We are looking to introduce further pilot schemes in regards to PGT buddy/mentoring within the University.
An email invitation was sent to Senior Tutors and Peer Mentoring staff coordinators to volunteer to join a Task and Finish Group to consider the best way forward regarding the launching of these pilots. If anyone would like to become a member of this group please contact Tony Chapman-Wilson, the University Peer Mentoring Coordinator for further details at Tony.Chapman-Wilson@Newcastle.ac.uk.
Venue/Time: 21 June 2023, University of Manchester
Network: AdvanceHE_GTA Developers Network
Who: Dangeni, Professional Development Adviser, LTDS
In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, Postgraduates who teach, including Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) play a crucial role in shaping the academic experience of countless students. These passionate educators form the backbone of university classrooms, bringing fresh perspectives and knowledge to enhance the learning environment. My role as a Professional Development Adviser at LTDS involves delivering workshops to postgraduates who teach at Newcastle University, supporting their professional development through the various modules and pathways we offer, e.g. ILTHE and ELTS.
I had the opportunity to attend the Graduate Teaching Assistants Network event at the University of Manchester in June, which brought together researchers and practitioners from different UK universities to share insights and support each other in promoting and developing GTA support. This blog post summarises the highlights and reflections from this enriching experience.
Prior to the event, the organisers facilitated the sharing of materials, resources, ideas and approaches related to GTA development from across the institutions, which can be widely disseminated to various key stakeholders working with GTAs. For example, a practical guide New to Teaching Geography, which oﬀers a starting point for graduate teaching assistants, teaching fellows and demonstrators. Another great example is around measuring the effective teaching through designing a Teaching Observation Form based on undergraduate feedback. These resources already and will benefit GTAs by unpacking the hidden curriculum of teaching and providing practical suggestions for GTAs to take away and implement in their own contexts; it’s also valuable for practitioners like me to reflect on and embed the effective and good practice in our current provision.
What happened on the day
The session began by reflecting on our roles and perspectives, e.g. where we work centrally or in a department, in an academic contract or as professional service staff, is supporting GTAs a core element of our role or something we do in addition to our day-to-day work, understanding that institutional differences and the different roles we play in supporting PgRs with teaching responsibilities require more in-depth discussion and frequent communication to share effective practices and reflect together on potential challenges.
We had key themes running through the day-long programme, such as:
Supporting GTAs within departments, faculties and disciplines across institutions.
The new PSF and its implications for accredited programmes.
D1.1. Use of appropriate Professional Values, including at least V1 and V3
D1.2 Application of appropriate Core Knowledge, including at least K1, K2 and K3
D1.3 Effective and inclusive practice in at least two of the five Areas of Activity
Inclusion and EDI were mentioned, highlighted and discussed throughout the day, including a workshop on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion by colleagues from the University of Sheffield. This training material is a practical tool for GTAs and us to explore prejudice and discrimination and describe how it can occur in everyday teaching and learning contexts.
I presented and shared how we support GTAs through formal programmes and a recently established informal community building event at Newcastle University. In running ILTHE and ELTS and gathering feedback from participants, we found that workshop participants wanted the opportunity to continue to engage with teaching practice and develop their teaching skills after the workshops. This online community has been created based on my teaching experiences as an international GTA and my previous research projects, which looked at GTA, peer-mentoring and researcher development.
What did I think of the day?
The day was packed with insightful, exciting and innovative presentations from colleagues and GTAs from different institutions. I also had many useful resources to take away and great discussions with colleagues to reflect on. Thank you for taking the time to read this GTA-themed blog post. Please get in touch at email@example.com if you’d like to chat about our pathways and your practice!
If you are interested in finding out more about the modules and pathways we offer here at Newcastle, check out the following links:
I am a Professional Development Adviser in the Academic Practice Team at LTDS. My teaching and research focus broadly on the teaching and learning provision in the wider context of the internationalisation of higher education.
I am particularly interested in research and practices around international students’ access, engagement and success in postgraduate taught (PGT) and postgraduate research (PGR) settings.
Digital Exam Support Assistants (DESAs) are PGR students who support invigilators in digital exam venues to help students troubleshoot any technical issues using the safe exam browser software. Safe Exam Browser is software which works alongside Inspera offering a secure ‘locked down’ digital exam. Inspera Assessment is the University’s Digital Exam system used for present-in-person, secure online assessments.
How do DESAs support exam invigilators in digital exams?
DESAs are on-hand to support students and invigilators to troubleshoot issues faced when accessing Inspera for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) exams. Exam invigilators have reported that the presence of DESAs makes them feel more confident in digital exam venues. Feedback has stated that DESAs have been a ‘confidence booster’ and that invigilators ‘couldn’t do it without them’. Invigilators reported that the DESAs were responding to queries quickly which has also been stated by students who had DESA support.
How do students find the DESA support?
39 students submitted their feedback on their Semester 1 22/23 BYOD exam. When asked how satisfied they were with the technical support available in their exam, two thirds of students (67%) reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied.
Students reported that ‘those who requested support were dealt with quickly and there was little hassle.’
How did the DESAs find their experience?
We asked some of our DESAs how they found their experience in the role this year. Check out some of the quotes below:
“I had a wonderful experience with the team. Enough training was given to staff. Would like to work with the team again. Thanks for giving me the opportunity.”
“Regarding my experience in the DESA role this academic year, it provided me with a valuable opportunity to contribute to the Digital Assessment Office and engage with fellow students. The role not only enhanced my understanding of digital assessment practices but also allowed me to develop essential skills in communication and collaboration. I am grateful for the experience and the chance to be a part of improving the assessment process at Newcastle University.”
We are pleased to report that the DESA role will be returning in the 2023/24 academic year. This support provision has been crucial in supporting our students with any troubleshooting during their BYOD digital exams. For more information you can email the Digital Assessment Team.
Inspera Assessment (the university system for centrally supported digital exams) is supported by the Learning and Teaching Development Service with a range of training options open to all staff. We now have a new training session aimed at Professional Service colleagues due to run on March 9 from 3-4pm. You can sign up via Elements.
This session will introduce the digital exam platform Inspera, and how to support an Inspera digital exam.
Introduction to Inspera
Creating an account
Reviewing crated questions and question sets
Basic functionality including randomisation and question choice options
Allow listing and adding resources
Checking the student view
Entering or amending question marks
Inspera Scan sheets
Who should attend?
This webinar is suitable for any professional services colleague supporting an Inspera digital exam.
Newcastle University Peer Mentoring is proud to launch the parent HUB.
This hub is aimed for all students who are parents, foster carers, adoptive parents, or about to become parents, regardless of age, gender or sexuality.
The free online hub allows you to share experiences, ask questions and be part of a parenting community within the university. There will be trained university wide peer mentors as part of the network to offer one-to-one support and guidance, as well as answer any question in the discussion board.
The hub will be based on Microsoft Teams and is an excellent source of advice and support from like-minded, empathetic and patient peers.
There will be a schedule of face-to-face activities for you to meet up with other parents, ask questions, have a chat, share your experiences and support you through the balance of being a student and a parent. And for those of you unable to attend these, there will also be a range of ZOOM online conference activities to allow you to meet new parents and be able to engage in conversation as though you were in the same room from the comfort of your own home.
The parent hub will also allow you to share, lend, borrow, give, donate, sell, and buy those much needed pieces of equipment and clothing via the online discussion group.
The files section of the hub will allow the University to share useful information and documents with you – as well as members of the network being able to upload documents as well.
There will be the opportunity to share your experiences of child-friendly shops, restaurants, taxi companies, as well as provide some top tips of baby-changing facilities in the University and city, and baby feeding friendly places.
There will be the official launch of the parent HUB at an activity event on Wednesday 17 April 2019 between 11am and 2pm. This will take place in the Lindisfarne Room in the Hadrian’s Building opposite the Bedson Building and Boiler Room.
There will be refreshments and activities for the children, as well as the opportunity for you to meet other parents. There will be a child feeding room available, as well as the opportunity to speak to members of the University Peer Mentoring scheme and Student Health and Wellbeing Services.
Come along at any point during the event and sign up for the parent HUB on the day as well.
Contract cheating occurs when one person completes academic work, such as an essay, assignment, test or exam, for another who then submits it for academic credit. This behaviour undermines academic standards and devalues the qualifications of those who do not cheat.
In 2016, in response to serious concerns among higher education providers and from government, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) published a report on the growing threat of third parties helping students to cheat, known as custom essay writing services, or ‘essay mills’. Following this, QAA has now this month published guidance for students and universities on tackling this problem and promoting academic integrity in higher education. It sets out the steps that universities can take to deal with forms of contract cheating, and recommends:
clear information for students on the risks of cheating, including academic misconduct being reported to relevant professional bodies
support for students to develop independent study skills, including academic writing
using a range of assessment methods to limit opportunities for cheating
blocking essay mill sites and taking action against essay mill advertising on campus
smarter detection, including new software and greater familiarity with students’ personal styles and capabilities
appropriate support for whistle blowing – to protect accuser as well as accused
student involvement on academic misconduct policies and panels.
Newcastle University is committed to defending academic integrity and freedom, and will be considering how best to take account of this guidance within its own policies and procedures.
The International Center for Academic Integrity has published an institutional toolkit against contract cheating that can be downloaded here.
The University’s Framework for Personal Tutoring has been updated following the approval of revised meeting arrangements by University Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee in July. With effect from the start of the 2017-18 academic year, tutors should record the first meeting that is offered and those that have taken place for undergraduate students. For taught postgraduate students, tutors should record the offer of meetings in ePortfolio. If tutorial meetings do not take place, reasons why not should also be recorded.
We have clarified what should happen if meetings do not take place. If a tutor offers a meeting within ePortfolio using meeting slots, but a student chooses not to pick a time to meet with the tutor, this should be regarded as sufficient reason why the meeting has not taken place. Only if a meeting slot is not created by the tutor within ePortfolio should a reason be recorded elsewhere why a meeting has not taken place.
We have distributed to Senior Tutors a new version of the briefing slides for Senior Tutors to discuss with Personal Tutors in their School or subject area. The slides provide information which will hopefully be helpful for ensuring that Senior and Personal Tutors are familiar with University expectations. They also provide advice on how to find and signpost further support.
Additional resources for tutors have also been brought up to date and can be found on our website.
The Senior Tutors Discussion Forum will continue to meet on a quarterly basis beginning in October. A Role of the Senior Tutor Training Workshop will also be held twice this coming academic year.
If you have any questions or can suggest examples of effective practice in personal tutoring, please contact LTDS.
Do your students complain that they are unclear about how action is taken in response to their feedback? Want to enhance the ways in which you let your students know how their programme is being improved? Continue reading “Closing the Loop”