ERDP Seminar: Alex Harding on “The role of learning networks in UG Clinical Medicine”

It was a pleasure to host Professor Alex Harding of Exeter University at our ERDP seminar in May to hear his talk based on his PhD on “The Role of Learning Networks in Undergraduate Clinical Medicine”.

It was both an entertaining but also academically challenging story of how students learn in clinical environments.  His work is based on actor-network theory which gives weight to both human and material factors and is, in particular, focusing on semiotic symbols, ie. messages we are sending out.  Illustrative examples would be how a student might feel on approaching a busy health care professional on a ward, or a scary looking life-support machine in a side room, and how these are clearly barriers to students learning in those environments.  His ethnographic picture of how students spend large amounts of time attempting to initiate a consultation with a patient, and then very little time participating in the consultation and the linked teaching, was entertaining but challenging.  As with all good research, we left having been academically informed, challenged and stimulated to explore and ponder his questions further.

Hugh Alberti, Sub Dean of Primary and Community Care, School of Medical Education

Heidi Bateman receives Helen Tonge funding awards

Congratulations to Heidi Bateman who has received funding from the Helen Tonge award (School of Dental Sciences) to support attendance at 2 research methods training courses (Qualitative Interviewing and Qualitative Data Analysis), and the ASME Annual Scientific Meeting which will be held in July where she’ll be presenting ‘Delivering to ‘that list’: The challenges of working with Learning Outcomes.’

This funding will provide an opportunity to disseminate education research outputs on a national platform. It will also enable skill development in research methodology to permit extension of current research projects and enable future design and implementation.

The Helen Tonge Award is open to all School of Dental Sciences staff involved in research, teaching, or engagement activities.  It is designed to offer financial support to undertake short-term ‘projects’ and activities which support the development of the school’s ethos, and where no other sources of funding are available.  Applications must clearly link to one or more aspects of the Schools ethos statement. Watch out for calls for applications circulated around the School at regular intervals.

Publications Summer 2018

Congratulations to everyone in the Faculty who has published their research this quarter. If anything is missing let us know.

Journal Articles

Rammell J, Matthan J, Gray M, Bookless LR, Nesbitt CI, Rodham P, Moss J, Stansby G, Phillips AW, Asynchronous Unsupervised Video-Enhanced Feedback As Effective As Direct Expert Feedback in the Long-Term Retention of Practical Clinical Skills: Randomised Trial Comparing 2 Feedback Methods in a Cohort of Novice Medical Students. Journal of Surgical Education.

St Clair-Thompson H, Chivers C, Characteristics of students who consider taking a psychology placement year. Studies in Higher Education .

Presseau J, Mackintosh J, Hawthorne G, Francis JJ, Johnston M, Grimshaw JM, Steen N, Coulthard T, Brown H, Kaner E, Elovaninio M, Sniehotta FF, Cluster randomised controlled trial of a theory-based multiple behaviour change intervention aimed at healthcare professionals to improve their management of Type 2 diabetes in primary care. Implementation Science.

Codd A, Burford B, Petruso G, Davidson N, Vance G, Development and evaluation of a digistory about autistic spectrum disorder – a pilot study. Education for Primary Care.

Mayes J, Davies S, Harris A, Wray E, Dark GG, Impact of a 2-Week Oncology Placement on Medical Students’ Perception of Cancer. Journal of Cancer Education.

Moynihan P, Makino Y, Petersen PE, Ogawa H, Implications of WHO Guideline on Sugars for dental health professionals . Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.

Oleribe OO, Salako BL, Akpalu A, Anteyi E, Ka MM, Deen G, Akande T, Abellona MR, Lemoine M, McConnochie M, Foster M, Walker R, Taylor-Robson SD, Jawad A, Public Private Partnership in in-service training of physicians: the millennium development goal 6-partnership for African clinical training (M-PACT) approach. Pan African Medical Journal.

Steven A, Larkin V, Stewart J, Bateman B, The value of continuing professional development: a realistic evaluation of a multi-disciplinary workshop for Health Visitors dealing with children with complex need. Nurse Education Today.

Martin AJ, Beska BJ, Wood G, Wyatt N, Codd A, Vance G, Burford B, Widening interest, widening participation: factors influencing school students’ aspirations to study medicine. BMC Medical Education.

Fisher JM, Tullo E, Stewart J, Pejorative phrases or innocent idioms? Exploring terms used by tomorrow’s doctors in relation to older people. Educational Gerontology. 

Conference proceedings

Jandial S, Bussey S, Sandford T, Frearson R, Evaluation of a novel longitudinal clinical placement in the MBBS programme, Newcastle University. ASME Annual Scientific Meeting.

Bussey S, Delgaty L, Use of ‘Adobe Connect’ web-conferencing software as a synchronous classroom to support e-learning. Annual North East Regional Learning and Teaching Conference (Three Rivers: The North East Universities Consortium).

B Abdulmohsen, I Gharib, S Mchanwell, Tooth morphology – tooth carving – a new approach to an old favourite. The Association of Basic Science Teachers in Dentistry (ABSTD) Spring meeting 2018– Integrating and Interfacing of Sciences in Dentistry and the wider academic Community. School of Dentistry, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK. Link (in p2):


Extras post publication of ERDP Summer newsletter

Cobb, M, Prabahar P, Bartram A and J Matthan (2018) Enhancing the surgical skills of oral and maxillofacial trainees through dissection: A medical student cum oral and maxillofacial trainee perspective. Oral presentation at British Association of Clinical Anatomists, June 2018, Cambridge, UK

Eltayeb M and J Matthan (2018) ‘Additive Manufacturing’ in medical education: Marrying cranioplasty with skull anatomy utilising 3D printing can enhance anatomy learning. Oral presentation at British Association of Clinical Anatomists, June 2018, Cambridge, UK.

Matthan J, Rammell J, Gray M, Bookless L, Nesbitt C, Rodham P, Moss J, Stansby G and AW Phillips (2018) Asynchronous unsupervised video-enhanced feedback as effective as direct expert feedback in the long-term retention of practical clinical skills: Randomised trial comparing two feedback methods in a cohort of novice medical students. Oral presentation at ASME 2018, Newcastle England

Delgaty L and J Matthan (2018) Top Tips for Master’s Success: Exposing hidden elements of the research process to develop unseen research skills. Oral presentation at ASME 2018, Newcastle England

Matthan J and ID Keenan (2017) Anatomy in a new medical curriculum: Initial educator perspectives. Oral presentation The Trans-European Pedagogic Anatomical Research Group (TEPARG), Paris, March 2018

Nita G and J Matthan (2017) Minimally Invasive Anatomy: undergraduate clinical anatomy curricula must accommodate for new surgical advances. Eposter presentation at The Trans-European Pedagogic Anatomical Research Group (TEPARG), Paris, March 2018.

HEA Senior Fellow Status for Dr Fraser Birrell

Congratulations to Fraser Birrell, ICM, 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.

Fraser is the Degree Programme Director of the Masters of Clinical Research Programme and responsible for the development with the local Clinical Research Network of the highly successful Introduction to Research Skills course offered by Health Education England North East to all specialist registrars in the region. He is also Academic Lead of Shared Medical Appointments UK, driving spread of group consultation models regionally and nationally with the support of Health Education England North East.

Fraser’s team were recently recognised by the Royal College of Physicians of London at their Excellence in Patient Care Awards, being shortlisted for the Lancet Research Award for work on group consultations in primary & secondary care, co-designed with patients and delivering the same or better outcomes with 200-400% efficiency. If you are a clinician (doctor, nurse or allied health professional) wanting to learn to deliver care in this way and want to attend the national training course on 12th July you can register via 

If you are an academic interested in research in this field contact directly.

Newcastle University Learning and Teaching Conference, 2018

I’ve been to many previous of Newcastle University’s Leaning Teaching and Teaching Conferences – this was amongst the best so far, in my opinion. There were c.230 delegates, with the Boiler House filled to capacity for registration and the keynotes. The parallel sessions and lunch were in the nearby Barbara Strang Teaching Centre. The L&T conference was well organised and the whole LTDS team contributed to its smooth running.

Welcome & Educational Strategy
The event was opened by Chris Day, who (again) mentioned becoming VC at possibly one of the most turbulent times for HE, with the changes related to the Office for Students (OfS), a hostile media, funding pressures, Brexit, pensions dispute etc. But he still managed to say all that in an upbeat way, tying it in to the University Strategy. Suzanne Cholerton gave a Keynote about the University Education Strategy, which is now in its final stages of consultation. In term “Education” is back in favour, covering the current terminology of “Learning, Teaching and Student Experience” (what goes around comes around!). On a more substantive note the 4 key themes of the Education Strategy were discussed; actively engaging students in their learning, L&T in a research-intensive environment, L&T enhanced and supported by technology, and developing the whole person – the latter to help students develop the skills needed for a rapidly changing environment, where many graduates will do jobs that don’t even exist yet. They need to out-compete the new wave of automation and AI. A new Graduates attributes framework is to be developed.

Celebrating partnership
This year the event benefitted from a significant presence of delegates and presenters from the international campuses in Singapore and Malaysia, and also from NU London & INTO. Sometimes things can feel distant and disjointed if you aren’t directly involved in these collaborations, so the conference gave a real feeling of togetherness as part of a joined-up institution. The student voice was also prominent with a whole-conference workshop reflecting on partnership and academic representation delivered by 4 of the student officers from NUSU.

I came away from the conference with a much better appreciation of NU Singapore and the partnership delivering joint engineering-related degrees with Singapore Institute of Technology (useful to me as occasionally co-deliver workshops remotely to PGR students in Singapore). There is a marked contrast between the institutions (and a key reason for the partnership), with our traditional academic institution and the more industry focussed SIT, which brought together several technical polytechnics, in order to massively increase the proportion of young people in Singapore going into HE, but still focussed on meeting the needs of industry. The University year is organised by three 12 week trimesters and there are just 2 weeks between academic years; peer mentoring is well established.

Many in FMS have first-hand experience of the challenges of teaching in different cultures, through NUMed. However, it was Matt Bentley’s presentation on the Integrated Work Study Programme at Singapore, which drew my attention. Interviews for University places are conducted by employers and all students do an industrial placement of 6 months, or more. Remarkably, 93% of graduates take up their first jobs with their placement provider. With increasing pressures on UK Universities to offer placements and degree apprenticeships there is no doubt lessons NU can learn from the partnership with Singapore (and MBBS and a few other programmes at NU which already have embedded placements for experiential learning). Of course, our cultural and economic context is very different, and leaning is valued in its own right, rather than just providing employability. There was also a point made from the audience about education preparing for life-long transferable skills, not just a short-term focus on getting the skills needed for that first job.

Learning Gain
The final Keynote was from Camille Kandiko Howson from King’s College London, who is leading HEFCE funded projects investigating “Learning Gain”. The back-drop to this was the simplistic requirements for league-tables and a comparison app (described by some as a  “ approach to HE”) being hinted at from then new Minister / Office for Students – potentially covering cost, drop-out rates, graduate salaries and other attributes, without any regard for socio-economic context. Camille gave an inspiring walk through the work of Learning Gain and the emerging and diverse approaches to measuring this. A simple definition of Learning Gain is:

“an attempt measure the improvement in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development made by students during their time spent in higher education.”

Policy makers tend to have a very narrow perception of what Learning Gain is, but it can (should) include measuring broad dimensions; affective (e.g. self-efficacy, resilience etc), behaviours & cognitive abilities. There are a number of reports on the HEFCE Website from Learning Gain projects:  Get in there quick, as HEFCE is being replaced by the OfS from April 2018. The HE sector is very poor at retaining its outputs, outside of academic journals – remember the CETLS? only a sub-set of their outputs made it onto the HEA Website (sorry for the rant!).

Could the conference be more?
If I had to be critical, whilst c.230 participants is a reasonable number, I still think the University T&L should be bigger and aim to reach more people – given that learning and teaching is one of NU’s main activities. Likewise, ideally there should be more slots for presenters – there were 20 presenting slots in the parallel sessions, many of the nine 3 minute ‘lightning slots’ warranted more detailed presentations. Of course, there are costs to consider for a larger event, and the sad reality that not that many people submit proposals for presentations because of time pressures and other commitments. That said, FMS was well represented, with 9 of the 20 parallel presentations having contributions from staff in the faculty. Perhaps an online element to the conference would extend the reach of the event, enabling those too busy to commit to the whole event, to ‘dip in’ and participate in parts; on the other hand, the networking opportunities are better F2F (at least for most of our generations!).

Overall, this years L&T conference was a great event in my opinion.

Simon Cotterill,

“Assessment drives learning” or “One can recover from bad teaching but not bad assessment.”

Aphorisms abound in medical education, not least in assessment:

“Assessment drives learning” or “One can recover from bad teaching but not bad assessment.”

Whilst there is common acceptance of these saws it doesn’t always translate into practice. Often assessment in curricula is added at the end in response to the question of how what has been taught should be assessed. There is frequently little focus on how assessment impacts on learning. Even looking at resource allocation, assessment is often seen as subsidiary to teaching rather than being of equal, or arguably greater, importance.

There are also common misperceptions about what can be gleaned from assessment data. The pendulum has begun to be a swing back away from ‘hard’ data from psychometric analysis to valuing judgment. The Scottish philosopher David Hume identified in the 1700s that data does not equate with reality yet psychometrics are often seen to be the true measure of the quality of examinations. As our clinical assessments currently stand we tend to focus on spotting divergent practice, Heidegger’s vorhanden. At the same time we miss zuhanden type errors where what is common is misperceived as correct. An example being the use of “subjective” and “objective” in describing mood.
So if we as an institution are serious about our courses what can we do to address this? As a first step we need to raise the profile of assessment. Currently there is no specific module on assessment in the Certificate of Medical Education, this is going to change as a new module is introduced next year. Next, whilst two courses on assessment of medical students have been delivered in NUMed we will start delivering these and other focussed courses in the medical school.

These steps alone are insufficient. If one has an interest in assessment there are no structures that currently would support personal development beyond this. Whilst some local sharing takes place, where shared interests are known, there is no way to make this routine. We could take this forward by setting up an FMS special interest group in assessment but innovation in assessment is not restricted to our faculty and what is being done in the other faculties or beyond the bounds of the University could drive our practice forward. As an academic institution the philosophy of assessment should be considered; why we do it and why we do it the way we do.

I’d like to suggest that we start such a group. Perhaps first by working within FMS but with an intention to broaden out to the whole University. If you might be interested in this drop me an email at and I’ll look to get a first meeting set up.

Brian Lunn, Strategic Teaching Fellow, SME

Learning about ageing through collaboration with students and older members of the public- invitation to Impact of Teaching Excellence ANTF and HEA Excellence Awards Symposium.

We have developed a multidisciplinary module, Newcastle Universities Ageing Generations Education, in active collaboration with student interns and older members of the public. A major aim of the module is to challenge the de facto association of ageing with frailty and ensure learning is grounded in the realities of ageing in the community rather than solely reflecting research priorities of the university.

In December 2017, the HEA contacted the NUAGE team to present at the Impact of Teaching Excellence ANTF and HEA Excellence Awards Symposium, Manchester, jointly run with the Association of National Teaching Fellows. We were invited because we had been previous CATE finalists and we were asked to display the impact of the award on the institution, the community and us.

On the 21st March 2018, Luisa attended the symposium to present. This was a great opportunity to present our work and network within a community of other CATE finalists and National Teaching Fellows. We were fortunate in that a few clips of a video we were making of the NUAGE module had been shot and this allowed us to ‘take a couple of our older members of the public with us’ (albeit in video form) to share their thoughts on the module.

To finish the evening, Luisa headed back to Newcastle to join Ellen to host an LTHE Tweetchat #LTHEchat 108 where some delegates from the conference joined in further discussion about involving members of the public in teaching.

Another recent success of the NUAGE team comes from our student intern, Safiah Fardin, who has just recently had an abstract accepted to the BERA conference 2018 on ‘The value of student engagement in an innovative module about ageing – an undergraduate student’s perspective.’

We will attend a few more conferences this year and will hopefully be able to show our video in full so watch this space!

Luisa Wakeling, Ellen Tullo and Laura Greaves


ERDP Development Grant. Anatomy Symposium: Technology enhanced learning in Anatomy

The Anatomy and Clinical Skills (ACS) Facility is one of the few facilities at Newcastle which offers teaching for students in all three faculties. The University has recently invested over one million pounds to update ACS.  The new design has increased the available teaching space and incorporates the highest specification of audio-visual equipment, solutions and specialist imaging equipment.   We now have a SECTRA Visualisation Table (currently the only one in England used for undergraduate anatomy teaching) and a glasses-free 3D Alioscopy Screen in order to provide a modern facility which offers cadaveric teaching alongside the most current technology for both anatomy and clinical teaching.

On Thursday 19th July the ACS team will be hosting a regional one-day Anatomy Symposium to showcase our facility and the investments we have made to enrich the student experience and to embed the use of the latest available technology into our teaching practises.  This event will be the official opening of the Facility and we have invited Professor Wojciech Pawlina, an esteemed Anatomy Educator and Researcher to give the keynote address.  Presenters from around the region will help us explore the use of technology to enhance the student learning experience. A full programme for the day will be circulated in early May.

This event is ‘part’ funded by an ERDP Development Grant.  For more information please contact Dr Debra Patten,


TEA nominations 2018

The TEAs are a chance for students to nominate members of staff who they think have been outstanding and helped improve their student experience here at Newcastle.

Congratulations to all that were nominated (list below provided by Students’ Union).  The results will be announced at the TEA ceremony on the 3rd May.  Keep an eye on the TEA website to find out who gets shortlisted and the eventual winner.

2018 Nominees

Outstanding Contribution to Equality and Diversity in Teaching
Daniel Nettle ( IoN)
Fae Hodgson ( SME)
Kenneth McKeegan ( SME)
Elizabeth Evans ( Psy)

Outstanding Contribution to Feedback
Emma Cockburn ( BMS)
Joanna Matthan ( SME)
Laura Delgaty ( SME)
Luisa Wakeling ( SDS)

Outstanding Contribution to Pastoral Support
Brook Galna ( BMS)
Clara Chivers ( Psy)
Joanna Matthan ( SME)
Trevor James ( Psy)
Sarah Jayne Boulton ( BMS)

Outstanding Contribution to Student Employability
Beth Lawry ( BMS)
Helen St-Clair-Thompson ( Psy)
Michelle Smith ( SDS)
Stephen McHanwell ( SME)

Outstanding Contribution to Teaching  – FMS Faculty
Daniel Nettle ( IoN)
Deborah Henderson ( IGM)
Simon Wilkinson ( ICM)
Sinead Mullally ( IoN)
Claire McGee ( SDS)
Janet Robinson ( SME)
Paul Hubbard ( SME)
Andrew Chaytor ( SME)
Beverley English ( SDS)
Chris Eggett ( BMS)
Colin Brown ( ICaMB)
David Norton ( SME)
Debbie Bevitt ( BMS)
Elizabeth Evans ( Psy)
Faye Horsley ( Psy)
Gabriele Jordan ( Psy)
Gavin Oxburgh ( Psy)
Iain Keenan ( SME)
Jeremy Lakey ( ICaMB)
John Noblett ( SME)
Kenneth McKeegan ( SME)
Luisa Wakeling ( SDS)
Ralf Kist ( SDS)
Richard Holmes ( SDS)
Sarah Jayne Boulton ( BMS)
Stephen McHanwell ( SME)
Tim Cheek ( ICaMB)
Tom Clifford ( BMS)
Vsevolod Telezhkin ( SDS)
Yoav Tadmor ( Psy)
Brook Galna ( BMS)

Research Supervisor of the Year
Ben Millar ( ICM)
Farhad Kamali ( ICM)
Laura Delgaty ( SME)
Luke Vale ( IHS)
Ruth Valentine ( SDS)

Taught Supervisor of the Year
Andrew Mellon ( SME)
Helen Stanclifee ( SDS)
Luisa Wakeling ( SDS)
Pauline  Prabahar    ( SME)
Laura Delgaty ( SME)


Director Update: Spring 2018

Dear Colleagues

This introduction to our March newsletter sees me in a more reflective frame of mind than usual as I read Barnett’s most recent book Understanding the University. We have all been aware of the focus that there has been on Higher Education in the last few years but in recent months that focus has intensified.  The questions about value for money, grade inflation and learning gain have all, in separate and distinct ways, raised questions about what a degree is worth and whether that worth is changing in the era of raised tuition fees.

A review of Higher Education is under way which might result in a more differentiated fee structure.  Universities are likely to be asked as part of the new TEF arrangements to justify their rates of awarding degrees of different classes though the metric(s) for this are still unclear.  Subject-level TEF is being piloted this year.  Then, most recently, the universities minister announced yet another way of ranking universities, a consumer-style value for money rating university-supermarket .com approach.  All these developments raise important questions about what the purpose of a university education is in society today.  They lead us to ask the wider question what universities exist to do.  We are caught, as Barnett would articulate it, between bureaucratic and entrepreneurial models of how universities should behave.  Both, in their different ways, represent challenges to older views we might have of universities as places of liberal reason and lead through different routes to a culture of targets and measurement.

Against this background it is easy to lose hold of where we are and where we should be but unless we can retain a sense of core values we risk responding simply to the latest trends and meeting the newest targets. We must not forget what we are doing to educate the next generation is important work whether we are producing biomedical scientists, dentists, doctors, medical educators, oral hygienists and therapists, pharmacists, physician associates, psychologists, sports scientists, or the next generation of young researchers.  It applies equally to whether we are delivering an introductory Stage 1 UG course, teaching PG(T) students or supervising a PhD student.  Without wishing to sound complacent from all the evidence we have in front of us we take our role as educators at whatever level very seriously and deliver high-quality teaching.  As I survey the contents of this newsletter as educators in higher education we engage in an impressive range of other tasks in support of our roles including a commitment to our own development through attendance at EDRP events within the Faculty, events at university level as well as national and international conferences.  In the current debates it is all too easy to lose our sense of centre.  To return to Barnett we need be clear about our values and purposes to understand the possibilities of a university and perhaps to glimpse what Barnett calls feasible utopias.

Prof Steve McHanwell, Director, FMS Unit for ERDP