Director’s update: Winter 2016

steve (2)Approaching the end of another year is often a time for reflection but also looking forward.

As we look back over this last semester we have had an outstanding workshop and seminar from Pauline Kneale from Plymouth talking about the very successful Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory that she established some years ago and which has been a driver for change and innovation in learning and teaching in Plymouth since its inception.  Pauline also talked about the place of pedagogic research in the Institute.  While in some ways unique the example of Plymouth does provide a model for the sector as the platform within an institution to influence policy and practice in learning and teaching.  Our new Head of School in Education, Communication and Language Sciences gave us a stimulating seminar on the role of pedagogic caring in the creation of environments in which can more effectively take place.  Our Journal Club, now run by Luisa Wakeling, continues to provide opportunities to discuss issues of learning and teaching within our areas of interest through the discussion of papers.  Jane Stewart’s “What I mean when I say” fora are proving to be fruitful opportunities for free-ranging debate and discussion on a range of educational issues that impact upon us.  Please can I encourage you to attend these events?  They are designed to provide us all with a chance to engage in professional discussions about our learning and teaching and always give rise to wide-ranging discussion and debate.

In this issue of the newsletter we hear about progress on some of the ERDP-funded projects.  The projects that are featured in this issue are very diverse in their aims and contribute to learning in teaching through admissions, induction and by developing the curriculum. I pleased to note that a key feature of some is involving the public in our processes.  The current call for applications has just closed but there will be two further calls for funding bids in 2017 during the current academic year.  Our events programme will continue with further Journal Club sessions, seminars and “What I mean when I say”.  There will be a second Learning and Teaching Forum also.

So, all that remains is to wish you all and very Happy Christmas and New Year and a restful break after what seems to have been a very busy semester.

Prof Steve McHanwell, Director, FMS Unit for ERDP

HEA Principal Fellow

roger-bartonCongratulations to Prof Roger Barton who is now recognised as a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Principal Fellowship is an achievement that recognises, at the highest level, an academic’s commitment and contribution to student learning as well as their strategic leadership in teaching.

Commenting on his award Roger said “I’m pleased to gain the recognition, as I think it reflects really well on the Faculty, University and the Trust. They have all been very supportive of taking the educational agenda forward, and I’d like to think that they have seen the benefits of this. We have really witnessed the professionalisation of medical education in the last 20 years in the UK, and it is not over yet. There are so many opportunities now open to individuals who take that seriously.”

“I’d urge academics and clinicians to gain both experience and academic qualifications as early as possible – the Masters in Clinical Education was another tremendously valuable time for me, but I probably left it too late for it to have maximum benefit for myself. A lot of the success has been due to working with others, alongside colleagues, and in supporting younger clinicians and academics to explore and experiment. Variety has definitely been the spice!”

Roger is Provost & CEO of Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia. His fellowship is in recognition of activity at University and national level.  He has held two key leadership roles in the Faculty; Director of Studies for the MB.BS programme and then Dean of International Medical Education. During that time he successfully set up a clinical base unit, implemented the now widely emulated Teaching and Research/Education fellowship scheme and championed staff development at all levels.

At a national level he is a Team Leader in the Quality of Medical Education for the General Medical Council.  He is also clinical lead and facilitator for the Royal College of Physicians national and international Doctors as Educators series of workshops, being accorded Associate Director (Education). As Chair of the Joint Advisory Group for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and Education Advisor to the NHS Endoscopy Programme, working with other key individuals he brought about key changes to the training, teaching and accreditation of endoscopists and endoscopy units across the UK and further afield.

HEA Senior Fellow

michael-atkinsonCongratulations to Michael Atkinson (School of Medical Education), who has been awarded Higher Education Academy Senior Fellow Status. An HEA fellowship is an international recognition of a commitment to professionalism in teaching and learning in higher education and demonstrates alignment of teaching practice with the UK Professional Standards Framework. Michael joined the Faculty in January 2012 as Teaching Fellow on the Masters in Medical Education programme, and is also the current lead for HEA applications on this programme. His current and past roles and responsibilities as a teacher educator, including former Faculty Programme Liaison Officer (FPLO) for the CASAP programme at the University, helped to support his claim for recognition.

Psychology Enterprise Challenge

Stage 1 Psychology students recently took part in an Enterprise Challenge, the initiative aimed to develop psychological literacy and enterprising skills.  The event was supported by Rise Up from the Careers Service and One Voice, a nationwide charity who support communication aid users and their friends and families.   Students were tasked with creating practical solutions to the challenges faced by individuals (and their families) supported by One Voice.  Students worked in their mentor groups to develop their ideas and were encouraged to think about their knowledge of developmental and social psychology to inform their ideas. They then filmed their pitches many of which focussed on the link between an individual’s voice, their expression of self.  Feedback from the event showed that the majority of students felt they had enhanced their experience of applying psychology in real world contexts.  In addition the students felt they had developed their team work and problem solving skills.  Charity representatives judging the pitches commented on how well all the students had engaged with the topic and really thought about what would be useful.  The winning pitch, an idea called ‘Your Voice’ allowed users to tailor the voice produced by their communication to help reflect the individual’s personality. It was commended for offering something really unique that would be appropriate and adaptable across the lifespan.

Amy Fielden , Patrick Rosenkranz, School of Psychology

Charlotte Warin, Careers Service

Developing Interactive Learning in Dental Anatomy

bana-abdulmohsenI am delighted to have two ERDP funds this year as an essential step for developing interactive learning in dental anatomy at Newcastle University.

The first ERDP fund was to do a study visit to some Dental Schools in London in order to gather information about the methodology for developing software application to enhance the learning of tooth morphology for dental students. I went to Queen Mary University of London and Kings College London- Guy’s Hospital, met with staff who teach and assess the tooth morphology course for UG dental students, shared experience, talked about the challenges and saw their online resources. It was a very useful visit to explore the existing resources at another University as a preparation for developing this software. Currently, I am going to explore the possibility of using the new 3D imaging facility, in the Anatomy and Clinical Skills Centre at Newcastle University.

The second ERDP fund was to do a study visit to the Dental School in Madrid, aiming to develop teaching tooth carving to enhance the learning of tooth morphology for dental students. I have developed a professional networking by meeting staff in Madrid, got the opportunity to share experience and have a dialogue around the challenges and I have observed and taken part in carving sessions. I enjoyed drawing and carving teeth, and believe that this is an effective approach to make our students active learners and enhance their 2D and 3D understanding of tooth morphology. A pilot tooth carving workshop has been approved to be conducted next month (voluntary workshop for all BDS & BSc Undergraduate students) & the outcome will be evaluated.

Many thanks for the ERDP funds which help me to scope the feasibility for my projects.

Bana Abdulmohsen, School of Dental Sciences

Identifying ways to enhance the active involvement of real-time patients in undergraduate medical education

gill-and-doyinPatient contact has a long tradition of benefit in medical education (1, 2).

However, while the ‘patient’s voice’ is increasingly emphasized in educational strategies, most involvement has been on ‘patient educators’ who have more formal educational roles. Students also benefit from contact with patients who have diverse health needs in the ‘real-world’ context, but less is known about how these ‘real-time’ patients feel about being involved in medical training or what steps could be taken to support ‘real-time’ patients to have an active part in the learning encounter.
This research was funded by the FMS Educational Research Development and Practice unit with the aim of identifying ways to enhance active participation of ‘real-time’ patients in medical students’ training.

We carried out a questionnaire survey of over 500 patients and held focus groups with patients from four GP surgeries across the North East. A focus group with medical students is planned.

Most patients (though not all) were willing for medical students to be part of their consultation. This tended to depend on the patients’ age, and sensitivity of the clinical problem.

Factors such as the doctors’ attitude, nature of the clinical problem, students’ gender and past experience may affect how patients view their active involvement in the learning process. Patients wanted more information about medical education, opportunity to give feedback to the students, and to be given feedback themselves about the impact of their involvement.

The research was presented at the Society for Academic Primary Care, and at the Future of Medical Education conference, organised by Health Education England.
In addition, these findings will be discussed with patient educators and clinical teachers at a workshop (PPI Seed Corn funding) to help generate recommendations for teaching practice changes that may help embed the ‘real-time’ patient in medical students’ training.

Doyin Alao, School of Medical Education (

Project team: Bryan Burford, Hugh Alberti, Susan Hrisos, David Kennedy, Elsa Randles, Gillian Vance, School of Medical Education



  1. Towle A, Bainbridge L, Godolphin W, et al. Active patient involvement in the education of health professionals. Medical Education, 2010; 44: 64-74.
  2. Lucas B, Pearson D. Patient perceptions of their role in undergraduate medical education within a primary care teaching practice. Education for Primary Care, 2012; 23: 277-85.

Gwyneth Doherty-SneddonIn September 2015, the School of Psychology opened up a new MSc in Forensic Psychology which offers comprehensive training for Stage 1 of the British Psychological Society-recognised qualification in forensic psychology

The course accreditation panel met in November and thanks to the stellar performance of everyone involved in delivering the MSc, the feedback was excellent.

The panel recognised and valued the following key strengths of the programme:

  • extremely high quality student experience
  • the practice based approach
  • the reflective practice element
  • administrative diligence and support
  • academic leadership.

I appreciate that accreditation is a lot of work for everyone involved but it is a vital part of what we do and ensures our programmes are fit for purpose. Well done and thank you.

Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon, HoS, School of Psychology

EBMA Assessment in Medical Education Conference

laura-woodhouseIn October I attended the first annual conference that the European Board of Medical Assessors (EBMA) has opened up to the wider academic community. The conference was hosted by the University of Exeter and was very well attended by delegates from Europe and beyond, who have expertise in assessment in medical education.
I have a particular interest in standard setting of examinations and was pleased to present a poster titled “Comparison of Cohen and Angoff methods of standard setting: is Angoff worth it?”. I presented my research comparing pass marks set using Angoff and Cohen methods when applied to historical MBBS examinations data. The conclusion that Angoff and Cohen methods produce comparable pass marks generated interesting discussions with delegates from other Universities in the UK who are also interested in an alternative to the Angoff method. This experience has been invaluable and has opened up the possibility of collaborations to examine standard setting methods on large combined data sets.

In addition, Newcastle University was well represented at the conference. Professor Brian Lunn also presented data on standard setting (“Predictive abilities of standard setters using the Angoff method”) as well as student feedback (“Candidate use of a feedback site and how that relates to examination performance”). Dr David Kennedy presented data on professionalism monitoring (“Lessons from assessing Professionalism through monitoring Professional attitudes and behaviours”) which generated a lot of interest from other institutions looking to incorporate assessment of professionalism into their programmes.

The conference spanned 2 days and included an excellent range of keynote speakers, workshops and oral and poster presentation sessions. With lots of sessions and some running in parallel, the conference was hugely diverse and covered all aspects of assessment in medical education. I would highly recommend this conference to anyone with a particular interest in assessment and standard setting. I would be happy to discuss further details of the conference with colleagues and the full programme can also be found at:

Dr Laura Woodhouse, School of Medical Education

ERDP grant: Students on Student Induction – A Cross-Disciplinary Case Study

ruth valentineThe members of this research team, Alina Schartner Luisa Wakeling Lindsey Ferrie Clare Guilding and I came together as part of an institution-wide initiative aimed at fostering cross-discipline collaboration in educational research (EquATE).

We all work in different areas and different disciplines within the university, teaching on vocational undergraduate degrees within the medical faculty (dentistry, medicine), where the majority are UK students with a limited number of international places, non-vocational biomedical science degrees, who have a large, ever growing proportion of international students (10-25%), to postgraduate teaching in the social science and humanities, where the majority of students registered are ‘international’. We have a diverse array of responsibilities within our schools, with roles encompassing management, teaching and support at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level, but we are all involved in student induction processes. The project we have carried out, was supported by an educational development grant from ERDP, FMS, which enabled the employment of a student research assistant (Grace Peterson, PG student, HaSS).

Student induction and transition into the university lifecycle is a complex topic for HE practitioners. The bourgeoning body of research in this area is characterised by multiple perspectives on which format is most appropriate. Theoretical models are conflicting; on whether induction should focus on distinct areas such as academic, social, cultural or psychological transition into HE, or indeed if it should cover them all. It is proposed that although most models have an ethos of support, few are student-led and many lack student engagement because the relevance and timeliness of the induction approach may not yet be clear to the students. In a time of increased student diversity the need to involve students more centrally in the design and purpose of induction events is more critical than ever.

In response, our project aimed to evaluate current induction processes at Newcastle University, across subject areas and levels of study, through an investigation of students’ opinions about current provision. A secondary aim was to identify implications for practice from a student perspective. Our enquiry was driven by two overarching questions: Do current induction processes meet student needs? What can different disciplines learn from each other and how might this shape future practice?

The preliminary findings from the present study indicate that students’ experiences of university induction are, by and large, positive. Current induction provision was experienced by most students as valuable and helped alleviate anxieties. Induction week not only seemed to provide crucial academic and practical information, but also provided opportunities for forming social ties early on.

As the landscape of HE changes and the diversity of students widens, the focus of our induction processes has to evolve to allow a low-cost, time effective mechanism that engages this diverse group of students fully with a higher education environment.  It is therefore imperative that our university engages students early through initiatives that create a sense of belonging and provide opportunities for students to establish peer networks and form social ties.

We are currently writing up the findings for publication.

Ruth Valentine, School of Dental Sciences