Discussion and questions with poster presenters
How can we incorporate nature connection into our work as learning developers?
Jodi Gregory – University of Cumbria
This poster will present reflections on a year of facilitating regular outdoor ‘walk and talk’ activities embedded within a taught academic skills module. The aims were to foster connections between students, to deepen their sense of belonging and to positively impact on their mental health by inviting them to spend time in local green spaces during timetabled class hours.
Recent studies have found an increase in university students reporting mental health conditions (Amirkham, Bowers and Logan, 2020). As a result, student mental health has become a subject of much focus, with suggestions that it is now at ‘crisis’ level (Hubble and Bolton, 2020; Baik, Larcombe and Brooker, 2019; Stepchange, 2022; Thorley, 2017). The University Mental Health Charter has highlighted that support should not only be based on reactive interventions when a student is in crisis, but also on the consistent promotion of good mental health across the university (Hughes and Spanner, 2019). The Charter recommends that universities take an active and holistic approach in the promotion of positive mental health and wellbeing. One aspect of this has seen the encouragement to use local ‘green spaces’, as evidence supports being outdoors and being around nature as an antidote to stress (Holt et al. 2019).
Learning developers are in a unique position to have a positive impact on mental health amongst the students they reach, and I wish to open up a conversation with interested colleagues about how we might incorporate activities involving nature connection into our work.
Amirkhan, J.H., Bowers, G.K. and Logan, C. (2020) ‘Applying stress theory to higher education: lessons from a study of first-year students’, Studies in higher education (Dorchester-on-Thames),45(11),pp.2231–2244. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03075079.2019.1601692
Baik, C., Larcombe, W., & Brooker, A. (2019) How universities can enhance student mental wellbeing: the student perspective. Higher Education Research & Development. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07294360.2019.1576596?scroll=top&needAccess=true
Holt, E.W., Lombard, Q.K., Best, N., Smiley-Smith, S. and Quinn, J.E., (2019). ‘Active and Passive Use of Green Space, Health, and Well-Being amongst University Students’. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(3). Available at: https://www.proquest.com/docview/2328966304/fulltextPDF/DA1C216859BA405APQ/1?accountid=14089
Hubble, S. and Bolton, P. (2020) Support for Students with mental health issues in higher Education. House of Commons Library. Available at: https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8593/CBP-8593.pdf
Hughes, G. and Spanner, L. (2019) The University Mental Health Charter. Leeds: Students Minds. Available at: https://www.studentminds.org.uk/charter.html
Thorley, C. (2017). Not by Degrees: Improving Student Mental Health in the UK’s Universities, Institute for Public Policy Research. Available at: https://www.ippr.org/publications/not-by-degrees
Using Podcasts to Create an Online Community
Shipa Begum – University of Hertfordshire
In the poster, I will outline how an existing podcast within the Health and Social Work School at the University of Hertfordshire was developed to include a segment that the Student Success and Academic Support (SSAS) team used to share content relevant to the needs of its students. Given the nature of the courses within the School, students are often unable to attend workshops and one-to-one appointments and drop-ins due to their busy timetables, which consist of back-to-back lectures, practicals and long-hour placements. Consequently, not all students were able to access the support available to them via the SSAS team. As a result, a segment called ‘Just a Moment with SASS’ was developed in the HSK podcast.
The aim was to create an online community for students within the School where they can tune in once per month to listen to tutors from the SASS team share advice and tips on common student queries, listen to interviews of staff and students from the School and find out what is happening in the School. This creates a sense of belonging for students who are unable to attend support sessions and / or networking events but still want to feel part of the School.
The poster will offer guidance on how to get started using podcasts and some of its limitations.
Online Escape Room as formative assessment in postgraduate students: a case study
Stefano Licchell – University of Surrey
In recent years, there has been increased attention on innovative ways to use games for learning purposes (Rosas et al., 2003; Haruna et al., 2018; Fernandez-Antolin et al., 2020; O’Brien and Farrow, 2020). Specifically, how to use escape rooms in higher education to address a range of different issues and foster learning (Darby et al., 2020; Manzano-León et al., 2021). However, too little attention has been paid to the use of online escape rooms in higher education as applied to postgraduate students. This case study explores the perception of three postgraduate students in Psychology in an online escape room used as a formative assessment during a lecture on HIV. This research gained full ethical approval from our institution. The online escape room was presented as a volunteer activity during a lecture on HIV and students were invited to complete five rooms: one introductive room, three rooms containing different puzzles connected with the information presented during the lecture and to the broader theoretical knowledge of the course and a last conclusive room signalling the end of the activity. At the end of the activity, the students were debriefed, in which they were able to discuss the activity and ask questions and clarifications. The online escape room was created with a focus on inclusivity and accessibility. We explored the students’ perceptions of the escape room with an online qualitative survey. Five students attended the lecture and three completed the qualitative survey. Participants received a £10 Amazon voucher for their time. Students perceived the online escape room positively and as an innovative and creative approach to learning and provided immediate feedback on being able to unlock all the rooms using their knowledge. This case study may be informative for other educators who wish to use escape rooms for educational purposes while also showing the applicability of online escape rooms at the postgraduate level.
Darby, W., Bergeron, P., Brown, N., DeFoor, M., and Jones, B. (2020). Escape room relay race: “Go for the gold” in formative assessment, Journal of Nursing Education 59(11), pp. 646–650. https://doi.org/10.3928/01484834-20201020-09
Fernandez-Antolin, M. M., del Río, J. M., and Gonzalez-Lezcano, R. A. (2020). The use of gamification in higher technical education: perception of university students on innovative teaching materials, International Journal of Technology and Design Education 31(1), pp. 1019-1038. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-020-09583-0
Haruna, H., Hu, X., Chu, S. K. W., Mellecker, R. R., Gabriel, G., and Ndekao, P. S. (2018). Improving sexual health education programs for adolescent students through game-based learning and gamification, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15(9). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15092027
Manzano-León, A., Rodríguez-Ferrer, J. M., Aguilar-Parra, J. M., Martínez, A. M. M., de la Rosa, A. L., García, D. S., and Campoy, J. M. F. (2021). Escape Rooms as a Learning Strategy for Special Education Master’s Degree Students, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(14). https://doi.org/10.3390/IJERPH18147304
O’Brien, R. E., and Farrow, S. (2020). Escaping the inactive classroom: Escape Rooms for teaching technology, The Journal of Social Media for Learning 1(1), pp. 78–93. https://doi.org/10.24377/LJMU.JSML.VOL1ARTICLE395
Rosas, R., Nussbaum, M., Cumsille, P., Marianov, V., Correa, M., Flores, P., Grau, V., Lagos, F., López, X., López, V., Rodriguez, P., and Salinas, M. (2003). Beyond Nintendo: Design and assessment of educational video games for first and second grade students, Computers and Education 40(1), pp. 71–94. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0360-1315(02)00099-4
How Learning Development and Learning Design can inform each other: reflections and discussion points
Catherine Turton – Solent University
Learning Development and Learning Design have contributed to the transformation of higher education over recent decades, in the move towards learner-centered approach in HE. While Learning Design is still somewhat ill-defined and emergent, practice has quickly gained traction since the Covid-19 pandemic, and is now generally well embedded into academic training and institutional terminology (JISC, 2022). What does the intersection of these two ‘learning’ fields look like, and how could existing collaboration be strengthened for the benefit of learners? This poster aims to promote discussion on the topic.
First, I will briefly summarise the history of Learning Design, and explore commonalities in the two fields such as an interest in universal design, a focus on empathy, inclusivity, and active learning approaches.
Second, I will explore the limits of Learning Design, and give examples of ways in which my practice as a Learning Designer is strongly influenced by Learning Development. In particular, I will discuss how Learning Development values, as laid out by ALDinHE provide a grounding for me, and how the substantial body of work in Academic Literacies (Lillis, 2019) provides a critical framing for working with academic teams when exploring issues of belonging, identity and student learning within learning design.
Finally, I will explore how roles intersect, how practitioners from the two fields do (and could) work together, for example, to collectively deepen understanding about the learning experience and improve co-creation with students. I will also outline what adopting a strong ‘design’ approach could offer the Learning development community.
JISC, 2022. Approaches to curriculum and learning design across UK higher education. Report: November 2022.
Lillis, T., 2019.’Academic literacies’: sustaining a critical space on writing in academia. Journal of learning development in higher education, (15).
BioJEWEL: the Biology Journal of Excellent Work and Exemplary Learning
Rachel Hope – University of York
BioJEWEL is an online undergraduate student journal, developed through staff-student partnership in the Department of Biology at the University of York. Its mission statement is to create an inclusive learning community amongst students by providing resources to foster reflective, independent learning. The journal consists of three key areas: (1) learning and assessment – undergraduate work is presented in parallel with feedback and example reflections to improve independent learning skills and understand how to build on feedback; (2) advice and guidance on how to use reflective learning and marking guides to make the most of university time; and (3) interviews with staff and students to inform career planning and research interests both at university and beyond. BioJEWEL aims to support students in becoming confident, self-motivated learners that are able to reflect on their skill set and feed these skills forward, both into future assessments and graduate employment settings.
The journal has been designed by our students, for our students, with academics supporting development and production. This co-creation process, with students at the forefront to edit and produce the journal means that it can address specific areas that students find challenging. The journal showcases a variety of outputs (e.g. essays, lab reports and posters) across all grades boundaries so that students can reach relevant goals whatever their aims.
We showcase the structure and underlying principles of BioJEWEL, presenting reflections from students and staff about the development of the journal. We provide thoughts on how the journal production cycle will be sustained in the long term and could be adapted for use in other departments. Additionally, we suggest how the use of the journal alongside diverse teaching activities can support the development of critical thinking and writing skills that students can use to improve future assessments.
Thinking like a designer – The use of design thinking and graphic organisers in 1:1 LD sessions
Anne-Kathrin Reck – University of Portsmouth
Design thinking is an essential methodology in creative subjects which students are exposed to from the first day of their courses. Here, the flow of a design thinking cycle is being used to explain how it can be utilised in a 1:1 learning development session. We will shed light on the why?, what? and how? of each step and its suitability for our context.
A support tool for each session will be a graphic organiser functioning as visual explainer for the student’s task. These graphic tools play a substantial role in scaffolding the cognitive demands of an issue, i.e. processing and organising written and oral information, deciphering and extracting useful information or planning pathways to successful completion of an assignment (Dexter and Hughes, 2011). There is a wide range of visual organisers available (grids, matrixes, flowcharts, etc.) for example for showing different types of structure, relationships and variations amongst concepts, cause and effects or comparison of pieces of evidence. The use of these explainers supports the dual coding theory of the interplay of visuals and written or verbal material for improved comprehension and retrieval of increasingly more complex information (Caviglioli and Goodwin, 2021).
Students can benefit from a person-centred individual session based on a tried and tested methodology, which offers learning tools and strategies that they can apply to their task in hand. The structure and many of the characteristics of the design thinking model are shared with the principles of 1:1 academic skills session (Reck, 2021). The sessions take place in a supportive environment, by using resources from the visual explainer toolbox created by the faculty learning developer. We hope to make an impact on the students’ meaning making journey through the stages and levels of their chosen creative subjects. Thinking like a designer encourages students to foster growth mindsets and takes them beyond their comfort zones. Our sessions offer a clear link between what students often see as the polarised load of academic versus practical demands of their creative courses.
Caviglioli, O. and Goodwin, D. (2021) Organise Ideas, Thinking by Hand, Extending the Mind. John Catt Educational Ltd.
Dexter, D. D., & Hughes, C. A. (2011). Graphic Organizers and Students with Learning Disabilities: A Meta-Analysis. Learning Disability Quarterly, 34(1), 51–72. https://doi.org/10.1177/073194871103400104 Reck, A.-K. (2021) Thinking like a designer – Learning development in a creative faculty, https://liblog.port.ac.uk/blog/2021/05/26386/