PAPERS (25 minutes each)

14.20 – 14.45

14.45 – 15.20

The Digital Writing Café – Accessibility born from the necessity

Nina Kearney and Writing Mentors

University of Plymouth

The Writing Café is a creative space for students to talk about academic writing across disciplines, and to support them become better writers, underpinned by the philosophy of inclusion and inquiry.

Originally located in a café on campus, in response to the pandemic, the Writing Café transitioned online considering the additional struggles that students might be experiencing as a result of the pandemic. Within days, it had moved online with no interruption of service.

Attendance in the Digital Writing Café increased by 50% during lockdown, and the service was highlighted by the Gravity Assist report as one of the most innovative examples of how universities and colleges have responded to the pandemic by providing online support to their students.

Due to the successes, the Digital Café now runs concurrently alongside The Writing Café in the Library providing a flexible service to meet the varying needs of the students.

Though the Writing Café has always been a space that helps bridge the gap supporting social mobility, this new flexible approach has seen a drastic increase in engagement from students who identify as from APP categories. The presentation will explore the evolution of the Writing Café to the new hybrid dual delivery model, with provision located physically at the heart of the campus in our Library café, alongside an online digital provision using zoom. Our Writing Mentors will share their experience and will discuss the impact on our student engagement.

Re-framing writing (support): Centering audience and purpose in a community nursing course

Silvia Rossi and Lauren Cross

Mount Royal University

In 2018, the coordinators of a community nursing course approached our LD team with the question, “Are our demands of students with respect to paraphrasing and referencing reasonable?” The assignment was a formal report on a semester-long group project where students partnered with a community agency. The coordinators worried that students (and lecturers) were putting too much emphasis on referencing and the technicalities of paraphrasing, to the detriment of engagement with the community nursing process itself. Our LD team eventually realized that the problem was not one of expectations, but rather a genre-audience mismatch. Although the assignment was called a report, the emphasis on integrating scholarly sources made it more like an academic essay, and the tone and length of the report limited its practical use by most partner agencies. Over time, by emphasizing genre, audience and purpose, we have contributed to a gradual loosening of the hold on the original report format, and last year, we provided feedback on a range of digital deliverables, including infographics, videos, and mind maps, each one designed to meet the specific partner agency’s needs. Our model of providing feedback on the report during one-hour in-person meetings has also evolved into a flexible combination of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration with students. We continue to guide students towards thoughtful, transparent source use, but the conversations around referencing and paraphrasing are now more holistic. In this presentation, we’ll share how our discipline-external perspective has supported meaningful student learning about authentic (and impactful) writing for different contexts.

Rethinking induction activities and online social interactions: A case study of the student internship at Edge Hill University

Laura Riella

Edge Hill University

Starting a new job role and being asked to participate in induction activities are typically associated with being in the physical space, when getting to know new colleagues and becoming more familiar with your new working environment. However, as a result of COVID-19 and the increase in virtual teams, starting a new job role online has become the norm. Yet it is important to ensure that during students’ induction, whether for a new job role or as part of their degree, that time is spent rethinking how teaching and learning, meetings and training sessions are facilitated, with emphasis on utilising the technology and building in time for social interactions. This paper discusses how the Student Internship at Edge Hill University, which saw the recruitment of 40 students as Interns over the Summer of 2021 for 12 weeks, created an induction programme that focused on developing their digital skills, immersing them into the internship and establishing a sense of belonging. Examples include building an induction programme that aimed to create strong working relationships, structuring in time and opportunities for social interaction and designing fun and interactive activities. Activities included: quizzes, online escape rooms, desert island challenges and breakout rooms. This paper also advocates the importance of setting expectations and establishing clear rules as a cohort, which proved so important when working and communicating online. It is hoped that this paper will share some best practice and strategies for those planning inductions or looking to rethink how social interactions can take place online with students.

Reimagining the role of orientation on an online summer pre-sessional programme through adapted CBT activities

Fiona Baker

Durham University

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pre-sessional programmes, which prepare international students for higher Education in the UK, moved online with students uncertain as to university places and international travel. The Office for Students has identified international students as being particularly vulnerable to stress. In addition, research has shown that Chinese students – the current majority on the Pre-sessionals – hesitate to access wellbeing support from university services or at home. The World Health Organisation has advised that approaches to positive wellbeing should be proactive and preventative. As a teacher on the Pre-sssional it was agreed that I would develop four sessions of my own. My response was to integrate authentic positive psychology activities to students to meet the acculturation needs presented by the conditions at the time. These activities were delivered through a coaching approach at intervals. The academic content, language and skills were consistent with the goals of the Pre-sessional and the activities were designed to:

1) develop communicative competence;

2) review academic language

3) provide potential stress and anxiety relief;

4) encourage self-reflection on well-being and

5) provide strategies to strengthen resilience. My reflections on the impact of the innovation were that it provided an authentic avenue for sharing of experience stimulated through academic content and recycled academic language. By taking a coaching stance, the pace of delivery was valuable in tackling adaptive challenges. Students reported that the approach encouraged self-directed learning and development in addition to encouraging positive and supportive relationship building for stress relief.


Lightning Talks

Resource Showcases

Students view of hybrid assessment

Patricia Perlman-Dee

University of Manchester

This lightning talk will evaluate and explain the outcome of student’s opinions on a hybrid assessment. The audience will take away learnings, ideas and tips from a Post Graduate Formative Assessment that was delivered as a group presentation. The students had the possibility to deliver in three separate formats: complete group delivering face to face, hybrid group delivery and all virtual delivery. The talk will discuss the students perception of “best form of delivery”, “fairness and equal opportunities”, acting with professionalism as well as final outcomes of the assessment.

Reading in the digital age

Sarah Robin, Elizabeth Caldwell, and Helen Hargreaves

Lancaster University

In 2019, Learning Developers at Lancaster University were awarded funding by ALDinHE to conduct a small project into how students read. We explored students’ perspectives and practices around reading academic texts in digital format. We analysed how students manage their digital reading, how they interact and engage with texts on-screen, and what influences their choices related to text format. One output of this project is an interactive online resource based upon insights gained from our students. The resource is currently still under development and we would like to present parts of this resource to the ALDinHE community.

“Beyond the Crisis”: Accepting and adapting to the virtual academic skills workshop

Laura Key

Leeds Beckett University

The Academic Skills Workshop Programme at Leeds Beckett University aims to offer an interactive and welcoming environment. When the pandemic created a sudden need to recreate this inclusive classroom online, academic skills colleagues took a ‘trial and error’ approach. Continuous evaluation processes have enabled tutors to adapt the new online offer regularly, thus moving beyond the crisis point and accepting the inevitable retention of online delivery in the longer term. This talk examines the use of staff and student feedback as a tool enabling the co-development of academic skills training. By responding actively to feedback gathered from staff and students via a feedback form supplied immediately after each session, we have developed a robust online presence that is valued beyond its original intention of filling a gap in a moment of crisis. These reflective and evaluative processes have resulted in an interactive, varied and successful programme, borne out not only by student feedback, but also by a twofold increase in student participation. Going forward, it is thus likely that webinars will remain at the core of the workshop programme. It is hoped that the conference will also offer an opportunity to hear about broader thoughts and experiences relating to academic skills webinar delivery at HE institutions since the Covid 19 pandemic began.

Supporting student writing and other modes of learning and assessment: A staff guide

Sandra Sinfield, Sandra Abegglen, and Tom Burns

London Metropolitan University

The ‘academic writing’ of University students occupies contested ground freighted with meaning – and danger. This is particularly true for widening participation students, who feel particularly unwelcome in academia. Students need help not just to overcome their fear of writing, but to positively discover the pleasure of exploratory writing. They need spaces in the curriculum to discover that writing can be a learning process that gives them voice and agency; that places them powerfully within their own learning (Abegglen, Burns and Sinfield, 2017). Hence our colourful and playful guide for staff on integrating ‘writing to learn’ in the classroom: Now freely available through creative commons we want to showcase it as a happy and empowering resource.

When flexibility meets reality: Merging digital and physical service delivery

Cory Willard

Mount Royal University

After 18 months of remote work, our LD team returned to campus in August 2021. We were energized by being back on campus but missed certain advantages of working from home, especially those related to gains in time and focus. Our goal: to design a new best-of-both-worlds arrangement that would be both feasible and desirable. Our challenge: to provide flexible service options for students and give ourselves the flexibility to support our overall wellness. Join us for some quick highlights of our experience and to find out whether we succeeded in balancing the needs of students, staff and the institution.

The Sustainable Development Goals in language teaching

Sue Robbins

University of Sussex

I’ll be sharing materials based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals created for an English language development course. The materials aim to embed sustainable development in the language curriculum and help students develop competencies that enable them to reflect on their own actions by taking into account their current and future social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts from both a local and a global perspective. The texts are taken from The Conversation and encourage students to engage with authors in various parts of the world, exposing them to people, voices and views that they don’t often encounter in published English as a Foreign language materials.

WORKSHOPS (60 minutes)

Empathy and compassion: Towards wellbeing in learning development

Daniela de Silva and Emma Dempsey

University of Westminster

Wellbeing, empathy and compassion are increasingly discussed topics in relation to teaching, with one key question being the extent to which empathy and compassion in teaching can impact on student wellbeing as well as outcomes. Wellbeing is a broad spectrum of aspects, including health – physical, mental and emotional, life balance, happiness and fulfilment, and it is not always easy to pin-point which actions can make a difference to the students and their learning journey. This workshop aims to address some of these questions by giving attendees key information from a study skills professional on how they can integrate a compassionate approach into their teaching, followed by a facilitated discussion on this topic to enable attendees to form their own compassionate teaching plans. Using Mentimeter we will exchange ideas about the definitions of empathy and compassion and how they overlap and bring together a common goal in producing learning development sessions to a diverse range of students.

The interactive part of the workshop will continue by attendees being divided into four groups (virtual) and given a jamboard link where the groups will be able to comment on whether compassion and empathy in the hybrid teaching and learning experience in the past academic year, contributed to improved wellbeing in their students’ journey. The groups will comment on wellbeing in the social experience, learning experience, academic performance and overall improved wellbeing in the student experience. The tangible take-aways from the workshop will be a deeper knowledge of empathy and compassion and their role in student wellbeing.

Session plan:

Intro 10min Mentimeter exchange of ideas and definitions

15min Jamboard activity

25 minutes Conclusion 10min

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