Parallel Sessions 6: 14.45 – 15.45

PAPERS (25 minutes each)

14.45 – 15.10

15.20 – 15.45

Active online reading: Student behaviours vs staff expectations

Matt East and Jamie Wood

Talis Education and University of Lincoln

Across Higher Education, reading is ubiquitous – it is relevant for all disciplines and all students. Students’ reading practices have transformed over the past 20 years, with the increasing digitisation of resources, the emergence and then ubiquity of virtual learning environments, and the widespread use of mobile technologies. The pandemic has accelerated such developments, with the rapid roll-out of online and blended learning. Yet we know strikingly little about how students read online, how this relates to their overall learning, and which pedagogic strategies are effective.

This year, colleagues from the University of Lincoln, the University of Nottingham, UCL, and Talis Education ran a QAA ‘Collaborative Enhancement Project’ exploring ‘active online reading’. This project explored digital reading practices and pedagogies across institutions, addressing students’ collaborative and independent reading activities. Whilst the project was primarily located in ‘reading-rich’ Humanities disciplines, our findings are of potential interest and benefit across the sector. As part of the project, we ran surveys of staff and students that explored their digital reading practices and pedagogies in Higher Education, gaining over 500 responses. In this session, we will present some of the findings and analysis, highlighting key themes and factors emerging from qualitative responses, major disparities between expectation and student priorities, and address areas of misalignment between support offered and support required around key literacies.

Bridges and barriers to developing visual literacy

Jacqui Bartram

University of Hull

As learning developers, we are generally confident supporting academics and students with developing criticality and academic writing skills. However, communication today is multimodal and increasingly visual so our support is expanding to include developing visual literacy i.e. approaching visual sources critically and using visuals to communicate effectively.

Both the UK Quality Code for Higher Education (QAA, 2014) and many individual subject benchmark statements require students to be able to communicate ‘in a range of formats’ and to ‘non-specialist audiences’ —and yet not all students seem to have the opportunities learn how to do so effectively, despite these national and disciplinary requirements. This paper reports on research undertaken as part of an EdD that explored the extent of visual literacy development across an institution and what further enablers and obstacles exist that influence a student’s ability to develop the skills needed to effectively communicate in a visually-rich landscape (see Bartram, 2021).

The research began with an institution-wide audit of 1,725 module specifications that categorised each module as explicitly, implicitly, potentially or not apparently developing visual literacy. This audit indicated that choice of degree is the first major bridge or barrier to developing visual literacy a student may face. Interviews with academic staff teaching on modules representing all the above categories then considered why visual literacy is or is not developed. The findings have implications for learning developers who may need to support both students and academics who are not confident developing a new set of academic skills that take them out of their logo-centric comfort zone.

Bartram, J. A. (2021) Bridges and barriers to developing visual literacy in UK undergraduate students. EdD Thesis. University of Hull, March 2021. Available online: [Accessed 12/01/2022]. QAA (2014) UK quality code for higher education. Part A: Setting and maintaining academic standards: The frameworks for higher education qualifications of UK degree-awarding bodies. Gloucester: Quality Assurance Agency.

Innovations at LSE LIFE in our transition to online teaching and student support

Helen Amelia Green

London School of Economics and Political Science

LSE LIFE is LSE’s centre for academic, personal, and professional development. Prior to March 2020, we offered several workshops and about 20 one-to-one appointments every day in our bright, open space. LSE LIFE was well-known as a welcoming and buzzing place for students to come for advice and support on anything related to their studies, or simply to use the flexible learning spaces to work with classmates or individually, in part thanks to its central location on the ground floor of the library.

With the move to online provision, we introduced changes in our practice to cope with the sudden changes in circumstances and to try to create the communal and collaborative feeling of our physical space in a virtual environment. I’d like to present three changes we made (and continue to implement even now that we have more options for teaching) and how they helped us create opportunities to connect in meaningful ways, both for students and for the teaching team.

Three specific changes we made in the transition to online teaching were

– structured and specific pre- and post-workshop communication with students,

– collaboration of two learning developers for every online workshop,

– addition of 30 minutes of scheduled but unstructured time for further discussion after every online workshop. I’d like to share what motivated these changes, how they evolved in practical terms, and what we’ve learned from them.

I’d like to share what motivated these changes, how they evolved in practical terms, and what we’ve learned from them.

Teamwork – the importance of collaborative practice in creative environments

Simone Maier and Shamoon Patwari

London Metropolitan University

Our presentation briefly explains the redevelopment of the Teamwork project on our Foundation art, architecture and design course at London Metropolitan University. We will harness the work of Abegglen, Burns and Sinfield who argue both that creative practices develop self-efficacy and criticality in a holistic way – and that learning development itself is most effective when integrated in and across the curriculum. We wanted to integrate drawing as a learning tool and as a means of developing team work in Art Architecture and Design students – noting that art education can be delivered in individualistic and competitive ways in more traditional university settings. Our research was motivated by a need to redevelop the project to allow for online and hybrid delivery and harness drawing as a powerful means of communication that welcomes students’ intersectionality as they explore the potential of collaborative knowledge creation. We will display samples of the student work to illustrate our points – and bring the presentation alive. Our conclusions reveal that students did find teamwork to be challenging and it definitely requires scaffolding especially in arts-based courses. A further finding was that outcomes were affected by mode of delivery – and that the teamwork project found greatest success via hybrid delivery. We would like to end with the proposition that creative learning development strategies do benefit from being integrated within module delivery – engaging the audience in discussion as to how to make that happen across the disciplines.

WORKSHOP (60 minutes)

Grit: essential academic resilience skills for students

Cath Hawes, Jordan Mckenzie and Andy McEwan

Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts – University of the Arts London

GRIT is an academic resilience programme for undergraduate art and design students enrolled at Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts (UAL), based on a Solutions Focused coaching model for growth. GRIT aims to enable students to visualise, plot and structure their own growth paths as creative practitioners and to explore how they can become more confident as artists and designers – better able to handle setbacks effectively, grow their practice and identify and celebrate their strengths, talents and skills. Grit does this by challenging students to find out what works for them and do more of it, to stop doing things that aren’t working and try something else instead, all at a manageable pace. At CCW the term ‘resilience’ refers to enabling students to feel more confident and agile as individuals and as part of their wider learning community. The aim of GRIT has been to support students to feel better able to function creatively, academically and personally, even when presented with significant stressors. The GRIT programme encourages students to show themselves compassion and develop the self-efficacy they need in order to know that they can steer themselves through whatever they are facing day to day. Recent, practical themes explored during Grit sessions include procrastination, time management and productivity. We also consider the science of well-being; flow states as a positive influence on artists’ creativity; body scanning, relaxation and calming exercises as facilitators of creative visualisation; receiving positive critical feedback and how to boost confidence levels when needed.

Session plan summary:

Part 1 – Introduction to GRIT – an overview/evaluation of the academic resilience programme as expanded learning development practice within Academic Support at Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts (Cath Hawes).

Part 2 – Academic Resilience activity (Andy McEwan/Jordan Mckenzie) Commitment Interactive, Inside-out / Outside-in confidence building.

Part 3 – Review/Q+A

How does this session relate to Learning Development values?

This workshop provides participants with a link to changing aspects of the wider Higher Education landscape (while we remain in a pandemic and post-Covid) and represents an exploration of an expanded learning development practice, formalising and making tacit the compassionate pedagogies implicit in much of what we, as learning developers, aspire to. GRIT is about finding the connections between students and learning, integrating an approach to learning development that isn’t just about learning but about which ‘soft’ skills enable students (and us) to recognise how they learn, what supports them to learn more effectively e.g. academic resilience, confidence etc and how we can support them to take on knowledge more effectively.

What can delegates take away from this session?

An insight into the application of compassionate pedagogies to learning development and embedding a coaching culture in higher education settings. An invitation to explore how coaching methodologies can be introduced and integrated into course curricula. Gain direct experience of and resources relating to coaching practice that can be adapted to a learning development setting. Provision of resilience toolkits that support students to overcome some of the setbacks (academic and pastoral) they may face during their learning journey.

Session plan:

0–20 mins Introduction to GRIT – an overview/evaluation of the academic resilience programme as expanded learning development practice within Academic Support at Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts (Cath Hawes) 20 mins

20-60 mins Academic Resilience activity (Andy McEwan/Jordan Mckenzie) 40 Minutes


00:00-05:00 Resilience Introduction

Specifically, Grit – how passion and perseverance can be better indicators than IQ in building a sustainable creative practice.

(Please make a note of any questions. Notice what moments during the session where you may have a moment of insight, like a cartoon lightbulb goes off above your head. Please be prepared to share at the end of this section of the session).

05:00-15:00 Thought Distortions

Identifying the way Humans make sense of the world

Temporary versus Permanent

Negativity Bias

Mind Reading

15:00-20:00 Thought Distortion Counter Actions ,

Brief discussion on Receiving Feedback (noticing how Temporary versus Permanent and Negativity Bias can surface when hostility is perceived and How Positive Self Talk can be used to counter the physical effects of these).

Introduce Open/Rapport building language

How to counter Mind Reading by asking questions.

20:00-30:00 Edith Grotberg’s ‘I Am, I Can, I Have’

Participants get 30 seconds reflection time for each title (I am, I can, I have) in order to initiate a stocktake of strengths – making a list that can be added to after the session/throughout the conference.

30:00-40:00 Confidence and Commitment

Interactive, Inside-out / Outside-in confidence building. Review/Q+A

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