Tag Archives: reflective practice

The Newcastle University Learning and Teaching Conference 2017

ncl_lt_17-2The annual Learning & Teaching Conference for staff at Newcastle University took place on Monday 27 March 2017. Celebrating learning and teaching at Newcastle University, it was organised by ourselves on behalf of the Pro Vice Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Professor Suzanne Cholerton.

This year’s theme was Reimagining Teaching Excellence, and the day was spread over two venues: the Lindisfarne Room in the Kings Road Centre and the Herschel Learning Lab, with lunch and an engaging poster session in the foyer of the Herschel Building.

We started with a short introduction from Suzanne Cholerton who thanked everyone for their contributions to making the student learning experience and Newcastle’s teaching reputation so good, before introducing our keynote speaker, Professor Paul Blackmore from the Policy Institute, Kings College  London.

Paul spoke eloquently about making curricular changes in higher education institutions and introduced us to examples from all over the world, including Melbourne Arizona State and Hong Kong Universities, whilst provoking questions about how such decisions are made, the associated risks, and how we know whether these interventions have been effective.

He went on to question Biggs’ ideas on constructive alignment, much quoted in educational development, and suggested these ideas were a good servant but a bad master for developing curricula. Asking what the real links are between research and teaching, he moved on to discuss the recent White Paper and the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

He also covered themes around commodity, interdisciplinarity, globalisation and networks.  Professor Blackmore’s keynote was well received and set the scene well for challenging what teaching excellence is, and for taking risks when thinking about changing the curriculum.

Next, Sara Marsham, JC Penet and Vanessa Armstrong took the stage to talk about teaching excellence and the Newcastle Educators peer educator network. In an interactive session they  asked us to share ideas of what teaching excellence is or could be, and made the point that the concept is very culturally bound.

The last session of the morning had everyone scribbling notes furiously as representatives past and present from the Newcastle University Student Union (NUSU) talked about the analysis they had done on the NUSU Teaching Excellence Awards, highlighting some of the report‘s findings. Students at Newcastle value an eclectic mix of learning and teaching approaches including blended learning, flipped classroom, TEL, and collaborative approaches to learning.

Our students see learning as incremental, and appreciate the intellectual generosity of their lecturers, their knowledge and expertise. They like lectures to be a conversation, through use of open discussion and participation in the learning process. This creates an atmosphere where students feel enabled to contribute and speak up, as well as opportunities to talk to staff informally.

The report highlights that what happens before, during and after the lecture are all important. This really highlighted how much students are engaged in thinking about good teaching. They really don’t see academic time as an unlimited, on-demand service.

At lunch the poster session took place and the audience was asked to vote for their favourite posters.

Photo of Prof Suzanne Cholerton and Craig Smith in the Herschel Learning Lab.
Professor Suzanne Cholerton (L) and Craig Smith (R) of Flint Spark Consulting led the first afternoon session.

For the afternoon sessions we moved from the Lindisfarne Room to the Herschel Learning Lab. A session using the facilities in the Herschel Learning Lab was facilitated by Craig Smith, who looked at developing the Newcastle University Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Strategy. Attendees contributed their ideas about the key factors that the new strategy should include, collaborating in group and utilising the room’s technology.

ncl_lt_17_3-3We attempted to use all of the affordances of the Herschel Learning Lab (HLL) in this highly engaging session (not least because of the omnipresence of Tina Turner!). Some colleagues who have successfully used the HLL then showed us how to use it properly.

Ulrike Thomas, Ellen Tullo, TT Arvind, James Stanfield, and Katie Wray were all familiar with the space and outlined how they had successfully used it with some diverse cohorts over very different courses, from all three Faculties. Ulrike reminded us that we can look at learning spaces in the teaching room finder.

TT suggested that planning how you were going to use the technologies in the HLL was essential to success, and by using the affordances of the space, the barriers between teaching and learning could be broken.

Linear and block teaching, group meetings, workshops, society meetings  all worked well in the space said Katie Wray, but group work, collaboration using activities, engagement and video all worked particularly well. What worked less well? More than 20 groups, lectern based lectures, and the inflexibility of the space all posed challenges.

The resources from the day are available from the LTDS website. Don’t forget you can find many examples of effective learning and teaching practice on the case studies database.

Please comment on this post, or email ltds@ncl.ac.uk to let us know how we can make next year even better!

l_and_t_conf_2017

4Ps: The Awards, 4th March

NUTELA is delighted to announce that we will be celebrating the winners and nominees of our inaugral Peer Recognition Awards, with a feast of pizza, plonk, pop and practice!

To be held at the University’s swanky new Marjorie Robinson Rooms on Sandyford Road, the event will take place on Friday 4th March at 3.30pm.

It will showcase best practice as well as rewarding the hard work of staff who go above and beyond to help colleagues to employ technology in their teaching.

Pro-Vice Chancellor for Learning and Teaching Suzanne Cholerton will present awards to our 2015 award winners, Graeme Patterson (CEGS) and Gigi Herbert (Careers).

NUTELA 4P

The winners will talk about their award-winning practice and there will be posters to celebrate the work of runners-up.

Details of this year’s competition will also be available at the event.

We hope that you will join us!

To do so please fill out the online form.

EDUBITES Supporting Reflective Practice event

Guest blog by Katie Wray on behalf of EDUBITES:

Newcastle Educators held their inaugural EDUBITES event over lunch on Wednesday 27th January 2016. Dr James Field (Lecturer in Restorative Dentistry) kicked off the sharing events with a look at how we can support reflective practice.

James simulator 3

Across all disciplines, for learners and for ourselves as ‘learner-educators’, self-reflection plays an important role in enabling us to articulate what we have really learned through our study and practice by examining ‘where we have been’ and ‘where we are going’. ‘Supporting Reflective Practice’ was a great topic to begin the series of EDUBITES events, which are intended for educators to gather and discuss issues of importance to practice and personal development.

Furthermore, James demonstrated to us how we can map what we do to the UKPSF, in order to support us in obtaining recognition from the Higher Education Academy, which is becoming even more important in light of new measures such as the forthcoming TEF.

Key to this is the ability to evidence what we do, and how we do it, as we seek to achieve higher recognition for our work by demonstrating support for others, and for the leadership of teaching.

Many of you will be aware that LTDS link their development sessions to the UKPSF standards, so if you are looking to fill some gaps, you could find a relevant session here.

The Case Studies LTDS have collected are also useful. The ePortfolio can help you to record and share evidence with others, and also has a mapping to UKPSF (quite a number of the group did not know this).

James, and his colleagues have undertaken some research which shows that 96% of educators feel that reflection is important, whilst only 2% currently use a framework for reflection. Without doubt, the most important tools to help educators and their students with reflective practice are ‘being able to record and sort through evidence and commentaries, getting into the habit and sharing your experiences’.

Through his research, James has identified a gap in the availability of a dedicated reflection tool which enables you to understand and practice the various levels of reflective practice, and conduct that practice within your work/lifestyle. They are working on a reflection toolkit which could address this gap, so watch this space. At this point in the event, a lively discussion was had. We look forward to inviting you to help trial the toolkit during its development.

Finally, if you are looking for a guide for Reflective Writing to use yourself and with your students, we would recommend the 2012 text ‘Reflective Writing’ (Pocket Study Skills) by Williams et al. available in the Robinson and Walton libraries.

Are you involved in the use of reflective practice at Newcastle? You can get in touch with members of the EDUBITES group directly or contact ltds@ncl.ac.uk who can pass information on.

Developing Academic and Employability Skills Case Study

Reflective blogging with the e-portfolio and enabling students to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’!
3bb2004

What did you do?

Use of the e-portfolio to underpin BUS1005 (Developing Academic and Employability Skills) to create reflective learning ‘blogging’ opportunities for first year students to make connections between their skills and skills required for current/future learning and employability.

Who is involved?

Fiona Thompson (Module leader/tutor of BUS1005 Developing Academic and Employability Skills to first year BSc Marketing students) supported by Graeme Boxwell.
Reflective learning was introduced at the start of the module and together with a computer session led by Graeme Boxwell the students were introduced to the e-portfolio system and encouraged to start using the eportfolio to blog about their learning journey.

How did you do it?

Each lecture – had a ‘blog about this’ element as well as a skills audit or diagnostic each week on team building, time management, learning style etc. for students to blog about. This continual reminder helped re-inforce the importance of blogging. The module tutor added comments to student blogs which helped to motivate students to contribute and also kept records of who had/hadn’t blogged and followed up by email/class discussion encouraging students to blog. A prize of free books was offered by the DPD for the most blogs for a male and female student which also reinforced the importance of eportfolio and reflective blogs. The reflective blogs were also part of the mark for the first and second semester assignments as they helped to provide the stepping stones through the students learning journey and added deeper context to the reflective essays that was part of the assessment.

Why did you do it?

Reflective practice and developing the ability to self judge yourself and your progress is an important and sometimes overlooked academic skill. Especially with first year students we need to help them ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ as early as possible so they can engage at all levels and also make the successful transition from being spoon fed at Sixth form/College into becoming an independent and effective learner at university. Unfortunately, the rush to the tape of each assessment hand in means students are on a continual roll and sometimes do not take the time out to think about how they could improve their evaluative or written skills in the future. The reflective blogs with the e-portfolio enables them to ‘take some time out’ to think about how they could improve their skills in the future so they break out of the cycle and can improve their written or critical evaluation skills which also attract the higher marks.

Does it work?

Feedback from student blogs, anecdotal feedback and written evidence from reflective essays all show that students have benefited from reflective learning/use of the e-portfolio blog. It has enabled them to talk openly and share things with the tutor which they may not put into an email or talk to the tutor about. This has enabled them to feel supported in their learning and think about how they can improve their academic skills as well as what they need to do now to reduce their ‘skills gap’ for future employment.
Reflective blogging with the e-portfolio and enabling students to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’!

New ePortfolio training sessions

There are a range of ePortfolio training sessions available for all staff in the University. There are four sessions that you can attend. These sessions are:

  • ePortfolio – An overview
  • Using ePortfolio to support personal tutoring
  • Encouraging reflective learning through ePortfolio
  • Using ePortfolio to improve employability skills
For more information and to book on the events, please follow the link below:

 

These are the dates/times of the various sessions:

March

5th

  • 2.00pm Using ePortfolio to support personal tutoring
  • 3.00pm Encouraging reflective learning through ePortfolio

April

4th

  • 10.00am ePortfolio – An overview
  • 11.00am Using ePortfolio to support personal tutoring

18th

  • 2.00pm Using ePortfolio to improve employability skills
  • 3.00pm Using ePortfolio to support personal tutoring

30th

  • 10.00am Using ePortfolio to support personal tutoring
  • 11.00am Encouraging reflective learning through ePortfolio

May

15th

  • 2.00pm ePortfolio – An overview
  • 3.00pm Using ePortfolio to support personal tutoring

26th

  • 2.00pm Using ePortfolio to support personal tutoring
  • 3.00pm Using ePortfolio to improve employability skills

June

13th

  • 10.00am Using ePortfolio to support personal tutoring
  • 11.00am Encouraging reflective learning through ePortfolio

 

24th

  • 10.00am ePortfolio – An overview
  • 11.00am Using ePortfolio to support personal tutoring

July

9th

  • 2.00am Using ePortfolio to support personal tutoring
  • 3.00am Using ePortfolio to improve employability skills

22nd

  • 10.00am Using ePortfolio to support personal tutoring
  • 11.00am Encouraging reflective learning through ePortfolio

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.