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ISSUE 44 | SUMMER 2018

Research-led teaching:
in pursuit of excellence

research in
the curriculum
Student engagement
in research practice
Innovations in research-led teaching
3 10 easy ways to put
research and inquiry Dear Reader
into courses
This 44th edition of Forum Magazine marks
7 Using a visual method the end of the academic year of 2017/2018
of drawing in teaching
and learning
and reflects the dynamic discussions at the
University of York Annual Learning and
10 Embracing condusion Teaching Conference. This year’s conference
as a way to develop focused on exploring ‘Research-Led Teaching:
student engagement
in pursuit of excellence’ and this pursuit of
12 Empowering students excellence is mirrored in the recent attainment
to own their learning of TEF gold status for the University of York. However, beyond metrics that
measure teaching success, is the beating heart of learning embodied by the
14 Back to the future:
autoethnography as staff at York who work hard to inspire and enrich the imaginations and
a reflective model for skill sets of undergraduate and postgraduate students.
enhancing practice This summer magazine edition seeks to promote and celebrate the
excellent work being accomplished across the University to incorporate
16 Students at the
steering wheel: research into teaching practice from a variety of professional and academic
undergraduate backgrounds. It is delightful to have our lead article written by Angela
research at LSE Brew, from Macquarie University, Sydney in Australia on ‘Ten easy ways
to put research and inquiry into courses’. As our international keynote
18 Advanced problem
based learning at speaker at the Learning and Teaching Conference this year, she offers
York Law School: pilot fresh ideas for improving research-led teaching.
and results This magazine also marks the end of the illustrious reign of Phil
21 Games and Play
Lightfoot (Physics) as the Chair of Learning and Teaching Forum. He has
been a capable and inspirational leader with a passion for the development
24 A research-led of teaching and learning at York. Phil, we salute you and offer you our
approach to thanks for your dedication to the Learning and Teaching Forum.
student voice
I hope all Forum readers have had a restful and productive summer.
26 Collaborative
Engagement for MSc Ruth Penfold-Mounce (Sociology)
Research Projects
28 Support, development
and recognition

For a large print, Forum is published biannually by the Learning and Teaching Forum at the University of York
black and white text Editor Ruth Penfold-Mounce
version, please contact Sub-editor Phil Robinson-Self
learning-and-teaching- Editorial Committee Helen Bedford, Glenn Hurst, Carmen Álvarez-Mayo. Design and print Design and Print Solutions
Front Cover image John Houlihan

2 Forum issue 44 | university of york

10 easy ways to put research
and inquiry into courses
Angela Brew, Emeritus Professor at Macquarie University,
Sydney, gave the keynote talk at the learning and teaching
conference. Here, she offers a host of ideas on
introducing research practice
into the curriculum.1

Perhaps you’re thinking about engaging your students in some form of research and inquiry but don’t know
where to begin. For people who haven’t thought of courses in this way before, here are some hints about how
you can change your modules or parts of your modules to develop students’ research skills and competencies.
There follow ten simple suggestions to get you going which you can adapt to suit your particular context. Of
course, these are not the only ways to engage students in research and inquiry. Sometimes knowing where to
start is the difficult bit, particularly for students’ early years. The examples here are not new and they are not
intended to be exhaustive. But hopefully they will give you some ideas to start with, and will stimulate you to
think of other things you can do that are appropriate to your disciplinary context.

1 Change an assessment to an inquiry
2 Change a laboratory class to guided discovery
3 Engage students in gathering or working with data
4 Turn your unit of study into a conference
5 Arrange for students to interview researchers


6 Invite students and staff to research speed-dating
7 Get students to write an abstract


8 Change essays into academic articles
9 Turn the class into a hypothesis-generating forum
10 Create a competition
1 A version of this article was first published in Teche, Macquarie University’s online Learning and Teaching Newsletter, 2017.

university of york | issue 44 Forum 3

1 Change an assessment to required to research what a product inventory for a computer
an inquiry Homeric Hymn is and they have vendor. Students begin by working
Students come to university with things to demonstrate the results of their on a simple problem and learn how
that they want to know. Chances are research both of ideas about the to work in teams. They then, in
they are studying a particular course god or goddess and about the groups, research their chosen topic
with some questions about the subject nature of the Homeric Hymn in the and the computer code needed
to which they would like to know the Hymn that they write. Appropriate to develop the simulation. Each
answers. Why not arrange for them to footnotes have to be included simulation requires that students
investigate their questions? Even first (University of Sydney, Australia). collaboratively write a small core
year students can engage in a simple of essential code and then develop
inquiry of relevance to the subject. So, it so that the simulation can cope
for example, one biology lecturer I was 2 Change a laboratory class to with ever more complex situations
talking to said that one of his first-year guided discovery (University of Sydney, Australia).
students asked: “Why is a leaf green?” In many science laboratory classes,
This is a good basis for an internet students follow a set procedure to
search. You could set the assignment up achieve a known outcome. But what if 3 Engage students in gathering or
so that students have to write a report the outcome is known, but the stages working with data
distinguishing “good evidence” and “poor required to achieve that outcome Data is all around us. In practically any
evidence”. Alternatively, the students are unknown? Perhaps a problem is subject there are numerous ways in which
could conduct a critical bibliographical set and students have a few pieces of students can engage in collecting and
review. Each student could investigate equipment and have to work out how working with data. Perhaps you have a
their own question. to achieve the desired outcome. There research project on the go that requires
Importantly, you need to frame the may be an initial discussion but the more people to collect more data, to
assessment as an inquiry and make instructions may ask questions rather observe a phenomenon, to record samples,
it clear to the students what they are than providing procedures. Of course to examine a particular species in a given
doing in terms of research: eg learning you will need to ensure that what the geographical area, or to find out how
to distinguish good and poor evidence; students do is safe. It won’t do to have people in society think about a particular
writing critically; carrying out a students mixing volatile chemicals that issue. The possibilities are endless. Data
bibliographical search, etc. Make sure you are likely to explode! can also be gathered through internet
link this explicitly to what researchers do, Changing a laboratory class into a searches of course.
so that students know why they are being guided inquiry session is not a new idea. On the other hand, there is the use of
asked to engage in this activity. There is a great deal of literature in the existing data sources. From linguistics to
scientific community indicating why accountancy, students can work in analysing
EXAMPLES change is needed for the twenty-first data to understand particular phenomena.
century scientist. Discussions of how to analyse the data
First year pharmacy students collected or worked on can help students to
individually develop an interview EXAMPLES understand and critically evaluate theories.
schedule to be used to interview Remember that if students help you to
a friend or relative who has As a development of a traditional collect data that you subsequently publish,
experienced a significant ‘health laboratory class, each first-year you must acknowledge their contributions
event’ in their life. Material from biology student is given a Petri dish in your published work. Also remember
the lectures, a book of readings and and they each collect the fungal that collecting some forms of data may need
tutorial class discussions are used spores in the atmosphere in their ethical approval.
to formulate the interview schedule back yards. There are 1000 students
(University of Sydney, Australia). in the class living all over the city. EXAMPLES
Students bring the samples back
to the lab, grow them and write a First year pharmacy students
Students are presented with an report on their findings. The results investigate the ways in which
article from a popular magazine are mapped onto a geophysical different pharmacist shops are laid
such as New Scientist. They research map generating new knowledge out. They pool their responses and
the original article on which this for publication in scientific journals in doing so learn about important
popularised version is based and (University of Sydney, Australia). aspects associated with the
write a report on the way the media practice of pharmacy (University
has presented the research. They of Sydney, Australia).
may contact the original author(s) In a first year undergraduate
to explore their perceptions of how computer science course, students
their research has been represented engage in the design of computer Pharmacy students examine research
by the media (University of software which requires simulation evidence from a research project,
Plymouth, UK). of a complex system, for example where a mystery shopper posed
planning and managing checkouts as a member of the public with a
in a supermarket, managing a particular ailment and went into a
First year students of classical biodiversity survey, managing number of pharmacies, to examine
mythology carry out research information for an entertainment how the pharmacist explained the
on a god or goddess and write a advisor, managing the data for a particular medication (University of
Homeric Hymn to it. They are school timetable or managing a Otago, New Zealand).

4 Forum issue 44 | university of york

Students in an early childhood 5 Arrange for students to interview
module are all asked to take researchers
photos of “Childhood” that they If you’re in a large department with a
notice around them, in the street, breadth of research covered, a great way
on noticeboards, wherever they to get the students interested in and
happen to be. The students take knowledgeable about the range of subjects
hundreds of photos and then in the discipline is to provide a strategy
display them all together. The for students to interview members of
module then consists of students staff. Research conducted on students’
analyzing this data, utilising the knowledge of research activity in their
different theories of childhood university shows that undergraduates are
which are the focus of what generally ignorant of the research being
they have to learn (University of done in their own institution and that they
Northumbria, UK). are often unaware that any research is
taking place at all.
Academics appreciate talking about
4 Turn your unit of study into a their research, and having a small group of
conference people asking intelligent questions about it
A conference or showcase is a great is bound to put smiles on a lot of faces. It’s
way for students to demonstrate what important that students prepare for their
they have learnt. So why not turn meetings by reading some of the work
the whole course into a conference of the individual staff member that they
process? Students can develop useful are going to interview and devising some
organisational skills and skills of critical interesting questions. They could research
judgement by being involved with the articles of the chosen member of staff
academics and others in its organisation. in their own time, with class time used to
For example, they could decide and discuss questions, or some questions could
organise location, timing, catering and be prepared for them. But the important
even what the program is going to look point is that students should show some
like. How much guidance they are given basic knowledge and ask intelligent
in this will depend on the level of the questions. It’s a good idea for students to
students, the subject and the amount of be in small groups when they interview
structure and guidance that you consider the member of staff in order to avoid
is needed. awkward moments in the encounter. This
As a variation on this idea, depending also gives students a chance to experience ask them to focus on particular questions
on the subject, the endpoint might be an working in teams. or you could focus the event around, for
exhibition or a series of exhibits. You should provide a way for students to example, future research developments.
prepare a report on what they have found There are endless possibilities.
EXAMPLES and to share this with their peers. This is Depending on the venue and the
a great way for the class to get a feel for the numbers of students and staff, the
In a unit about new multimedia, subject that they are about to study overall students could rotate around the tables or
students choose a topic they and is a useful inquiry process early in the students could stay put and the staff
wish to research and write an their course. could rotate around.
abstract. They receive feedback
and approval from the lecturer. EXAMPLES EXAMPLES
They carry out the research and
write a report. They present it at Students in teams of five first read All students in the cohort are invited
a conference, organised by the three research papers by a staff to lunch with all academics in the
students, towards the end of the member and then, when they department. Students get their
semester. The quality of the reports have discussed and agreed a series lunch and sit down in groups of two
is used to decide which students of questions, interview the staff or three. Academics join their table
will give spoken presentations at member about their research. Each one at a time and students ask the
the conference. Other students give student individually writes a report academic a series of questions about
poster presentations. The exam on what they have found (University their research. A bell rings and the
is focused on topics their peers College London, UK). academics rotate around the groups
researched and which they heard (University of Queensland, Australia).
about in the conference in order to
ensure their participation is also a 6 Invite students and staff to
useful learning experience. Some research speed-dating 7 Get students to write an abstract
employers and other guests are With the support of the whole Students frequently write essays or
invited to the conference (University department, you can extend the idea reports and they are often involved
of Southampton, UK). of student interviews so that all can in reading academic papers. But they
participate in a sort of ‘speed-dating’ often don’t make the connections. To
lunch. To ensure that students get the teach students to write coherent, cogent
most out of the experience, you could essays and articles, one way to start is to

university of york | issue 44 Forum 5

encourage them to write good abstracts. give students an article from which the area. But you can also create a mini
Abstract writing is an important skill for abstract or conclusion has been omitted competition amongst your own students
academics to learn, but the ability to precis and ask them to write an abstract (see that will cause them to investigate
an argument is essential in any profession Number 7 above). But remember always a particular idea or formula. This is
students undertake. to make the link with research articles particularly useful where the work
You could preface the activity explicit in your instructions and feedback. results in a practical demonstration that
with a class session where students can be judged. For example, what about
brainstorm what they think are the 9 Turn the class into a hypothesis- asking students to come up with the best
qualities of a good abstract. generating forum solution to a specified environmental
The key to good research is having problem? You can also use poster
EXAMPLES good questions or good hypotheses. In presentations or short presentations
some subjects finding good questions such as are used for ‘three-minute thesis’
Students are given a paper which or hypotheses is a huge challenge. It competitions if practical demonstrations
the tutor has written, but from is also something with which many are not possible, or if the competition is
which all references to it (journal students struggle, particularly when based on the best design rather than the
name, volume, page numbers, they have to find their own essay title implementation of it.
author name) have been deleted. or when, as a doctoral student, they are
The students then write an abstract faced with the challenge of narrowing EXAMPLES
for the paper. The exercise is down their PhD topic. Being able to
used in tutorials to develop the break a topic down into its component Second year engineering students
skills of writing, critical analysis, parts requires practice. research how to move a ten
summarising information and In class time it’s a good idea to begin kilogram block of ice through water
research design and planning with a discussion about what constitutes powered only by candles. They
(University of Plymouth, UK). a good question. An example of how a then build a device to do this. A
question can be broken down into its competition is held on a nearby lake.
component parts is very useful in this The winning device not only moves
In a development of this approach, context because often the questions the ice furthest, it does so at least
the lecturer collects the abstracts which students ask are much too general. cost because cost is important in
and puts them in a common If students have chosen an essay topic, engineering design (University of
format and chooses the best four for example, they could be asked to write Sydney, Australia).
or five which are then put with the down, say, five titles for essays they could
original abstract. Students vote for write on that topic. This serves to show
‘best abstract’. Then the lecturer the need for breaking down questions, An industrial organisation sets
reveals which is their original hypotheses, problems etc. into their a task for students: to design a
abstract, often to the surprise of component parts. skating robot that can skate faster
the students! (Brigham Young than the fastest speed skaters. The
University, USA). EXAMPLES fastest robot is chosen for the first
stage of manufacture (University of
In class time, education students Calgary, Canada).
8 Change essays into are invited to generate as many
academic articles questions as they can about
Essays are the very best way to teach how to improve the learning of
students how to write in an academic their students. They put each of
way. They are excellent training for the questions on a post-it note
writing academic articles. But it is clear and put them on the wall. Then,
when all the questions have Angela Brew PhD, is
from research on students’ awareness of
Emeritus Professor,
research that they often don’t make the been exhausted, the class silently Macquarie University,
connection between what they are doing groups the questions according Sydney Australia. She is the
in writing an essay and what academics to type. Duplicate questions Chair of the Australasian
may be removed at this point. Council for Undergraduate
do when they do research.
Research (ACUR). She is
The simplest way to change students’ Further questions may be added. an elected Fellow of the UK’s Society for
views about research is to frame the essay Headings may be added then or Research into Higher Education (SRHE),
as a research activity. However, since later depending on the students. and a Life Member of the Higher Education
students don’t always make the connection, This is used as a basis for forming Research and Development Society of
Australasia (HERDSA). She was President of
it’s important to explicitly refer to the groups of students interested HERDSA from 1999-2003 and co-editor of the
similarity of essay writing and academic in researching similar areas International Journal for Academic Development
article writing, and to talk about issues (University of Sydney, Australia). from 2000-2008. She holds degrees in
you have had when your articles have philosophy, sociology and organisational
development. Her books include: The
been reviewed. You could change the
assignments students have to complete 10 Create a competition Nature of Research: Inquiry in Academic
Contexts (Routledge Falmer 2001); Research
from “Essay on…” to “Academic research Numerous national and international and Teaching: beyond the divide (Palgrave
article on…”. Or you could break up an student competitions exist particularly Macmillan 2006); Transforming a University:
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in
essay into component parts for progressive in the Sciences, Mathematics and Practice (University of Sydney Press 2007,
assignments, eg write an abstract; write Engineering subjects and you may want with Sachs); and Academic Research and
a conclusion to an article. You could to investigate what is available for your Researchers (McGraw Hill 2009, with Lucas).

6 Forum issue 44 | university of york

Using a

visual method Sudthasiri Siriviriyakul, from the York
Management School, discusses how
the research technique of participant-

of drawing produced drawing can be applied to the
classroom context in order to better
in teaching and learning student engagement.

Introduction engaging students. In this article, I discuss
A participant-produced drawing is how this technique helped me to engage
normally used in qualitative research as students in postgraduate seminar sessions
part of the interview where participants of the Qualitative Research Methods
are asked to draw pictures which express module in the Management School.
their thoughts, feelings, emotions, or
experiences. Then, participants discuss Procedures
their drawings afterwards with the Bryans and Mavin (2006) suggest the
researcher or in a group (Vince and use of a pictorial representation in a
Broussine, 1996; Kearney and Hyle, 2004; research method class to help uncover
Bagnoli, 2009; Ward and Shortt, 2012). the unconscious and emotional elements "I already wrote the paper, That's why it's so
This research technique of participant- of how students conceptualise research “I already wrote the paper, That’s why it’s so hard to get the right data.”

processes and a researcher’s role in the
hard to get the right data."
produced drawing helps to uncover
participants’ feelings and thoughts research. Based on Bryans and Mavin’s
that are not easily described by words (2006) suggestion, the following procedures individually. Then, they were asked to
alone (Kearney and Hyle, 2004), acts as a were carried out, but adapted from Bryans discuss their drawings with their group
‘catalyst’ to facilitate richer conversations and Mavin’s (2006) methods in that the members (Bryans and Mavin, 2006).
with more honest answers (Vince and drawing activity here was performed twice In the final seminar session (ten
Broussine, 1996: 9), gives the opportunity to evaluate how students have learned weeks later), students also undertook
for participants to reflect and visualise throughout the course. In the first of my this drawing activity again with
something in their own ways (Bagnoli, seminar sessions, students were asked to the same instruction, plus a further
2009), and thus empowers and values draw on A4-sized paper with the following requirement to write three keywords for
active participation from them (Pain, instruction: “Please draw anything that their pictures on the back of the paper.
2012). All of these advantages of the best depicts or represents ‘qualitative Students then discussed their drawings
participant-produced drawing mean research’ in your opinion.” Students and reflected on how their views and
it lends itself to being implemented in were given five to ten minutes to draw perceptions of ‘qualitative research’
the learning and teaching context for were similar to, or had changed from,
the first week.

Impact on student engagement
Applying the technique of participant-
produced drawing to the classroom
context can help to promote student
engagement in several ways.

Firstly, a visual method of drawing gave
students the opportunity to pause and
reflect on the concepts they learned,
in the same way that this technique
encourages research participants to
think holistically about the topic in
the study and reflect on this in their
drawings (Bagnoli, 2009). In their
reflection, students tended to synthesise
different concepts together, for example
in a form of mind-mapping diagram or

Figures 1 and 2. Relatedness of contents and
mind-mapping representation

university of york | issue 44 Forum 7

Applying the
technique of
drawing to the
classroom context can
help to promote
student engagement.” Figure 4. A polaroid photo
representing ‘word view’

example, one student drew a picture of a discussions among students where
polaroid photo. They later explained that they could describe the meanings of
it metaphorically represented the ‘world their drawings, comment, discuss, and
view’ or how we see the world, which compare their drawings with each other
was what the student associated with in a group. This is in accordance with
qualitative research. the use of this technique in a research
Thus, the process of drawing in this context where the participant-produced
example enabled this student to access drawing is intended to act as ‘an elicitor
and conceptualise complex and abstract of information’ in the interview (Kearney
Figure 3. Relation to ideas in the module, such as the research and Hyle, 2004: 377).
personal experience philosophy, and to illustrate it in a
simple, easy-to-understand approach. EVALUATING TRANSFORMATIVE
by linking different pictures with arrows to This resonates with Taylor and Ladkin’s UNDERSTANDING
represent the connections between them. (2009) argument that art-based methods Lastly, by employing the participant-
Some students also drew pictures that can help to apprehend and illustrate the produced drawing method at two points
were related to their personal experiences. essence of a concept or tacit knowledge in of time, the beginning and ending of
By encouraging students to reflect, a way that more traditional approaches the course, it helped to evaluate to what
to synthesise different pieces of cannot. Moreover, by using pictures extent students had learned throughout
knowledge together, and to relate ideas to instead of only words to represent the module’s duration.
personal experiences instead of merely complicated concepts, this visual method In fact, using a visual method of
memorising and reproducing facts and also helped to transcend potential drawing in the evaluation of teaching
contents, the drawing technique helped language barriers for international and learning is not new. Although it
to create a deeper approach to learning students (Vita, 2001). seems to be a non-traditional method,
(Entwistle, 1998). certain scholars have employed and
STIMULATING IDEAS IN GROUP suggested the use of this approach in
EXPRESSION Thirdly, participant-produced drawing 2012) and to assess the transformation
Secondly, as with the ability to facilitated further discussions for of students’ mental frames (Munoz
help investigate and elicit research students. The drawings acted as props C., Mosey and Blinks, 2011). From my
participants’ experiences, emotions, and sources of ideas to stimulate group experience, I found that the participant-
or feelings (Bagnoli, 2009; Pain, 2012; produced drawing method could capture
Ward and Shortt, 2012), the participant- the transformative understanding of
produced drawing technique also enabled students very well. The best part was
students to better conceptualise, interpret, that with their reflection, students
and express abstract, complicated, or proactively discussed shifts in their
tacit knowledge and conceptions. For conceptualisation and understanding

Figures 5 and 6. A broader, more elaborate, and
more systematic understanding of ‘qualitative
research’ from week 1 (left) to week 10 (right)

8 Forum issue 44 | university of york

from their own perspective; they should feel safe that they will not be for Changing Mental Frames. Academy of
discovered by themselves how the judged on their artistic ability, students Management Learning & Education, 10(2): 277-295.
course had added to their own mental should also be reminded that they will Pain, H. (2012). A Literature Review to Evaluate
the Choice and Use of Visual Methods.
visualisation, conceptualisation, or not be judged on their drawing in order International Journal of Qualitative Methods,
understanding of the subject matter. to ultimately create a safe, respectful, 11(4): 303-319.
This visual method technique may thus creative, and engaging learning Taylor, S. and Ladkin, D. (2009). Understanding
provide another useful way to evaluate environment for all. Arts-Based Methods in Managerial Development.
the transformative understanding of Academy of Management Learning & Education,
subject ‘threshold concepts’ in which References 8(1): 55-69.
Bagnoli, A. (2009). Beyond the standard interview: Vince, R. and Broussine, M. (1996). Paradox,
there is ‘a transformed internal view of the use of graphic elicitation and arts-based Defense and Attachment: Accessing and
subject matter, subject landscape, or even methods. Qualitative Research, 9(5): 547-570. Working with Emotions and Relations Underlying
world view’ (Meyer and Land, 2003: 1). Bryans, P., and Mavin, S. (2006). Visual images: Organizational Change. Organization Studies,
a technique to surface conceptions of research 17(1): 1-21.
Conclusion and researchers. Qualitative Research in Vita, G. (2001). Learning Styles, Culture and
In the same way as a participant-produced Organizations and Management: An International Inclusive Instruction in the Multicultural
Journal, 1(2): 113-128. Classroom: A Business and Management
drawing can help to access and investigate
Entwistle, N. (1998). Approaches to learning Perspective. Innovations in Education and
research participants’ inner thoughts, and forms of understanding. In: B. Dart and Teaching International, 38(2): 165-174.
feelings, emotions, and experiences G. Boulton-Lewis, ed., Teaching and Learning Ward, J. and Shortt, H. (2012). Evaluation in
(Kearney and Hyle, 2004; Bagnoli, 2009; in Higher Education: From Theory to Practice. management education: A visual approach
Pain, 2012; Ward and Shortt, 2012), this Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational to drawing out emotion in student learning.
Research, pp. 72-101. Management Learning, 44(5): 435-452.
technique can also help to understand
students’ mental frames, their Kearney, K. and Hyle, A. (2004). Drawing out
emotions: the use of participant-produced
conceptualisation and interpretation drawings in qualitative inquiry. Qualitative
of the module contents. Moreover, it Research, 4(3): 361-382.
encourages students themselves to Sudthasiri Siriviriyakul
Meyer, J. and Land, R. (2003). Threshold concepts (Jeep) is a PhD researcher
reflect, create, relate, express, and discuss and troublesome knowledge: linkages to ways and PGWT seminar tutor
ideas in a non-traditional way. All of of thinking and practising within the disciplines. at The York Management
The 10th Conference of the European Association for
these points suggest the benefit of using School, University of
Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI). 26-30 York, UK. Her research
participant-produced drawing in learning August 2003. Padova, Italy. interests are in the field
and teaching contexts to improve student Munoz C., C., Mosey, S. and Blinks, M. (2011). of identity and organisation studies. She is
engagement. Finally, just like in the Developing Opportunity-Identification also interested in an inclusive approach to
research context where participants Capabilities in the Classroom: Visual Evidence teaching and learning in higher education.

This is terrible, my Professor says I need to Here, please take a look and highlight
completely rewrite my final project anything you think seems stupid Hmmm..
It can’t be that bad, surely?

. .ummm.. . .eeerrmmm..

Illustration by Jon Starkey | Design Solutions

university of york | issue 44 Forum 9

as a way to develop
student engagement
Debbie Maxwell, from the
department of Theatre, Film and
Television at the University of
York, reflects on the experience
of teaching an emerging sub-
discipline of design where even
the disciplinary boundaries and
core definitions are up for debate.

he emerging fields of Critical
Design, Design Fictions, and
Speculative Design (situated largely
in the spaces between design and art)
have grown in prominence over the
last ten years in response to capitalist
approaches to product design, and
critique rather than affirm our current
societal practices (eg Dunne and Raby,
2013). Critical Design is often used as
a tool for provocation, casting designs
forward into possible, often dystopian, Students creating and discussing critical design concepts using a framework.
futures. It has been applied in community
co-design contexts (including in my own
research, eg Edwards et al., 2016), as optional ten-credit final year module content) are put on the walls to create a
well as provocative artefacts and think offered since 2016-17 in the BSc lasting and shared space for the duration of
pieces. However, the newness of the field Interactive Media) seeks to engage the term that students can access outwith
and its multidisciplinary origins means students with a radically different timetabled sessions. Each classroom
that not only is it moving fast, but it is approach to design than that which session is collaborative and creative (eg
being pulled in several directions at they have previously encountered in the through writing, sketching, making, or
once. This state of flux and uncertainty degree. Students are required to carefully programming), encouraging practical
is arguably mirrored by the environment consider the implications of design and design skills, where students work together
and employment spaces in which our its role in society, and to explore and to explore topics. This aids in assessment
graduates increasingly find themselves. begin to understand complex, uncertain (which takes the form of a presentation
The Critical Design module (an problem spaces that are important to of their critical design prototype and an
them and are important in their own accompanying report). The cabaret layout of
right (eg climate change, the NHS, the room removes the traditional “lecturer”
[after] nearly every government surveillance, and student stance at the front, and teaching becomes
single session we all fees). The primary challenge is to enable
students to engage meaningfully with
more conversational, with the lecturer
acting as facilitator and guide rather than
talked for at least 45 a new field, the boundaries and form of didactic sage. Students respond well to this,
which are shifting, and to develop their engaging fully with creative tasks to push
minutes to an hour about own nuanced understanding of what their ideas and understanding forward in
critical design is, moving beyond an unfamiliar territory.
what the definition of initial state of confusion and ambiguity. Rather than simply choosing a
critical design was and The majority of taught sessions are held specific key text or the lecturer’s view and
in a design studio, where relevant materials presenting these as definitive statements
nobody agreed.” (both lecturer- and student-generated of the field, the lectures and workshops

10 Forum issue 44 | university of york

An example Design Fiction artefact – Billboard
openly acknowledge and cover multiple mock up of compulsory government enforced
(often conflicting) views and definitions by wearable device for students to manage and
leading scholars. In addition, two external reduce (or increase) their student fees based on
guest researchers (with very different attendance and performance.
approaches) are invited to give lectures
about their work. All this gives students skills in the creation of their own pieces of
permission to be confused: critical design. The module overall enables
students to develop their own reflective
“It took me at least four weeks until
practice, a skill that will be invaluable
I actually grasped what critical
in their future careers. Teaching
design was, and I wasn’t even sure
undergraduate students complex, fluid
then if I had understood it properly
research topics can spark their creativity
[…] You [lecturer] made it clear that
and engagement, pushing them beyond
it wasn’t a scientifically defined
any work they have previously achieved.
topic; there wasn’t one stringently
right definition. That helped with me
not being sure. It made it ok to not D’Mello, S., Lehman, B., Pekrun, R., and Graesser,
be sure.” Student comment (2017-18). A. (2014). Confusion can be beneficial for
learning. Learning and Instruction 29: 153-170.
D’Mello et al.. (2014) suggest that
Dunne, A., and Raby, F. (2013). Speculative
intentionally making students perplexed Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming.
can encourage deep learning and certainly MIT press.
in this instance the learning extended Edwards, L., Maxwell, D., Pillatt, T. and Downing,
beyond the classroom, challenging N. (2016). Beebots-a-lula, where’s my honey?:
students, until they reached their own design fictions and beekeeping. In Proceedings
of the 9th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer
understanding. Students met up after Interaction (p. 79). ACM.
class and discussed the material: “[after]
Tsekleves, E., Darby, A., and Kerspern, B. (2015).
nearly every single session we all talked An example Design Fiction artefact – A future
Euthanasia Wearable Design Fiction. Available
for at least 45 minutes to an hour about post-Brexit Guardian front page with leading at:
what the definition of critical design was article on digital replication and the revelation Euthanasia_Wearable_Design_Fiction [Accessed
that beloved presenter David Attenborough may 25 April 2018]
and nobody agreed. […] The underlying
have been digitally reproduced (and medically
definitions were kind of similar, but the deceased) for over a decade. The student’s
way that they were worded – to make “company” and “solution” is E-sense, and is
it make sense to themselves – was very advertised at the bottom right of the layout.
different.” Student comment (2017–18). Debbie Maxwell is a lecturer
Critical design works are intentionally the lack of control that older people in Design and Interactive
intriguing and provocative, spanning wide experience towards the end of their life. Media in the department of
ranging issues, and are fundamentally As a teaching topic, therefore, it is ideally Theatre, Film and Television,
where her teaching includes
designed for debate, not function. For suited for the encouragement of debate user experience design.
instance, Dunne & Raby’s Teddy Bear and discussion, initially evoking horror Her particular teaching
Blood Bag radio (Dunne and Raby, 2013) or fascination before drilling down to the and learning interests are in the application
proposes the harvesting of pets’ blood intents behind each design. The students of design with meaningful external
collaborations, aiming to engage students
as a power source in a shift away from quickly move beyond this, however, to with live projects and partnerships with
fossil fuels, while the Solaje euthanasia reflect on the abstract core concepts and industry and third sector organisations.
watch (Tsekleves et al., 2015) challenges apply their understanding and technical

university of york | issue 44 Forum 11

Samantha Pugh, of the Leeds
Institute for Teaching Excellence,
University of Leeds, discusses how
educators can successfully involve
students in creating their own
learning in a meaningful way.

tudent owned learning is a pedagogy
that involves placing students in
direct control of their learning, but
within a disciplinary academic framework.
The approach enables students to learn
deeply within the context of their discipline,
but perhaps more significantly to effectively
develop the higher-order capabilities

deemed essential for the workplace and
further study.

The benefits of student owned
Through this approach, students will

to own their
have a sense of the work or activity
belonging to them. Ownership is a form
of empowerment and this can generate
intrinsic motivation. Herzberg’s (1966)
theory of motivation states that people are
motivated by factors such as ownership,
responsibility and recognition – intrinsic
factors – rather than external factors such
as financial reward – or perhaps in the disciplinary nuances. I would like to (small and medium-sized enterprises)
case of students – high grades. Intrinsically consider different ways that student and enact the role of employees, making
motivated students are what we all owned learning can be implemented, decisions on the value of opportunities
dream of! Intrinsic motivation to learn both within the curriculum and through that are presented to the business through
engenders a love of learning; a desire to specific co-curricular activities. an inbox exercise. This culminates in a
achieve successful outcomes for their own I focus here on my own experiences of presentation of their chosen opportunity
satisfaction rather than as a means to an successfully implementing Student owned to their ‘line manager’ (the module
end such as achieving a high mark. learning in the STEM disciplines and leader). The sector-specific nature of the
Through Student owned learning, conclude by offering practical advice and exercise, combined with the students
students are provided with the opportunity guidance for those wishing to explore how being empowered to make decisions that
to create work that they can be proud of. their learning activities may become more they have to justify, provides a sense of
This has long been the case in creative ‘student owned.’ However, there are also ownership. In their second year, students
disciplines where the construction examples of this approach from Arts and can take an enterprise module, ‘Chemistry:
of portfolios of work is relatively Social Sciences, where students may work Idea to Market’, where they are given a
commonplace, but I have been concerned with a business or third sector organisation, product development brief (co-written
with how this type of achievement can be such as a charity, school or museum. with businesses) and asked to develop the
accomplished in areas such as my own product ready for launch.
discipline of the Physical Sciences (and Within the curriculum The module culminates in a ‘Dragon’s
perhaps STEM more widely) where this has Opportunities for student owned learning Den’ style pitch and a portfolio of work.
not always been the case. have to fit within the whole approach to The open-ended nature of the enquiry is
As well as the intrinsic motivation programme design. Here are two examples, student owned learning in action, and
generated by something tangible that from Chemistry and Physics within my provides a rich learning experience for
students can be proud of, there is also a own institution, although similar models students to develop skills that they wouldn’t
practical benefit in that students will have exist elsewhere. develop in a conventional module. In their
something significant that they can talk Chemistry has developed a suite of third year, students can continue their
about in an interview. You can’t do that with modules that take a student-owned learning ‘commercial development’ through the
an exam, no matter how well you have done approach whilst simultaneously addressing ‘Chemistry: Making an Impact’ module:
in it! commercial awareness among students. an entrepreneurship module that sees
First year students are introduced to students taking a piece of scientific
Student owned learning in action student owned learning through a careers research with commercial potential and
Student owned learning can be module. As well as developing their CVs, developing a business case. The students
interpreted in many different ways, they also undertake a group activity also give a ‘pitch to investors’ at the
and, as already eluded to, will have where they select a ‘chemical sector’ SME end of the module. These modules give

12 Forum issue 44 | university of york

enthusiasm and ideas to a project. In the
case of curriculum development, they also
bring an invaluable student perspective.
All students value this student-centred
approach; in this way student interns can
create a ripple effect.

Making it happen
Student owned learning is about taking a
different approach to teaching. It is about
relinquishing power in the classroom and
taking on the role of a learning facilitator,
and letting the students lead the learning.
The embedding of employability within
the curriculum was a key driver for
my own decision to take this approach,
but the benefits have been much wider.
However, this approach is not without

challenges, and so it is useful to consider
what barriers might appear, and how they
might be overcome.
Firstly, there may not appear to be space
in an already packed curriculum; however,
student owned learning is content-free – it

is a way of delivering the curriculum.
Sometimes, professional accreditation
is cited as a reason for not embedding
alternative pedagogies; however, student
owned learning satisfies professional body
requirements and benchmark statements
concerning open-ended problem solving
and professional development. Finally,
students the opportunity to go way beyond reflective essay on the students’ experience external contacts from relevant industries
their technical knowledge, and use their of the module. An important aspect of the and alumni can be great advocates for the
creativity to develop a product that they can experience is ensuring that students reflect value of this approach.
really own and be proud of. One example on their development during the placement, Student owned learning provides
of feedback from a student was: “At a recent and perhaps more importantly, are able to an authentic opportunity, through the
job interview, the Chemistry: Idea to Market articulate the benefits of the process, rather curriculum, for students to develop
module was a really great example… where we than just focusing on the outputs, as this is essential graduate attributes, including
had really taken ownership of a project.” where the real learning occurs. The outputs open-ended problem solving, teamwork,
themselves, however, will, and do, provide a leadership, research and information
The Physics approach to student owned great sense of ownership for the students. searching, critical analysis and presenting
learning is through a group industrial to specific and varied audiences, both in
project (GrIP). Groups of students are Co-curricular opportunities written form and verbally. The authentic
paired with an industrial sponsor who Summer internships in Student Education nature of the tasks coupled with a real
provides a project brief with a set of are an excellent opportunity to allow sense of ownership on the part of the
deliverables that the students have to students to experience student owned students ensures that motivation remains
negotiate with the company. There is a learning, without the pressure of worrying high throughout the learning process.
strong focus on the process of developing about the mark or grade. They are an
the project and learning from the opportunity for students to engage in References
experience. The authentic nature of the research at an early stage, often before Herzberg, F. I. (1966). Work and the Nature of Man.
task means that the students are highly they embark on any final year project or Oxford: Thomas Y. Crowell Co.
motivated; rather than chasing marks, they dissertation. Placements are paid, and
are equally as concerned with impressing a generally work well over a full-time period
potential future employer, and providing a of 4 to 8 weeks. Research internships can be Dr Samantha Pugh is an
project report that they can be proud to put either disciplinary or pedagogic research Associate Professor in
their names to. Former students have stated or curriculum development projects. They STEM Education based
that the module was of direct benefit when provide the chance for students to work in the School of Physics
and Astronomy at the
job seeking, as it gave them something to alongside academics and other researchers University of Leeds, with
talk about in interviews. As one student in partnership, breaking down the an outstanding track
said, “I can firmly say that [GrIP] has been one traditional student-teacher relationship to record for developing context-based learning
of my most rewarding projects in university as form a research team. As the students will and working in partnership with students.
Samantha is currently an Excellence and
I have learnt many skills which I can duplicate be full-time dedicated to their project, they
Innovation Fellow at the Leeds Institute for
in many areas of my life.” can achieve a phenomenal amount of work Teaching Excellence. She was made a National
In all cases, the modules conclude with a and, in my experience, bring lots of energy, Teaching Fellow in 2017.

university of york | issue 44 Forum 13
as a reflective model Caitlin Kitchener, Archaeology, explores how
analysing reflections on teaching can not only improve
for enhancing practice practice but also dismantle structural boundaries.
Introduction of writing a self-narrative, it is able to manual coding is necessary due to the
Autoethnography is a personal, emotional, critique, investigate, and navigate socio- personal nature of autoethnography.
and highly reflexive method that aims to cultural issues and factors (Young and Themes are not waiting to be
understand the self through rigorous self- McKibban, 2013), producing reflections that discovered or found, rather the researcher
questioning. It can take numerous forms demonstrate the personal is academic. is active in deciding what constitutes a
but commonly involves answering a set of theme and how these relate to one another
pre-determined questions (either through Thematic Analysis (Ely et al., 1997: 205-206). Whilst how the
writing or voice recording) or using stream In order to help autoethnography move highlighting is done and the text coded
of consciousness to investigate a theme, beyond being only a possibly cathartic will vary, a neat way of summarising what
feeling, or event. This first step may feel experience, it is useful to examine the a theme constitutes is provided by Braun
familiar as reflection is often part of gaining writing or recordings. This is commonly and Clarke (2006: 82): “A theme captures
a teaching qualification. Autoethnography undertaken when autoethnography is something important about the data […],
becomes another layer of personal feedback used as a research method in disciplines and represents some level of patterned
whilst also being a form of research in and including sociology, anthropology, and response or meaning within the data set.”
of itself. Through carefully and critically the health sciences. Thematic analysis is By analysing the autoethnography, it
exploring your own experiences, it becomes one way of exploring reflections further. shifts into being a critical autoethnography.
possible to situate your teaching in its wider It involves reading and rereading the text The personal narratives produced are
social setting whilst also appreciating its multiple times, with this process helping not just read passively or at face value but
meaning in the moment. the individual to highlight themes and to instead placed into their social context
Importantly, autoethnography goes code with this leading to interpretation and positioning. But, how can this be used
beyond being purely reflexive: “The objective (Boyatzis, 1998). This can be done in practice?
of autoethnography is to (re-) introduce the manually through physical highlighting
self as a methodological resource” (Brigg with pen and paper or through using Autoethnography in Practice
and Bleiker, 2010: 788). Through harnessing computer software but it is suggested The first two sections have been largely
the autobiographical or the creative process here that the intimacy provided through theoretical and explanatory, but how

14 Forum issue 44 | university of york

could autoethnography be used in designing modules or providing feedback
practice? Here I draw upon some of my
own experiences of using the method to
on them. However, student feedback is
valued in other forms including student
Stories should not
enhance teaching practice. reps, module feedback forms, and focus be absent from
Whilst undertaking teaching, I kept a groups. Whilst having every student
journal. This is a collection of reflections undertake an autoethnography of their the creation of courses or
on seminars and workshops written degree may be unfeasible, it would be
immediately after the event but also interesting to have this rigorous data
university life."
includes self-interviews where I asked and to compare it with the feedback from
myself questions. Through using these those teaching the module. There is value
two different methods, I was able to in student-led learning (Marvel et al., appear to be conjecture. However, it is hoped
reflect on several levels and temporalities. 2013); it is interesting to consider how this that through implementation, most likely
Reflexive writing is a core part of many could transfer to student-led teaching. in pilot studies initially, autoethnography
courses in the sector supporting the Importantly, this is not a call to could prove its worth as a way of analysing
development of staff new to teaching, as ban other modes of assessment or the reflections on teaching practice, assessing
well as of other teaching qualifications use of third person as a writing style. students, and receiving student feedback.
and programmes, but I wondered how Furthermore, some disciplines will be Emotions, feelings, and experiences
these reflections could become practice more readily aligned to autoethnography should not be segregated from designing
that extends beyond my own experiences. than others. Rather, it is about creating a courses, implementing assessments,
My answer came from my own more democratic or student led education. nor removed from the classroom. If we
research. One of the strengths of research Reed-Danahay’s (2017) arguments on the recognise how much of ourselves goes
intensive universities is the ways in relationship between autoethnography into teaching, perhaps we can deconstruct
which research feeds into teaching and ethnography in anthropology provide some of the boundaries between research
content; therefore I attempted to use some justification for this. Transferring and teaching.
my research methods on my teaching them across to a higher education
practice. My PhD uses documentary context, authoethnography could help to References
sources from the nineteenth century; I problematize insider/outsider or staff/ Boyatzis, R. E. (1998). Transforming Qualitative
Information: Thematic Analysis and Code Development.
apply thematic analysis to these sources student dichotomies.
London: Sage Publications.
to link together the data and highlight
Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic
themes. I decided to use this method, How does it relate to teaching? analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in
with which I was familiar, to apply to my Universities aim to include research Psychology, 3(2): 77–101.
autoethnographical reflections. Analysing in their teaching, but to what extent Brigg, M. and Bleiker, R. (2010). Autoethnographic
the autoethnography helps to provide is the researcher and their stories International Relations: exploring the self as a
meaning as well as context to the lived encouraged to be part of the programme? source of knowledge. Review of International Studies,
36(3): 779–798.
experience of teaching (Ellis and Bochner, Autoethnography could be a way of
1992; 2000). Through having to read and bridging this gap. If it is understood to Ellis, C. and Bochner, A. P. (1992). Telling and
performing personal stories. In C. Ellis and M. G.
re-read my reflections, I became intimate be about the stories of the self and the Flaherty, ed. Investigating Subjectivity: Research on
with them and was able to highlight ethnography considered to be the story of Lived Experience. Thousand Oaks: Sage, pp. 79–101.
repeated positives and negatives. the others (whether students, colleagues, Ellis, C. and Bochner, A. P. (2000). Autoethnography,
or peers), these together are able to personal narrative, reflexivity: researcher as subject.
Autoethnography as Assessment contribute to constructing university In N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln, ed. Handbook
of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage, pp.
The other way that autoethnography could courses and cultures that place teaching
be harnessed is through including it as into a meaningful context. Through being
Ely, M. (1997). On Writing Qualitative Research: Living
an assessment for students. Numerous concerned with the intimate and personal by Words. London: Falmer Press.
departments already use reflexive writing self, autoethnography expands reflection
Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
and portfolios as assessments meaning from being only about the event or Harmondsworth: Penguin.
the leap to autoethnography is possible. In interaction to include behaviour, emotion, Marvell, A., Simm, D., Schaaf, R., and Harper, R.
a study on the use of autoethnography as social phenomenon, and social structures. (2013). Students as scholars: evaluating student-led
an assessment in sociology, Cook (2012) learning and teaching during fieldwork. Journal of
highlights several positives including the Conclusions Geography in Higher Education, 37(4): 547–566.
development of students understanding The stories of teachers in higher education Reed-Danahay, D. (2017). Bourdieu and critical
autoethnography: implications for research, writing,
of how their discipline connects to wider are worth sharing. Stories should not
and teaching. International Journal of Multicultural
social issues, a move beyond regurgitation be absent from the creation of courses Education, 19(1): 144–154.
of the module content, and the creation or university life. Autoethnography Young, S. and McKibban, A. (2014). Creating safe
of an environment of transparency encourages these experiences to be places: a collaborative autoethnography on LGBT
and openness between student and returned to and dissected, often leading to social activism. Sexuality & Culture, 18(2): 361–384.
lecturer. This last point connects to how new ideas.
autoethnography breaks the researcher/ Arguably, I am returning to an old and
researched boundary. recurring theme studied and considered Caitlin Kitchener is a PhD
The other way students could within pedagogy: the maintenance of student and GTA in the
utilise autoethnography is as a form of authority by systems intentionally created Department of Archaeology.
evaluation of their modules, teaching, and to reaffirm hegemonies and hierarchies Her teaching interests are
concerned with creating
departments. I have been unable to locate (Friere, 1972). Admittedly, the use of democratic assessments and
any literature that has attempted to use autoethnography in higher education is student-led learning as well
autoethnography as a way of altering or in a fledgling stage and the argument may as queer pedagogy.

university of york | issue 44 Forum 15
Students at the
undergraduate research at
Ellis Saxey describes an undergraduate research project at the
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and looks
towards its future development.

t the end of summer term, having written a 3000-word research paper, and as a result many students share some
undergraduate students exhausted and having presented their findings at the common tools or perspectives. The project
from their exams gather in a lecture conference which closes the project. of GROUPS has been informed by the belief
theatre at the London School of Economics. that no single discipline or method can
They have volunteered to be placed in a The nuts and bolts of GROUPS offer all the answers to a complex problem;
group of six unfamiliar students and to GROUPS (standing for Group Research many of the projects use mixed methods
dedicate themselves to another two weeks Opportunity Undergraduate Projects) and more than one conceptual framework.
of work. was created in 2011 (by Dr Claire Gordon Enquiry Based Learning, the other
What’s the attraction? The possibility of and Dr Jane Pritchard) to offer students principle underpinning GROUPS, posits
conducting research. The student groups a new experience, and develop new skills, that students can learn highly effectively
choose their own direction to investigate, during the summer term. It has taken place by posing and answering their own
and set off to carry out a small-scale annually since then. The key principles questions. To support students in this
research project. As we discuss with them of GROUPS are interdisciplinarity and process, we have a team of supervisors –
on the first day, their degrees require them Enquiry Based Learning. Students can usually Graduate Teaching Assistants –
to learn things that other researchers have draw on their disciplinary knowledge, but who meet their student groups twice
mapped out, but this project will enable work in interdisciplinary groups. This is daily. While students choose the direction
them to find something wholly new. made easier because LSE specialises in of travel, supervisors help them plan
The students finish the two weeks social, political and economic sciences, the journey and spot the obstacles.

16 Forum issue 44 | university of york

Supervisors also support one another, Undergraduate Research, and won the model could be used in other disciplines.
because the projects are often outside overall prize at the 2016 LSE Research The organising academics would have
their area of expertise; they meet every Festival. Student feedback has described to ask fundamental questions: what is
morning to ‘debrief’ and share skills. GROUPS as a ‘wonderful, enriching research in this discipline? What are its
In addition, over the two weeks a series experience’, ‘pushing me out of my comfort methodologies? Can they be carried out
of workshops offer input at particular zone’. It satisfies students who want a taste by undergraduates of all years? What
points designed to be most useful to the of research: ‘from the initiation of ideas to do students need to know before they
students: on searching the literature; on data collection and analysis – it was very can make a valid contribution? These
using different methodologies; and on meaningful to me.’ questions are already being asked by
communicating findings through writing many departments and institutions as
and presenting. Upgrading GROUPS they aim to increase undergraduate
Every year of GROUPS is still a risky One of the reasons I presented at the York research within the curriculum.
voyage. Research has no guaranteed Learning and Teaching Conference was We want to grow GROUPS, but we also
successes, and insufficient data and to seek input on how to keep GROUPS think GROUPS could help other projects
ambiguous results challenge student moving forwards. to grow, so we are currently creating a
morale. Students are volunteers, and can We want to build up public engagement GROUPS toolkit, making our plans and
leave at any point. The student groups in GROUPS. At present, students often ‘drop resources available to all. We hope people
are often drawn to controversial topics – in’ to communities, conduct their research, will borrow and adapt whatever looks
inequality, health, crime – and supervisors then leave. We do ask the groups how their useful. In the meantime, we are always
must help them develop ethical approaches. research aligns with the interests of their pleased to be contacted at tlc.groups@
Current issues pose specific challenges; subjects, and how they will share their by interested individuals,
in 2017, for example, groups researching findings. But properly supported, students departments and institutions.
public responses to terrorism had to could be going further. Could students work
rapidly reconfigure their methods when more collaboratively, negotiating projects
a terrorist incident took place in London, with the communities they research? Ellis Saxey is an Academic
mid-way through the project. Another area for expansion is in terms Developer at the London
But every year has been successful, of interdisciplinarity. Although student School of Economics and
and student groups have completed projects use a wide range of qualitative Political Science. Their
specific interests include
ambitious projects and written thoughtful and quantitative methods, GROUPS has working with emotions in
papers. Groups have presented their been firmly situated within the social the teaching space, and
work at the British Conference for sciences. We hope that the GROUPS innovative assessments. 

university of york | issue 44 Forum 17

Advanced problem based learning at
Scott Slorach, York Law School,
discusses the development and PBL PROCESS
implementation of an innovative,
research-led module.
The pilot Analyse the
Advanced Problem Based Learning (APBL) Define the problem: Arrange ideas:
is the working title for an integrated
pedagogy that aims to enable students to: problem: likely identifying using a mindmap
nn Apply problem-based learning (PBL)
areas of law. interests, issues, process.
skills at a higher level to analyse and chronology.
advise on complex problems.
nn Use their analysis and advice to
identify areas of personal interest
and perspectives to explore further
through enquiry-based learning. in medical education – is a student-led, with unfamiliar problems, and develop
nn Create a personalised assessment experiential learning process. At YLS, interpersonal and team-working skills.
portfolio to demonstrate module students work in a “law firm” on authentic Legal employers comment favourably on
learning outcomes. legal problems, following a seven-stage both the PBL approach and YLS student
process (see graphic above) performance in group activities on trainee
This article explains the rationale Stages 1-5 and 7 are collaborative, with selection assessment days.
for APBL, its learning and assessment stage 6 being independent. The process From this foundation, APBL was
processes, and reflects on responses to a is chaired and scribed by students, with a developed as a response to a number
recent pilot module. PBL tutor present to provide support and of factors:
York Law School (YLS) is one of the guidance only on an “as needed” basis.
few law schools in the world to employ Each PBL cycle takes one week. nn Most students are confident PBL
problem-based learning (PBL) as a The YLS experience of PBL has been practitioners by some point in their
core pedagogy. PBL – more prevalent positive: students are confident in dealing second year and there were signs of

18 Forum issue 44 | university of york

York Law School: pilot and results

Feedback results
Receive problem.
Define learning Carry out of research and
Clarify unclear
outcomes to independent share with firm.
terms and collate
underpin research. research. Receive next
key information.

PBL “fatigue” in year three: could we commences with students presenting
increase the challenge in applying
York Law School a proposal to peers and their tutor for
PBL techniques? (YLS) is one of the the second part (70%) of the module
nn Students achieve a particular level of assessment. This is in the form of a
legal understanding at the conclusion few law schools in the portfolio, designed to allow students
to explore in greater depth chosen issues
of the standard PBL cycle: could
we use this as more of a starting
world to employ problem- and areas of interest raised by the scenario.
point for a process leading to based learning (PBL) as The design provides 80-100 notional
learning hours for the development and
deeper understanding?
nn Year three should offer students
a core pedagogy.” completion of the portfolio.
Students’ proposals need to justify how:
opportunities to flourish by exploring
nn They will allocate that time
personal interests and perspectives, legal and client issues in both known and
and pursuing individual ambitions. new areas of law. Whereas a standard nn Their outputs will represent the use of
Could we enhance this, providing problem involves aspects of two areas that time
greater freedom and flexibility to of law – eg, contract and property – the nn Their portfolio will enable them to
students to demonstrate module pilot APBL problem involved aspects demonstrate the MLOs (Students
learning outcomes (MLOs) and of company, employment, commercial, are provided with a detailed
programme learning outcomes (PLOs)? contract, intellectual property and EU law. “unpacking” of the MLOs to assist them
Consequently, the PBL phase runs over with the latter).
nn We want YLS graduates to be capable of
four weeks rather than one, and there are
communicating to different audiences
effectively two PBL cycles involved: Portfolios should comprise three
in varied formats: could we promote
this in conjunction with the flexibility outputs, each relating to a different
1. An initial collaborative analysis and
described above? issue or area of interest arising from the
individual research cycle, resulting in
initial APBL scenario whilst together
nn The benefits of formative assessment high level learning outcomes directed
having a coherence based on some form
and feedback are unquestionable but at confirming potential issues and
of connection between them, or common
can be time-consuming and disruptive areas of law. Students provide peer and
rationale. Students have freedom as to
within a ten-week module: could we receive tutor feedback on these. This is
the format of each output: there are no
provide the benefits whilst avoiding effectively a formative phase en route
word count or other limitations, save that
the drawbacks? to the first assessment.
they must demonstrate communication to
2. Using this feedback, students work different audiences in different formats.
To achieve these desired outcomes, collaboratively on more targeted Students also have freedom to choose
the APBL module was designed by learning outcomes, directed at more the perspectives taken in creating
integrating PBL and enquiry-based detailed research in order to provide outputs, to reflect personal, academic
pedagogies, with two distinct phases, specific advice to the client. The results or employability aspirations. This might
each with its own assessment. of this research are used to draft an mean, for example, a focus on legal practice,
The first phase involves students individual client letter of advice, the exploring the impact of law on realising
applying PBL to a complex scenario. The first assessment element (30% of the commercial objectives; how regulation
complexity is based on the scenario giving module total). affects the operation of a company
rise to a greater number (compared to a and its officers; processes involved in
standard PBL problem) of interconnected The second phase of the module protecting company rights and property;

university of york | issue 44 Forum 19

or examining in detail a specific legal limits. There was a 1,500 word limit
document. Alternatively, a more critical
In conclusion, we for the letter of advice on the initial
academic perspective, evaluating academic have something PBL problem: this challenged students
arguments on, eg, ethical and gender to be direct and concise on a range of
issues; comparative perspectives; critically positive to develop further: legal issues. With no limit, portfolios
evaluating legislation and policy. Equally, ran to between 7,000 and 10,000 words.
students could consider a blend of varied a concept that allows However, those that fared best were not
perspectives, eg, within a single output,
comparing the commercial impact of a
students flexibility to necessarily the longest, and students
were able to work on these, with
particular piece of law with alternative flourish, that integrates formative feedback opportunities, for
academic or policy perspectives. up to 100 hours. The message of “quality
Once proposals are agreed, the and advances two not quantity” was given, and this was
remaining four workshops provide a carried through into marking.
range of formative feedback opportunities,
embedded pedagogies, There were no lectures or plenary
allowing students to present: and, in doing so, creates a sessions – the module comprised
nn One output work-in-progress for tutor workshops only. Some elements of the
review and feedback. series of valuable early PBL sessions became informal
plenaries, where the tutor promoted
nn A second output work-in-progress for formative experiences.” guided discussion of new legal or
peer review and feedback.
commercial concepts, or areas of
nn A final draft of an output for tutor regulation. This informality and student-
review and feedback; and “My tutor provided direction and support
driven aspect of developing understanding
when required” was the highest rated –
nn One output for feedback in a was viewed as positive, and in line with
average 4.8/5 – element of the module.)
conference style workshop. the desired ethos of APBL.
From a tutor perspective, there were A final tutor perspective was that the
For students, tutor review sessions module was enjoyable in being able to
other points to note:
are “working workshops”: whilst the provide one-to-one formative feedback on
Students who best demonstrated the
tutor provides individual feedback, the a rolling basis, and seeing varied outputs
MLOs embraced both the module ethos
other students are working on their develop from ideas to completion over a
and the criteria. Examples of portfolios
outputs. Between workshops, students shorter period than a dissertation. It was
that demonstrated this were:
follow an enquiry-based learning process, also challenging (and enjoyable, if you
An overarching theme of new product
continuing individual research to develop like uncertainty) in that, at the outset, the
development, comprising:
their outputs, informed by the formative tutor had no idea of what students would
feedback from workshops. nn A self-developed case study giving rise
be presenting to be assessed.
to two potential offences, and a detailed
In conclusion, we have something
Results memorandum of advice to a company.
positive to develop further: a concept
What were the results of this first foray nn An academic legal opinion on the that allows students flexibility to
into APBL? Eight students studied the concept of protection of trade secrets. flourish, that integrates and advances
pilot module, five of whom provided nn Another self-developed case two embedded pedagogies, and, in doing
module evaluation feedback. From this, study giving rise to a powerpoint so, creates a series of valuable formative
plus anecdotal feedback, the following presentation on advertising and experiences. We plan to do more: from
three elements stood out as positive: marketing (with accompanying 2019, all third year students will take an
1. The “advanced” nature of the problem referenced notes) to a company board APBL module, and we shall be creating
in terms of complexity and its ability and in-house legal team. a range of PBL scenarios as the base
to open up new areas of knowledge and from which students can advance their
enquiry; A theme around employment, interests and skills. We would also be
2. The flexibility and freedom of the comprising: keen to explore the transferability of the
assessment process; and nn An academic paper on collective ABPL learning and assessment design
consultation under an EU directive. principles with other disciplines. These
3. Tutor support. principles, with a well-thought out
nn A PowerPoint presentation with scenario, and a willingness to experiment,
This is based on the following student detailed speaker notes on how Brexit could provide some very interesting and
“best feature” comments: might affect employment law in the UK. valuable learning opportunities.
nn“The vast areas of corporate/ nn A guide for an HR department on
commercial law that this module enables implementing proposed redundancies
you to explore”. (these were indicated in the initial PBL
nn“…it allows you to tailor outputs to the scenario), including a model selection
areas of the law which interest you”. procedure and time-line flowchart.
Scott Slorach has designed
nn“The freedom to shape your own legal education programmes
Some students took a “safer” option at UG, PG and PD levels for
of compiling a portfolio comprising over twenty-five years in the
nn“Feedback to tailor your proposals, and three, more traditional and less varied (in UK, Australia, New Zealand
breadth of knowledge learnt.” and Singapore. Scott is the
format) academic outputs. Director of Learning and
nn“The support provided by [tutor] was Some students suggested that they Teaching at York Law School.
excellent too.” (The evaluation statement would have preferred to have word

20 Forum issue 44 | university of york

and Pen Holland and Katie Smith,

from the Department of Biology,
consider how we can use games
and play to encourage students
to become active participants
in creative learning.

rom early babyhood to adulthood, else go bankrupt, an excellent example this idea in its focus on active learning
people spontaneously engage in of learners’ emergent behaviour being and a drive for innovative and effective
learning through games and play, quite different to the original learning formats for learning and teaching to
developing cognitive, social, emotional objectives of the game. Phylo (Balmford et “engage students in the joy of discovery
and physical skills along the way. al., 2002) is an ecology themed version of and invention.” Harnessing a desire
Children who play with construction toys Pokémon; strategy games such as this need to play in the classroom via games
such as LEGO in preschool have better a lot of resources and time to properly and gamification, and using games as
visual perception of spatial relationships develop but can be extremely effective. a platform through which to practice
(Nath and Szucs, 2014) and significantly An important part of developing research skills, offers an opportunity
increased mathematical achievement in lifelong learners is instilling an intrinsic for students to learn in an uninhibited,
adolescence (Stannard et al., 2001). Nath drive to learn: individuals who want to independent and personalised way,
and Szucs (2014) suggest that playing learn, will continue to learn. The York which may help students with anxiety to
with construction toys may therefore be Pedagogy (Robinson, 2015) encapsulates engage with course material without fear
used to effectively train and strengthen
mathematical skills. More fun
than just memorising
times tables!
As well as
developing skills,
children and adults
can absorb an
immense amount
of information and
deepen understanding
of specific subjects
(both real and
imaginary) by playing
commercially available
video and table-top
games. Some of these
games even have their
roots in education.
Monopoly started life
as The Landlord’s Game
(Ketcham, 2012), designed
to teach the idea that
holding land in common,
with members acting
collectively as landlord,
was a cooperative antidote
to successful monopolies
and financial ruin for
everyone else. Unfortunately
players found it a lot more fun to get
all the property and make everyone

university of york | issue 44 Forum 21

of failure, and enhance the quality and performance; Kyewski and Kramer, 2018) Failure is demotivating in the
enjoyment of student learning. are motivational badges for achieving classroom – the fear of causing
levels of knowledge or skill, and adding a irreversible damage (whether that be to
What are game-based learning and competitive element to a given task. For lives or ‘just’ to final results) can take
gamification? more information, see Kasurinen and students’ focus away from the process
Play (verb): to engage in an activity for Knutas’s (2018) review of research trends of learning. Encouraging students to
enjoyment and recreation. in gamification studies. take risks and to be exposed to realistic
Game (noun): 1. a form of competitive Game-based learning tends to start consequences in a safe space increases
activity or sport played according to rules. with the game, which is then adapted to engagement. This requires low stakes and
2. An activity that one engages in for incorporate the educational material. An rapid feedback.
amusement. entertainment game has no ‘real’ purpose, Feedback forms a critical part of
Gamification (noun): the embedding of though may still be useful for education. the learning process in any education
game mechanics or motivational techniques For example, Plague Inc. (Ndemic Creations, programme. Games are all about feedback:
in a non-game environment or activity. UK) has been used with university students continuously as the game progresses, as
Games, play and gamification can be to reinforce the topic of epidemic spread well as end-of-level feedback for situations
placed on a continuum which uses the (Robinson et al., 2018), while Rodrigues in which players are often required to
amount of structure and extensiveness and Carvalho (2013) taught physics with integrate skills from various separate
of use of these concepts in the creation of Angry Birds (Rovio), and LEGO has been processes to overcome a larger challenge.
a ‘product’ (Figure 1). Games and game- used to transform mindsets about natural Sounds like module based learning with a
based learning differ from freeform selection (Petersen, 2017). Serious games synoptic assessment!
play in that there is a formal structure do have a real world purpose as well as Immediate feedback and clear goals
within which to explore the product, entertainment value. One example of a are two of the prerequisites to achieve a
while gamification uses elements of game bespoke game in higher education is The flow state (Csikszentmihályi, 1990). This
mechanics and reward mechanisms Last Straw! (Rossiter et al., 2008), a board encompasses several factors, of which
as part of the process, but the product game structuring the way in which players three key ideas for an educator are
itself has a non-game-like purpose and discover and discuss social determinants intense concentration or immersion, a
other elements that are not game-like of health. sense of personal agency and optimism
(Deterding et al., 2011). Gamification in Good game design in learning about success, and a perception that
education starts with the educational environments consistently includes four the experience has been intrinsically
material, which is then structured to concepts (Stott and Neustaedter, 2013): rewarding. A well designed game
engage learners using game mechanics 1. Freedom to fail uses feedback and goals to balance
and motivational techniques (eg Robinson, opportunity and player capacity,
2. Rapid feedback
2018). Two increasingly common examples allowing the player to progress through
of gamification in education (that may 3. Progression skill stages while remaining in the flow
not necessarily have the expected 4. Storytelling channel (Figure 2, overleaf).
impact on student motivation and Finally, people learn better when the
facts are embedded in a story rather
than as a bullet point list (Kapp, 2012).
Using narrative to structure learning
GAMING in the classroom, and a unifying story
throughout a module or programme, has
the potential to increase engagement and
learning gain. Storytelling is therefore
a useful element with which to harness
(Serious) games Gameful design the effectiveness of games in education.
(gamification) I’m sold, what do I do next?
nn Do you like playing and games?
nn Have you defined a specific educational
problem that a game or gamification
WHOLE PARTS might help solve?

Then consider:
Toys Playful design nn Who is your audience?
§§ Is it just the students in your class?
Or do you want to make an app and
take it to the masses? Use it for
nn What are the primary learning
objectives/outcomes of the game? (Set
PLAYING clear goals!)
§§ Are these about facts, knowledge,
Figure 1. The continuum of games and play, and extensiveness of design, as defined by Deterding et al. (2011). concepts, connections?

22 Forum issue 44 | university of york university of york | issue 40 Forum 22

Kapp K.M. (2012). Games, gamification and the
quest for learner engagement. TD 66(6): 64-68.
Kasurinen J., Knutas A. (2018). Publication trends
in gamification: A systematic mapping study.
Computer Science Review 27: 33-44.
Ketcham C. (2012). Monopoly is theft: The anti-
monopolist history of the world’s most popular
board game. Browsings: The Harpers Blog. https://
Kyewski, E., and Kramer, N.C. (2018). To gamify
or not to gamify? An experimental field study of
the influence of badges on motivation, activity

and performance in an online learning course.
Computers & Education 118: 25-37.
Massimini, F., Csikszentmihályi, M., and Carli, M.
(1987). The monitoring of optimal experience: A
tool for psychiatric rehabilitation. Journal of Nervous
and Mental Disease, 175(9), 545-549.
Nath S., and Szucs D. (2014). Construction play and
cognitive skills associated with the development
of mathematical abilities in 7-year-old children.
Learning and Instruction 32: 73-80.
Petersen, M.R. (2017). The living dead:
transformative experiences in modelling natural
selection. Journal of Biological Education 51: 237-246.
Robinson, J. (2015). The York Pedagogy: What and
why, how and why? Forum 39. https://www.scribd.
Robinson, L.A. (2018). Tri-Hard pipetting:
Demonstrating pipetting accuracy using Die Hard
with a Vengeance. Journal of Academic Development
SKILLS and Education 9: 25-32.
Figure 2. As skills and challenge increase, the player’s path on their learning journey should remain in Robinson, L.A., Turner, I.J., and Sweet, M.J. (2018).
the flow channel. Difficult challenges without the requisite skills may result in anxiety and worry. Too The use of gamification in the teaching of disease
epidemics and pandemics. FEMS Microbiology
little challenge for a high skill level results in boredom. (Graph adapted from the 8-channel model of
Letters 365(11).
mental states published by Massimini et al., 1987.)
Rodrigues, M., and Carvalho, P.S. (2013).
Teaching physics with Angry Birds: exploring the
§§ Will you achieve your goals through Finally, think about: kinematics and dynamics of the game. Physics
the information processed by players nn Aim: What’s the point of playing
Education 48(4): 431-437.
of the game (eg facts written on cards), the game? Reeve, K., Rossiter, K., and Risdon, C. (2008).
via the mechanics used to play the The Last Straw! A board game on the social
game (eg dividing up action points nn Rewards: What is motivating the determinants of health. Medical Education.
player to keep going? 42(11): 1125-6.
to implement personalised tactics),
Stannard, L., Wolfgang, C.H., Jones, I., and
and/or by stimulating discussions of nn Levels: How does the player progress Phelps, P. (2001). A longitudinal study of the
deeper meanings while playing? through the game? predictive relations among construction play
nn Do you want/need to measure the and mathematical achievement. Early Child
nn Feedback: What kind of feedback does
Development and Care 167(1): 1476-8275.
effectiveness of the game? In which the player need at each stage?
Stott, A., and Neustaedter, C. (2013). Analysis of
case, is this:
nn Win state: How do you win (or lose) gamification in education. Connections Lab, Simon
§§ To improve the game design for the game? Don’t make it too easy, Fraser University, Surrey, BC, Canada. http://clab.
future deployment?
or too chancy.
§§ To evaluate effectiveness in nn Player interactions: Competition or
achieving learning outcomes? cooperation, or both? Pen Holland is a Lecturer
§§ For scholarship/research outputs? (T&S) in the Department of
You’re ready to start. Now go and read all Biology at the University of
Next, consider: the references to this article, and play lots York. She has a background
of games! in quantitative ecology, and
nn Can you use/adapt an existing game is particularly interested in
or game mechanic to help students games and gamification in
References education and ways to reduce maths anxiety.
understand or engage with an
Balmford, A., Clegg, L., Coulson, T, and Taylor,
identical or analogous problem in
J. (2002). Why conservationists should heed
their study area? Pokémon. Science 295(5564): 2367. Katie Smith is a Lecturer
(T&S) in the Department
nn Do you want/need to develop a bespoke Csikszentmihályi M. (1990). Flow: The Psychology of of Biology at the University
game themed around a tricky or Optimal Experience. Harper & Row. of York. Her background
complex idea? Deterding S., Dixon D., Khaled R., Nacke L. (2011). in biomedical sciences and
From game design elements to gamefulness: human physiology fuels
nn Do you want to get your students to defining ‘gamification’. Proceedings of the 15th her interest in practical
develop a game, as a way of exploring International Academic MindTrek Conference: skill development and transition to higher
the subject area themselves? Envisioning Future Media Environments: 9-15. education.

university of york | issue 44 Forum 23

A research-led approach
to student voice Kimi Smith and Nick Glover,
YUSU, consider using Participatory
Action Research to enhance our
student voice practices.

he University of York prides reduce the burden and confusion that A distinction can be made between
itself on its research and on surrounds the role of Reps and create consultation, or using students as a data
how this research feeds into more opportunities (with fewer time source (Fielding, 2011), and partnership,
teaching. Our recent review of the constraints) with which more students whereby students are given the opportunity
student representation practices used can engage. Across the literature (see to engage as “active participants, co-
across departments has inspired Figure 1), scholars have put forward researchers or joint authors” (Groundwater-
thinking around how we can adopt typologies of student voice, with formal Smith and Mockler, 2015, p.162). To support
a research-led approach to enhance collection of student feedback at one end this distinction, Flint, Goddard and Russell
student voice activities and empower of a continuum of engagement, and co- (2017) promote a partnership approach to
students to actively engage in educational design and PAR at the other (Hall, 2017). student voice on the basis that the level of
transformation. One such approach, In a recent consultation with ownership and agency held by students in
highlighted during our wider reading University staff, interesting points were such a partnership is considerably more
in support of this project, is the use of raised around the differences between than in traditional models of consultation.
Participatory Action Research (PAR, also operational feedback and involvement By creating meaningful partnerships, we
known as ‘Educational Action Research’ in strategic developments. These can explore PAR models based around
or ‘Students as Researchers’) as a tool to discussions led to a shift in our thinking shared ownership, dialogue and a critical
evaluate our student voice practices. towards a continuum of student voice orientation towards pedagogical and
Since the original definition of oriented activity, to help move away from organisational discussions.
Action Research (Lewin, 1946), in which seeing students purely as generators of
researchers plan and enact change feedback towards a broader concept of Using PAR to enhance practice
in a cyclical and dynamic manner student voice, where genuine dialogue There are multiple examples of how PAR
by responding to their observations between students and academics results has been used in an educational setting,
throughout the process, the addition of in the co-production of knowledge and some of which are in HE institutions,
the word ‘participatory’ has introduced leads transformative change; a notion with varying degrees of success. By
the concept that those ‘benefiting’ from supported by the literature (Carey, 2012). learning from these case studies, we will
the research should be actively involved start to use such methods to implement
in the design and implementation process Seeing students as partners student voice activities that are designed,
of the research (McTaggart, 1991). The In the current Higher Education context, in partnership, by the students and staff
theory behind such practice reflects our characterised by the Teaching Excellence who will benefit from them.
ideals of an authentic partnership between and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) The Student Action Research for
students and staff, as it promotes activities and the outcomes-focused regime of University Access (SARUA) project in
that are “interactive rather than extractive” the Office for Students, the collection Australia aimed to improve access to
(Kilpatrick et al., 2007, p. 353). Criticism of student feedback and formalised higher education from disadvantaged
around examples of implementation in systems of representation (found on the groups. Atweh (2003) argues in favour
a higher education setting has resulted left of the continuum) are privileged of PAR for three reasons: involving
in much debate around the meaning above more transformative student voice the affected group will provide more
of ‘participation’ (Santos, 2016), and activities (those found on the right), such appropriate solutions; the group are in a
though it will be important to take these as co-production and the empowerment better position to provide insight on their
implementation issues into account, this of students as ‘change agents’. Within own experience, and involving the group
article focuses on why we should adopt what is arguably an increasingly quasi- in the process is empowering. We want to
this approach and cultivate research-led consumerist environment, where student use PAR to evaluate our current student
student voice activities. voice can all too easily be reified into a voice activities, in particular whether
thing to be measured and benchmarked Staff Student Forums are the best
Our thinking behind a ‘student (Hall, 2017), we need to be proactive in approach or if enhancements can be made
voice continuum’ reviewing and rethinking our practices. to ensure they are engaging, effective and
The responsibilities currently placed on By adopting innovative approaches we collaborative. With this in mind, ‘group’
Academic Reps are wide and varied, and can work to depoliticise and revitalise the in our context refers to both students
that students are ‘time-poor’ is often purpose of our student voice activities and staff. We will seek to understand
cited as a barrier to engagement. By and inspire authentic partnerships that the challenges of implementing PAR
rethinking how students are included move away from what could be viewed as projects in HE settings, ensuring that our
in departmental practices, we can tokenistic engagement. approaches are ‘led from within’.

24 Forum issue 44 | university of york

The formal operational approach to Formal development activities facilitate
student voice activity currently student-led strategic change. Students
takes place in BoS, where Reps (and staff) involved need the training
are involved in the final stages of and support to develop the knowledge
projects, quality assurance and and skills needed to successfully deliver
ultimately decision-making projects that allow students to be active
change agents leading in the design and
delivery of their own learning.
It is important that there are a number COLLABORATION
of informal operational practices so The other side of the continuum
that a range of voices are heard and offers a space dedicated to quality
understood, whether this is through enhancement. Informal developmental Figure 1. An example
surveys, focus groups, round tables activities can include one-off projects of a “student voice
or interviews etc. This data can then where staff and students are working continuum” loosely based
contribute to other practices from across together towards a specific goal. around other student
the continuum eg a proposal at BoS engagement typologies
from the sector.


Bryson’s (2017) reflections on a PAR student voice activities; it should be used as Architects of their experience: the role, value and
initiative at Newcastle University will be a supplementary practice, and should not impact of student academic representation systems
really useful when we come to plan our replace formal representative functions. in Higher Education in England. TSEP.
projects. One of the key successes cited Looking back to the student voice Groundwater-Smith, S. and Mockler, N. (2015).
in this article is the opportunity to hear continuum (Figure 1), PAR would sit on the From data source to co-researchers? Tracing
the shift from ‘student voice’ to student–teacher
views from ‘hard to reach’ students. We right hand side and support the activities partnerships in Educational Action Research.
hope that by using PAR we can do the that sit on the left ie Course Reps sitting Educational Action Research, 24(2).
same, thus finding solutions that will on a Board of Studies. At YUSU, students Hall, V. (2017). A tale of two narratives: student
be more attractive to a wider variety of are at the heart of everything we do, and voice – what lies before us? Oxford Review of
students. Another positive reflection was in response to current narratives across Education, 43(2).
that the projects created opportunities the sector, we want to encourage increased Kilpatrick, R., McCartan, C., McAlister, S. and
to have conversations that might not participatory student voice activities McKeown, P. (2007). ‘If I am brutally honest,
research has never appealed to me …’ The
necessarily happen elsewhere. During that empower students to become equal problems and successes of a peer research
our review work, departmental staff partners in their education. project. Educational Action Research. 15(3).
spoke about their positive experiences Lewin, K. (1946). Action research and minority
of engaging students as partners and Moving forward problems. Journal of Social Issues, 2(4).
revealed frustrations about the lack of As we look to the next academic year, McTaggart, R. (1991). Principles for Participatory
a consistent structure or guidance to we hope to be in a position to offer PAR Action Research. Adult Education Quarterly, 41(3).
support this. By adopting a PAR approach opportunities for students to lead on in Santos, D. (2016). Re-signifying participatory
in multiple departments, we would share partnership with academic staff. If you action research (PAR) in higher education: what
does ‘P’ stand for in PAR? Educational Action
the successes and learning from all would like to be involved please get in
Research, 24(4).
projects and provide continued support to touch by emailing
implement new activities.
When reporting on their study in Kimi Smith is the Student
References Engagement Development
Northern Ireland, Kilpatrick et al. (2007) Atweh, B. (2003). On PAR with young people: Coordinator at YUSU and
focus on the peer research aspects of Learnings from the SARUA Project. Educational facilitates our Academic Rep
PAR and how this helps to reduce effects Action Research, 11(1). system and is working to
of power imbalances that can occur in Bryson, C. (2017). A cross-university initiative to enhance our student voice
enhance SOTL through a students as partners practices. Kimi is interested
discussions between staff and students.
approach. Journal of Educational Innovation, in inclusive approaches to teaching and is
During our review, this subject was Partnership and Change, 3(1). passionate about empowering all students to
often touched upon and how, even if Carey, P. (2012). Representation and student take an active role in shaping their learning.
unintentional, the perception of a power engagement in higher education: A reflection
struggle can have a negative impact on on the views and experiences of course Nick Glover joined YUSU
representatives. Journal of Further and Higher as the Student Voice and
engagement. If done successfully, PAR can Insight Manager from
Education, 37(1).
create authentic partnerships which see Durham Students’ Union
all participants as equals. Fielding, M. (2011). Patterns of partnership: and has previously worked
Student voice, intergenerational learning and for an MP. Nick is interested
Though the principles behind this democratic fellowship. In Mockler, N and Sachs, in the theory and practice
approach are the foundations of good J., (Eds). Rethinking Educational Practice through of student voice in higher education –
student representation practice, we are Reflexive Inquiry. Netherlands: Springer, pp. 61-75. particularly the idea of ‘student talk’ as
not suggesting that PAR is suitable for all Flint, A., Goddard, H. and Russell, E. (2017). democratic and transformational.

university of york | issue 44 Forum 25

Collaborative Engagement
for MSc Research Projects
Fiona Sweeney, Stockton Hall Hospital, and Jane Clarbour,
Department of Psychology, discuss how collaborative engagement
in research projects can enhance student learning.

he aim of the MSc in Applied with much debate about the best process
Forensic Psychology at the University of passing on knowledge to students (eg
of York is to provide students with Bellanca and Brandt, 2010). However, one
specific knowledge related to forensic useful approach in this context is that
psychology and with the skills to apply of the Situated Learning Theory (Lave
this knowledge within forensic settings. and Wenger, 1991). Situated Learning
Consequently, there are real opportunities Theory proposes that learning takes
for the independent project submitted at place in the same context in which it is
the end of the year (which accounts for applied, as knowledge is co-constructed
60 credits of the 180 credit degree) to be between members of a community. As
conducted as primary research in applied this research was conducted in the Prison
settings. This is often a new experience for Service, which has a very distinct culture,
students; therefore, the course provides a it was important to gain an insight into
20-credit level 7 module, “Research, Design, the operational culture and experiences
and Statistics”, in the Autumn term to of death, care, and suicide in order to
refresh and remind students of the skills enhance the quality of data collection. research asked participants about
and knowledge required for psychological This is important as the results of the current levels of support for officers after
research. There is a further module in study intended to inform, and potentially experiencing a prisoner attempt and/
the Spring term, “Issues and Methods in influence, the context in which these or commit suicide, along with questions
Applied Research”, to continue support professionals work (Jewkes, Bennett, and concerning the support they would like; it
for students’ research skills. The research Crewe, 2016). was important to ensure that researcher
of one of the authors of this paper (Fiona) expectations were realistic with regards
whilst at the University of York was around A case study of the student journey to the feasibility of further support
exploring Prison Officers’ experiences of Throughout this project, Fiona for participants if requested. Secondly,
working with individuals who engaged in collaborated with numerous professionals attending a conference organised by the
suicide-related behaviour. As this was a in a variety of contexts. Firstly, discussions University of York’s CrimNet network
relatively understudied area and one which with senior managers and psychologists on deaths in the criminal justice system
was new to the student, supervision from at the prison where data was being allowed Fiona to observe presentations on
an experienced researcher (the second sought were imperative in order to gain similar topics which sparked ideas around
author, Jane), and collaboration with their approval for the project, and also to project design and dissemination of
other professionals was key. The research cater to the practicalities of undertaking findings. Finally, presenting the proposed
supervisor (Jane) provided a scaffolded research within a prison setting with research topic at the University of Durham
approach (Stanier, 2015) for this work, regards to operational running, security during a professional conference hosted by
where experts were made available to help considerations, and ethical factors. As PORSCH (Prison and Offender Research
the student understand and clarify the this research entailed gathering sensitive in Social Care and Health) was invaluable.
problem at the outset of the research, with data from prison officers, ethical approval The audience included professionals such
a point of contact provided at the prison was sought and obtained from the Prison as Prison Governors, Prison Officers,
(Deputy Governor) as a practitioner- Service research and ethics committee, Mental Health Nurses, Psychologists,
supervisor. In line with this approach, as well as from the Department of and Social Workers. Fiona was therefore
the level of support provided is reduced Psychology, University of York ethics able to generate discussions around their
as the student demonstrates increasing committee, following stringent guidelines experiences and what questions they felt
confidence as an independent researcher. as set out by the British Psychological were unanswered. This experience helped
Psychological literature is rife with Society for research involving human in designing the interview schedule and
theories about how individuals learn, participants (BPS) (BPS, 2014). As this highlighted potential limitations such as
a lack of participant engagement, so that
these could be overcome and strengthen
the research.
Collaborative engagement can enhance There are many benefits of collaborative
engagement for students completing MSc
student’s confidence in their own ability, giving research projects such as enhancing their
understanding about the intricacies of
them a sense of self-worth." the research topic, and gaining a greater
insight into areas for potential exploration.

26 Forum issue 44 | university of york

who have benefitted from collaborative
engagement in their research projects can
guide current students, helping the process
feel achievable and providing another line
of support during their time at university.
Therefore, collaborative engagement is
most definitely feasible, and should be
something that is consistently encouraged
within the university environment as this
can have wider impact than may first have
been considered.

Bellanca, J. A. and Brandt, R. (Eds.) (2010). 21st
century skills: Rethinking how students learn.
Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press
British Psychological Society (2014). Code of
Human Research Ethics (2nd Edn.). Leicester: British
Psychological Society.
Lave, J., and Wenger, E. (1991), Situated Learning.
Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge:
University of Cambridge Press.
Jewkes, Y., Bennet, J., and Crewe, B. (2016),
Handbook on prisons (2nd ed.). Oxford: Routledge.
Maharajan, M.K., Rajiah, K., Tam, A. M., Chaw,
S.L., Ang, M. J., and Yong, M. W. (2017). Pharmacy
students’ anxiety towards research during their
undergraduate degree; How to reduce it? PLoS
ONE 12(4): e0176095.
For example, when professionals at et al., 2017). This general confidence pone.0176095
the PORSCH conference were asked and awareness all feed in to enhancing Papanastasiou, E. C., and Zembylas, M. (2008).
questions around their own experiences, employability, as collaboration within the Anxiety in undergraduate research methods
courses: Its nature and implications. International
many became visibly upset and reported workplace is now common practice and
Journal of Research and Method in Education, 31, 2,
symptoms akin to trauma. The sensitivity deemed to be an essential skill. pp. 155 – 167, DOI: 10.1080/17437270802124616
of a research subject and the human Despite this article focusing on the Stanier, C. (2015), Scaffolding in a Higher
element can often get lost within the collaborative engagement from one Education Context. In: ICERI2015 Proceedings. 8th
aim of completing and disseminating student on one research project, it can be International Conference of Education, Research
research. Therefore, this experience generalised to other students’ projects and Innovation, 18 -20 November 2015, Seville,
Spain, 2015 . IATED, Seville, Spain, pp. 7781-7790.
really highlighted the need to be aware in a number of ways. Firstly, academic ISBN 978-84-608-2657-6
of participant’s wellbeing throughout colleagues who supervise students can
Sweeney, F., Clarbour, J., and Oliver, A. (2018),
this research project. In addition, and should encourage them to engage in Prison officers’ experiences of working with
through collaborative engagement, many applied research where appropriate, and adult male offenders who engage in suicide-
professionals highlighted the importance to not shy away from gaining access to related behaviour, The Journal of Forensic
and need for this research to be conducted. sample populations outside of the usual Psychiatry & Psychology, 29:3, 467-482, DOI:
Senior managers expressed concerns (which is often other students). Applied
that they did not know much about the research at MSc level can be challenging
coping mechanisms employed by prison and requires commitment from students,
Fiona Sweeney is Trainee
officers after an incident of suicide-related but it is possible and the rewards students Forensic Psychologist
behaviour, and prison officers stated that gain from conducting research in applied working in a medium
they were never listened to or cared for. settings can be invaluable. secure hospital. She
Due to this reaction, there was a great Another way of enhancing collaborative secured a trainee post upon
completion of the MSc in
drive from both authors to disseminate engagement in student-led projects is
Applied Forensic Psychology
and publish the research in order to by inviting applied researchers to run at the University of York in 2017, and has a
address these concerns. This research workshops with students to help them particular interest in the interactions between
was subsequently published in the Journal generate research ideas. For example, in the mental health and offending behaviour.
of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology MSc Applied Forensic Psychology cohort
with the Deputy Governor of the prison 2016/17, Professor Adrian Raine worked Dr Jane Clarbour is an
(Sweeney, Clarbour, and Oliver, 2018). closely with students to develop potential Associate Professor (Senior
MSc research projects for a week at the Lecturer) in the Department
Impact and suggestions for practice beginning of the academic year. These close of Psychology, where she
is the course director
Collaborative engagement can enhance working relationships between students of the MSc in Applied
student’s confidence in their own ability, and renowned researchers can enhance Forensic Psychology.  She
giving them a sense of self-worth and an confidence, and their flare and passion is also a Chartered and Registered Forensic
awareness of the importance of research for research is often infectious, meaning Psychologist. Jane is co-chair of CrimNet, the
University’s network for academics, students,
(which is often the most daunting aspect students can become excited about the and practitioners with research interests in
of completing a degree (Papanastasiou prospect of conducting an independent crime and the impact of crime.
and Zembylas, 2008); see also Maharajan piece of research. Finally, previous students

university of york | issue 44 Forum 27
the back page

Support, development and recognition for
organises an exciting series of one- DEVELOPMENT (YPAD) LEARNING (TEL)
off workshops and events, delivered SCHEME Technology enhanced learning refers
and facilitated by experienced The YPAD scheme is based upon to the use of online systems and tools
academic and support staff. the University’s Peer Support in support of learning and teaching
Workshops are open to all staff and for Teaching policy, and involves activities. TEL support at the
postgraduate students. If you are participants working to develop University of York is provided by the
unable to attend an event but would their practice in groups supported E-Learning Development Team in the
like a copy of the materials, please and facilitated by an experienced Academic Support Office. The team
let us know. For further information, colleague. The scheme is designed offers individuals and Departments
see: to be inclusive of all staff groups support in the design, delivery and
community/peer-support/forum who teach or support student evaluation of learning technology
learning (including graduate interventions at the activity,
teaching assistants, research staff module and programme level. This
with teaching responsibilities, includes guidance on the use of the
THE SCHOLARSHIP OF associate staff and learning and University’s centrally-supported
TEACHING AND LEARNING teaching support staff) and caters virtual learning environment
NETWORK (SOTLN) for all levels of experience. YPAD is Yorkshare, and advice on a wide range
The SoTL Network brings together accredited by Advance HE (formerly of learning technologies, including
a suite of resources, professional the Higher Education Academy); this use of Google Sites for portfolios,
development, discussion and means individuals who successfully multimedia and video, lecture
dissemination opportunities engage with the scheme will secure recording, technology-supported
focused upon looking at teaching professional recognition through the assessment, in-class technologies
and student learning in a scholarly award of an HEA Fellowship category and collaboration out
and research-orientated way. appropriate to their role and their of class. For more information,
The current range of activities level of responsibility for teaching see:
organised as part of the network and supporting learning. For more support/technology
includes an annual SoTL journal, information, see:
invited speakers, and a strand teaching/develop/ypad
of seminars designed to engage
colleagues with key and emerging
pedagogical literature. For more
information, see: THE NATIONAL TEACHING
teaching/develop/network FELLOWSHIP SCHEME
The NTFS Individual Awards form
part of a nationwide, government-
FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES funded initiative to promote
The Rapid Response Fund supports excellence in learning and teaching.
small-scale short-term projects, Operated by Advance HE (formerly
initiatives or purchases to enhance the Higher Education Academy),
the quality of learning and teaching the Individual Awards competition
by addressing a clearly-identified recognises individuals who have If you are interested in
need or issue. Funding is limited, and made an outstanding impact on contributing an article for the
grants will be awarded on a first- the student learning experience. 55 next or a subsequent issue of
come, first-served basis; please also awards are available each year, to Forum magazine, please contact the
note that departments in a stronger be used for personal, pedagogic and editor, Ruth Penfold-Mounce, or
financial position may be asked professional development in learning the sub-editor, Phil Robinson-Self.
to fund initiatives from their own and teaching (there is no longer a Our next issue, to be released in
resources. For more information, formal project requirement). For Spring term, will be loosely themed
41670 –

see: more information, see: around the idea of 'creativity' in
support/funding staff/teaching/reward/ntfs teaching and learning.

28 Forum issue 44 | university of york