The UW Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Conference 2015 programme and abstracts can be found at https://ltseclearningconversations.wordpress.com/annual-uw-ltse-conference/.
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Karen Blackmore and Michelle Rogers (IoE)
In an environment of rapidly evolving and competitive Higher Education, it is vital for institutions to be flexible in their provision (Alexandra, 2014). This project aims to support the creation of new programs by raising awareness of existing best practice, and augment this with a “learner centred” perspective. The researchers endeavour to discern the key elements of successful program design using a dialogic approach. Our thinking has been influenced from several theoretical perspectives including self-determinism theory (Ryan and Deci, 2006), which describes how adult learners require a degree of autonomy and opportunities to demonstrate competence, through to grounded theory of high quality leadership programs (Eich, 2008). By analysing empirical research data from interested parties (in the form of semi-structured interviews and questionnaires), we aim to design a suite of questions which can be used to prompt discourse surrounding new course design. The study draws on the work of Dolenceon, 2014 who created a structure to guide dialog and enquiry about curriculum. He identified seven key elements of program design and highlighted questioning approaches that could be used to interrogate these components, e.g. “What objectives do the learners seek?” helps to identify the motivations and learning experiences required by learners. “Who are the learners?” attempts to identify to what extent reciprocity exists between these two delineated roles. It is anticipated to use the findings from this study to inform successful future course design.
Caroline Rosen and Dr Jodie Lewis (ISE)
Archaeology and Heritage Studies (A&HS) can currently be studied joint with five other subject areas – Environmental Science, Geography, History, Fine Art Practice and Art and Design. However, the take-up of these combinations is rather unevenly dispersed both across subject areas as well as from year to year. This research aims to investigate the current provision for the joint honours programme, specifically assessing the experience of joint honours students, the modules currently available to them and whether they feel the joint honours programme is meeting their needs. Opinion was gathered from both current students and recent graduates through a questionnaire which addressed the three areas of interest mentioned above. In addition, final year single honours students from the five aforementioned subject areas were also asked to complete a questionnaire. The aim of this component of the project looked to understand whether students were aware of the joint honours option, whilst also being asked which modules they may have found beneficial to enhance employability/knowledge of their chosen subject area. Ultimately, this research aims to make a contribution to the future development of the joint honours provision for A&HS.
Alison Prowle (IoE)
The aim of the research paper is to develop an understanding of the role of visual representations and narrative in enabling students’ critical reflection. The research builds on previous work by Appleby and Hanson in relation to reflective activism. The presentation is underpinned by reflective practice theory specifically ‘Reflective Activism’ (Appleby, K and Hanson, K. 2014) and how this is realised within pedagogical approaches. The paradigm for this research is interpretative/ constructivist. The research uses a range of qualitative methods including a reflective pedagogical conversation with students and content analysis of student work, which includes expressive and exploratory writing, visual representations and storytelling. The data is analysed using triangulation within and between methods to identify themes. The data is drawn from the researchers’ own personal experience as reflective practitioners. Student representations used within the presentation have been granted appropriate consent. The Main finding of the research is that exploring alternative forms of representation can enhance students ‘ ability to engage with the reflective process and engage in meaning making designed to improve practice.
Lauren Morgan, Dr. Raluca Zanca and Peter Unwin (IHS).
In times of austerity academics are looking to relationship-based practice as an emergent response to deal with the potential shortfalls of contemporary social work. This study aimed to explore students’ perceptions and understanding of relationship-based practice, with regards to recent practice placements and learning from the course so far. Two focus groups were carried out across both cohorts of the Masters in Social Work course, which enabled students to articulate their perceptions and experiences of relationship-based practice. Findings suggest that students have a good grasp on the topic of relationship-based practice and how to promote it, whilst also recognising potential challenges in practice. In conclusion, continuing to raise awareness during taught sessions and practice experience will hopefully enable social work students to build the appropriate knowledge and skills to maintain relationship-based practice throughout their professional career. The learning and teaching tool created for this study will be presented for discussion in order to hopefully raise awareness for its application to not only social work education, training and practice, but across all disciplines. Further research could focus on the perspectives of social workers practising in statutory settings to determine whether their experiences differ from those of students.
Dr Karen Hanson (IoE)
The aim of the research was to illustrate factors that impact on the development of Early Childhood students’ reflective dispositions. Practitioner based inquiry (Hanson 2012) focused on how Early Childhood students can be supported in developing reflective dispositions. The students involved in this research were all level 4 undergraduates. The study adopted a social constructivist approach through pedagogical action research and was informed by a reflective methodology. The research is based upon principles of social constructivist and transformational theory and draws significantly on the work of Dewey, Friere, Schon, Mezirow, Vygotsky, Wenger and Brookfield. It applied a range of qualitative research methods using thematic analysis of data from focus groups and questionnaires. The outcome was the identification of four thematic elements to be considered when nurturing reflective dispositions, the development of a definition of reflective practice and the application of this to inform related learning programmes and publications.
Karen Appleby (IoE)
The aim of the research was to develop a conceptual framework to support reflective practice as a way of being. It builds on professional inquiry and research with students (Appleby 2010, Hanson 2012,) which informed the development of the curriculum content within Early Childhood programmes at the University of Worcester. Evaluation of student engagement with the curriculum, related professional discussion and other theoretical positions from literature supported further publications on the nature of reflective practice (Appleby 2010, Appleby & Andrews 2012, Hanson 2011). The research is based on principles of social constructivist and transformational theory. It draws on existing theory of critical thinking, professional learning and reflective practice. Within the context of action research as defined by Mc Niff & Whitehead (2011) a range of qualitative research methods was used to collect and analyse data from student evaluation of modules, professional conversations and literature. The main finding was the development of a conceptual framework described as ‘reflective activism’ within which the role and identity of early years practitioners as reflective activists is most significant. The outcome has been published (Hanson & Appleby 2015) and used to inform further curriculum development. Positive evaluations have been received from student practitioners and peer review.
Claire Richards (NCSPVA) & Catriona Robinson (IoE)
The paper will present the initial findings of a study which aimed to highlight aspects of professional practice dilemmas for students of Early Childhood Studies and Education where they are working with children and families. Consequent to students’ understanding of their safeguarding responsibilities, dilemmas are identified when theory and practice may be at a critical variance. Early Years practitioners and Teachers continue to play an increasingly pivotal role in their safeguarding responsibilities to promote the rights of children. The promotion of the voice of the child is viewed as synonymous to hearing the voice of the student where concerns are identified in the context of professional practice. The university seeks to offer procedural approaches to enable students to raise concerns and access emotional support from staff. The study therefore examines the role and implication for academic staff in this process. The research is a qualitative study and acquired ethical approval from the Institute’s Ethics Committee of the Worcester of University. The results of this research indicate that students do identify a range of anxieties in the context of professional practice and there is a strong message that there is a need for more teaching focus on safeguarding children in preparation for practice. Academic staff have also indicated some concern about the need for support and further training on this issue.