PAPERS (25 minutes each)

11.00 – 11.25

11.35 – 12.00

Working outside the box: breaking down barriers with a Learning Development Peer Mentor scheme

Sheryl Mansfield and Sam Thomas

University of Northampton

Peer learning is simply described as involving students from similar social groupings helping each other to learn (Topping, 2007). A recent document by the European Centre for SI PASS (2019) highlighted that 32 universities in the UK provides a system of peer support, and these vary both in how they operate and their nomenclature: schemes could be framed as peer assisted learning, peer assisted study sessions or peer mentoring. Our aim was to create a supplementary, peer-led service which provides students with engaging, timely guidance and develops effective learning relationships based on parity and equality (Collier, 2015). We decided to use a similar approach to the Student Learning Assistant model of Price et al. (2019), where the Learning Development (LD) Mentors offer support to students from any disciplinary subject.

Eight students were funded and recruited to offer peer support to all students within the institution. All are current second and third year students who work four hours per week supplementing the LD provision via a daily drop-in as well as leading ongoing projects and tasks, including resource development and evaluation. A key driver is reaching students who do not currently use the LD provision by developing resources in physical spaces and digital platforms previously unused in our work (e.g. student halls, Discord and TikTok). We will offer a perspective on the benefits and issues encountered when working with LD mentors, evaluate how the role was co-created with the students and assess the impact it has had on wider student engagement.


Collier, P. J. (2015) ‘Developing effective student peer mentoring programme: A practitioner’s guide to program design, delivery, evaluation and training’. Virginia: Stylus Publishing, LLC. European Centre for SI PASS (2019) ‘Status report for European SI/PASS/PAL – programmes’.

European Centre for SI PASS [online] available from: [Accessed Date 20.12.21]

Price, S. Wallace, K. Verezub, E & Sinchenko, E. (2018) ‘Student learning assistants: the journey from learning advice to creating community’, Journal of Further and Higher Education. 43(7), pp. 914–928. doi: Topping, K. J. (2007) ‘Trends in Peer Learning’, Educational Psychology. 25(6), pp. 631–645.

Academic integrity and student empowerment – how learning developers can help

Rosie MacLachlan

St George’s, University of London

In 2020 the Quality Assurance Agency launched their Academic Integrity Charter, a manifesto for institutions to tackle academic misconduct through academic literacy, cross-institutional collaboration, and the empowerment of students and staff. The same year, the Covid-19 pandemic caused educational disruption across the UK, with the emergency move to online teaching and assessment seeing a surge of cheating and assessment irregularity cases (Basken, 2020; Lancaster and Cotarlan, 2021). While universities are no longer in emergency mode, the continuation of hybrid or distance learning may have left many students feeling less connected to their institutions, while programme teams may find it harder than ever to get to know students taught almost entirely online. Working in a space between students and their programmes, however, learning developers may be uniquely placed to support the development of academic integrity, not only for our knowledge of academic writing practices, but our partnership approach to working with students and colleagues. This paper will report on an Internal Quality Audit on academic integrity at a small, specialist university. Tasked with reviewing institutional practice in order to work towards alignment with the seven principles of the QAA charter, the project placed learning development front and centre of institutional efforts to develop academic integrity. Reflecting on this project, the paper aims to draw out learning from one institution in order to support learning developers facing similar tasks elsewhere.

Basken, P., Universities say student cheating exploding in Covid era. Times Higher Education 23 December 2020 Lancaster, T., Cotarlan, C. Contract cheating by STEM students through a file sharing website: a Covid-19 pandemic perspective. Int J Educ Integr 17, 3 (2021).

Magic to conjure up academic skills for dissertation support

Emma Kimberley, Amy West, and Paul Rice

University of Northampton

This project uses magic to explore dissertation skills with students. Students in a session on preparing for the dissertation learnt a magic trick and then used their experiences learning that trick to reflect and develop narratives around their dissertation topic and the process of researching and writing. The results of this intervention group are compared to those of a control group (same session excluding the magic trick). The teaching sessions integrated skills essential for the dissertation such as critical thinking, linking, metacognitive reflection, and conceptualising the process of a long project. Previous research has suggested using magic will stimulate curiosity, engage and motivate, and students will find the session more memorable.

This presentation will report the findings from pre-post session questions from the intervention and control groups and from interviews with participants to evaluate the use of a magic trick in teaching dissertation skills by:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of using a magic trick to teach dissertation skills.
  • Evaluating the use of magic to make skills teaching more memorable.
  • Evaluating the use of magic to support motivation and positive emotions around dissertation tasks.
  • Evaluating the use of magic to counter some of the negative affects students encounter such as lack of motivation or negative self-efficacy beliefs.

WORKSHOP (60 minutes)

‘Walk me through your dissertation’. Using urban walks to develop students’ thinking about research

Chenée Psaros

Queen Mary University of London

Please note: Participants will be walking/mobile for 20 minutes on a pre-chosen route around the campus.

In the Spring of 2020, during Covid restrictions that were prohibitive for in-person teaching, the Learning Development Unit at a research-intensive university sought ways to support postgraduate taught students who had been learning online. Creative Dissertation Walks were in-person, one-to-one tutorials that ran from May to August for students who were undertaking research. These walks enabled students to book an appointment with an experienced researcher to ‘walk and talk’ (Stansfield, 2019) about any aspect of their dissertation. Borrowing methods from dialogic one-to-one tutorials (Boyd & Markarian, 2015; Wingate, 2019) this project focused on the development of students’ articulation about their thinking around their project and enabled experienced researchers to provide feedback about students’ ideas. The walks took place in a park close to campus because green spaces are thought improve creativity and generate ideas (Keinanen, 2015; Oppezzo & Schwartz, 2014; Leisman et al., 2016;). Walking improves mental health (Roe & Aspinall, 2011) and in conjunction with meeting another member of the university community in-person, students who participated in the walks stated that they thought the walks had improved their well-being and the outcome of their dissertation.

This practical session will provide delegates with the opportunity to experience how walking and talking can develop thinking and how learning developers might adapt the model for their own context. We will discuss practical considerations when planning walking one-to-ones and review questioning techniques that lend themselves to an environment that moves beyond the bounded notion of the campus (Healy et al. 2015; Leander 2010).

Boyd, M., & Markarian, W. (2015). Dialogic teaching and dialogic stance: Moving beyond interactional. Research in the Teaching of English, 49(3), 271-296.
Healy, S., Grant, G., Villafrance, E., & Yang, P. (2015). Beyond the bounded notion of the classroom: A theoretical orientation for evaluating the geographies of new generation learning environments. Paper presented at the Terrains: Mapping learning environment evaluation across the design and education landscape, International Graduate & ECR Research Symposium.
Keinanen, M. (2015). Taking your mind for a walk: a qualitative investigation of walking and thinking among nine Norwegian academics. Higher Education, 71(4), 593-605.
Leisman, G., Moustafa, A. A., & Shafir, T. (2016). Thinking, Walking, Talking: Integratory Motor and Cognitive Brain Function. Frontiers in public health, 4, 94.
Leander, K. M., Phillips, N. C., & Taylor, K. H. (2010) The changing social spaces of learning: Mapping new mobilities. Review of Research in Education, 34, 329-394.
Oppezzo, M., & Schwartz,D. L., 2014. Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 40(4), 1142–1152.
Roe, J., Aspinall, P. (2011). The restorative benefits of walking in urban and rural settings in adults with good and poor mental health. Health & Place, 17(1), 103-113.
Stansfield, G. (2019). Walk & Talk. A breath of fresh air for one-to-one study support. ALDinHE 2019 Conference, Exeter, United Kingdom.
Wingate, U. 2019. ‘Can you talk me through your argument’? Features of dialogic interaction in academic writing tutorials. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 38, 25-35.

Wellbeing in the workplace: exploring the VUCA approach

Debbie Holley, Kate Coulson, Carina Buckley, Erika Corradini

Bournemouth University, University of Northampton, Solent University, University of Southampton

This workshop is aimed at aspiring leaders/leaders/those interested in models of wellbeing and resilience. VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity, a leadership model based on the theories of Bennis and Nanus from the late 1980s [www.vuca-]. Leaders are often required to navigate uncertainties, paradoxes, conflicts, pressures and ambiguities. The VUCA model calls for new approaches to management centred on a personal approach, and is extensively used in intercultural business masterclasses (University of Cambridge; MIT; Jagannath International Management School Kalkaji, India).

The model inspires and encourages leaders to move from the idea of the leader who ‘knows all’ towards a vision of developmental leadership. This approach clarifies the leader’s ability to develop others’ capacity to handle problems and make difficult decisions, based on the idea that every individual can contribute their skills. In strategic terms, leading in a VUCA world requires Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Adaptability/Agility. Learning development is starting to embrace this model of leadership, with a new ALDinHE Leadership CoP offering a platform for sharing both theory and practice. The overarching aim of this approach is that of conveying positive energy into the development of meaningful approaches.

The VUCA model relies on six key skills, all of which connect to the values of learning development:

  1. developing a shared purpose
  2. learning agility
  3. self-awareness
  4. leading through collaboration and influence
  5. confidence in leading through uncertainty
  6. growth mind-set

This is a creatively discussion-based workshop and we aim to co-create a JLDHE article with interested participants.

Session plan:

There will be a recommended article for those wishing to attend the workshop to read in advance

5 minutes: Overview of VUCA and ice breaking exercise

4 x 10 minutes facilitated ‘snap learning activities’ at workstations Participants will circulate round

4 workstations in small groups and undertake a short interactive activity for each of: Vision, Understanding, Clarity and Adaptability/Agility 5 minutes – conclusions and next steps via a collaborative padlet

Attendees of the VUCA workshop are asked to read the following two articles prior to the session:

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