Funded Projects 2022-2023

Understanding the barriers to inclusivity and belonging within team based assessments

Dr Folashade Akinmolayan Taiwo – Queen Mary, University of London


The ability to enhance student employability skills is required by many degree accrediting bodies and teamwork is identified as one of the key skill for graduates. Teamwork activities can simulate an authentic learning experience that supports peer feedback and self-reflection. Within teamwork, there are a variety of elements that are challenging for students, such as, managing expectations and group dynamics, and these can lead to a breakdown in communication. Teamwork approaches that consider diversity and promote equitable participation by all students, enhance the culture of the learning environment and are more likely to lead to productive group interactions.

This project focuses on working with students to co-create supporting guidance on the explicit inclusion of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in teamwork activities. We will recruit a small group of students who will become collaborators through participation in online questionnaires and reflection and development groups. By reflecting on their lived experience, the findings from the questionnaires and reflection and development  groups will lead to the development of student-led recommendations of best practice to support understanding EDI through teamwork. 

The overall vision for this project is to explore the development of inclusive solutions, and by co-creation with beneficiary groups, the support guides developed can provide value to the wider society; educators will be able to critically review their teamwork activities in order to make them more inclusive. The outcomes of this project will be disseminated through internal and external student-staff co-authored conference presentations and journal papers.

Full Proposal

Student surveys (National Student Survey and Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey) are consistently highlighting that assessment and feedback are considered as an area of concern for students. There are still a limited number of research that has been carried out to assess students’ experience of assessments, such as, if embedded equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) as learning outcomes will enhance their satisfaction. Engineering educators are faced with demands from various sectors to produce graduates who are immediately ready for the professional world, both in terms of technical skills, but more importantly, in terms of professional skills. The most common approach to develop students’ professional skills is to incorporate them into assessment (Cajander et al., 2011). Teamwork is highlighted amongst a number of professional skills that are increasingly emphasised as a key to graduate employability and as a result, it is becoming increasingly important in higher education. 

Recent research offers support for training students in effective teamwork (Chowdhury et al., 2019), utilizing self and peer feedback (Beigpourian et al., 2019), assessing team attributes (Paolett et al., 2020), and the impact of online collaboration (Goñi et al., 2020). However, explicit training in EDI is not generally embedded as a critical component of undergraduate engineering assessments, in particular, students have not been supported to recognize it as integral to teamwork training. This project will investigate the experience of students working in teams to identify what impacts their current subconscious training on EDI has on their sense of belonging. 


The main aims of this project are:

  • To understand how students perceive and experience inclusion and sense of belonging in teamwork
  • To explore students’ appreciation of team dynamics and how it can support their professional development through team work
  • To co-create student support guides for team work to help the community of learners

Research design

This project will span two semesters, with two key response stages in the first semester and three key response stages in the second semester. A key response stage encompasses an emailed questionnaire followed by a reflection and development group. 

The rationale behind an initial survey of questions is of capture the individual experiences of the student contributors to allow a space for self-reflection and to enable a safe space for individual expression that may be hindered by group discussions. The set of questions, which contains a combination of open and closed questions, will be designed to enable participants to reflect on their recent team work experience. This questionnaire will have a focus on current EDI discourse to investigate what the participants feel they were explicitly taught to apply and what they felt was their lived experience. This question set will be consistent throughout the project to evaluate the development of the participants.

Following the questionnaire, an invitation to a reflection and development group, where students will further reflect on their learning experience, will be issued. 

During these group sessions, students and staff will be analyzing responses to the questionnaires in order to uncover the implicit training team work provides students on EDI but also aid in the development of explicit student co-created supporting guides for inclusive teamwork practices. 

Across the five reflection and development group sessions, participating students will be collaborating to co-create resources to support inclusive practices while providing a deeper understanding on how team based assessments can be enhanced to develop their sense of belonging. 

Participant selection

During their undergraduate degree students experience a transition into independent learners, which is key to employability and life-long learning. In the early stages of Higher Education, it is necessary to provide more guidance to students as they progress (Cooper et al., 2005; Hurst et al., 2016); therefore we will focus our participant selection to students in their first and second year of their undergraduate degree. 

Ethical consideration 

Before commencing the project, we will seek ethics approval to ensure that the participants are fully briefed on purpose of the project, the collection of data and the intended use. The participants will also be informed that they are able to opt-out of the project at any time. 

Community dissemination 

It is anticipated that the project findings will be relevant not only to learning development practitioners but also to educators with an interest to develop an inclusive curriculum. 

Internal dissemination 

The project co-lead is the director for the Centre for Academic Inclusion in Science and Engineering, and this centre will showcase experience, strategies and recommendations generated in this project more widely across the Faculty of Science and Engineering and QMUL. In addition to interim poster presentation at the QMUL Festival of Education in March 2023. 

External dissemination 

The project findings will also be disseminated to the wider community via relevant conferences and journals including ALDinHE conference and the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. 


  1. Beigpourian, B., Ferguson, D.M., Berry, F.C., Ohland, M.W. and Wei, S., 2019, June. Using CATME to document and improve the effectiveness of teamwork in capstone courses. In 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition.
  2. Cajander, Å., Daniels, M., McDermott, R. and Von Konsky, B., 2011. Assessing professional skills in engineering education. In Conferences in research and practice in information technology. Australian Computer Society.
  3. Chowdhury, T. and Murzi, H., 2019, July. Literature review: Exploring teamwork in engineering education. In Proceedings of the Conference: Research in Engineering Education Symposium, Cape Town, South Africa (pp. 10-12).
  4. Cooper, H., Spencer-Dawe, E. and McLean, E., 2005. Beginning the process of teamwork: design, implementation and evaluation of an inter-professional education intervention for first year undergraduate students. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 19(5), pp.492-508.
  5. Goñi, J., Cortázar, C., Alvares, D., Donoso, U. and Miranda, C., 2020. Is teamwork different online versus face-to-face? A case in engineering education. Sustainability, 12(24), p.10444.
  6. Hurst, A., Jobidon, E., Prier, A., Khaniyev, T., Rennick, C., Al-Hammoud, R., Hulls, C., Grove, J.A., Mohamed, S., Johnson, S.J. and Bedi, S., 2016, June. Towards a multidisciplinary teamwork training series for undergraduate engineering students: Development and assessment of two first-year workshops. In 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition.
  7. Paoletti, J., Bisbey, T.M., Reyes, D.L., Wettergreen, M.A. and Salas, E., 2020. A checklist to diagnose teamwork in engineering education. The International journal of engineering education, 36(1), pp.365-377.

The Meme-ification of teaching and learning: Using Memes to increase students engagement, understanding and knowledge retention.

Linh Tran – Swansea University


Memes have become a major part of young people’s visual language and several recent surveys show that memes have become part of the language of 13 – 36 years use in social media.  Students in higher education institutions such as universities are often in this age group and there is scope for memes to be adapted and incorporated in teaching materials to communicate various concepts within a number of theoretical and numerical courses.  This enables students to learn new knowledge and skills in both an informative and fun way.  This teaching strategy will provide students with the opportunity to bring the social media skills they use on a daily basis into their teaching and learning.

The aim of our project is to conduct a study into the use of memes as a teaching and learning strategy for students studying an accounting topic and for students studying a finance topic.  Students will be split into groups for 2 separate studies and will use memes to explain a topic related to their studies.  The memes will be uploaded to a dedicated Instagram site and a review process will be undertaken with each set of students.  Students will be provided with an assessment sheet to assess the memes accuracy in presenting the concept. 

The study will take place at the start of the 2022-2023 academic year and our experience and good practice will be shared with colleagues and the wider academic community so that they may be able to implement our findings.

Full Proposal


Initially, meme was used by Richard Dawkins (1976), a British evolutionary biologist, to describe a unit of cultural information that is transmitted in society. Since then, the term memes has been constantly redefined and updated by other scholars and, as of the present day, memes are commonly denoted as “a piece of culture, typically a joke, which gains influence through online transmission” (Davison 2012, p.122 ). 

Memes have become a major part of young people’s visual language, from a text file to an image, a gif, or a video. A social media behaviour survey conducted by Ypulse in 2019 (, 2019) showed that 75% of 13-36-year-olds share memes with the same survey also revealed that 55% of 13-35-year-olds send memes every week—and 30% send them every day. As students at higher education institutions are often in the above age range, there is scope for memes to be adapted to fit in an educational setting and act as a means of communicating various concepts.  

Memes can act as an effective tool for education owing to a number of characteristics. Firstly, complicated ideas and thoughts can be expressed via memes in a concise and captivating format (Paul, 2020). Memes are dense with attractive appearance, for instance, eye-catching images coupled with appealing text which make the difficult concepts easier to grasp and comprehend for students who are digital natives. Secondly, memes express a high level of humour (Tella, 2018) which elicits students’ interest. It is the humour characteristic that makes the learning process joyful (Ziv, 1988) and people learn better when they’re feeling strong positive emotions ( Dulay & Burt, 1977; Krashen, 1982). 

Memes have been used as an educational tool in several disciplines such as economics (Engel et al., 2014), English as a second language (Madhavarajan & Selvamalar, 2018), and interpersonal communication (Paul, 2020) or physiology (Subbiramaniyan et al., 2021). For the accounting and finance area, this discipline requires students to learn many theories, concepts, and rules that are not very easy to comprehend, which may hinder students’ engagement. The retention of knowledge is equally challenging for students because subjects are often “dry” and number-oriented. A blend of humour and subject-related content offered by the memefication approach has the potential to increase students’ engagement during class by harnessing their innate digital nativity (Paul, 2020) and transforming students’ daily recreational engagement with online social media such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit (where memes are often found) into an educational one.  In addition, students will have the opportunity to learn new knowledge and skills in a fun way, a way that they are immersed in during everyday life, where knowledge and skill can be obtained and honed without force. Moreover, the use of humour coupled with the greater ownership in the production of such humour in an educational context may as well help sharpen students’ application skills which fulfilling the higher goals of Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive processing (Bloom et al., 1956).

Research design

For this project to work, students in the class will be grouped into a group of 3 or more (depending on class size). An Instagram account will be created and login details will be shared with the whole class. This account is where memes will be uploaded and students can comment on each meme.

An accounting/finance lecture will be delivered as usual by an instructor. At the end of the lecture, the instructor will give a summary of the content covered in the session. Each group will then choose one topic from the summary sheet to create a meme explaining the said topic. Each group will then have time until the next lecture to curate memes either by making their own or selecting an existing one that fits the chosen topic and uploading it to the shared Instagram page. All students in the course can see and comment on Instagram posts. 

In the subsequent lecture, the instructor will retrieve the Instagram page where all memes have been uploaded and initiate the review process with the whole class. Each group will be given a certain amount of time to talk about the topic and explain their memes. At the same time, all students will be provided with an assessment sheet to assess the memes based on how accurate they are in presenting the concept. The review process involves class discussion, questioning and answering both from instructors and students. This aids the recollection and internalization of the knowledge learned in the previous lecture.  

At the end of the session, students will be allowed to vote for their most favourite meme using Web sites such as Results will then be shared with the whole class and the group whose meme receives the most votes will be awarded a £50 Amazon voucher.

Data collection and analysis

The feedback from students on the effectiveness of using memes and social media in teaching and learning activities will be collected using a questionnaire, which contains a combination of open-ended and closed questions. The questionnaire will be distributed via email. Groups who present memes will be invited to attend one to one interviews with the project lead and collaborator.Collected responses and feedback will then be analysed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). 

Research outcome 

The undertaking of this project is expected to create a learning environment where students can learn and progress through a blend of humour with subject-related content, team working and social connection.  If proven to be successful, this approach to teaching and learning can be easily adapted to teaching other subjects other than accounting and finance.  In addition, upon the success of this project, there is a scope for the implementation of other tools such as TikTok or youtube short videos which is part of students’ digital life in teaching and learning session.  

With respect to the dissemination of research output:


The research findings will be presented at Swansea University learning and teaching conference in 2023. In addition, project leads will write a blog post to share their experience using memes as a pedagogy tool with the wider academic colleagues at Swansea University’s learning and teaching blog. 


The result of this study will be presented at the ALDinHE Conference 2023, and the final report will be submitted to the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. In addition, the authors will seek to present the research findings at other teaching and learning conferences. 


Project leads will seek approval from Swansea University to gather student’s feedback for the project. 

Project works on the principle of voluntary participation. Consequently:

Participants will be provided with sufficient information, both verbally and written, to help they understand the aim, objective of the research and how their data will be used. No complex terminology will be used when communicating information with students to enable informed decision making as to participate in the project or not. A completed consent form will be seeked from all participants. 

Participants’ identity will not be disclosed in the dissemination of research outcome. 


Bloom, B.S. and Committee of College and University Examiners, 1964. Taxonomy of educational objectives (Vol. 2). New York: Longmans, Green.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology3(2), 77–101.

Davison, P., 2012. The language of internet memes. The social media reader, pp.120-134.

Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Dulay, H. and Burt, M., 1977. Remarks on creativity in language acquisition. Viewpoints on English as a second language2, pp.95-126.

Engel, R., Murphy, P. R., & Fisk, C. (2014). Economics memes: How to use memes to teach and learn economics. The Journal of Economic Education, 45(1), 75–76

Krashen, S., 2002. Theory versus practice in language training. In Enriching ESOL pedagogy (pp. 235-252). Routledge.

Madhavarajan, K., & Selvamalar, J. (2018). Memes in language learning. Bodhi International Journal of Research in Humanities, Arts, & Sciences, 2(2), 82–84.

Paul, A., 2020. Memes as means for understanding interpersonal communication: A formative assignment. Communication Teacher34(4), pp.346-354.

Subbiramaniyan, V., Apte, C. and Ali Mohammed, C., 2022. A meme-based approach for enhancing student engagement and learning in renal physiology. Advances in Physiology Education46(1), pp.27-29.

Tella, A., 2018. Humour generation and multimodal framing of political actor in the 2015 Nigerian presidential election campaign memes. The European Journal of Humour Research6(4), pp.95-117., 2019.. 3 Stats That Show What Memes Mean to Gen Z & Millennials. Retrieved from [accessed 29 June 2022]. 

Ziv, A., 1988. Teaching and learning with humor: Experiment and replication. The Journal of Experimental Education57(1), pp.4-15.

Building the Ideal Higher Education: A Creative, Imaginative Workshop for the LD Community.

Tom Burns – London Metropolitan University


We are in times of certain uncertainty, with Higher Education (HE) in constant need of reflexive adaptation. The lack of an evidence-informed response post-pandemic – face-to-face, virtual, and hybrid – is becoming increasingly visible on the ground. These new realities have yet to be adequately defined let alone implemented with student-needs as the driver.  While Learning Development (LD) has evolved over the years and found its place, questions about its future are still raised, especially by those believing in remedial models of student support. This project seeks to actively and creatively imagine a different HE, one that has compassionate student support at its heart. The LD community will be invited to participate in a workshop to reflect on the current status of HE and, at the same time, to conceptualise what form a humane and integrated LD would take within that HE system. The outcome will be an open-source guide of HE models – real and idealised, and of the sort that would fit LD (informed by ALDinHE values). 

Full proposal


Higher Education (HE) students are expected to be able to organise themselves for independent study and inter-dependent learning when entering university study. They are typically assumed to understand the forms and processes of academic learning, teaching and assessment (LTA) and the sorts of academic labour – the actual work – they have to undertake to get tasks and ‘tests’ successfully completed (Abegglen et al., 2019). They are also expected to have the motivation and self-discipline to engage actively and proactively with their learning; and to be able to step back from their learning experience to develop critical and analytical approaches, and to engage in reflective practice and writing, to improve on future performance. This deep and authentic engagement with university was expected pre-pandemic – was assumed to be able to seamlessly adapted to online LTA during the pandemic – and just as seamlessly re-adapted to whatever mix of face-to-face, online or hybrid teaching system their university’s senior management team chose post-pandemic. 

The reality is that many students are underprepared for the sort of teaching and learning environment just described – whether face-to-face, online or hybrid. Increasingly, they emerge from a transactional pre-university system (at least in the United Kingdom) where the emphasis is on ‘teaching to the test’ to ensure that students meet performance targets (Jozefkowicz, 2006). Hence, many students struggle to think and act autonomously and powerfully whilst ‘self governing’ their studies. In our institutions this is complicated in that most of our students are classified as ‘non-traditional’ coming from a ‘widening participation’ and ‘international’ background (London Metropolitan University, 2018; University of Calgary, 2022). Arguably the task of Learning Development (LD) – and the role of ALDinHE – is to visualise and work towards an HE system shaped and informed by student needs and inclusive values. That is the thrust of this project: To investigate what sort of HE we inhabit today – and therefore what sort of HE we LDers imagine and might create together. 

The Project

There have been many attempts to develop LD practice models designed to help non-traditional and diverse students succeed at university study. A model particularly embraced in these lean and mean academic times (Giroux, 2014) is the delivery of extra- or co-curricular ‘skills’ programmes targeted at those students deemed to be ‘at risk’, with the aim to bring these students ‘up to speed’ and ‘fix’ their deficits. This ignores reiterated warnings not least from the LD community that widening participation practices should not stigmatise either students nor LD itself as ‘remedial’ (see, ALDinHE, 2019). It also sidesteps the proposition that what facilitates successful learning is not ‘bolt-on’ courses and workshops, but the development of creative and inclusive curricula designed to help ‘outsider’ students to succeed and to help all students maximise their potential (Warren, 2002; Wilcox et al., 2005; JLDHE 2019). Targeting resources only at those deemed ‘at risk’ leaves LD on the side-lines, shouting for equity in this new austerity-driven academia which is anchored almost exclusively in the rhetoric of a reductive employability agenda (Abegglen et al., 2019). 

Our own vision of LD is a much more rhizomatic model: one that offers multiple, non-hierarchical entry and exit points (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) and that embraces uncertainty (Cormier, 2012). It is the collective ‘Third Space’ (Bhabha, 2004) whereby by ‘being with’ (Nancy 2000) you start to ‘become’ or, as Soja (1996) said, where everything comes together . . . subjectivity and objectivity, the abstract and the concrete, the real and the imagined.

The purpose of this project is to map our collective LDHEN experience of HE at this post-pandemic moment – and at the same time together conceptualise what form a humane and integrated LD would take within that HE system.

Research design

The main question this project seeks to answer is: What HE future does the LD community imagine for itself and students, and how can we articulate these visions of an inclusive and sustainable HE for the 21st Century for moving forward in a good way?

To explore the research question, a creative, playful, open workshop will be held. The workshop will be hosted online and invite the LD community to participate in creative imaginings of an inclusive and sustainable HE responding to the current context. 

The focus is on:

  1. The current HE and institutional responses to post-pandemic challenges.
  2. ALDinHE values, LD work and roles in the new “supercomplex” context (Barnett, 2000).
  3. Imagined futures post pandemic and the new context this generates for LD. 

Workshop participants will be asked to engage in a range of creative activities that may include:

  • Image-mediated reflection and dialogue (Palus & Drath, 2001) – selecting and discussing representations of HE as is experienced now;
  • Representing or making an ‘ideal’ HE (inspired by ALDinHE values);
  • Assemblages or collages – representations made by participants to reflect on LD within an LD-inspired future.

The materials produced in the workshop will be analysed by two students (one from each university). The conclusions and recommendations – with input from students – will be used to generate an open-source guide that provides inspiration on what the future of HE could look like, highlighting potential future positionings of LD.

Outcomes and Dissemination

As well as a traditional JLDHE journal article and ALDinHE conference presentation, the open-access guide will provide a range of artefacts that can be used by LDers to conceptualise or explain their ethos and roles within their own contexts (something that is always difficult to do).

The artefacts produced will be drawn from materials produced at the open online ‘making’ workshop offered to the LD community (promoted through ALDinHE and the LDHEN list). 

Outputs are:

  1. A series of models, collages or pictures produced by participants in relation to questions above. These models will be curated by the student participants in the project as an open-source guide – and also treated as research data. 
  2. The research data will be coded, themed and analysed by students from London Metropolitan University and the University of Calgary. 
  3. The final guide and selection of the artefacts will be drawn from the students’ analysis, in partnership with the project leads.
  4. Conference paper and article.

Ethical Considerations

All LD workshop participants will be informed that the workshop is held as part of a research project that aims to explore LD attitudes and that the artefacts produced by participants will be curated for dissemination as objects in their own right. We are happy to attribute participants for their contributions if they wish to be named, otherwise the data collected will be disseminated anonymously with participants’ information kept confidential.


Abegglen, S., Burns, T., & Sinfield, S. (2019). It’s learning development, Jim – but not as we know it: academic literacies in third space. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, 15.

ALDinHE (2019). About: The Association in Learning Development in Higher Education.

Barnett, R. (2000). Realizing the university in an age of supercomplexity. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Bhabha, H. K. (2004). The location of culture. Abingdon: Routledge.

Cormier, D. (2012). Embracing uncertainty: rRhizomatic learning. YouTube.

Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.

Giroux, H. A. (2014). Neoliberalism’s war on higher education. Chicago: Haymarket Books.

JLDHE (2019). Special edition, academic literacies. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, 15. 

Jozefkowicz, E. (2006, July). Too many teachers ‘teaching to the test’. The Guardian

London Metropolitan University (2018). About: Our key statistics.

Nancy, J. L. (2000). Being singular plural. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.

Palus, C.  and Drath, W. H. (2001). Putting something in the middle: An approach to dialogue. Reflections, 28(2), pp. 28-39.

Soja, E. W. (1996). Thirdspace. Malden (Mass.): Blackwell.

University of Calgary (2022). Facts and figures: UCalgary by numbers. ​​ ​​

Warren, J. R. (2002). Reconsidering the relationship between student employment and academic outcomes: A new theory and better data. Youth and Society, 33(3), pp. 366-393.

Wilcox, P., Winn, S. and Fyvie‐Gauld, M. (2005). “It was nothing to do with the university, it was just the people’: The role of social support in the first‐year experience of higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 30(6), pp. 707-722.

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