The start of something good!

Luisa WakelingI attended the first Enhancing Student Learning through Innovative Scholarship Conference which took place in Durham on July 16-17th for teaching-focused academics. The conference had 2 main focuses based on innovation in teaching and the role and progression of the teaching-focused academic; both topics extremely key to me at this point in my career. I and the other 120 delegates were presented with an array of innovative methods used in teaching across universities of the UK. ‘Students as Partners’ was a key theme; we heard from academics who had involved students in the whole development of their own sciences skills course, digital video production by students to enhance educational engagement, design and implementation of the visually exciting ‘Soton Brain hub’ in a collaboration between students and teaching fellows in Medicine and the utilisation of near-peer teaching.

I also entered a world of academic politics around what it means to be a teaching fellow especially in a research intensive university and although examples of discrimination towards the role were highlighted there was equal positivity with great examples of success. One such success was the latest appointment to Professor of fellow David Read at the University of Southampton. I was particularly impressed with his work on methods of self-assessment for the chemistry student. A truly enthusiastic teacher, his published work was very engaging and motivating to me. David will be presenting some of his work to us as part of the FUERDP seminar series.

With the ‘TEF’ on the horizon there was an element of anxiousness and uncertainty but also that of comforting positivity and excitement in a community of people who really did care about teaching and were improving the learning experience. As I had belonged once as a postdoc in the research circuits beyond the university, I now felt that relationship again with another community of practice. These are exciting times to be a teacher in HE and I encourage you to get involved. #ESLIS15.

The Enhancing Student Learning through Innovative Scholarship Conference, 2016 will take place at the University of Southampton and will come to Newcastle in 2017. The website address for the conference is

Dr Luisa Wakeling, School of Dental Sciences


Fragments from AMEE 2015

I joined two Dutch colleagues to run a pre-conference workshop called “The artist inside us all: creative tools for reflection on personal growth towards professionalism”. We used singing, drawing, poetry and upmarket Play-do to reflect on our own careers/lives as a way of introducing participants to exercises they could use with their students. Groups of three had packs of postcards and were asked to select one that spoke to their experience, ideally one where they could talk about something which had gone wrong. I modelled this by choosing one of three cards I had never seen before, made some self-revelatory comments but also highlighted areas which I had deliberately not discussed: this demonstrated the importance and possibility of safety for those taking part as well as conveying the message that teachers must be open if they are expecting learners to be open.

My other observations from the conference were:

  • The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are brilliant. They performed in the Opening Ceremony.
  • Only one workshop – and no papers – on teaching about diversity. Nothing on teaching about death, dying and bereavement.
  • At AMEE Fringe, Menno de Bree reprised his TED talk. It’s called “On why your work does not make you happy” – available at
  • Lisa Lipkin reminded us that nothing is more sustainable than a good story. What moves you moves your audience. Stories are the glue to keep numbers, facts and details in our brains. Good oral storytellers use visual language.
  • Mona Siddiqui on diversity – “Not just to have a seat at the table but to feel comfortable in the chair”.
  • Roger Kneebone used the painting by Barbara Hepworth, Concourse. It depicts an operating theatre where, although the focus of everyone present is on the patient, the patient is invisible. A good starting point for reflecting on the process of surgery. (Scroll to end for image.)
  • He also showed a short clip of a surgeon with his hand beside a patient’s liver saying “If you put your finger in here you can feel the er”. It was inexpressible, reduced simply to “er”. As one who tries to express what empathy and professionalism are, this inarticulate phrase was reassuring.
  • In a professional identity session a student referred to a medical student and a “normal student”. There was not a flicker of a smile on a single face.
  • A poster showed that the conscientiousness index works in Singapore – good news for our Durham colleagues, another associated punctuality with exam success. A third extolled the virtues of a “Simple Happiness Class”, claiming that simple happiness will change the world.
  • A number of studies dispute the orthodoxy that empathy declines over the medical course.
  • In a presentation on empathy a speaker showed a cartoon with a doctor saying “I know how you feel”…as an EXAMPLE of empathy!
  • Granite is an unforgiving surface for a ceilidh.
  • I am still sufficiently immature to smile when I see a poster from the University of Chihuahua.

Dr Bryan Vernon, School of Medical Education

ASME Annual Scientific Meeting: conference report

asme_logoWednesday 15th-Friday 17th July 2015, BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh

The conference opened on Wednesday afternoon with a thought-provoking Lord Cohen Lecture from Prof Steve Peters of @chimpmanagement discussing his work on optimising the performance of the human mind. I then chaired an interesting parallel session on interprofessional education and simulation.

The anatomy themed parallel session on Thursday included talks on 3D printing of anatomical models by Nick Tollemache @ntollemache from Brighton and Sussex Medical School, followed by talks on current issues surrounding anatomy knowledge and its place within the medical curriculum at the Medical Schools of both Exeter University and St George’s, University of London. I presented two posters on our work concerning Artatomy @artatomy and social media in anatomy learning and teaching in the chaired poster session on Thursday evening. Undergraduate MBBS project student Joseph Hutchinson @joe_hutch presented a poster of our work outlining development and evaluation of our 2D drawing and 3D modelling online interactive video tutorials.

I presented a talk on our work investigating reciprocal transitions in understanding between 3D anatomical structures and 2D clinical images during the parallel session on Friday morning that also included a similarly themed talk involving innovative artistic learning methods by Nichola Robertson @nich_rob from the Art and Anatomy @artandanatomy group at Edinburgh University Medical School.

The conference closed with a venue-appropriate plenary “Scoring with education – reflective practice in international sports medicine” by Dr James Robson, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Anti-Doping, Scottish Rugby Union.

You can see my #asmeasm2015 tweets from @dr_keenan on Twitter and my conference story is here:

Dr Iain Keenan, School of Medical Education

Vancouver International Conference for Teaching of Psychology

Patrick Rosencranz

Dr Patrick Rosenkranz presented a paper at VICTOP 2015.  The paper was called ‘Teaching psychological research methods through a pragmatic and programmatic approach’, co-authors, Dr Amy Fielden and Dr Effy Tzemou. Here is the abstract:

Research methods teaching in psychology is pivotal in allowing students to make the transition from student as learner to independent practitioner. We took an action research approach to re-design, implement and evaluate a course guiding students, through a programmatic and pragmatic research cycle. These revisions allow students to experience diverse psychological methods by working as collaborators on three sequential studies (qualitative psychometric and survey design). Evaluation of the first delivery ( 2014) highlighted that students developed a broad range of transferable skills, but experienced uncertainty associated with the research process and anxiety attributed to the less definitive guidance provided by staff ( Rosenkranz, Fielden and Tzemou, 2014). Based on this we implemented changes aimed at further developing independence while managing uncertainty by using structured discussion and research groups. In this presentation we will discuss the overall rationale of redesigning the course and present data from the second delivery (2015) of the action research evaluation.

Supporting information:

Rosenkranz P, Fielden A, Tzemou E. (2014). Teaching psychological research methods through a pragmatic and programmatic approach. Psychology Teaching Review, 20(2), 28-35.

Important Educational Conferences 2016

steve (2)As there are lots of education conferences likely to be of interest to staff in FMS, it is hard to provide comprehensive listings of them all but here are some of the most important ones.

In medicine and dentistry there are long-established associations (AMEE, ASME and ADEE to name but a few) that organise annual or more regular conferences. Many staff attend these events already but we advertise them here to encourage anybody, but especially new staff, who may not be familiar with the work of these associations, to encourage them to attend if they are relevant to their work.

Association for Medical Education in Europe

Annual conference: Barcelona, 27th-31st August, 2016

Association for the Study of Medical Education

Annual conference: Belfast, 5th-8th July 2016 

Association for Dental Education in Europe
Annual conference: Barcelona, 30th August -2nd September 2016 (provisional)

Many professional bodies have active education committees and also organise educational symposia as part of their scientific meetings. The Physiological, Anatomical Society, British Pharmacological and Biochemical Societies are all active in this regard. These education events are usually well-attended but informal events and provide good opportunities, within a supportive environment, for dissemination of T&L projects. Again I would encourage staff to attend meetings relevant to their area of interest as they can be a good source of ideas and to become involved, as a number of you already are, with the educational activities of your own professional bodies.

The Physiological Society

Annual conference: Venue and Date to be announced but likely to be early July 2016.

The British Psychological Society

Annual Conference: Nottingham, 26th to 28th April 2016

Then there are the large national and international educational conferences. Two of these stand out as being especially significant, ECER (the conference of the European Educational Research Association) and BERA Conference (British Educational Research Association). One of the things that I hope might arise as an output from EQUATE is an FMS contribution to one or other of these meetings.

British Educational Research Association

Annual conference: Venue and Date to be announced but likely to be mid September 2016.

European Educational Research Association

Annual Conference: Dublin, 28th August 2016

Look out for reminders from ERDP for future conference submission deadlines. Also, if you know of a conference that you think might be of interest to others please let us know and we will advertise it through the newsletter.

Professor Steve McHanwell, Director, ERDP.


ASME Researching Medical Education Conference 18th November 2015

This ASME one-day conference is for all those interested in medical or clinical education research as an academic discipline. The RME programme includes a Master Class where the audience will discuss the challenges of conducting research using the examples provided by successful applicants. The focus of the discussion will be to identify and share potential solutions to common challenges.  If you want to submit an example the deadline is 22nd September.

Co-Curate presented at OER15

Simon Cotterill presented a paper at the Open Educational Resources (OER15)conference in Cardiff.  Cotterill SJ, Hudson M, Lloyd K, et al. ‘Co-Curate: working with schools and communities to add value to Open collections.’ This paper relates to the AHRC funded Co-Curate project, working with museums, schools and community groups. The project built on previous externally funded R&D work with OER and Dynamic Learning Maps. Full conference paper: