Collective Diary 15 July 2023

On the 15th of each month, we are inviting those working in the field of learning development to share their day. Write up what you have done on the 15th of the month (or your nearest working day to this date) (plus reflections) and share it with us via this short submission form. The entries will be shared here on the ALDinHE blog.

In 2010-11 and 2014-15, the ALDinHE website was previously used for a collective online journal by members of the LD community. The collective journal re-launched on the 15 May 2023. You can read the journal entries for each month. The shared experiences and ideas have helped shape CPD resources developed for new and experienced staff, and to identify other areas for future work.

A reminder will go out on the LDHEN list on the 15th of each month. Share your day by completing the short submission form for it to be added to the ALDinHE blog.


Ashleigh Blackwood – University of Sunderland

The 15th seems to bring more promise and excitement with each month. Last month I reported the beginning of our project ‘“Placing” the Student at the Centre of Learning Development’ here at the University of Sunderland. At the time, we were in the depths of shortlisting potential candidates for our first Learning Development Internships. This was a truly educational experience for us as staff members and we received a wide selection of applications from students across the University, which is always excellent to see. One notable trend among these that we are currently exploring is how many more of the applicants were postgraduate students, mainly on taught rather than research programmes, than undergraduate applications we received.

After shortlisting 11 potential recruits, and knowing that we had 4 places to offer, we then went forward with the rest of our recruitment process. For this, we wanted to offer students as fulsome an experience that would contribute positively to their employability and wider professional development as we could, whilst also keeping demands proportional to a role of relatively few hours compared to other roles they might undertake. It is worth noting that we stretched our funding as far as it would go to ensure as many students as possible would benefit from the experience and financial remuneration – never a bad thing in a national context where the cost of living is so hard on so many just now. With our vision of building a team in mind, we decided that candidates would undertake a group assessment task and a short interview. Though a tough set of decisions for the panel, we were delighted to see so many students express their own passion for learning development and supporting other students’ experiences of higher education.

Fast forward to today and we have much to reflect on already for a July blog. Our 4 successful Learning Development Interns have formed a fantastic team and have undertaken an admirable amount of research about the various

• Research Skills and Understanding Professional Research Practices
• Return to Learning
• Presentation Preparation for the Digital World
• How to Survive and Thrive with Dissertation Preparation

Each Intern has selected their theme and also identified what learning objects, or resources, they will be producing to support other students with these areas of learning development. We will update further on these areas in due course, but perhaps you would like to hear from one of our Interns themselves about their project? Below we have MA Education Student and Learning Development Intern Kiera Carr describing the strand she is responsible for within the project and what she is bringing to the University of Sunderland for the benefit of other students.

Kiera Carr – University of Sunderland

My project focuses on supporting students throughout the period when they prepare and submit their dissertations. My output for this project includes a dissertation ‘survival guide’, which contains a personalised planner for students to complete, alongside lots of tips and tricks to help them along the way. As someone who has produced an undergraduate dissertation myself, and who is currently in the process of writing one for my MA, I know how useful this information can be. For many students, a dissertation is the largest research project they will have ever completed, and it can therefore feel intimidating. The guide focuses most closely on concepts of motivation and time management, factors which go hand-in-hand with the student experience of these assessments.

Both are crucial to any dissertation, after all, it has been found by scholars, including Edward L. Deci and Richard Ryan (2000), and Claire Chuter (2020), that motivation cultivates critical thinking and resilience. Therefore, it is the driving force behind any academic project. Most recently, I have been formatting a supervisor meeting plan that gives students a space to record any notes and feedback they may receive whilst also providing them with questions that they may choose to ask their supervisor. I will be launching the survival guide in a taught session that I will be co-teaching with one of the Study Skills team here at the University and am excited to see the final outcomes of my project and for students across the university on gaining access to these new resources.


Chuter, C. (2020) Motivation. Available at: (Accessed: 11 July 2023).

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68.

Joanne Wood – Lancaster University

9ish in the kitchen at work, in my cycling gear (I had taken my helmet off), washing up. FilmClub for international students was on Monday and we drink tea at FilmClub, so there are cups to wash. 10 this week. 10 students who still want to watch a film on a Monday evening with boring old me! Actually, I’m torn about how to feel about this. It’s wonderful that they find FilmClub so great – I love it, too. And I know it’s powerful and hugely impactful in many ways. But (always a but!) if this really is the best option for these fantastic, vibrant, intelligent people on a sunny Monday evening towards the end of a year in a place so far away from home…..? Well – best not to overthink, I suppose! Best just to be grateful that I have the gift of these hours with them! Splash, wash, drip, wipe….

How is it Friday already? Why are these cups still marinating?

I won’t go through the full list. But I did enjoy Wednesday rather too much. I co-facilitated a session with a favourite academic colleague who has taken on a big PGR leadership role in our Faculty. We wanted to do something supportive and appreciative of the hidden work of PhD supervisors. My bit was about feedback. We have a lot of PhD students in our Faculty and over the years I’ve been able to work with a good number – and I think I sometimes get to have different conversations with them and hear, maybe, things that the supervisors don’t. In that privileged ‘in-between-space’ I can hear, for example, how PhD students receive and perceive the feedback from their supervisors. So – I’m sure you can imagine the powerful conversations that can happen when the planets align to give me time in a room with my wonderful supervisor colleagues.

(And someone else did the washing up that time!)

Katharine Jewitt – The Open University

Today I ran a workshop to support post grad students in overcoming imposter syndrome. The feedback was excellent, and it was enjoyable and a fab way to end the week. The feedback shows the students left feeling stronger, motivated, and more resilient. The term ‘imposter syndrome’ came about in the 1970s by psychologists who described high achieving individuals who for some reason could not claim their ability or intelligence. They always felt like they were going to be found out as a fraud, a phoney or imposter. Whatever external verification existed for their expertise, they always dismissed it and thought they were just lucky. It’s not about reality, it’s about how people feel. This can be potentially damaging, as people lose their balance and confidence. Imposter syndrome can lead to lower satisfaction. It can also result in a lack of career progression because people either stay where they are for fear of being found out or keep moving on, for fear of being found out. It can lead to stress and health issues. The aim of the workshop today was to help students recognise imposter syndrome and implement strategies to overcome it.

Imposter syndrome is debilitating for students and it’s something I’ve wanted to address in a workshop. I wanted to get my students all together to tell them that they are brilliant! The workshop is something that came out of many conversations that I’ve had with students when they’ve hit a point where they want to drop out or can’t submit their work, procrastinating or feeling demotivated or been faced with difficulties. The author C.S.Lewis said “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”. I wanted to get across to students to start to think of themselves as someone to share and enable their knowledge in others. They are not an imposter, they are developing their knowledge and translating knowledge and are using their skills and experience to help others. Their goal to gain their Master’s degree is in order to move into work where they will be helping others.

I started the workshop by asking everyone to pin a flip chart sheet of paper on their backs. The participants had to help each other to pin the paper to each other’s backs. I then asked them to work around everyone and anonymously write something lovely about that person on their paper – it could be anything at all, what they were wearing, a conversation they had, something about their work etc. After all the participants had worked around each other, they could then take their papers off and read what others had said about them. It was a lovely way to give everyone a warm glow at the start of the session! 😊 I then talked about how it was important that when people say great things about them or their work, to believe them. An action takeaway was to store lovely things that people say and if they are having a bad day, pull them out and read them to feel a lot better.

I had images of famous people including Michelle Obama, Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou and Meryl Streep. What do they all have in common? Yes, you guessed it, they’ve all said they suffered from imposter syndrome.

Something I was reflecting on in last month’s collective diary, following ALDcon23 was how important it is to work collaboratively and to learn from one another and how the power of the collective can manifest itself in a community of practice. Sometimes it takes more time and effort to work collaboratively, but it makes us more efficient. One strategy we discussed today was claiming the support of the people around us and to talk with people about how they are feeling. I reminded students to not forget that they are already successful, they have an undergraduate degree and are studying for a master’s degree. They’ve claimed their place.

During the session, the students made affirmation cards and we talked about how they can be used to stop automated thinking. As they go about their day, they can read their affirmation cards to ignore the weird and random phrases that may pop into their head like “I’m not good enough”. Those thoughts are not linked to reality. Every time they have a thought like that, they need to put a halt to their thinking and read their affirmation. We discussed replacing negatives with positive statements and to say them proud, loud, and often! 

We explored strategies if they are having a bad day or get stuck and how to get some momentum to keep moving and we mind mapped ideas and created collages.

The students also created a mood board focusing on a single concept or word they wanted to focus on. During the activity, we discussed the importance of measuring success against themselves, not by comparing themselves to others. The students explored their differences and how they all had skills and talents that were different. Comparison is futile.

We also talked about identity and separating feedback about their work to themselves as a person. They are not their work or their last assignment mark. We talked about having a life outside of work and study and developing as a whole person. Their work will improve if they have variety in their life. Doing sports, getting out, taking time to enjoy family, friends, hobbies, cooking etc, will help them feel refreshed and able to focus better.

Part of the session was spent looking at journalling and creating some journal pages, exploring different formats and media. I’ve been keeping a daily journal for the last 20 years and shared the benefits I gain from this.

Finally, we ended with Taylor Swift, if anyone is creating negativity in their life, shake it off, shake it off!

Ebba Brooks – University of Salford

Today was a mercifully quiet day, uncharacteristically rainy and cool after a period of intense busy-ness and heat. It was very quiet on campus, with just the faint drilling of building work hinting at preparations for September.
I saw a student who had been referred to me late yesterday by their personal coach. The student presented with ADHD and organisational and time management issues. I have recently been learning about and reflecting on how to support students with ADHD, as increasing numbers of them reveal this diagnosis in our 1:1 conversations. (Indeed just last night I’d attended a very enlightening lecture by Dr Jane Sedgewick-Muller on ADHD and in particular how it manifests in women.) I’ve also been reading up on Paul Kelley’s research about spaced learning and how this may be useful for students with ADHD as well as other forms of neurodiversity or SLD. The student talked about how they felt overwhelmed by their course, family and work commitments, never knowing what they were supposed to be doing and missing deadlines as a result. So we discussed keeping a calendar (not a diary which can be closed, put away and forgotten about) and using it to plot out deadlines and foreseeable life and work events. We also talked about the pomodoro technique as a way to beat procrastination and encourage focus for limited periods of time, with rests inbetween. During our conversation it became clear how determined this student is, and how they have overcome enormous odds to get to university. I felt full of admiration for their perseverance and determination and told them so. Finally, we co created an action plan with a short list of three actions they were going to commit to straight after our meeting: 1) contact our Disability and Inclusion team 2) Purchase a calendar 3) Talk to their coach about worries about deadlines before the deadline.
In the afternoon, my mind turned to the more down-to-earth task of sorting out our co-curricular teaching offer for trimester one. In an attempt to woo students back on to campus, and to encourage them to engage with our Skills offer, we are designing and publishing our timetable of standalone workshops much earlier this year. A lot of effort has gone in to align our workshops and our elearning materials and to ensure that they are all as inclusive as possible. For my part, I have a list of workshops and elearning to review and update. That will keep me busy next week…

Robert Ping-Nan Chang – University of the Arts London

As 15 July is a Saturday, I am reflecting on Friday 14 July. I had two embedded workshops with an MA cohort. The attendance was ‘expectedly’ low as it’s the very last teaching of the term for the cohort and the students just finished their ‘high-stake’ cross-course presentations the day before. Given the very small size of attendees, I was able to speak to every student, learn about their design projects and provide bespoke feedback to everyone which is relevant to the theme of the session and equally useful to others. While all these years I have applied learning technologies and interactive class activities to engage students, all these are not comparable to a small-size class or a tutorial, with which attention can really be paid to every individual.
An ’unexpected’ incident today was a short conversation with an MA student on the train. She spotted me on the platform, and introduced herself as one who went to my online tutorial in Term 2. Since I don’t belong to any course teams, I always feel honoured to be recognised or remembered by students. This suggests that academic support, rather than being marginal, has played a role in students’ studies. This working day really ended on a high note.

Jacqui Bartram – University of Hull

Friday the 14th was my first ‘normal’ working day after a lovely two weeks in sunny Mallorca (the previous two days being our annual Learning and Teaching Conference). The day started with my usual swim at a local pool and then heading off to campus. After a much needed cup of tea and the final session of making my way through the 400+ unread emails I had on my return, it was into a regular weekly meeting with members of our ICT and Education Development teams where we are advised of upcoming changes to Microsoft 365 products. I find this meeting really useful, not only because I can update my team on these changes and how they may affect us and our students, but also the easy working relationship it gives me with these colleagues (we always begin with general chit-chat and end with the option to ask questions of each other).

There was then a short gap when I completed the end of year report for the Royal Literary Fund about our writing fellow before two scheduled online student appointments. The first was a lovely student with many additional issues (dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD) who was struggling with structuring her assignments and referencing them correctly. The second did not attend – more unusual than it used to be.

After lunch I had a series of meetings looking at faculty liaison activities, our Customer Service Excellence submission and chatting with an interested staff member about a maternity cover position in our team.

On the evening we had a team meal out – fab company, lots of laughs, too much wine and lovely food! Definitely the best way to team-build in my opinion.

Kate Coulson – University of Northampton

Friday 14 July. I worked from home and had a great day working on our Student Engagement Policy. Not technically a policy I look after but sometimes you are asked to pick things up! I never say “no” (need to work on that) so I have been re-drafting the policy and worked with our new Sabbatical Officers – Bhavya and Fajar on the wording and approach within the policy. The use of clear English is a big issue when it comes to policy so we spent a lot of time discussing it and trying out new ways to explain concepts to students.
I have two more weeks before I take some leave and I am really starting to flag now. I’m tired everyday and my brain is struggling to keep up. Looking forward to some leave…..I still have 72 flagged tasks to get through and some big committees/meetings. I know that everyone feels the same at this time of year so just knowing that helps me to contextualise how I feel.

Stephanie Larkin – University College Cork

Thursday 13th July: I had the pleasure of visiting the university of Bristol on Thursday 13th July for a teaching and learning workshop on the EAT Framework which looks at assessment literacy, assessment feedback and assessment design. The aim of the framework is to support learners to become more motivated and self-regulated learners using these 3 themes. This was exciting as I am based in Ireland and it was my first trip abroad to meet others interested in a topic I am very interested in. I manage a placement programme but also have teaching duties. I am a qualified career guidance counsellor and the overlap between the philosophy of teaching and learning and person centred counselling underpins my teaching and how I support students in my classroom, the self-regulation aspect of the EAT framework has intrigued me since I first discovered it last summer.

Surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly 🙂 I was the only careers focused person in the room for the workshop. Everyone else was a learning developer, learning designer or an academic with an additional role in the area of teaching and learning. So the workshop provided me with lots of perspectives different to my own (and a slight feeling of imposter syndrome, thanks for your diary entry @KatharineJewitt)

Applying the framework in the workshop I was able to reflect on my assessment practice and visualise it using a wheel exercise with the different dimensions of the framework. Strengths and areas for development were identified and then some really great ideas to help with the areas I was concerned about emerged from the group work. It was a very productive day and I even got to promote ALDHE to 2 members of my workshop group who had not heard of it before.

We were provided with really yummy food during the workshop breaks which encouraged lots of networking and sharing of stories about what is engaging and puzzling people currently in their T&L work.

Friday 14th July: I left Bristol on Friday feeling gratitude for being in a position to travel and engage with this topic, and with lots of ideas and plans hatching in my head about what I might do next with my assessment practice.

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