ADEE Futuredent Scholarship for Rachel Green

Congratulations to Rachel Green (School of Dental Sciences) who has been awarded an ADEE Futuredent Scholarship. This Scholarship Programme is aimed at exploring the use of video dentistry in dental teaching and training at undergraduate and post graduate levels.

Rachel’s project will be to ‘explore the effectiveness of video dentistry in oral surgery undergraduate teaching with a specific focus on feedback: the Newcastle experience’

Internationalisation of higher education: perspectives from Brazil and the UK

4 April, 10-3.00 in Room 2.22 the Research Beehive

You are invited to a seminar on 4 April, 10-3.00 in the Research Beehive. The seminar will be led by Sue Robson and Alina Schartner from the Teaching and Learning in HE Research Group in ECLS, and Professor Marilia Morosini and colleagues from PUCRS

The seminar will address the following key questions:

  • In an era of globalisation, how can HE institutions maximise opportunities to provide an internationalised university experience for home and international students from all socio-economic backgrounds?
  • How can HE internationalisation be conceptualised in educational, social, cultural and experiential rather than economic terms?
  • How can HE institutions promote a high quality, equitable and global learning experience for all students, including the non-mobile majority?

The seminar theme will allow participants from NU and PUCRS to analyse and critique existing conceptualisations of HE internationalisation at individual and institutional levels, leading to fresh perspectives on pedagogy, curriculum and international graduate competences.  The seminar is intended be the first step towards the formation of a joint UK-Brazil research and practice network on inclusive and values-based HE internationalisation. They will act as a forum for multidisciplinary dialogue and help to identify network partners and themes of mutual interest for collaborative enquiry.

To register for the seminar, please email

Being Prof Steve McHanwell

steve (2)

What route has your career taken to get you where you are today?

Sometime after I started as a Lecturer in Anatomy in Newcastle in 1983 I realised that I had a passion for teaching.  The teaching I was delivering seemed to be appreciated and so gradually, and at first without a definite plan, I found myself concentrating on teaching and taking on roles, as many of us do, contributing to the development of the learning and teaching agenda of the University both at Faculty and University level.  So, just to highlight three of those roles I became DPD for the B Med Sci degree then the route to intercalation for MB BS and BDS students, Director of PG(T) programmes for FMS and then Faculty Liaison Officer for the PG Cert (now CASAP) programme for the University.  Another important external role happened essentially by chance when I was elected to Anatomical Society Council for after quite a short interval I was then, as a consequence, invited to become Hon Education Officer for the Society serving for nine years.  This opened up a variety of opportunities to develop my national and international profile while at the same time enabled me to bring back to the University ideas for developing student learning and teaching in anatomy.  These internal and external roles provided the platform for a successful claim for a National Teaching Fellowship which I was awarded in 2007.  Ultimately though while I have planned a career path in teaching to an extent it has also been the case that some opportunities opened up in unexpected and serendipitous ways and it has been important to identify and take advantage of those as they occurred.


What do you find most challenging about working in HE learning and teaching?


The sector as a whole continues to grapple with rewarding teaching equally alongside research.  It seems to me that in rewarding teaching we are saying that it is of value.  This an important means to increases the self-esteem of teaching staff which in turn we can then see reflected in personal practice.  By this means we all win, students, staff and the institution.


What’s the best thing you’ve been involved in since you started working with Newcastle University?


I would identify two things.  Undoubtedly the award of the National Teaching Fellowship and joining a community of practice that includes many creative and original thinkers has provided a number of opportunities for further work since 2007 including the HEA-funded Promoting Teaching project.  I also count myself privileged to be able to teach some of the most able and lively young people who are our students and who are a constant source of energy and creativity.


What’s the wisest piece of advice you’ve received from a mentor or colleague?


I started out as a physiologist and I am going to choose some advice given to me by two physiologists; one serious, one less so.  Many of my physiology colleagues will remember Joe Lamb who died recently.  It was at a Physiological Society Dinner that he told the assembled diners never to cross the campus of the University without a piece of paper in your hand.  It meant you would always appear to be on university business even if you were simply off to Sainsbury’s to buy some sausages for tea.  The second piece of advice came from my PhD supervisor Tim Biscoe.  He said that as a teacher the thing you should never do is mislead your students.  Intellectual honesty seems to me to be absolutely crucial to everything we do and being clear to your students when you do not have an answer to a question is a key starting place.


What’s your top educational research interest


At the moment I am provoked by questions about the importance of knowledge in our teaching and how we make decisions about what to teach.  These are ideas that we can trace back to Dewey via Brunner and Stenhouse.  This has led me to the ideas surrounding threshold concepts and the work of Ray Land and which I think I am going to approach through the ideas of Lee Shulman and his ideas of signature pedagogies.  Of course I have ongoing interests in rewarding and recognising teaching achievement that I continue to pursue.


If you could have dinner with 3 famous people from history who would they be?


This is so difficult and where does one start?  I think Virginia Woolf would have to be high on the list for me.  Her writing whether in the novels, diaries or letters is a constant source of stimulation.  Gustav Holst would be another choice.  His combining of a creative life with that of a teacher seems to be a balancing act many of us seek to achieve.  His riposte to George Bernard Shaw also places him high in my estimation.  Holst said “those who can do, those who teach also do, teaching is doing, teaching is an art”.  Then finally John Dewey because reading his work is to see presaged and discussed many of the issues we are still grappling with.  I am not sure though that I would want to invite all at the same time

Director’s update Spring 2016

steve (2)We have just announced the third round of calls for applications to the ERDP Small Grants scheme.  In the first two rounds we have been pleased to receive many interesting and thoughtful proposals.  Can I encourage you all to consider applying?  One area where we have yet to see many applications is for people wishing to make study visits to other Universities.  We feel very strongly that such visits can be enormously beneficial to the staff making such a visit and can be a valuable source of new ideas.  We will consider any well-made case so if you have an idea for a visit then please think about applying to the scheme for support to carry it out.

Our seminar programme for the year is about halfway through and we have had some interesting and stimulating speakers so far with more yet to come.  I am now putting together next year’s programme.  I have had some suggestions for speakers but would be delighted to receive your suggestions for people you would like to invite.

The EQUATE programme is well-advanced and projects are taking shape and plans for publication are advancing.  As our writing retreat approaches I am looking forward to seeing the results of the various projects being undertaken and to looking at the papers as they take shape.

I hope you enjoy the newsletter.  There’s a lot of innovative project work and good news to read about.  If you have articles for the next issue due in June just send them through to

New MSc in Forensic Psychology

gavin oxburghIn September 2015, the School of Psychology opened up a new MSc in Forensic Psychology which offers comprehensive professional training in forensic psychology. To ensure maximum potential, the course has two different routes. The first route (5270F/5270P) is fully accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), thereby fulfilling Stage 1 of the Qualification in Forensic Psychology. Students enrolling on this route must have a first degree in psychology providing Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) with the BPS. The second route (5285F/5285P) is not accredited by the BPS and therefore does not fulfil Stage 1 of the BPS qualification in Forensic Psychology. This route is aimed primarily at those students who do not possess a first degree in psychology providing GBC with the BPS (e.g., joint or combined honours which includes psychology, or an International psychology degree that does not confer GBC with the BPS).


Students will develop their understanding of forensic psychology in a multi-disciplinary and professional context and we promote collaborative teaching and research through our strong links with UK forensic psychology practitioners, including Her Majesty’s Prison Service, the National Health Service (NHS) and Police.


Further details on this exciting new course can be found here or you can contact the Programme Director Dr Gavin Oxburgh, a Forensic Psychologist.


An investigation into the value of PeerWise as an educational and development tool for medical students

eimear faganHere Eimear Fagan updates us on an ERDP Development Grant project that was funded in 2015.

PeerWise is a free online quizzing platform that allows students to author and answer multiple choice questions (MCQs), rate the quality of other students’ contributions and discuss content. It provides an opportunity for self- and peer-assessment and incorporates aspects of active learning. Research indicates that PeerWise may improve academic performance but there is little research into the benefits for medical students. PeerWise was introduced to MBBS students in the first semester of the 2014/2015 academic year and was highly utilised. There was particularly high usage by Stage 4 students, who produced a bank of 188 high quality questions over Semester 1, which were collectively answered a total of 34,569 times. End of year feedback suggests that some students feel that the use of PeerWise has impacted upon their academic performance, however this and any other learning benefits of engagement remain to be explored.

The aim of this study is to gain insight into the value of PeerWise as an educational and development tool. We have 3 specific research questions:

  1. To determine whether PeerWise positively enhances the academic performance of Stage 4 MBBS students.
  2. To determine what specific aspects of PeerWise (e.g. authoring, answering questions, commenting) most impacts academic performance.
  3. To assess which elements of PeerWise students feel most contribute to their learning.

PeerWise records a vast array of data such as the number of questions authored, the number of questions answered and the proportion of questions answered correctly. Data automatically generated by the PeerWise website, along with academic performance data from the Stage 4 exam is currently being analysed to yield insights into any effects of PeerWise on academic performance. An online questionnaire aimed to investigate diversity of viewpoint on the benefits of PeerWise has been completed by 174 respondents (56% response rate of those students that used PeerWise). This data has informed the selection of a sample of participants to be interviewed in a semi-structured group interview which will take place this April. This interview will capture information on the barriers and facilitators to engagement with educational tools. Data will be transcribed and thematic analysis undertaken.

Quantitative data capture is complete and analysis is underway. We hope that this study will provide us with the necessary information to confidently promote use of PeerWise to cultivate deeper learning in MBBS students. This resource has the potential to be integrated into curriculum design in a wide range of subjects. Qualitative data generation and analysis will be complete by June 2016. The knowledge attained regarding engagement with this online tool will be applicable to a range of educational tools (including online tools) used both within medical education and in the Higher Education learning sector in general.

Project Team: Clare Guilding, Eimear Fagan, Michael Atkinson,

Stephanie Butler, Jane Stewart


New role for Ruth Valentine

ruth valentineAn alumni of Newcastle University, having completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies here, Dr Ruth Valentine took up her first academic post as Research Associate in ICaMB upon completion of her PhD in 1999.  After two years she moved onto a lectureship at Northumbria University where she taught on their Food Science, Human Nutrition and Forensic Science undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.  She returned to Newcastle in 2007 when appointed Lecturer in the Dental School and started teaching physiology and nutrition to Stage 1 & 2 students.

Commitment to professionalism in T&L

During her career Ruth has continuously developed her teaching practice and in 2014 gained Senior Fellowship status of the Higher Education Academy. Through this accreditation, she has become a Professional Standards Advisor for the UKPSF, and she guides and mentors Newcastle University colleagues through the process of attaining HEA fellowship status.

Strategies to remove barriers to Higher Education at postgraduate level

With a strong reputation in student recruitment and running widening participation schemes (Partners, Realising Opportunities, Raising Aspiration) at a University level, Ruth will be using this experience in her new role to develop and lead strategy to help to overturn the barriers to Higher Education at post graduate level.

Supporting staff

In her new role Ruth will be overseeing the training and support at postgraduate level for DPDs, Chairs of Board of Studies and Chairs of Boards of Examiners across the Faculty.  The programme of support will continue to include the established informal forum that gives DPDs the opportunity to meet and discuss ideas and problems. Ruth has plans to expand the programme to include Away Days that involve support staff too.

I am looking forward to working closely with the Graduate School team and staff in the Schools of Dental Sciences, Medical Education and Psychology to ensure that we maintain and increase the high level of student satisfaction in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) and provide PG taught programmes that are viable and attractive and of the highest quality to attract the best students.”

Dr Ruth Valentine, Director of PG Taught Programmes

Newcastle University L&T Conference: eye opening and inspiring

sarah jayne boultonI know some of you might disagree, but I think that this is a really exciting time to be a Teaching Fellow in Newcastle University. Yes it’s also terrifying; for one there’s the impending TEF that us newcomers to Teaching and Scholarship are grappling to comprehend, and secondly the NSS is about to undergoing changes in terms of focus and scope. These are the big scary things that I, as a brand new Teaching Fellow, can do nothing about besides being forewarned and thus fore-armed to respond to the challenges as they arrive. Is it not just a little bit exciting though, that all these changes may serve to make a little room for new ideas to be hunted out and explored? I think so.

The Newcastle University Teaching and Learning Conference on the 14th March 2016 was the first pedagogic meeting I’ve had the pleasure of attending, let alone presenting at. The breadth and depth of teaching innovation going on within our University is astounding, maybe even a little overwhelming for a relative toe‑dipper like me.

It was grounding to hear Suzanne Chollerton set the context for all the endeavours discussed over the next few hours. Hearing Suzanne talk through the reasoning behind the planned 2017 NSS changes made a lot of sense, and allowed me for the first time to clearly consider what I could do as an individual to help raise the bar with regards to student experience.

Somehow the changes Suzanne highlighted seemed that little bit more manageable and less daunting as they were contextualised alongside the projects presented that day. Hearing TT Arvind from Law and Andrea Wilczynski from Modern Languages speak (sans PowerPoint!) about how simply revising a feedback form in response to student suggestions can have huge impact on the quality of student work was eye-opening and inspiring. Seeing two colleagues from very different backgrounds working so synergistically together was encouraging; both seemed to have learned so much from the practices of the other.

Another highlight for me was hearing Patrick Rosenkranz’s take on peer mentoring in Psychology with the aim of developing psychologically literate students by using student mentor groups to facilitate the transition from college to university environments. It seems so logical and natural with hindsight that students that have had such recent experience of the transition themselves would be the ideal candidates to support new learners make those same necessary adjustments. Patrick’s formal yet personal approach of assigning each new student to a mentor group is something that all disciplines could look toward implementing to instil a sense of belonging and accountability in students before they even arrive on campus.

My presentation was a short one based on some new digital blogging techniques I’ve been piloting to promote increased conation in Stage 3 students by encouraging peer to peer shared feedback. I felt supported and comfortably reassured by the audience I was presenting to, and was not at all made to feel like the pedagogic greenhorn I actually am. I was so incredibly grateful to have had the positive and reinforcing experience that I did at the Teaching and Learning conference, and I’m looking forward to following up with all my colleagues that were interested in my small but developing research niche.

At the very end of the day Lindsey Ferrie talked us through her vision for her Feedback Foghorn project. It was clear how unique approach toward collecting all student feedback into one dynamically mapped and accessible online tool would facilitate student reflection and assist in the feeding forward of comments and suggestions to future work. Furthermore, Lindsey’s presentation for me demonstrated how I might go about aligning my practice with the changes Suzanne eloquently outlined only hours prior.

It’s through events like this that the challenges of a changing student interaction dynamic and a move towards a more holistic learning environment will be addressed. I’m stoked to be right at the beginning of my own pedagogic adventure with so many brilliant avenues for engagement, reflection, digital learning and feedback being opened up and explored. Reflecting on the day as a whole I am enthused and emboldened towards really delving into own practice and finding out what works. I look forward to building a host of new tools and techniques with my similarly passionate colleague to address the inevitable challenges that are coming our way.

What’s not exciting about that?

Dr Sarah Jayne Boulton, School of Biomedical Sciences


Meeting the oral health care needs of patients with disabilities. Is the new dental graduate prepared?

kathy wilsonIntroduction

Dr Kathy Wilson, based at Newcastle Dental Hospital and School, is an Associate Specialist in Dental Sedation and Specialist in Special Care Dentistry. She is currently undertaking the Masters in Medical Education programme and developing a study entitled “Meeting the oral health care needs of patients with disabilities – Is the new dental graduate prepared?”


Back Ground to study

Special Care Dentistry (SCD) is defined as “The improvement of oral health of individuals and groups in society, who have a physical, sensory, intellectual, mental, medical, emotional, or social impairment or disability, or more often, a combination of a number of these factors”

In 2008 SCD was recognised by the General Dental Council (GDC) as a speciality and the GDC document “Preparing for Practice” states “The Registrant will recognise and take account of the needs of different patient groups including children, adults, older people and those with special care requirements through-out the patient care process

Newcastle Dental School’s SCD programme has the aim “To enable students to provide general oral care for those patients with special needs”. The virtual programme is delivered mainly through other specialties, with some specific lectures; in speaking to final year dental students it would appear that many have deficiencies in their knowledge and understanding of the needs of patients with disabilities.

A review of the literature indicates that General Dental Practitioners cite lack of experience and undergraduate education as reasons for being less confident in meeting the needs of vulnerable patients, so creating barriers to effective delivery of oral care. Reducing social factors contributing to health inequalities requires action beyond service provision; it is estimated that 90% of people requiring SCD should be able to access care through the general dental service in primary care which necessitates appropriate education of dental professionals.

By considering views of Newcastle dental students it is anticipated the SCD programme can be tailored to develop professionals who view this specialty positively and are confident in recognising the needs of those who are vulnerable within our society, therefore full-filling their professional obligations.


Aim of Study

To explore final year dental students’ preparedness to address the oral health care needs of patients with disabilities in order to inform the Special Care Dentistry programme review.


Study Design

The study will be carried out as a series of focus groups to address the research questions. It is hoped that the field work will be carried out in the autumn of 2016 and that the results will help to inform development of the teaching of Special Care Dentistry to undergraduate dental students.

Dr Kathy Wilson, School of Dental Sciences