Learning and Teaching Conference: the hidden curriculum

Discusses the presentation of hidden curriculum and how it might be overcome in our own practice.

One presentation at the conference stood out for me as it sought to help students overcome transition to university from school in a way which we often don’t think about. The presenters use of TEL would help overcome any barriers for students developing their ‘academic identity’ in belonging to the university, and gave me some ideas about how we could integrate their ideas in our courses.

EPIC: SELLL’s answer to enculturing undergraduates in academia

Dr Heike Pichler and Dr Rebecca Woods, SELLL (in addition, others from SELLL were involved in the project), discussed the hidden curriculum and what can be done to expose it to students. ‘Hidden‘ is because we don’t make it explicit in our curriculae.

The hidden curriculum consists of all the unofficial expectations academia has of their students, including an expectation that they will speak our academic language. We expect students to know what we are talking about when we use university jargon. For instance, how many students know what a DPD is when they arrive in Fresher’s Week? We talk about modules, but we don’t necessarily mean the same thing as ‘modules’ in Canvas which they meet as soon as they join a course.

The presenters have come up with a solution:’EPIC’. Part of this project is a jargon-buster, acting as a glossary for acronyms most academics take for granted, some very specific to SELLL. You can find it on their school blog: https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/epic/jargon-buster/

Image shows Jargonbuster from EPIC

So where would this fit with technology use in FMS? A simple solution would be to put our own glossary on our Canvas induction areas or school blogs. How about an icebreaker in induction week to get students involved in finding out what our acronyms mean? Perhaps a Padlet embedded in Canvas for students to post their long versions.

Another aspect of the hidden curriculum the presenters flagged is assessment: do our students know what we mean when we ask them to write reports/essays/presentations/lay presentations etc? Being fluent in academic language and competent in the activities of academia is likely to increase success rates. We can use our Canvas assignment pages to make explicit what we expect them to do in terms of their output, and signpost where they can get help with study skills and writing development at the library (https://www.ncl.ac.uk/library/resources-and-study-support/). Of course, that doesn’t mean students will actually read our materials, but it may be helpful.

Video Award Success for FMS TEL Team

The team shares success at the Learning and Teaching Conference – find out more about how DIY and bespoke animations can help boost learning in your course.

Several members of the FMS TEL team attended the NU Teaching & Learning Conference on Thursday 31st March giving strong representation of the team.

It was a great day with some very insightful presentations on a broad range of topics and a very interesting keynote from Professor Paul Ashwin. It was also the first time in years that the conference has been able to be run ‘in person’ and with around 300 attendees it felt like a slight return to normality.

Members of the FMS TEL team had both ‘posters’ and ‘video presentations’ entered into the competitions. Attendees were sent a link to view them and were able to vote for their favourites both in the week leading up to the conference and also on the day itself.

Eleanor Gordon (left) and Ashley Reynolds (right)

Ashley Reynolds and Eleanor Gordon from the FMS TEL team were delighted to be announced winners of the ‘Best Video Award’ for their video presentation titled ‘Creating and using animations to explain concepts’ which highlighted how animations could be used to enhance teaching, and techniques that will both improve memory retention and also increase learner engagement. The video presentation entry can be seen below.

Video submission

If you would like to know more about animations and the services that the team can offer, please get in touch.

We would like to say ‘Thank you very much’ to the LTDS team for organising a great conference. Can’t wait for next year!

A Vision for University Education

Summative and exploratory review of Paul Ashwin’s keynote address at NU Learning & Teaching Conference 2022.

The keynote at this year’s Learning and Teaching Conference at Newcastle University was Paul Ashwin, who is Professor of Higher Education at Lancaster University.

Paul Ashwin presenting at Newcastle University – photo by Eleanor Gordon

It was a good feeling being at a present-in-person conference and catching up with colleagues face-to-face for the first time since the start of the Pandemic. But would the keynote offer something inspiring and thought provoking? In my view – yes!

Paul Ashwin put forward the argument for an inclusive and transformative vision for H.E. vs. the status quo which is elitist and reproductive (of social inequalities). Current political drivers focus on the role of H.E. in developing employable students, but are predicated on a vision of H.E. which mistake social advantage with ability.

It would be hard to miss how much Newcastle University does to promote inclusivity, social justice, and contributing to the community (ok you can always do more!) – but there was still maybe some parts of Paul Ashwin’s keynote which made you reflect on what NU is as an institution and maybe a slight feeling of discomfort considering our position as an ‘advantaged’ Russel Group University. In particular, Paul talked about the ‘games’ H.E. play around Rankings and Generic Graduate Attributes. Paul’s research found that there was no relationship between educational quality and rankings. Few within in H.E. see the value of rankings and league tables, yet when we do well in them, ‘double-think’ (George Orwell) kicks in and we publicise them at every available opportunity! He didn’t mention what is probably the biggest ‘game’ of all in H.E. – the Research Excellence Framework! I guess, the issue is that regardless of whether you see and value in rankings, attributes, REF etc, as effective quality indicators – few H.E.I.s could afford not to play these ‘games’, given their impacts on student recruitment and funding.

Paul, gave a savaging critique of generic competencies – nearly all HEIs have adopted graduate attributes frameworks, but he argues these are often over-simplified and the focus on employability outcomes may distort how we measure quality in education. He spoke about creating a shopping list as an example of how almost any task can be shown to meet generic skills (time management, sustainability etc.). For me personally, that’s may be throwing out the baby with the bath water. True, if engaged with in a superficial manor, graduate attributes may have limited value. However, if meaningfully linked with the rich knowledge and capabilities developed at University (and other life-wide experiences), then they can have value; particularly as we need to build, recognise and continually develop transferable skills, in a world where our graduates will likely go on to have multiple careers.  

The overall vision Paul put forward was one of inclusivity and the role of H.E. being custodians of knowledge and the role of teaching in making knowledge accessible to all. Our course and assessment designs need to provide exciting engagement with a structured body of knowledge. The backdrop to all this (perhaps ‘taken as read’ by the speaker) is the politics / government policy, including the impact of student fees and marketisation – and the view of the student purely as a “customer”. There are those who question why fees are so high, given that subject information is freely available on the Internet (making no distinction between information and knowledge). Also, there is a narrow focus on measuring employability outcomes and graduate incomes. Paul’s critique of this vision is that it strongly reinforces the reproductive role of H.E. in perpetuating social privilege. He was arguing that as a sector we need to invest time in the collective redesign of education for the more inclusive vison of H.E. which supports transformative learning, accessible by all.

Paul Ashwin provided a thought-provoking keynote, which was very apt for the conference, this year titled as “Education for All: Learning Together”.

Developing audio commentated interviews to support student learning – NULT2022

As part of the conference, Susan Lennie and Eleanor Gordon presented this video detailing the student response to the introduction.

The written summary of the development of the intervention can be accessed below.

Creating and Using Animations to Explain Concepts – NULT2022

A video explanation and demonstration of how animations can be used to explain concepts, and when this is most effective.

Teaching and Learning Conference Presentation

Ashley Reynolds and Eleanor Gordon

This video demonstrates how animations can be used to enhance teaching. Some animations require specialist experience to create, but a great deal can be achieved by adding purposeful animations in PowerPoint, or utilising H5P.

Animated diagrams are a rich resource for explaining processes and relationships. Online teaching sometimes means that gestures such as pointing, highlighting and demonstrating motion are lost. Including these dynamic elements in presentations boosts understanding of concepts and processes when compared with static images. (Goff et al., 2017).

Resources

Using Canvas Commons to Supply and Support Student Learning Opportunities – NULT2022

All of our posts about this conference can be seen under the tag NULTConf2022.

This lightning talk was presented in person at the Learning and Teaching Conference 2022. Newcastle University staff wishing to access the resources and the recording of the previous extended online version can do so here.

Key Points:

  • Commons in a cloud storage for Canvas items
  • Can upload and download pieces to and from your courses
  • Allows you to promote your material to the Canvas Community if you choose to do so

Designing Convertible Teaching – NULT2022

Conference Materials – Designing Convertible Teaching

All of our posts about this conference can be seen under the tag NULTConf2022.

This workshop was presented in person for the first time at the Learning and Teaching Conference 2022. Newcastle University staff wishing to access the resources and the recording of the online version can do so here.

NULT Conference 2022

Looking forward to seeing you all at the Learning and Teaching Conference!

FMS TEL are well-represented at the University Learning and Teaching Conference 2022. We look forward to seeing you at the conference, and hearing what you think of our sessions, videos and posters! All of our posts about this conference can be seen under the tag NULTConf2022.

To book your place at the conference, or find out more, please visit the Learning and Teaching Conference homepage.

Art of the Possible – The Future of Education Spaces

Today, Tracy and Eleanor gave a lightning talk as part of the Art of the Possible series. We shared our recent work with 3D and virtualising spaces, as well as using technology for interactive teaching when students can’t all be Present in Person.

Resources and links from the session are available below. Some may only be accessible to Newcastle University staff.

Further Reading

Hardware Shown

360 Degree Images Examples

Authentic Assessment

Having a new assessment system (Inspera) offers the opportunity to redesign assessments, and there are many examples of authentic assessment already running throughout FMS.

What is Authentic Assessment?

Authentic assessment covers a wide range of assessment techniques, including setting tasks that students may be asked to undertake in their future careers. It also covers the setting of other purposeful tasks – assessments that have value beyond simply testing knowledge, such as reflective tasks.

During the FMS TEL conference, a session was run that covered several examples of authentic assessment. Examples came from the School of Dentistry, presented by Ruth Valentine and Chris Penlington, the School of Psychology’s Psychology of Religion module led by Patrick Rosenkranz, and the School of Biomedical Sciences, presented by Lindsey Ferrie. The resources can be accessed via the links below.

  • Video and Audio via Panopto directly.
  • Full set of resources on the FMS TEL Community on Canvas and the MLE.

Inspera Resources

Check out our previous posts on Inspera for more information, or read more on the LTDS website and Inspera’s corporate homepage.

Further Reading