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Learning and Teaching Conference 2018

Celebrating Excellence in Learning and Teaching

Key Note Speaker

Dr Mark Mason
Pro Vice Chancellor Student Experience University of Chichester

Introducing Aspects of the University’s Learning & Teaching and Student Experience Strategy (2018-2025)

In this presentation Mark will explain how the University’s Learning & Teaching and Student Experience Strategy (2018-2025) sets out to strengthen the distinctiveness of the Chichester student experience as high-quality, personalised,  accessible and aspirational. He will outline how this strategy has been designed to assist  the University of Chichester community in achieving this strategic aim during challenging times, both in terms of increasingly constrained resource for UK higher-education institutions and heightened levels of socio-economic precarity for students and graduates. Yet, whilst mindful of – and responsive to – these challenges it will also be stressed that this strategy hasn’t been constructed on the basis of a ‘deficit’ perspective.

The University of Chichester approach to learning, teaching and the student experience isn’t primarily determined by the ‘negatives’ of ‘threats’, ‘weaknesses’ or ‘deficiencies’. Rather, this strategy sets out an affirmative vision that focuses  on and develops the University’s strengths. This vision includes various ideals, principles and indicators that relate to what it means to be part of our educational community, a community in which each individual will be fully developed and able to express themselves. It is also concerned 10.30with preserving and enhancing what makes the University of Chichester a unique and transformative place and helping us to respond to whatever challenges emerge in ways that continually and unashamedly highlight and profile ‘the Chichester difference’. This is a strategy that seeks to inspire, equip and motivate staff and students and to ensure that we continue to be a University that is known for delivering both outstanding learning and teaching (informed by high-quality research) and a student experience more broadly. This will be achieved through our hallmark of supportive, inclusive and caring relationships which take place within an authentic community where students and staff feel valued and developed (as whole human beings) and to which they feel that they belong.

Plenary Cafe

Dr Andy Clegg
Principal Lecturer Learning and Teaching University of Chichester

Student Belonging and Communities in HE - Student and Staff Expectations and Strategic Reflections

The focus on learning communities and working in partnership with students is now an integral part of the HE experience. Consequently, there is now a compelling case for adopting a more strategic and student-focused approach to ensure that community initiatives based around shared-identity, belonging, mutual support and comradeship are appropriately planned, embedded and resourced.

The aim of this workshop activity is to explore the notion of community, and the key elements that students associate with the idea of belonging. In doing so, staff will be encouraged to consider the ways in which students group themselves and how this influences their own perceptions of belong and social identity.

The paper will also demonstrate how the Student Journey Model (SJM) provides an invaluable tool to strategically plan, design and deliver community initiatives at different stages of the student experience. The SJM provides a holistic framework that allows the different perspectives and paradigms surrounding effective community development to be assessed and mapped, alongside a realistic consideration of the challe nges and opportunities influencing implementation at a programme, departmental and institutional level.

The session will detail community and partnership development on the Tourism Management degree and within the Business School at the University of Chichester including reference to indicative initiatives that have included: work and takeaway evenings run in conjunction with the Business Society; developing relationships through personal tutoring; and partnership-engagement in marking, assessment and module design. The session will also  illustrate  how  community  thinking has extended into community outreach programmes, and developing strategic relationships with local schools and colleges. It will also address the importance of Alumni-related activities, and that communities of learning do not finish after graduation.

Title: Can Collaborative Partners delivering HE degrees in FE establishments effectively mirror the student engagement and experience traditional University students are afforded?
Contributor(s): Mrs Clare Steere, HE Early Years Programme Area Manager, Crawley College.

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This presentation will be undertaken reflecting on the collaborative partnership of University of Chichester and Crawley College. The 15 minute paper will consider evaluation and reflection from course tutors and the students themselves at the partner college.

Gill Sharpe (2012),Careers Advisor at Which? University, notes a number of elements that should be considered by prospective university students when choosing their place of study. These include student population, the effectiveness of the teaching, the student’s long term prospects, resources afforded to them and, maybe most importantly to some students, what the nightly entertainment is like!

This paper will briefly explore these, whilst providing reflective, critical argument and discussion as to whether successful partnership degrees can meet the needs of the students, any extra measures need to be considered and how this is evidenced in the partnership between the University and Crawley College.

Title: Do challenge and threat states predict student performance in academic tasks?
Contributor(s): Oliver R. Runswick, Matthew J. Smith, Matthew Jewiss, Phil Birch, Institute of Sport, University of Chichester
Contact: / / /

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Challenge and threat (C/T) states represent a complex interplay of affective, cognitive, and physiological processes that occur in response to performance situations. These states produce distinct cardio-vascular responses. Research across domains has shown that a challenge state is beneficial to performance. These studies have often employed  a speech-giving task to induce C/T states and observed relationships with subsequent performance. Despite the widespread use of presentation assessments in education, the influence of C/T states on presentation performance has not been investigated. We predicted that C/T responses to a speech-giving task would predict performance in a presentation assessment with students exhibiting challenge responses scoring higher. Students (n=40) have completed self-report measures of situational-appraisal and are undergoing the collection of cardiovascular data in response to a hypothetical speech- giving scenario. A panel of lay observers will then grade individual performance in an upcoming presentation assessment in order to avoid subject content affecting scores.  At the teaching and learning conference we will share our findings from this study and discuss a follow up qualitative study to examine potential antecedents of these states and potential interventions for supporting threat responses. We will then reflect on our experience in applying sports science expertise to education research.

Title: Creating and sharing photogrammetry models: Digital skills for Earth sciences in the 21st century
Contributor(s): Dr Sarah Fielding, Professional Specialist in Learning Design, Digital Learning Team, University of Southampton

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The University of Southampton Earth Sciences teaching collection contains multiple copies of the ‘Top 50 Fossils’ that undergraduates are expected to become familiar  with. However, access to the specimens is limited to lab contact time, and students often struggle to envision the fossilised remains as living organisms in their original environment. My initial project brief as part of the Digital Learning Team was to create a set of online interactive models as a learning resource.

Recent advances in smartphone technology mean that students are now equipped with their own pocket scanners, but most do not have the digital skills to create and curate the 3D models that could be produced. In light of the opportunity to develop these student skills, the project brief was revised to include group work to create their own  3D photographic model, annotate/curate it in a digital archive and to reflect on their learning.

During the session I will share examples of student-produced models, the lesson plan for the practical, and the rubric by which they will be assessed. I will also outline plans for future development.

Title: From breadcrumbs to foraging
Contributor(s): Dr Rob Warwick, Reader in Management and Organisational Learning, University of Chichester Business School

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At a practical level ethics is personal and shapes our everyday choices. In teaching business ethics and corporate responsibility which metaphor would you prefer? The trail of breadcrumbs: here students take on board and reflect accepted wisdom in their assignments. Or, a joint endeavour of guided foraging? In taking on the Business Ethics and Corporate Responsibility (BML312) module I decided upon the later, a project and approach I shared with the students as we set forth. The module is for Level 6 students in their second semester before most enter the first part of their careers. My hope was that they would find their ethical ‘stance’ and have the confidence to articulate this.

At this session I will share my experience of taking a foraging approach to teaching. At the time of writing this the results are uncertain, there will certainly be lots of learning to share. This will include: facilitating classroom conversations; getting the students to find out about organisations and people and to share these views with the group; and, reflecting on their personal experience including being at work. And how theory on ethics corporate responsibility enables them to shape and communicate their views.

Title: A Rogerian freedom to learn demoted to a fad?
Contributor(s): Brian Cariss, Senior Lecturer, University of Chichester Business School

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Carl Rogers is best known for his part in developing Humanistic Psychotherapy. He devised an approach and practice he called “Person Centred”. It is based on three core conditions: Empathy, Congruence and Unconditional Positive Regard. Carl Rogers then considered the benefits of “Person Centred” in Learning and Teaching. This was notably documented in his classic book “Freedom to Learn”. However, for many, “Person Centred” is a cliché phrase with no understanding of its academic underpinning. It is possible this has trivialised and neutered its powerful possibilities within education.

It is suggested this is an important consideration for all who are involved with teaching for two prime reasons. True Rogerian “Person Centred” teaching could positively transform the experience of the teacher and the taught. It could be a driving force in improving the whole educational apparatus.

The session is a sharing and discussion of the intentions of future research:

  • Can evidence be found of the continuing research and practice of Rogerian ‘Person Centred’ Learning and Teaching?
  • With the ongoing march of the Commercialisation and Massification of Higher Education, is the Rogerian approach destined to be relegated to ‘yesterday’s fad dust bin’?

Title: Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS)
Contributor(s): Jac Cattaneo, Associate Lecturer, Department of Humanities, University of Chichester, Scholarship Development Manager, Greater Brighton Metropolitan College

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Peer mentoring initiatives are a recognised method of helping students to engage with university study, enhancing achievement and retention. Since October 2016, I have led the establishment of a PASS scheme for degree students at the Greater Brighton Metropolitan College. Unlike one-to-one mentor schemes, PASS involves Level 5 volunteers running study sessions for groups of Level 4 students. PASS leaders undergo a thorough training on working with groups – they are not expected to teach, but to facilitate discussion about coursework.

Boud (2001) defines peer learning as a ‘two-way reciprocal learning activity… the sharing of knowledge, ideas and experience between participants.’ Level 5 leaders acquire team- working and employability skills, while Level 4s have an opportunity to discuss elements of their courses which they find problematic with their peers. The experience helps students to engage with their learning on a much deeper level. ‘It was really useful to be able to talk to students who have recently been through these assignments – they know what you’re looking for’ (Level 4 Games Development student).

This session will share information about how to structure a pilot, the recruitment and training of leaders, as well as Level 4 and 5 students’ insight into their PASS experience.

Title: Teaching professional resilience as a method of developing a holistic model of self-efficacy in HE for Performance and Music students
Contributor(s): Esther M Hunt, Head of Student Wellbeing, University of Chichester

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It has been noted that many students entering HE lacking the social and academic skills (Wood and Oliver, 2004) to equip them to manage the demands of study and life in an HE setting, impacting on student engagement and experience. In past academic years many students on Music and performance based courses have struggled to successfully engage with their studies, and complete their courses.

Why teach it? To address this the Professional Resilience Module was designed to help students explore and learn methods of developing positive self-efficacy so they can succeed and achieve their goals at University and beyond. This is in line with approaches taken at other Universities, world wide.

How to teach it: A holistic approach was chosen, where students are offered sessions addressing them as a ‘whole’ person, recognizing the inter-connected factors of mental health, physical health, well being and social factors. A team was drawn together from theProfessional services and academic department to offer a course which has developed and expanded over three academic years.

Effectiveness and Evaluation: The course is being evaluated through student feedback and student’s reflective journals by Maria O’Donnell, Course tutor. It has been well received by students who are also accessing fewer support services as a result. Teaching Professional Resilience could also benefit other students on courses such as teaching and other observed/performance based courses. This could improve student experience and aid retention.

Title: Student engagement and experience; The ebb and flow of epistemology
Contributor(s): Suzanna McGregor, Associate Lecturer, Childhood, Adult and Social Care Dept, University of Chichester

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Epistemology is the study of the nature and scope of knowledge. It is right that the flow of knowledge to our students is one way? I think not. On reflection of how I engage my students and disseminate knowledge I have recently revised the way I teach and begin many of my teaching sessions. The best practise I am sharing is through a change in   the way I begin many of my lectures. I request students come to the following lecture prepared to lead a 10-15 min discussion on a voluntary sector organisation they have engaged with. This shares their knowledge that we can then all learn from. This approach ensures the learning and knowledge is shared with everyone, that the learning is relevant/ current and that students increase their skills in presenting own ideas.

Title: ‘Where I can flow from within’: Place and emotion in university student learning in a forest school
Contributor(s): Dr Duncan Reavey, Principal Lecturer Learning and Teaching, National Teaching Fellow, University of Chichester

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‘I always run. I run to the life, to the beckoning trees, To the singing leaves, to the texture of bark, To the place I can be. I always knew I could. I could live with a life in a world full of love, Where the trees let you in And I can flow from within’       (from a student’s poem, 2015)

We use a forest school approach for undergraduate learning in environmental education, primary school science, and theatre. Some coursework modules take place wholly in  the same small piece of woodland at Goodwood with students there on as many as 10 occasions over a semester. Over the weeks, students build up an increasingly personal relationship with this special place. The place – and our approach to teaching – gives students opportunities and permission to take risks in their learning.

For the module assessment, students explore themes that interest them in a reflective log for which one or more creative entries are required. For example, students have crafted objects from the wood of the forest trees, written poems, composed and performed songs, created campfire recipes, taken photographs and written fairy stories. These creative pieces contribute to the student’s grade for the module. They are also offer powerful evidence of the emotional attachment of the students to this ordinary yet extraordinary woodland.

The same emotional attachment to place affects the approaches taken by the university teachers.

Title:  A critical analysis of the extent to which Joint Practice Development can increase participation in continual professional development and lead to educational improvement
Contributor(s): Richard Poole, Teaching, Learning & Quality Manager / Dom Thompson, HE Manager & Teaching and Learning Coach
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The session will demonstrate how the principles of Joint Practice Development (JPD) (Fielding et al, 2005) have been applied when attempting to solve the issue of staff engagement with CPD. The session will explore how a research project funded by the ETF, culminated with the creation of the “Teacher’s Takeaway” (www.teacherstakeaway. This is an online platform showcasing instances of outstanding teaching, learning and assessment where staff from three local colleges: Havant & South Downs, Eastleigh and Fareham Colleges, have recorded 3-5 minute videos on various topics including assessment practices, management of learning and use of technology. The collaborative nature of JPD (and also the outcome of the project) sought to break the “silo mentality”, or as Schulman (1993) calls it “pedagogic solitude”, via inclusive and effective relationships being built, and this website is an example of how that can be achieved. Key elements explored in the session will include: the logistics of creating high quality digital resources, the impact on those who have engaged with the website and what lessons are transferable and pertinent to the construction of digital teaching strategies and resources for subject lecturers and managers.

Title:Usain Bolt and hitting the ground running through work-based learning
Contributor(s): Ian Worden, Senior Lecturer in Media Production and Tina Crowley, Careers Consultant, Careers and Employability Service, University of Chichester
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In September 2016 a partnership between the University of Chichester Sports Media course, Pearce International and the Careers and Employability Service was developed to deliver workplace learning at the 2017 IAAF World Championships for Level 5 students.

In addition to academic lectures, students were given bespoke lectures by Careers to prepare for placement and sessions on their return to understand the mechanisms      of reflective activity and self-promotion through a CV. An innovative study on the CV summative assessment was undertaken with striking results.

This presentation reflects on this work-based learning initiative to increase the employability of the Sports Media students. Specific issues that will be shared include collaborative working, the student experience and assessment to encourage ‘feed forward’ which may provoke discussion into ways new programmes might embed employability.

Title: Creating a university wide sustainability ethos through student engagement in extra and intra curricula activities
Contributor(s): Kate Cathie, Environment and Sustainable Development Co-ordinator, University of Chichester

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Over the past five years, the University’s environmental sustainability department has instigated a number of different methods to involve students in activities and initiatives to help create a sustainability ethos throughout the organisation, with varying success. This session will cover the University’s experience of engaging and working with students in sustainability activities both inside and outside of the curriculum, through the eyes of a member of the professional services team.

Working outside the curriculum, methods used to obtain initial interest, translate this into positive actions and maintain momentum are discussed. Working within the curriculum, the experience of trying to impart relevant sustainability knowledge is described. The use of the student/professional services relationship as  a  bridging  mechanism  to  help engender a wider sustainability ethos through the University community, is also highlighted. Finally, ideas as to how these lessons learnt could be translated into future actions to enhance student engagement are postulated.

Title: Teaching economics at University in a post (non) truth world: The philosophical foundations
Contributor(s): Dr. Simon Mouatt, Associate Professor Emeritus, Chichester University

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After Trump’s election and the UK Brexit vote, the Anglo-Saxon world seems very different. In particular, objective truths are less likely to shape public opinion than appeal to emotion and personal belief – a phenomenon defined by the Oxford Dictionary as post-truth. In short, science is on the defensive, especially if what is being presented by academics    as established fact is perceived by the audience to inaccurately reflect the reality. This paper first evaluates the philosophical foundations of post-truth thinking, since the European Enlightenment, and argues that the capitalist economic system has relied upon the obfuscation of certain realities as a necessary condition for its sustainability and, therefore, inevitably leads to alternative narratives. Rather than disingenuous behavior by the political and academic classes being at fault, the lying had become an imperative of the system. The history of the subject of economics is thus explored, from the classical era to the present, and reveals the extent to which the subject has been dominated by pseudo-scientific economists to the exclusion of heterodox thought. It thus provides incentive, therefore, to seek a major overhaul of the subject or, for others, to seek less scientific post-truth solutions. The paper then reflects on the current state of economics education in UK universities and makes recommendations for action.

Title: The employability of Norwegian tourism and hospitality students taking Higher Education
Contributor(s): Guro Aarre, Phd candidate at Norwegian School of Hotel Management, University of Stavanger

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Millennials, and the generations that follow, are shaping technology. This generation has grown up with computing in the palm of their hands. They are more socially and globally connected through mobile Internet devices than any prior generation. And they don’t question; they just learn (Smith in Schawbel, 2012).

Curriculum development has been an area of study for decades, but the market is changing rapidly, and Higher Education need to adjust its studies. How do we educate the leaders that will have future supervisory positions in the tourism and hospitality industry? Technological advances, internationalization and a new breed of students gives us new challenges, but also great opportunities, when developing a solid curriculum.

What inspires and motivates the new generation Z, and how can we build a curriculum and find teaching methods that makes the millennials want to complete their studies?   A curriculum, which makes them valuable assets for the future industry, and society. What combination of teaching methods and curriculum set up to produce employable students?

I would like to present some of the challenges and possibilities when educating this new generation- the “millennials”.

Title: Carrots not sticks: Student recognition instead of an imposed baseline - How student input is shaping our VLE provision
Contributor(s): Dr Sarah Fielding, Professional Specialist in Learning Design, Tamsyn Smith, Professional Specialist in Learning Design, Anna Ruff, Learning Designer in Medicine, University of Southampton
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A ‘virtual learning environment’ has the potential to be exactly that: an online space for learning, not just a file store. The University of Southampton’s VLE Awards competition asks students to nominate course sites that have benefitted them, and explain why.

We will share what we’ve learned over six years of running this event, how it has helped us improve students’ online learning experience and how it’s created opportunities for staff to meet and share good practice. Award winners have highlighted the importance of student input, with many VLE sites involving students as co-creators. We will demonstrate some examples, and point to further resources created to inspire and support others as they develop their course sites.

We will swap insights gained as our VLE Awards competition has evolved, discussing changes we have implemented since our first Awards competition and sharing our recommendations; attendees can use these to create similar award schemes in their own institutions.

Title: Teaching Degree Apprenticeships
Contributor(s):  Sam Collins, Degree Apprentice at Pearson College London and the BBC, and Dr Elizabeth Miller, Programme Leader, Business Management Degrees, Pearson College London.
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Teaching apprentices within universities requires rethinking relationships between students, higher education institutions (HEIs), and employers. This paper is a collaborative piece of research by a lecturer and a current degree apprentice (DA) at Pearson College London. It explores the university-employer nexus, how it can weaken, how it impacts teaching strategies, and its importance from the perspectives of both degree apprentices and HEIs. Early research on DAs has focused on employers and universities, but there   is yet little research on the way the current provision of degree apprenticeships affects students, making this collaboration important.

Research conducted found that DA students lack a sense of belonging to either their company or their HEIs. This problem is compounded by what the apprentices perceive as lapses of communication between their teachers and their employers, increasing stress levels among the students. A response from Dr Miller, who supervised Collins’ research, will reflect on the way current practice and pedagogy has created unintended consequences.

The researchers will make recommendations for the teaching of degree apprentices, arguing that HEIs must work  with employers to create  the best  possible experience  for the apprentices but also, that the apprentices themselves must be partners in this endeavour.

Title:  Modelling the real world for even better DHLE stats
Contributor(s):  Jennie White, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, University of Chichester Business School

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A recent report identified that a lack of understanding of what it is like to work in an agency setting was a key skill missing in marketing graduates. This, alongside data   from the Chartered Institute of Marketing about the need for project methodologies, specifically agile, triggered a revision of the content on the BA Marketing and BSc Digital Marketing degrees.

The result was the launch of Agency Life; a 30 credit Level 6 module for students on BA Marketing, BSc Digital Marketing and some joint pathways. The first cohort of 20 students have just completed the module in Semester 1, 2017/18 and this paper looks at the early signs for graduate employability. The cohort was comprised of Marketing, Business and Marketing and Tourism and Marketing students. Digital Marketing was only launched in 2016 therefore there were no final year students from that degree

The BA Marketing has had excellent DHLE stats for the past 3 years, with 100% figures for students who completed a one year placement between the second and final years of their studies. The figures for those that didn’t undertake a Professional Placement were good but could be improved.

On the Business School final year of study, students have the option to undertake a 10 week work placement, as 30 credit module in their second semester. Traditionally, the uptake for this from marketing students has been low and so an additional aim of the new module was to persuade students to consider this option.

Early signs are that this has been a successful addition to the students’ graduate employability, with over 50% of the cohort out on 10 week placement; 6 students working in communications agencies and others working in agency style roles, such as new product development, branding and PR. Many of the projects that they are working on will deliver tangible benefit to their employers, with research into social media influencers, app development, etc.

Title:  Linking skills, feedback, and assessment to develop student agency and deep learning
Contributor(s): Professor Laura Ritchie, Univerity of Chichester

This article examines the concept of constructive alignment in learning (Biggs, 2005)  and how integrating reflective practice throughout teaching and learning, encourages deeper learning experiences. Teachers are encouraged to aligning learning outcomes, activities, feedback, and assessment to benefit students as they progress from learning and preparing for assessment to achievement. Recognising and understanding the student perspective is essential to understanding the balance of how taught material, experience, and avenues for application of learned skills can impact student engagement. The principles of student self-efficacy beliefs (Bandura,1986) and the influence these have on student’s self-regulation of their learning behaviors (Zimmerman, 1998; Schunk & Usher, 2013) is explored. The importance of integrating feedback in accessible ways and providing opportunities for students to develop their agency throughout learning.

Title: Access all areas: Removing digital barriers
Contributor(s):  Roger Holden, eLearning & Web Development Manager, IT Services, and Sarah Hearst, AV Projects Manager, University of Chichester

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Widening participation not only means attracting students from a variety of backgrounds but extending the opportunities of HE to those with a range of disabilities or impairments. Technology has never offered better support for those who may have difficulties from restricted movement to total loss of sight. While we all have the best of intentions as tutors (or other content creators), there are many little ‘barriers’ we simply aren’t aware of. For example, did you know the ubiquitous ‘click here’ hyperlink is a nightmare for some users? Roger will explain why.

No student can have an ‘outstanding learning experience’ if they can’t access all the resources they require. Students with disabilities or impairments deserve, expect, and are legally entitled to, full access to content and resources able-bodied students take  for granted. This paper explores some of the barriers (often unknowingly) put in some students’ way and what we can do to recognise, minimise or remove them.

Title: Professional collaboration: A tale of two readers
Contributor(s):  Rebecca Webb, Co-ordinator for Primary English, Senior Lecturer in Education; Ruth Clark, Subject Librarian for Classroom Resources, Education, Maths and International English Studies (IES), University of Chichester
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This session will focus on how two staff members (one academic, one professional) have come together to create several successful and fun events for students based on their shared passions of reading for pleasure and discovering new children’s literature. We will explore how these events have enabled both professional services staff and academic staff to build positive relationships by working with education students and develop the warm sense of community for which the University of Chichester is renowned. We will consider the process of initial ideas, planning and setting up of these events and offer our suggestions for professional collaboration which enhances student experience.

Title:  Entrepreneurship as a platform to enhance management attributes
Contributor(s): Dr Simon O’Leary, Regent’s University London

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Using entrepreneurship as a platform for developing graduate attributes and thereby enhancing management attributes is outlined in this appraisal of two modules, both of which incorporate research aims. Key elements identified include the need to embed such initiatives into the curriculum; the delivery through academics and professionals; the opportunities for cross-faculty liaisons; finding project opportunities; working in groups and as individuals; and output in terms of reports and presentations.

Title: When the panic sets in...a case study
Contributor(s): Kathryn Seal, Course Leader for Marketing and CIM, Chichester College

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Learners that return to education arrive with either of two mindsets; those who think they can succeed and those who think they can’t. Transition and study skills pre-enrolment workshops have been shown to ease the transition and increase retention. Encompassing individual learning styles, storytelling and positive outcomes allow the learner to reflect their success prior to delving back into the academic world.

This session will explore the panic; the prescription; the process and the pay-off.

Title: Improving career outcomes at the RVC using the Employability Health Check online tool
Contributor(s): Charlotte Lawson, Comparative Biomedical Sciences, and Abi Gaston, Head of College Careers Services, The Careers Group, Royal Veterinary College, University of London
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The Employability Health Check (EHC) is an online tool used at the Royal Veterinary College to measure, and provide individual feedback on, students’ employability attributes with the aim of improving career outcomes. It was developed in partnership between Careers and the BSc/MSci Biosciences team and was funded via an HEA SEP in its initial stages. We launched the tool on our Moodle-based VLE to first year BSc Biosciences students   in October 2015 and have now collected three years of data, including longitudinal data from the same 2015 cohort at level 4, 5 and 6.

In the EHC Bioscience students answer 26 questions which are categorised into four employability indicators: attitude and approach to employability; career self-management capability; transferable skills; subject specific skills. For each question they receive some immediate written feedback on the answer that they give. This feedback encourages them to reflect, record and read or do more to continue to develop that attribute. The EHC is co-curricular but culturally embedded in the programme. For the next implementation phase we are considering ways to to structurally embed it within the curriculum.

The EHC is designed to inform both the direction of careers support and curriculum development, as well as providing guidance to each student on their career development journey. Each area of the EHC is mapped to the curriculum, demonstrating to students where their course enables them to gain the required employability attributes. It enables RVC, at scale, to evaluate the employability strengths and weaknesses of each year group, as well as identify individual students who need more support. This year for the first time we can see clear trends of how students’ competency in the employability attributes changes over the course of their study and can validate the EHC as a tool to measure learning gain.

In  this  session  we  would  like  to  share   our   findings   and   how   we   are responding    to    them,    to    proactively    ensure    that    our    students    are    in        a strong position to enter graduate work or study when they finish their degree.