Category Archives: Star Case Studies

The Art of the Possible: Case Study

Dr Chloe Duckworth from the School of History, Classics and Archaeology has used engaging, bespoke online resources and a range of practical group activities to create a relaxed learning environment for her students.

Find out more from Chloe in the video below as she describes how she considers accessibility issues  and ensures an inclusive approach to teaching.

If you are interested in reading more about Chloe’s case study or other case studies of effective practice take a look at the case studies website.


Star Case Study: Dr Rajesh Tiwari: Flipped Classroom Videos

Enhance the variety of teaching, create a resource students like to engage with and save time in the long run.  These are just a few positive outcomes Dr Rajesh Tiwari, School of Engeneering,  has seen through his use of videos when using a flipped classroom approach.

The videos work brilliantly well when Rajesh wants to give information about practical skills, as well as when there are difficult concepts that need some extra explanation.

Photo of Dr Rajesh Tiwari, School of Engineering
Dr Rajesh Tiwari, School of Engineering

Student Voice

Students have fedback some really positive comments about the videos: Continue reading Star Case Study: Dr Rajesh Tiwari: Flipped Classroom Videos

Star Case Study: Audio Feedback in the School of Modern Languages

Andrea Wilczynski has been providing  individual audio feedback to her Stage 2 students studying German.

Using audio feedback allows Andrea to give in depth feedback in a unique way and most importantly students seem to love it, with excellent engagement with the feedback, positive module evaluation results and even a TEA award nomination.

Photo of Andrea Wilczynski
Andrea Wilczynski, School of Modern Languages

If you are interested in finding out more you can read full details of the Case Study here.

Would you like to use audio feedback with your students? Continue reading Star Case Study: Audio Feedback in the School of Modern Languages

STAR CASE STUDY: Using Facebook to Facilitate International Debate

Dr Bronwen Jones uses Facebook to allow Newcastle University Law School students to debate legal issues with students at Helwan University in Eygpt.

The winning students from Helwan University in Eygpt.

The debate functions as part of Bronwen’s teaching on intellectual property law for undergraduate students.

The collaboration came about after Bronwen met with Professor Yasser Gadallah whilst at a series of workshops in Cairo. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when Dr  Shaimaa Lazem moved to Newcastle to begin working with Culture Lab.

Shaimaa set up a closed Facebook group which would bring together one group of student from each institution to discuss intellectual property law.

Bronwen said: ‘In part I wanted to do something to show that you could have international collaboration without winning a big grant or spending money.

‘But I also wanted to facilitate a cultural exchange. I wanted my students to think more critically about the ways in which intellectual property law can advantage or disadvantage people from certain countries or cultures.’

Each group was given one week to prepare material, write an argument and post it on Facebook.

This written response helped to ensure that the Eygptian students were not disadvantaged by conducting a verbal debate in English.

Bronwen said: ‘Some students who were initially worried about participating joined in later and it became more and more popular over the semester.

‘Some actually joined when the debate was over because the materials posted – videos, articles etc. were useful. And the page is still up and running now.’

Each argument was then evaluated by academic staff.

Shaimaa and Bronwen
Shaimaa and Bronwen

In fact, the debate has been a tremendous success with both groups of students. Helwan won the debate and Newcastle students attained higher marks in their assessments around this topic, informed in no small part, Bronwen is certain, by their experience of the debate.

Both groups enjoyed their experience and the teaching staff are currently in the process of analysing data from questionnaires they filled out about their experiences.

Bronwen has presented on the Helwan/Newcastle Facebook project in Cape Town in September 2015 and will present on the results of the questionnaire at the European Intellectual Property Teachers Network (EIPTN) meeting in Sophia, Bulgaria in July.

You can read more about how Bronwen did it and see more examples from across the University on the Case Studies database.

Do you have an example of great teaching from your school? Tell us about it!


STAR CASE STUDY – Saving Sim-Man

Are you struggling to offer active and experiential learning to large numbers of students?  SimMan could save the day.

SimMan is a high-fidelity patient simulator who can be programmed to display a wide range of physiological and pathophysiological signs and respond appropriately to treatment, be it physical, e.g. cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or therapeutic, e.g. administration of drugs.

But surely only a few students can make use of SimMan at a time?

Clare Guilding (Lecturer in the School of Medical Education) has developed an effective way of using SimMan along with interactive voting technology to provide an engaging learning experience for a lecture theatre full of students.

Clare explains, ‘To enable the entire class to engage in clinical decision-making, split-screen and interactive voting technologies are employed.’

One of the screens projects the physiological readouts from SimMan such as his blood pressure, ECG heart trace and oxygen saturation; the other screen is linked to a TurningPoint interactive quiz.

Each student is supplied with a TurningPoint handset and at a series of key clinical points throughout the scenario, the students are asked to vote individually and anonymously on the most appropriate course of action (e.g. initial patient management steps, which drug should be administered etc.).

The option with the most votes, (whether or not this was the correct) is applied to SimMan and the students then observe the physiological effects this has in real time.

Clare said: ’In the online end of unit evaluation 76% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that SimMan had enhanced their learning experience.’

It also enabled students to see how their lectures applied to clinical practice:

One commented that ‘the lecture using SimMan at the end was really good, especially using TurningPoint so that we could try to ‘treat’ SimMan. It kept the lecture clinically-focussed and enabled us to see how the information would come in useful in practice’.

To find out more about SimMan and read about medical students’ repeated attempts to save his life, read the full case study on the Case Study database.

Or if you have your own example of really effective teaching practice in your School do get in touch with


Star Case Study – Mock Viva Video in Politics

Doing your viva in Politics has been revolutionised by a new mock viva video for Ph.D. students.


Politics PGR Director Professor Tony Zito and Kate Manzo (Geography) realised that students often were not attending or were not paying attention to more traditional approaches to preparing students for their viva, so he decided to show them exactly what to expect by making a video.

Tony said: ‘A lot of students were just not coming to the sessions I was running about vivas and what their viva would be like.

‘I think for those who were in first or second year of their Ph.D.s their viva seemed very far away and for those nearing the end of their project the viva had become something too scary to think about.

‘So we decided to make sure that there would be something online that they could always access, perhaps even in the middle of the night when they were worrying about an upcoming viva.’

Tony enlisted the help of politics student Russell Foster, himself preparing for an upcoming viva.

Russell agreed to be filmed during a mock viva with Tony and Kate taking the roles of internal and external examiners.

The mock viva was kept very formal, with Russell entering the room in a suit to greet his examiners, just like in the real thing.

‘It was great of Russell to agree to do that on camera because it’s a pretty scary thing but he was happy to help other students.

‘The video worked really well and will hopefully give other students an idea of what to expect as their viva looms.

‘You can see Russell go through the whole process so hopefully it will be helpful to them to see the whole thing so clearly laid out.’

The video was posted on Youtube, with Russell’s permission and is used frequently as a resource for students in GPS approaching the end of their Ph.D.s.

Tony said: ‘We’re not sure of the impact yet. We did this in October 2013 and Ph.D.s are a slow process so we’ve not had that many students through yet to notice any particular trends but we expect that it can only have a positive impact.’

Thinking of doing a similar thing in your school? Contact  for more information or for technical support.

For more examples of good practice in teaching and learning from across Newcastle have a look at the Case Studies Database.

STAR CASE STUDY: Using Industry Professionals in Law

Lecturers in the Law School are making use of industry professionals to teach students about ‘real-life’ as a legal professional.

The school makes use of professionals from local practices to assess first year’s interviewing techniques and invites Law Lords and senior judges to meet students in order to help them to establish contacts and feel comfortable in the formal and often cliquey legal world.

Jonathan Galloway, just one lecturer making use of professionals in both law and economics as part of his Competition Law module, thinks that regular contact with those working in the profession gives Newcastle students the edge.

Dr Jonathan Galloway of Newcastle Law School‘Not only is it great to hear from someone who can tell you in a more anecdotal sense how the theory you learn about during your degree works in real world situations, it also builds students’ confidence.

‘For many of them, the world of court, particularly places like the supreme court or Parliament can seem completely out of reach. Meeting a senior judge or law lord can help them to feel more comfortable and confident in applying for jobs or placements at these types of places later.

‘For some Newcastle students, they may never have met a barrister or a judge before. Having people who work at some of the most prestigious firms or in the top jobs deliver elements of their courses helps them to see that these sorts of professions are within reach for them and hopefully encourages them to aim high after they graduate.’

For Jonathan, this works both ways: ‘It also works the same way for the firms themselves. Although many of the most prestigious firms in London, they come into regular contact with students from London-based Law Schools, many may not meet many students from Newcastle.

‘Inviting them to speak means that they already have a sense of what Newcastle students are about and how much they could offer their firm as a graduate.’

The Law School makes use of professionals to assess interviewing techniques in the early stages of the degree and to deliver some lectures on modules such as Competition law and Human Rights law.

Although much of this takes place later in the course and Jonathan is keen to stress that students always already have a theoretical grounding in the area which professionals come to discuss, he thinks it is inherently valuable for the students:

‘We’ve had some really excellent people, not just lawyers but economists too to help the students get a more rounded sense of how wide-ranging legal studies is and how many different sectors the law touches upon.’

To read more about what Law is up to see the Case Study Database.

Or if you have an example of really effective teaching practice in your School do get in touch with


School of Biology Gets National Recognition for Innovative Assessment Feedback

Do your students complain about the feedback they receive on assessments?

Are you interested in a more efficient marking process, which engages students and increases student satisfaction?

Alison Graham from the School of Biology, was a runner-up in this year’s Turnitin Global Innovation Awards because of her innovative use of GradeMark and Turnitin.

Alison integrates marking rubrics written specifically for each assessment into GradeMark and produces libraries of comments for that assignment.

She was a runner-up in the Student Engagement Category of the international competition.

These comments can be added directly to students’ work, noting how they can improve and providing more detail than possible on pro formas. Alongside these assessors can add free text comments specific to the individual student’s work.

School of Biology’s Alison Graham

Students like it because the can quickly see the areas which they need to improve on. Integrating the marking rubric into GradeMark gives the students a visual indication of where their work is at on each strand of the marking criteria, giving a useful level of detail to the single overall mark.

[The rubric] was the most useful aspect of the electronic feedback as this helped me to gauge which areas of the assignment I was lacking and therefore where I would need to focus my improvement for future work. It also helped me to understand why I had received the mark I had in relation to the marking criteria for each section and thus why my overall grade was within a certain grade boundary.Student feedback on the system

For staff the system, once in place, made marking quicker and more efficient. Online marking removes the logistics of lugging around paper copies of work, and the bank of library comments mean that common issues on the work can be quickly responded to with detailed, relevant and specific feedback.

Alison notes that “Markers are not restricted by the space in the margins and online marking removes any issues with students being unable to read handwriting”

Using GradeMark also leads to a greater consistency of marking on modules which are team-taught.

Alison has found that engaging students in the marking process, through timetabled sessions, helps them to understand the reasons for the marks they are getting. Modules using GradeMark consistently perform highly on the module feedback surveys, and on the National Student Survey there has been an increase in students agreeing that “The criteria used in marking have been clear in advance”.

This approach is now being used by a number of staff in the School of Biology and elsewhere, and online marking through GradeMark has clear potential to be used by staff in all departments across the university.

If you’re interested in finding out more about GradeMark and integrating it into your own teaching, we can help you. Get in touch with LTDS at, you can see other examples of good practice using Grademark and Turnitin in our Case Studies database.

STAR CASE STUDY: Transition Officer in School of Computing Science

Laura Heels graduated from Computer Science at Newcastle in 2013 and now helps other students in the school to negotiate undergraduate study.

As Transitions Officer, Laura provides support across the board, from assisting with practicals and study skills to providing a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on.

Working with other staff, such as the Senior Tutor Marie Devlin and Nick Cook, Laura is the first port of call for many first years struggling with the adjustment from School to University and even from another country to the UK.

Laura said ‘I was so lucky when I was here, and I wasn’t the most academic student, I received so much support from staff like Marie, Lindsay and Nick and now I’m able to provide that myself.

‘Because I’ve been through all this and, I think, because I’m closer to their age, I seem a bit more approachable.’

Laura provides a range of academic and pastoral support for the students running sessions to help students with elements of the course they find most difficult, or which present the biggest departure from the subjects they studied at school.

‘We wanted to address the retention rate in the School and had found in previous years that a great many students were dropping out before the first year exams because they were struggling with programming or with the maths elements of the course.

‘I now run a weekly session to help students with their programming skills, which is something that many of them haven’t done before, and I also give them practical help with maths and with writing skills as well.

‘I’m present in all of their practical sessions too, so they know they will see me and can ask me questions or arrange a meeting if they need a chat.’

Laura had some problems herself as an undergraduate in the School: ‘I’m not really very academic, in my own stage 1 at university I was diagnosed with dyslexia, which made university very tricky for me.

‘So I’m very well-versed in the sort of problems students face. Often I refer the students on to student wellbeing, but I am the first port of call for them if they have a problem.’

As well as her academic and pastoral duties, Laura also works in widening participation, going out to Schools to talk to students about studying Computer Science at Newcastle.

Of course, Laura’s busiest time is Welcome Week and she likes to run some social events to help the students meet staff in a less formal setting:

‘We go bowling, to Lane 7 and staff come along if they can, last year the Head of School came and it was just nice for students to interact socially with the people teaching them.’

Laura’s position has really benefitted the School. In a questionnaire circulated last year 100% of students said that they felt welcome when they joined the School, 100% said that they had had positive contact with Laura.

Laura said: ‘I do think that having someone like me would benefit Schools across the University, even just helping academic staff with organising things like summer schools, welcome weeks and visit days, all of which I do here.

‘To be honest, if they did, I’d want to help train them, I’ve learned so much since I started.’

Is there an example of innovative or good practice in teaching in your school? Email For this and to read about other great teaching ideas have a look at our case studies database.

STAR CASE STUDY – Mobile Devices in Teaching and Learning

NUTELA Award winner Graham Patterson has been spearheading innovative technology-led teaching in the School of Civil Engineering and Geomatics.
Graham has worked extensively with staff to oversee the adoption of mobile Android-devices to support teaching and learning across the School.
Graham said: ‘We started using Android tablets three years ago, giving one to each student in their first year
‘They get used for all sorts of things. We use software called Responseware to get feedback in lectures, polling students on the correct answers to questions or to see if they understand.
‘We’ve also used it to replace paper handouts which we used to use a lot, so now students can download PDFs before lectures.
‘We have worked with staff over the last three years to format these PDFs so that there is room for a slide or diagram and then for the student to take notes as the lecture goes on.’
At the beginning of their first term Graham and academic lead on the project, CEGS Teaching Associate Henny Mills organise three sessions to introduce the students to the technology.

Graham Patterson
Graham Patterson

The first session is aimed at familiarising them with the device and the Android operating system, the second focuses on University facilities on the tablet, such as accessing University drives and timetables and the third is a Drop-In session to address any teething problems.
Students have responded really positively to the changes and to the scheme is going from strength to strength is CEGS.
‘Students really like being able to use the tablets in practicals, as a second screen.
‘The Galaxy Note 10 was very carefully selected because it allows them to have two screens open at once, so they can be looking at a PDF and taking notes on the lecture.
‘It also allows them to view AutoCAD documents and others and has a great camera for field trips which they find useful, health and safety permitting.’
As more and more schools across the University start using responseware and other sorts of technology to enhance their learning and teaching experience, it’s becoming increasingly important to share good practice in what sorts of devices, software and support systems work.
Graham said: ‘We thought that this system was going to require a lot of technical support but actually after the initial sessions, students are very capable of using the devices provided there are no problems with the hardware.
‘We were also concerned about students using facebook and twitter in lectures and not paying attention but I think, with mobile phones and laptops, students who wanted to do that were always just going to find a way anyway.
‘We’ve made it clear to students that this is not a gimmick or a toy, it’s something they must bring to lectures and it’s something that they are responsible for.
‘Most of them respect that and use it responsibly.’
Is there an example of innovative or good practice in teaching in your school? Email: For other great teaching ideas have a look at our Case Studies Database.