinson writes that it could benefit from looking also at the potential of teaching to connect with and inspire students, rather than focusing solely on the impact of research."

It is strange that in measuring the impact of universities, that teaching is not considered, since it is our primary activity!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The social value of universities

How do universities contribute to the wider community?  Well Uclan is one of the biggest employers in Preston, as well as being involved in community engagement projects! 
 Interesting article by Faiza Shaheen in the Impact of Social Sciences blog,

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Liverpool's free university

With the fee hike and general anger at the government, Plans are currently in motion for the establishment of a Free University of Liverpool (FUL). "This is explicitly framed as a protest against the government's tuition fees rise, but also evidences a longer-standing dissatisfaction with the current structure of higher education."

what do you think? will it work? I am all for free access to education and learning to enrich your life rather than just for work. But you would need to get all sorts of courses running for it to work as a place of learning. If they offer courses part time so you can go around your job then it could work for people who are just interested in learning without the need for formalised qualifications, and I for one would welcome the opportunity. Education should not be for profit, it should be for the betterment of mankind. But with qualifications and training courses which need accreditation it is more understandable to charge for or subsidise these. I would rather my taxes were spent on education and training than war and obscene salaries/perks for government ministers and managers.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Impact of the social sciences

Podcasts of the sessions and panel discussions from the Investigating Academic Impact conference on 13th June 2011 are now available to download for free.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

national curriculum for universities

A report by the 'liberal' think tank CentreForum, claims that Russell Group universities should focus on research whilst the ‘regular’ universities should focus on teaching at an affordable price. The report, Degrees of quality: how to deliver the courses we need at prices we can afford, argues that to maintain quality ‘a set of standardised courses and exams would be designed by ‘research’ institutions and other expert bodies – to be delivered through a ‘collegiate’ type arrangement in teaching based institutions’
'It warns that government plans to introduce a market in higher education may have undesirable consequences, with more providers making quality and value less easy to determine. It is suggested that moving to common standards and independent marking will be an effective quality control measure, similar to A-levels.'

What do you think about an national curriculum for universities?Are the Russell group the best people to design this or should teaching universities have a say also? What makes a research intensive group qualified to design a teaching curriculum? I think it would be more fair to have representatives from all the university groups in a common steering group that led change in this area. As is frequently pointed out the non research intensive universities may not be top in research but are very good at teaching so they should have input into a university curriculum.

Do we even need a national curriculum for universities? How does this help ensure quality? and would this mean that it doesn't matter which university you go to as they will all be exactly the same or will there still be a prevalent elitist attitude? The current national curriculum for schools is under review as has been called 'substandard' by the current government and has created increasing amounts of paperwork for teachers who can spare little time to really enable students to learn. Do we want such a broken system in our universities or will we be able to come up with something better?

Thursday, 18 August 2011

the pressures of student satisfaction

The guardian has posed the question below, with a survey yes or no?

"Are pressures on HE professionals to deliver student satisfaction too high?"

With the new fees regime and NSS results just out (student satifaction up overall to 83%) is student satisfaction putting too much pressure on academics to conform or perform to what the students feel is a good experience?
Do students know what to expect when they come to univesity or will they be expecting too much with the massive hike in fees?
Is Student satisfaction a fair assessment of the quality of a university experience? or should we find a different way that takes onboard the quality not quantity of contact hours and support? Are students the right people to be measuring the quality of an educational establishment or are they just part of the overall picture? Do the staff views of the quality of provison count? or should there be a 'mystery shopper' who looks at many different establishments who provide the same course?
Student and staff expectations can be very different and there is no easy way to measure the overall student satisfaction as students are individuals and will expect and need different things from their university education, and some subjects will outperform others and some courses will have more dedicated staff. If the lecturing staff care about their subject and about their teaching it shows. We have produced short books in a series called Impact which details how much the staff care about their work and the innovations in their teaching. Hopefully this will help students make an infomed decison and show who in their subject is dedicated enough to make a real difference to the student experience.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Shameful self-promotion vs. Meritocracy

Speculative Diction: Shameful self-promotion vs. Meritocracy:
"I'm not particularly keen on the idea of having to be a competitive, "marketable" academic, or that we should be forced to participate in phoney promotional activities (I don't think they work anyway) or in the kinds of performance assessments that measure "impact" with a variety of suspect statistics. But as with so many issues, there are elements of self-promotion that relate positively to doing a good job as an academic, rather than buying in to neo-liberal market-oriented self-reformation."

Plagiarism, what can we do about it?

Top tips to tackle plagiarism from Prof Rob Jenkins

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

It's not how much you've got but what you do with it!

In higher education, it's not how much time you spend with students, but what you do with it that should count. the ongoing contact time debate! One size does not and should not fit all!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Less money more control?

Plans for Hefce hegemony spark sector fears
"Plans to hand greater power and responsibility to the English funding council HEFCE are a "death warrant" for the self-regulation of higher education and could persuade universities to opt out of the state-funded system."

Universities are taking less money from the government since teaching funding was drastically cut, and yet the government wants to exert even more control! The most worrying part of this story is "The ability to fine universities that fail students" which is going to lead to worthless degrees as some institutions short cut quality and support and just pass everyone! Buying a degree without doing any work is fast becoming a scary reality!

The contact time debate !

Instead of sermonising about the need for more contact hours, ministers should stop infantilising students and listen to what they actually want, argues Paul Ramsden

Achieving high quality demands a single-minded concentration on learning, coupled with extraordinary expectations of learners and the capacity to learn from mistakes. The challenge is to engineer teaching systems that focus on student learning, connecting participants with every aspect of the process.

"There is no evidence to suggest that, taken alone, contact hours offer a meaningful way in which to measure quality." Instead, quality is about "providing an environment that creates the potential for students to succeed in their studies".

Friday, 5 August 2011

The gov playing with the academy again!

In a THE article the gov comments on how it would make changes to the peer review process. Not surprisingly the 'Impact'of an potential paper is explored!
Research intelligence - It's peerless, but it could be better still

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Joint statement on Impact by HEFCE, RCUK and UUK

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Universities UK (UUK) have a shared commitment to support and promote a dynamic and internationally competitive research and innovation base that makes an increased and sustainable contribution, both nationally and globally, to economic growth, wellbeing, and the expansion and dissemination of knowledge.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Education for life, or for work?

The higher education white paper proposes that universities should train students for their future jobs. But not all academics are keen. Professor John Brennan, director of the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information at the Open University, has studied graduate employability for the past 20 years and sees real danger in "training for work" displacing "education for life" in the student experience.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The benefits and purpose of teaching training in HE

Lecturers must be able to impart what they know. Craig Mahoney, head of the HEA, believes training can make any academic a more effective and inspired teacher THE article

Friday, 8 July 2011

Monday, 4 July 2011

Review of Pedagogic Research Forum network day, SIG event

Despite a small turnout, the event was a sucess! we combined assessment and employability into one group and had elearning and delivery on another group. Interesting discussions (and rants) were had ;-) and it was found to be quite useful for all involved.

Quotes from participant feedback:

"Refreshing and stimulating, good mix of people and backgrounds"
"Excellent, we need to have these professional discussions on a regular basis"
"Great forum to discuss ideas, meet staff from other departments and hear what otherr research is going on in the university"
"A good idea, shame low turnout prevented it for working to its best, but did get some useful information!"

Fantastic feedback! the only downside is, it is always difficult to try an get large groups of people in one place at a particular time, but even more so over the summer. so the next time we plan an event we shall look at the most suitable time for the majority of atendees!

The next event that came out of this was a workshop on large group teaching techniques.
Watch this Space!

Monday, 20 June 2011

SIG event 4th July

Pedagogic Research Forum network day!

4th July 2011 10am-2.00pm Media factory

ME312, ME313, ME314, ME317

To support the development of special interest groups around the PRF

To create a space for exchange and sharing of good practice/ ideas

To support scholarly approaches to developing learning and teaching at Uclan

The PRF SIG (special interest groups) event, we have organised space to enable you to discuss assessment, elearning, employability and delivery methods, with other like minded people.

Friday, 3 June 2011

benefits of not being online!

times higher article
Momentum gathers behind efforts to reduce or ban online access during lectures

Monday, 21 March 2011

Impact of PRF

we are currently researching the impact of the PRF on its members and would be greatful if people could spare the time to fill in this survey

Click here to take survey

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

open access university courses

Universities in Australia, Canada and New Zealand are hoping to achieve "a quantum shift" in open educational resources (OERs) by launching an "OER university".

A group of universities plans to draw together existing free online learning materials from around the world and develop new OERs to create whole degree programmes that can be studied via the internet for free.

The project will focus on how to offer students using OERs the opportunity to earn academic credit and have their work assessed at a significantly reduced cost.

It is hoped that these degrees could cost up to 90 per cent less than a traditional qualification gained through on-campus study.

full story:

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Reconceptualising assessment feedback: a key to improving student learning?

Beaumont, C., O’Doherty, M. & Shannon, L. (2011). Reconceptualising assessment feedback: a key to improving student learning?. Studies in Higher Education, doi:10.1080/03075071003731135

This article reports the findings of research into the student experience of assessment in school/college and higher education, and the impact of transition upon student perceptions of feedback quality. It involved a qualitative study of 23 staff and 145 students in six schools/colleges and three English universities across three disciplines. Results show that students experience a radically different culture of feedback in schools/colleges and higher education, with the former providing extensive formative feedback and guidance, while the latter focuses upon independent learning judged summatively. Students perceived quality feedback as part of a dialogic guidance process rather than a summative event. A model is proposed, the Dialogic Feedback Cycle, to describe student experiences at school/college, and suggestions are made as to how it can be used as a tool to scaffold the development of independent learning throughout the first year of university study.

Friday, 14 January 2011

prf meeting february 3rd

We have an intruiging PRF presentation on 3rd feb from Val Lawrenson on Enhancing formative feedback from the students perspective!

This will be held in the LDU meeting room at the usual time 12-1.30

In this uncertain climate it is immensely important that we make time and space for reflection and discussion around teaching and learning and sharing practice. The PRF offers space for this with excellent speakers talking about their work, and lots of opportunity for exploration, exchange and discussion. Do please attend and bring along colleagues. We always welcome new members.