Inclusive research with students and members of the public: How can we best evaluate innovative teaching about ageing?

Newcastle University Ageing Generations Education (NUAGE) is an undergraduate course about ageing, open to students from any academic background. NUAGE was designed and is delivered in partnership with students and older people. In 2016 we were granted ERDP Development Grant funding to explore the feasibility of extending this collaborative partnership, working alongside older members of the public to undertake pedagogic research.

Following principles of an inclusive approach to research, we brought together staff, students and older people for exploratory group discussions to review the implementation of NUAGE thus far, to discuss possible methods of evaluation, and to explore to what extent members of the public could or would want to take part in the pedagogic research process. Members of the public believed that the long-term impact of participation in NUAGE on students was the most important outcome for us to evaluate. The team produced a questionnaire to be administered to NUAGE alumni via social media and we have submitted our project proposal to the faculty ethics committee.

Despite members of the public expressing frustration with some of the institutional barriers to public participation in research, we have determined that it is feasible and desirable for them to take an active role in data collection and analysis. Through collaboration we have co-produced a plan to adopt an inclusive approach to pedagogic evaluation of the NUAGE module. Based on our experience of engaging older people and students in the evaluation of NUAGE thus far, we are confident that their ongoing involvement in data collection and analysis is desirable and feasible.

Dr Ellen Tullo, School of Biomedical Sciences