Concerns about raising concerns

Heidi BatemanEllis, J.S., Bateman, H., Thomason, J.M., Whitworth, J. (2015) Concerns about raising concerns. Medical Education, 49: 514-515.

This short article outlines how the School of Dental Sciences responded to the recommendations of the 2013 Mid-Staffordshire National Health Service Foundation Trust Public Enquiry (Francis Report), and what we have learned during the process.
The key focus with respect to raising concerns was to establish a programme of activity and a system of management which encourages openness on behalf of our students and ensures appropriate action to properly address concerns relating to patient safety.
A summary of the range of activities we implemented is described, together with the general approach engendered by the School.  Our experience is that there has been a significant increase in the number of students raising concerns, all of these require proportionate, prompt and sympathetic follow-up.
We found that the resource implications for curriculum modification and delivery of the initial programme of activity was relatively minor, but that there were significant staff resource implications in following up concerns and a need to form supportive pathways to external links.

Heidi Bateman, School of Dental Sciences

ASME Annual Scientific Meeting

asme_logoASME’s Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) will be held at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh this year between the 14th July (preconference workshops) and Friday 17th July. The ASM conference is one of the most friendly and inclusive meetings I have ever been to so even if you are going alone, it’s unlikely you’ll stay that way.

For those who have not been before the conference has different strands of activity covering educator development, leadership, research, psychometrics and technology enhanced learning to name but a few. There are also separate events designed specifically for students and trainees as well as teachers /educationalist, developers, programme leads and researchers. Although it is a medical education event you’ll find its contents are relevant to everyone who is interested in education or teaching pre or postgraduates.

This year there are three very varied pre-conference workshops to sign up for: Change, Adaptive Leadership and Management, Creating innovative, fun and engaging online content: navigating the e-learning minefield and Conducting Medical Education Research. The attendance numbers for these workshops are restricted so if interested do get these booked as soon as possible.

The main conference starts on Wednesday morning running over two and a half days. You can buy attendance for a day or two day or the whole event. If you want to go but can only attend for one day I would recommend you look at the website to see what would best suit your interests. The days are usually structured around an early key-note speaker(s), presentations by those receiving awards, intra-conference workshops (a particularly good range of these on Thursday) as well as parallel sessions where delegates present their studies and posters available for perusal. One of the most popular sessions in the past has been the ‘What’s Hot’ event that showcases innovation and creativity across the UK and beyond – I would highly recommend it.

If you’d like any further information about ASME, its awards, bursaries or conferences, please contact

Jane Stewart, Chair of ASME’s Education Research Group, School of Medical Education


L&T seminar: Promoting Learning through Work

When: 19th November 2015, 12.30-2:00pm

Where: MED.L2.3, Leech Building

This seminar will be presented by Professor Stephen Billett, Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University, Australia.

Promoting learning through work is important to improve the quality and efficacy of the services provided and/or goods produced. Making workplace learning experiences more effective can assist workers’ initial occupational preparation and their on-going development across lengthening working lives. It can also support workplace continuity and efficacies in responses to changing practices and work requirements. Certainly, much, and perhaps the majority of learning required across working life, arises through the everyday process of work activities and interactions in the circumstances where occupations are practised. This is because work settings provide many of the contributions required to secure the learning necessary to optimise those experiences. This learning is also central to working lifelong employability and developing capacities required for effective occupational practice.

Building on two decades of empirical studies of learning through work activities and interactions, over the past three years, I have engaged in an inquiry to assist understanding of how learning in practice settings can progress effectively. It is concluded that to effectively support and promote that learning, requires: i) a practice curriculum; ii) practice pedagogies and iii) the promotion of workers’ personal epistemologies of practice. The aim of this talk is to discuss these three elements and appraise their usefulness and applicability of those findings to different kinds of occupations and workplaces, through a process of informing participants and capturing their evaluations.

To reserve a place please contact

L&T Seminar: The pedagogy of the Operating Theatre – teaching and learning in the surgical workplace

When: 7th July, 1-2:30pm

Where: Ridley Building 2, Seminar room 1.59

This seminar will be presented by Dr Alexandra Cope, NIHR ACL in Medical Education at University of Leeds.  It will explore the operating theatre as a teaching and learning environment examining both some of the affordances as well as some of the difficulties posed by using a high stakes workplace environment as a venue for learning.

Empirical data from interviews and video ethnography in the workplace will be presented to illustrate some of the content and process of teaching and learning. One of the key findings of the research was that post-graduate trainees in surgery must learn to ‘interpret visual and haptic cues’ in other words – learn to ‘make sense’ of what they are seeing or feeling. This holds relevance for many clinical disciplines in which learners need to discern and make sense of ‘signs’.

Whilst the focus of the seminar will be upon post-graduate learners, examples of undergraduate participation will also be used to illustrate key findings. Ethics, methodology and practicalities of data collection in the clinical workplace will be explored, including the use of case-study method and grounded theory. The key findings from the empirical work will be related to educational theory and it is hoped will stimulate useful discussion around teaching and learning in clinical environments.

To reserve a place please contact


Launch Event outcomes

Thank you to everyone who got involved in the ERDP Launch Event in March. The event was very productive with 46 L&T staff, representing all four Teaching Schools and a few of the Institutes, participating in interactive activities to stimulate conversation and generate ideas for ERDP.

We were joined by Professor Simon Lancaster, a National Teaching Fellow from the University of East Anglia, who led a session that challenged us all to get to grips with Twitter (follow the thread for the event: and the concept of the flipped classroom. Lively discussion moved from the pros and cons of lecture capture to the concept that students generating their own vignettes results in improved constructive peer critique to the revelation that there is evidence that student module evaluations are systematically biased against women!

There were lots of ideas generated in the World Café session that will help us shape the ERDP into something that L&T staff want. You want information and support. To this end, over the next few months we’ll be looking to:

  • collect baseline data about our constituency and what educational research is happening in the Faculty and sharing it with you
  • expand the number of resources on our internal website
  • establish a social media strategy
  • promote networking and collaboration opportunities
  • raise awareness of the University promotion process
  • promote training opportunities

Tackling a wish list that includes adding extra hours to the day is a tall order but the ERDP is well placed to raise the issue of L&T staff having dedicated research time with University management and sees this as a long term strategic aim.

The notes from the event can be found on our internal webpage. Keep an eye out for our mailing list messages to see what new initiatives we’ll be putting in place.

We hope you gained something from the event and made some new contacts.

Organising team: Vanessa Armstrong, Sarah Harvey, Susanne Lewis, Steve McHanwell, Helen St Clair Thompson, Luisa Wakeling.

Dental School Introductions

j_steeleThe School of Dental Sciences delivers two undergraduate and four post-graduate programmes. All our programmes have a strong vocational focus and the Bachelor of Dental Sciences, and the Diploma in Dental Hygiene & Therapy ( shortly to become the new BSc in Oral & Dental Health sciences) are both accredited by the General Dental Council.


JANICE ELLIS J-PEG The transformation of a diverse group of young learners into technically able, reflective and professional dentists, and dental hygienists/therapists is not a particularly easy proposition. Many of the issues are common to medicine, particularly the application of science to a clinical scenario, developing effective communication and the attributes of being a health care professional. There are also unique challenges such as developing technical skill to a level so that our charges can safely perform extremely demanding technical dentistry in the confined space of the human mouth. They have to start doing this by the beginning of their second (BSc) or third (BDS) year. They also have to do this whilst also dealing with the apprehension that most dental patients seem to share.

Action research to help us understand and develop our practice in this context where patient safety is paramount has, understandably, been an academic focus in the School of Dental Sciences for some years. The range of work is as diverse as the students we teach.

The student journey with a focus on the key transitions that are required throughout the undergraduate courses has provided us with a number of interesting research themes.

  • Collaborative research with other Dental Schools has allowed us to compare the ability of different student selection techniques to predict future performance.
  • The development of competence in essential techniques through simulated but authentic skill development progressing to real life dentistry and competence assessment is another time of essential transition.
  • Our work with technology development and the use of electronic portfolio to enhance student’s ability to record and reflect in order to become life-long, independent learners is perhaps one of the largest areas for our research in recent years.

Our action research also engages with the local community (through outreach activities, community health education projects and patient involvement), as well as collaboration with other UK and European schools. Curriculum enhancements and innovations in sign-posting the acquisition of broad professional skills is an area of growing interest and one in which a number of successful innovations are now being published, as is enhancing feedback through self, peer, teacher and patient engagement.

Student support and the management of arising issues has led us to develop peer mentoring and to report on the increasing challenges of managing the ‘student in difficulty’.

An ongoing PhD study involving in-depth literature review and document analysis is currently allowing a full exploration of the concept of professionalism. We perceive that this may well be a starting point for a further broad reaching programme of research culminating in the development of a robust assessment of professionalism which could have an impact across multiple spheres.

The commonalities with aspects of all of the courses run in the faculty are easy to see and we look forward to working with other disciplines and making a full contribution to the new Unit.

Jimmy Steele and Janice Ellis, School of Dental Sciences

ERDP Development Grants: Apply now!

The ERDP call for Development Grant applications is now open. This is the first time the Faculty has offered funding for projects that are specifically for Learning and Teaching Staff. It is envisaged that out of these smaller projects, larger, externally funded projects will have the potential to grow.

ERDP Development Grants are designed to offer financial support to staff who want to explore innovative approaches to learning and teaching that have the potential to inform curriculum development, provide an opportunity for personal development and will benefit staff and students both here and, through dissemination at conferences, nationally.

The Key Details:

  • £30K funding is available in total.
  • There will be three rounds of applications with the first deadline being 18th June 2015 and the second the 30th October 2015 and the third the 29th April 2016.

For further information please go to the ERDP website.

Dental Student Selection

ruth_valentineIt is important for dental schools to select students who will complete their degree and progress on to become the dentists of the future.  The process of selection should be transparent, fair and ethical and utilise selection tools that select appropriate students.  The interview is an integral part of all UK dental schools student selection procedures, however each school uses different methods and multiple mini interviews are becoming increasingly popular with UK schools, with 10 of the 14 now using them.  We have been looking at whether different interview methods used in selection predict academic performance in dental students.  We have compared interview data from Newcastle Dental School; who have a traditional method of interview and Cardiff Dental School, who use multiple mini interviews to select, with student performance in academic examinations in Year 1 of the respective schools. Interestingly interview performance at either institution did not correlate with year 1 examination performance; however the interview remains an integral part of the admissions process.  Ultimately schools need to be comfortable with their admissions procedures in attracting and selecting the calibre of students they desire. We are now going to look at performance in clinical years and relate this to interview process.

Results from this work have been submitted to the European Journal of Dental Education (Title:  Does a selection interview predict Year 1 performance in Dental School?  Robert McAndrew, Janice Ellis, Ruth A Valentine).

Welcome to our first post

The Faculty Unit for Educational Research Development and Practice is here to  support FMS Teaching staff drive curriculum innovation through education research.

We’ll be using our blog to share good news, promote current educational research work within FMS, funding opportunities, useful events and important conferences.

The ERDP is a virtual unit with Professor Stephen McHanwell, Director, and Susanne Lewis, Administrator at its core.  It’s owned by the Faculty and its L&T staff.

Get involved by posting a comment or visiting our website.