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Some people appear to be having problems with viewing the blog.

This is due to a centralised policy applied by Newcastle University’s IT Service that forces any intranet site viewed through Internet Explorer to be displayed using “Compatibility Mode”.

This will render any site as if you were using Internet Explorer 6 or 7, which is why you are unable to see some parts of the blog or get an error message.

IT Servicedesk responded, “Internet Explorer is going to be rolled relatively soon and then SAP will support the relevant sites in standards mode, at that point that flag will be flipped.”

If you want to view the blog in Internet Explorer you can disable this setting by following these steps in the browser:

Tools -> Compatibility View Settings, then uncheck ‘Display intranet sites in Compatibility View’


Or you could use a different browser to Internet Explorer.


Durham Blackboard Conference 2015 Abbi Flint Keynote – Engagement through partnership

Engagement Through Partnership – Abbi Flint

Abbi started her keynote discussing the framework that the Higher Education Academy launched regarding students as partners. Below are my rough notes from the presentation combined with Dr Rebecca Gill’s more comprehensible notes!
Fostering partnership – it’s a strong way to increase student engagement – growing topic recently.

What do we mean by partnership?

Definition(s) of partnership:

  • Partnership isn’t interchangeable with student engagement, but is a specific form of it. It is a movement away from the assumption that students aren’t initially engaged, and emphasises shared responsibility of students and staff, students and staff as ‘co-learners’.
  • Defined partnership as a process; the form of a project may not necessarily be one of partnership, but partnership is established for example by giving students autonomy and an active role in producing research, disseminating outputs and finding solutions.
  • It is contextual (specific to institution, discipline and wider culture), therefore an ideal model is impossible to produce.
  • Partnership can encompass cooperation between students as well as staff-student interactions. Embedding students within an academic community is central to student retention and success.
  • Emphasis on understanding the expertise students can offer as pedagogic consultants in curriculum design: staff provide disciplinary expertise, students are experts on the curriculum as experienced in practice.

Specific form of student engagement – student engagement – is this a buzzword? So many different meanings when looking at the published research.

Evernote Snapshot 20150106 110638


1. What does partnership with students mean to you?

2 why are you interested in partnership in teaching and learning?

Why are you interested in partnership in teaching and learning?

 Evernote Snapshot 20150106 110143

Pedagogically powerful approach – deeper learning, sense of community.

Behavioural perspective – something that they see and do. How often do students engage in study? A lot of research around this.

Psychological perspective – how are students engaging cognitively?  What is their sense of community?

Social cultural – how does the culture of the institution affect student engagement?

Active participation is relevant across all perspectives.

Learning relationship as well as a working relationship. Students learning as part of the partnership.

Highly contextual – this is about people and their particular context.

Partnership values-
Authenticity, inclusivity, reciprocity, empowerment, trust, challenge, community, responsibility. (these are in HEA documentation)

 Evernote Snapshot 20150106 111209

Learning and teaching assessment
Flipping the classroom
Personalisation of learning
Peer education
Active and collaborative learning
Broad vision (University of Westminster)
Subject based research and inquiry
Embedding research and inquiry based learning
Student as producer – University of Lincoln
Boutique UG research schemes
Think Ahead: SURE
These examples still need to be considered within the process. Examples above aren’t necessarily partnership, but the process needs to be considered.
Scholarship of teaching and learning
Students are often the focus rather than the partners of any research.

Institutional examples

University of Exeter – voluntary scheme where student research their teaching and learning environments and report outcomes to the staff student committee in their School. This has had high impact.

Curriculum design and pedagogic consultancy
Students often surveyed at the end of their course, but not often consulted at course design / approval stages.
This is one of the more challenging aspects of partnership. Often institutions/academics don’t want to give up any control in this area.

How do we embed partnership beyond the discrete activities that goes on?

Case studies:

 Evernote Snapshot 20150106 112830

  • Significant change to existing practice/processes needed.
  • Inclusivity and scale: who is able to participate?
  • Power relationships and blurring identities: dominance of hierarchical relationships, access to resources. Experience of partnership in one context may have a problematic impact on hierarchical relationships elsewhere. Partnerships can place staff and students in different roles.
  • Reward & recognition: staff motivated by paid job role, what motivates students? Need opportunity to be full members of partnership – ensure access to larger agendas and history of projects (e.g. induction & ‘outduction’ of sabbatical officers) – students have a time limited engagement with their institution.


Areas for further exploration

  • Pedagogies of partnership: disciplinary research – are there disciplinary approaches to partnership?
  • Sharing lot of successes but need to learn from failures. Where does it not work and why?
  • Impact: longer term, explore potential ways of using existing institutional data more smartly to look at impact of partnership on broader learning experience.
  • Ethical implications of engagement through partnership.
  • How different student demographics engage with partnership/levels of impact at different intersectionalities (e.g. gender, race, age).

Mick Healey website – case studies with students as change agents.


What is reflective practice?

There are substantial benefits in being a reflective student. Research shows that students who are reflective when learning will have a deeper understanding of their subject.

What does being reflective mean?

There is a lot of research around reflective learning.

David Kolb – Experiential Learning

David Kolb is an American educationalist whose work focuses on experiential learning. Experiential learning is learning that takes place from experiences. He developed a learning cycle that shows learning taking place initially from experiencing a situation, then reflecting on that situation, forming generalisations and concepts, and then applying the knowledge learned. (click the image to enlarge)

Kolb experiential learning cycle


Donald Schön – Reflection-in-action/Reflection-on-action

Reflection does not just take place after an event. Schon explained that reflection, albeit quick and less considered reflection, can take place during an event as well.

Graham Gibbs – Reflective Cycle

Gibbs expanded on Kolb’s experiental learning cycle. He described a structured debriefing process to enable reflection. (click the image to enlarge)

Graeme Gibbs Reflective Learning Cycle


Further reading:

Schön, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner, How Professionals Think In Action, Basic Books.

Kolb. D. A. and Fry, R. (1975) Toward an applied theory of experiential learning. in C. Cooper (ed.), Theories of Group Process, London: John Wiley.

Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods, Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development, . London: Further Education Unit.

Improving knowledge retention with voting systems

Marina Sawdon, a lecturer in Medical Education at Durham University asks voting system questions as part of the lecture each week. Some of those questions address topics covered in previous weeks, not just the topic covered that day. She is able to use this to demonstrate to students that they are retaining knowledge. In fact, the number of correct answers goes up when she re0tests students on earlier learning. Marina badges this as an additional form of feedback to students and she has had very positve reactions from her students to these interventions. 

See http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03332.x/full for a full article on her work in this area.