Reading group in LTDS

A little while ago we started a small reading group for colleagues in the Learning and Teaching Development Service to share ideas and discuss current issues and publications related to learning and teaching in Higher Education.

We set ourselves a couple of parameters to encourage engagement, as we had tried a journal club previously to not a great deal of success.

This time we decided to limit ourselves:

  • to things that could be read or digested in around less than half an hour
  • to try too keep the readings short and digestible
  • to keep the discussion sessions to 30 minutes
  • to use small groups for discussion of themes, impressions etc

Over the past few groups we have:

Our next group will explore microcredentials by looking at the recent QAA quality compass paper – which way for micro credentials.  

This will be the first meeting of a slightly expanded group which includes colleagues from FMS TEL .

We have one person running the group for 6 months (Me!) and I look after collating suggestions which come in from anyone who wants to suggest something. I try to have a range of different types of materials and cover a range of learning and teaching related viewpoints as our group has people who work in policy, practice, pedagogy, quality assurance, data and governance, professional development and all the intersections thereof.

Last time we listened to a radio programme about closed captions, which really made me think about how we approach captioning in HE. Some great ideas resulted from the session and it certainly got us talking!

what has the qaa ever done for me?

Over the last three years there have been huge changes in the external framework within which English universities operate. The creation of the Office for Students (OfS) in 2018 has had significant impacts that are still working their way through the sector. One of these was to change the focus and nature of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).

QAA still has a place in the external regulatory framework. It carries out reviews of higher education in England on behalf of OfS. It also supports development of the UK Quality Code (i.e. the things all higher education providers need to do to maintain and enhance educational quality).

The volume of this work for QAA has significantly decreased though over the last two years. In its place QAA has established a membership scheme to (as QAA put it) ‘improve quality and secure standards by giving exclusive access to expert advice, insight and valuable resources based on our extensive expertise’.

Newcastle is a QAA member. This means that we get access to a range of webinars, workshops and resources to help us in our work to give our students an outstanding educational experience while they are studying with us.

There’s an overview at https://www.qaa.ac.uk/membership/programme-2020-21, of what we have access to as QAA members. Not all of it is for everyone, but the opportunities and resources (https://www.qaa.ac.uk/membership/resources) cover a wide range of areas – including some you might not normally associate with QAA. To access these all you need is your Newcastle email address.

Thinking of applying for promotion based on teaching?

There is a new collection of resources on the LTDS website designed to help you navigate your way through the process and help you assemble a case for promotion based on excellent or exceptional teaching.

As well as collecting together all the useful links from Human Resources, you will find pointers to case studies from people here at Newcastle University who have done it already,  supporting materials such video clips which describe the pitfalls and common mistakes, workshop materials and links off to supporting literature and resources. We hope you will find this collection useful.

PROFILE: VC Award Winner Clare Guilding

VC Award-winner Clare Guilding of the School of Medical Education is always trying new things to keep her students ahead of the game.

Clare’s innovative approach has won her many accolades in addition to her recent VC Award, and seen her re-design the way that medical students learn certain subjects.

Clare GuildingShe said: ‘I am really always looking to try new things, always thinking about what’s working well and what’s not.’

Put in charge of the pre-clinical pharmacology courses for medical students at Newcastle, Clare felt that a new approach was needed to make sure that students gained the skills they needed at earlier stages of the course.

Clare lead the development of a new Clinical Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Prescribing curriculum which now runs as a vertical strand through the MBBS degree programme at Newcastle University.

She said: ‘I realised that students were not being asked to prescribe – such a crucial element of their jobs – in the pre-clinical years. I thought that these practical skills should be introduced earlier so we redesigned the curriculum to make sure that they are working on prescribing throughout their five years, rather than it being introduced in the third year.

‘Now in the first two years we’ve got pharmacists who run practical prescription writing workshops with our students and we run inter-professional education events based around prescribing and diagnosis with pharmacy students from Sunderland University.’

Indeed Clare’s implemented re-write of the curriculum for pharmacology has led her to advise other institutions and even the British Pharmacology Society on curriculum design.

She said: ‘I presented the curriculum nationally and in March 2015 was invited to join a four-strong core team managing the development of the British Pharmacological Society’s new core pharmacology curriculum which has furthered my professional development.’

Clare is always looking into the use of new technologies to deliver learning. An early advocate of the use of TurningPoint in lectures, she more recently introduced SimMan (a simulated patient) into her teaching ‘to help deliver realistic simulations of the professional environments that our students will eventually work in.’

She said: ‘SimMan is an artificial dummy who breathes, has heart beats, bleeds, blinks, responds to drugs etc. He can be programmed to display a wide range of physiological and pathophysiological signs and responds appropriately to treatment for example cardiopulmonary resuscitation or administration of oxygen.

I run simulations of medical emergencies in the lecture theatre and at key clinical points in the scenario students vote individually and anonymously (using TurningPoint) on the most appropriate course of action (for example which drug should be administered).

‘The option with the most votes is applied to SimMan and the students then observe the physiological effects this has in real time. This provides the students with a unique opportunity to apply learned principles in a safe, controlled learning environment and it offers them instantaneous feedback on their actions’

As a result of her work with SimMan, Clare won the British Pharmacological Society Education Prize and Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) Educator Innovator Award in 2015.

She is very keen to encourage the students to develop their team-working skills, and with colleagues from Newcastle and Sunderland universities has integrated a seminar on IPE (Interprofessional Education) into the curriculum.

‘In the professional environment our students will be making decisions as part of a varied team of health-professionals so learning in inter-professional groups is an important part of the students’ education.’

This proved so popular that it was expanded into a day long ‘Interprofessional Education Conference’. This year the event had 400 students rotating round a variety of interprofessional tasks, facilitated by 50 academic staff members from medicine, pharmacy and nursing backgrounds from across the North East of England.

Five major external organisations ran stands on the day and more are being recruited, including the GMC (General Medical Council) for the next iteration of the conference in 2017.

Clare is now looking forward to a new challenge as Dean of Academic Affairs at NUMed in Malaysia, where she starts in January.