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The Journal of Pedagogic Development http://www.beds.ac.uk/learning/support/jpd Volume 2 Issue 1 – Spring 2012 Editors

Letters/Talking Points

Andrea Raiker: andrea.raiker@beds.ac.uk David Mathew: david.mathew@beds.ac.uk

We hope to run a Letters Page in all subsequent issues of the JPD. Please feel free to contact us with your comments. They might be about matters that you have found in the JPD, but they do not need to be.

About the JPD The JPD is developed in the Centre for Learning Excellence at the University of Bedfordshire. www.beds.ac.uk/learning. The Centre for Learning Excellence Park Square, D006 Luton, Bedfordshire LU1 3JU

Guidelines If you are interested in contributing to the Journal of Pedagogic Development, please feel free to contact the Editors for Guidelines or for general queries. Submissions are particularly encouraged from staff who have published infrequently or not at all. For example, are you involved in a pedagogic project and would like to offer or ask for assistance? If so, please send in a piece about your project. Similarly, if you would like to review a project or a piece of research, we would like to hear from you. Reviews of recently-published books are also invited, as are reviews of pedagogic journals (subject-specific or otherwise).

Writing Retreat Shortly after this issue goes out, we will be running this year's writing retreat at The Priory in Hitchin. A report will follow. Writing retreats are aimed at refining papers for external publication. These could be developments of articles published in the JPD or completely new pieces. As with publishing in the JPD, the focus should be on teaching and/or learning and/or assessment. The expectation is that your article will be submitted for external publication at the end of the Writing Retreat. These threeday events are held each academic year, just before or after the Easter holiday. For more information go to http://www.beds.ac.uk/learning/pedagog y/writingretreat. The retreat for 2013 will be announced later on in the year.

Key Pedagogic Thinkers Further information is available at http://www.beds.ac.uk/learning/pedagog y/jpd. Copyright remains with the author(s). If you place your work elsewhere, please wait six months, and please mention the JPD when you submit to another outlet.

This issue sees the first in a series that will profile important thinkers. The idea of this series is more of a quick introduction than a full-length paper, and we hope to receive your submissions in due course. This issue: Jacques Lacan


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Contents Editorial Les Ebdon

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Embedding a curriculum-based information literacy programme at the University of Bedfordshire Averil Robertson, Isabella McMurray, Joanne Ingram, Patricia Roberts

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Thriving as an International Student: Personal responses and the trajectories they create Tony Shannon-Little

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Student engagement and the role of feedback in learning Ann Wilson

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Key Pedagogic Thinkers: Jacques Lacan David Mathew

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Will health students engage with a health information blog? Janine Bhandol

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Learning and Teaching in Business through Rich and Varied Information Sources Ian Hughes

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Book Reviews

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Evaluation of a Global MBA Programme Yongmei Bentley & Habte Selassie

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Learning Beyond Compliance: A comparative analysis of two cohorts undertaking a first year social work module Avril Bellinger & Fumiyo Kagawa

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Peer Assisted Learning: Project Update Eve Rapley

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Editorial Professor Les Ebdon CBE DL Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive University of Bedfordshire Subsequent to my appointment as the Director General Designate of the Office of Fair Access, I have had to step down from being the Chair of the University Think Tank, million+. Over the five years I have been Chair we have published a number of reports, but I think it is particularly appropriate that the last report that we published while I was Chair was entitled ‘Teaching that Matters’. It was launched at the University of Greenwich by the Universities and Science Minister, The Right Honourable David Willetts MP. The title for the report was suggested by the Minister himself when he launched the million+ report ‘Research that Matters’ in May 2011. The Coalition Government is attaching renewed importance to teaching in higher education. So will students as fees rise to £9,000 per year. The report highlights the dynamic, innovative and diverse developments in teaching in modern universities. ‘Teaching that Matters’ investigates how modern universities support high quality teaching and learning for the hundreds of thousands of students who perhaps, in previous generations, would not have had the transformational opportunity to benefit from higher education. One characteristic of the many developments described is the way in which modern universities connect with the experience of students and put them at the centre of their learning. The report was researched and written by colleagues at the Centre for Developmental and Applied Research Education at the University of Wolverhampton and can be downloaded from the million+ website, www.millionplus.ac.uk . Given the emphasis on innovation in our own values, I was delighted that our own Business Pods are singled out as an example of making learning relevant. The emphasis on real projects for real businesses, in which students manage their own learning through problem solving, has clearly engaged students in the University of Bedfordshire Business School. It can be demonstrated that academic achievement and retention have risen and that the students value the unique opportunity that the pods allow. The report covers many other innovations in learning from which we could certainly learn from as a University. It is encouraging to see that, in universities which take high quality teaching seriously, there are still creative ideas being developed which place the student at the centre of their own learning, use technology to promote engagement and enhance the transforming life experiences available to students. As I contemplate a life change from educator to regulator on my retirement, it is encouraging to see that teaching in universities is in good hands in universities like the University of Bedfordshire.


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Embedding a curriculum-based information literacy programme at the University of Bedfordshire Averil Robertson, Academic Liaison Librarian Isabella McMurray, Employability Fellow, Department of Psychology Dr Joanne Ingram, Lecturer, Department of Psychology Dr Patricia Roberts, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology Introduction This article describes the development of an information literacy programme that was embedded into the Psychology curriculum during 2007-2008. The programme was a collaboration between a faculty librarian and the Department of Psychology and utilized a blended learning approach along with a variety of teaching and assessment methods. This paper also reports on the initial findings from an ongoing evaluation assessing the impact of the programme on students’ learning and information skills development. There had been an acknowledgement within the Department of Psychology and at broader University level of the importance of supporting students’ and graduates’ employability. Indeed, when the University undertook a curriculum redesign in 2008 (known as CRe8) the University recognized that ‘there are four core skills areas at Figure 1: The ‘7 pillars’ of information literacy (SCONUL, 1999)

the core of ‘graduateness’ and employability that the University expects all courses to emphasise: communication; Information literacy; Research and evaluation; and creativity and critical thinking’ (University of Bedfordshire, 2009). The development and implementation of an information literacy programme was therefore aligned closely with the University’s goals at that time. What is information literacy? The significance of information literacy has been highlighted by librarians for many years. In 1999 the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) produced its 'Seven Pillars of Information Literacy', a position paper describing a model of information skills. In essence the model showed how students start as novices with basic library and IT skills and by working through the seven pillars become experts in Information literacy as shown in Figure 1. This model was promoted both in UK Higher Education institutions and around the world to librarians and teachers to aid them in delivering information skills teaching; the paper also noted the importance of information literacy programmes having ‘clear aims and [being] based on sound pedagogic foundations’. Similar standards were drawn up internationally. In the US, the Association of College and Research Libraries developed its 'Information literacy competency standards for higher education' in 2000, while at the same time in Australia and New Zealand a set of core information literacy principles were being postulated by the Institute for Information Literacy (Bundy, 2004). The SCONUL standards have recently been st updated to reflect the 21 century learning environment. This new model 'defines the core skills and competencies (ability) and attitudes and behaviours (understanding) at the heart of information literacy development in higher education' (SCONUL, 2011, p.3).


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Importance of information skills The usefulness and relevance of information literacy (IL) skills for successful completion of academic study is recognised internationally as being 'central to the mission of higher education institutions' (ACRL, 2000). There is also recognition of the significance of information literacy to student's employability. A survey of its alumni undertaken by Glasgow Caledonian University found that the 'link to the employability agenda was notable', and that former students saw it as 'a skill ... increasingly sought by employers' (Crawford, 2005:20). There is an imperative need for students to acquire good IL skills to be able to retrieve relevant information, critically evaluate it and use it in a legal and ethical manner, both for their assignments and in their professional life (Crawford, 2005). However, Hayes-Bohana and Spievak (2008) found that students struggled to access and use information effectively, and that they often had little understanding of the importance of using good quality information resources. What is the optimum delivery to enhance information literacy? So how can educators teach students to become information literate? A variety of studies have been carried out into the optimum means of transmitting information skills to undergraduates. These have included the methods of delivery (Sharkey, 2006) and types of assessment (Salisbury & Ellis, 2003; Sonley et al., 2007). Faculty-librarian collaboration has been shown to be the most effective means of developing a relevant, timely, programme of information skills training (Lampert, 2005; Paglia & Donahue, 2003) that is more than ‘just one shot’ at a teaching session (Artman, et al., 2010). Effective pedagogy has also been related to the nature of the task with practical, assignment-related tasks more likely to engage students than does a theoretical lecture (Walton, et al., 2007; Partridge, Baker & McAllister, 2008). Parker & Freeman (2005, n.p.) noted that embedding information skills teaching into the course and making it relevant to students’ topics had a high impact on their subsequent results. Designing and delivering the programme When designing the information skills programme within the the Department of Psychology undergraduate course we were cognisant of the

need to work in close collaboration. As Meldrum & Tootell comment (2004:50): …there needs to be close collaboration between all educators …. Collaboration works well when there is an acknowledgement of the academic's in-depth subject knowledge, the librarian's information literacy competencies and their combined teaching experience and knowledge of the problems students experience. We took care to use a systematic approach to planning, in order to create ‘engaging and effective educational materials’ (Anagnostopoulo, 2002:2). Students are more likely to learn if course designers have structured their learning materials using proven theories and models of instructional design theory such as the widely-used ADDIE model noted below:  Assessment and analysis of need  Development of course outline  Development of content  Implementation of the course  Evaluation of its effectiveness. Thought was given to the selection of appropriate methods to achieve the desired learning outcomes and we also tried to take different learning characteristics into account; if one method is used to deliver all teaching within a programme, those students who do not engage with that particular method will soon become disaffected. Delivery methods can be transmissible, transactional or transformational (Haywood, 1997). Transmissable methods use directed instruction, such as workbooks containing practical tasks, or lectures that provide factual information. By using the transmissible approach to teach the students how to search the resources available to them we hoped to enable them to apply the skills they acquired to carrying out their own searches as they progressed through the degree programme, with repetition of the process for each assignment reinforcing their learning and refining their skills. Lectures and presentations traditionally used to deliver information to large numbers of students, were discounted due to the very ‘surface’ nature of teaching, which do not necessarily cater for different learning styles. The National Training Laboratories’ Learning Pyramid (Markless, 2006; Powis, 2005) asserts that the average retention rate for ‘practice by doing’ is 75%, as opposed to 5% for information delivered by a lecture.


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Moreover, students do not learn how to access electronic information resources effectively by watching an hour long presentation; hands-on practice is needed in this context (Breivik, 2006; Rogers, 2007). For this reason, presentations within the programme were limited to a brief 15minute introduction to the details of and rationale behind it and students quickly move on to practical exercises. Transactional methods use a scaffolded and student-centred approach which has been shown to be effective in reinforcing a student’s learning. Star and McDonald (2007), for example, have described how 'curriculum design should be informed by a developmental approach aimed at scaffolding student learning by building their independent learning'. Problem-based learning based on real situations applies theory to practice, and tailoring the subject of the information skills sessions to the assignment topic helps students to realise their relevance, something that has been identified as an important factor in engaging them in the process, and which allows deeper learning to take place (Meldrum & Tootell, 2004). Selfdirected learning in the form of ‘homework’ is then used to reinforce the skills that the students should have learned through completing the worksheet. Transformational methods involve the student in critical thinking and reflection, the final stage of Kolb’s learning cycle (Kolb, 1984), with the instructor a partner in the learning process. They help students to transform information into knowledge through active learning, reflection and a wider understanding of the context of the material through critical and independent thinking. This deeper approach is used to encourage students to develop their own search strategies, which are harder skills to learn and require more creative thinking. The various levels of information literacy identified by SCONUL can be aligned to the six cognitive stages of Bloom’s taxonomy (Bloom, et al., 1956) to create succinct learning objectives. The list below also includes the tasks that students worked on associated with each level; Level 1: Knowledge – ability to locate information The first assessment that students undertook in a core tutorial class was to locate information and complete a practical workbook-based exercise on searching the online catalogue and Digital Library.

This workbook included a pre-planned database search demonstrating the stages of devising a search strategy. Level 2: Comprehension – ability to understand information Students took part in a short Keepad exercise on the characteristics of different types of information resources; this allows for learning to take place as they submit anonymously but were able to learn the correct answers and gain some understanding of how to choose the best resources for the task at hand. Level 3: Application – using learned information skills in a new situation Students then had the opportunity to apply and reinforce the skills they had learned so far by collaborating in groups of 3 or 4 on an exercise to plan and execute a general search for information resources related to their topic. Level 4: Analysis – evaluation of information retrieved Students also needed to be able to demonstrate that they could critically evaluate the resources they had found. This was achieved by explaining to their tutorial group why they had chosen their resources, based on evaluation criteria contained in several online tutorials that they had been directed to. Students were also provided with downloadable helpsheets containing information about the characteristics of different types of resources. Level 5: Synthesis – critical thinking Once students had received their initial feedback from the group exercise they were able to use it to apply their new skills and understanding of the search process to create their individual search plans and carry out a more detailed search. Level 6: Evaluation – ability to evaluate their own learning The final self-assessment took place when students submited a reflective exercise on the search process. They were provided with prompting questions to help them to get started; for example, how successful they thought their search had been and whether or not the keywords they chose were appropriate, what they might do differently and finally how confident they now felt about looking for information. The programme is outlined in Table 1.


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Table 1: The information skills programme Activity

Worksheet on using the online catalogue etc.

Individual search exercise for resources relating to topic

Group submissions of results of individual searches

MCQ quiz to assess understanding of characteristics of information resources

Refinement of individual search strategy

Reflective exercise on the whole search process

Method of delivery

Word document: downloadable worksheet for completion and exchange by email 2: Gain knowledge of resources available

Word document: downloadable worksheet that directs them through the search process 1: Recognise the need for information 3: Plan and carry out a search for information

VLE (BREO)

Keypad presentation

E-portfolio: template on PebblePad

E-portfolio: template on PebblePad

4, 5 & 7: Evaluate, exploit and communicate results of research

2: Gain further knowledge of resources available by developing

3: Plan and carry out a search for information

4, 5, 7 & 8: Evaluate the results retrieved, communicate

Learning level

1: Knowledge

3: Application of acquired skills

4: Analysis evaluation of information retrieved

2: Comprehension

3: Application of acquired skills

5 & 6: Synthesis and Evaluation

Assessed Method

Completion of worksheets and checking by peers

Peer (group) assessment of individual searches

Group assessment by librarian

Librarian assesses submission via PebblePad template

Librarian assesses submission via PebblePad template

Learning objective

There were a number of reusable learning objects available in the form of online quizzes and exercises on plagiarism and copyright issues. Rather than spend time recreating such resources, the prospective course provided links to them and each student is expected to complete them before starting to write their first assignment. Students received immediate feedback in the form of their score, and could retake the tutorials as many times as they wished, helping to reinforce learning. This activity was complemented by the University of Bedfordshire’s own referencing guidelines, available online. Assessing learning Another issue to consider when embedding information skills into the curriculum is that of assessments. The teaching and assessment activities have to be constructively aligned to the stated learning objectives (Biggs, 1999); matching them in this way will help to make the learning

Plagiarism quiz to assess knowledge and understandi ng of ethical issues online tutorial embedded within VLE

6: Understand the ethical and responsible use of information 2: Comprehension

Online tutorial – gives immediate feedback for selfassessment.

and assessment process more meaningful. Indeed, there is no point is assessing for the sake of it. Likewise, students can be reluctant to undertake a task if they cannot perceive the need for it and are often only extrinsically motivated, only undertaking work when they feel that there is an assessment attached to it. Indeed, it was notable in this programme that at each level, year on year, only around 32% of students submitted the information skills homework until it was weighted at 5% for the unit, at which point completion rates rose to over 95%. We utilized a variety of assessment strategies in order to enhance deeper learning, fostering working collaboratively with others and developing communication skills. This would ultimately support graduates when they entered the work place. Specifically, the collaborative exercise planned for the group search strategy, where students’ knowledge and comprehension


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was informally assessed in the tutorial setting, was aimed at enhancing deeper learning. The preparatory discussions that took place before the group presentation offered the opportunity for greater learning to take place as more than one point of view could be put forward; existing learning experiences brought to the table, and different sources of information shared. Mature students in particular could also contribute a variety of experiences from the world of work. It was planned that presenting work to their peers would promote active learning by helping students to understand the material. However, many students were naturally cautious about speaking in front of their peers, especially at Level 1. Being able to present in a small group helped to allay some of these fears, especially when they were allowed to divide up the delivery between themselves. The final piece of work in the programme was that students were asked to upload their individual information skills work to their PebblePad portfolios. E-portfolios have developed in response to the change in emphasis to studentfocussed and individualised learning, as well as the need to provide support for lifelong learning and employability (Richardson & Ward, 2005). They provide a personal learning space where students can upload, store and share materials as well as providing tools such as reflective logs. The use of e-portfolios for assessment and reflection is a user-centred technique that promotes independent learning and encourages the students to think actively about the process of becoming information–literate and hopefully to understand its importance both for their studies and in their professional lives. It is more labour-intensive for the tutor as it requires targeted and individualised feedback, when ‘detailed, time-consuming feedback is normally given’ (JISC, 2009:24), but this also encourages deep learning. The final part of this homework involved the students reflecting on their personal experiences of the programme, noting down the success or otherwise of their search for information and evaluation of it. Reflective exercises are a form of self-assessment and are particularly valuable as they help the student to become a reflective and independent practitioner. By using this method students are also able to engage in meaningful interaction with the tutor through feedback, as it allows a much more personal and individual perspective to come through, thus enabling deep

learning. Engagement of students in this process varied widely, with some contributing little while others gave detailed feedback on their journey. Assessing impact The true test of the success or otherwise of the information skills course can be measured in the quality of the students’ assignments; the purpose is to help students develop skills that will enable them to write a well-informed piece of work that shows critical analysis of the literature. Although there are many drawbacks in trying to measure the success of an information skills programme purely from students’ written work (McGuinness & Brien, 2007), being able to assess their learning at each stage of the process through the different levels of information literacy provides a much better-informed and realistic appraisal. A variety of methods have been used in the past academic year (2010-11) to assess student learning, to capture attitudes, confidence and actual understanding. Students completed preand post-instruction skills self-assessment questionnaires developed by the librarian, assessing their confidence levels at a range of tasks; 50% of Level 1 students (113) completed both questionnaires in the academic year 2010-11. Some questionnaire results:  55% improvement in confidence in accessing databases  41% improvement in confidence in planning search strategies  31% improvement in confidence in ability to critically evaluate results of searches. Attendance at the two information skills tutorials, and submission of the homework, was compared against the grades that all Level 1 students achieved in their first assignment, a literature review. Students who attended hands-on tutorials where they learned how to plan and carry out a search for information using the library catalogue, databases and other electronic resources, achieved on average a full grade higher in their literature review than those who did not (a C as opposed to a D). From the next academic year, submission of the homework will be weighted at 5% of the grade for the Level 1 Foundations to Psychology unit; in the expectation that, as at Level 2 in 2009, submission rates will increase. It is hoped that an overall improvement in grades will result.


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Going forward, it is planned that more detailed assessment will be carried out:  anecdotal: focus groups, individual interviews.  skills testing: online tutorials have been developed for Level 1 students, using Articulate, with a view to creating more complex tutorials for students at Levels 2 and 3.  evidence of use: coding and analysis of PebblePad submissions. Conclusions Using sound pedagogical theories to develop an integrated information skills programme has enabled staff to support students in the development of vital skills that enable them to construct well-informed, evidence-based assignments from the start of the university careers. The scaffolding approach reinforces their learning and allows them to apply the skills they learn in practical sessions to all of their academic work, hopefully fostering independent learning and a structured approach to their informationseeking behaviour. That the programme has been successful is attested by the results of recent research carried out at Level 1, where grades of those students who completed all activities scored significantly higher in their first assignment. Weighting the tasks has been shown to improve completion rates, the logical corollary of which should be higher scores overall. It is hoped that this will be demonstrated in the results of the ongoing impact assessment project. (Editor's Note: Averil Robertson has since left the University of Bedfordshire.) References

Biggs, J. (1999) Teaching for quality learning at university. Buckingham: SRHE/Open University Press. Breivik, P. Senn & Gee, E.G. (2006) Higher Education in the InternetAage: libraries creating a strategic edge. Westport, Connecticut: American Council on Education. Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004) Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. 2nd edn. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy. Burns, T. & Sinfield, S. (2004) Teaching, learning and study skills: a guide for tutors. London: SAGE. Crawford, J. (2005) ‘Glasgow Caledonian University: impact of developing students’ information literacy’. Library & Information Research, Vol.29, No. 91, pp. 2021. Available online at http://www.lirg.org.uk/lir/ojs/index.php/lir/article/view File/178/223 [accessed 26th September 2011). Hayes-Bohanan, P. & Spievak, E. (2008) ‘You can lead students to sources, but can you make them think?’ College & Undergraduate Libraries, Vol. 15, No.1, pp. 173-210. Haywood, R. (1997) ‘Links between learning styles, teaching methods and course requirements’, in T. Edwards, C. Fitzgibbon & F. Hardman (eds.) Separate but equal?: A levels and GNVQs. London: Routledge, pp. 126-162. JISC (2009) Effective practice in a digital age: a guide to technology-enhanced teaching and learning. London: HEFCE. Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: PrenticeHall. Lampert, L. (2005) ‘'Getting psyched' about information literacy: a successful faculty-librarian collaboration for Educational Psychology and Counseling’. The Reference Librarian, 89/90, pp. 5-23.

Anagnostopoulo, K. (2002) Designing to learn and learning to design: an overview of instructional design models. Available online at http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/InfoKits/effective-use-ofVLEs/resources/ltsn-instructional-design-models [accessed 26th September 2011).

Markless, S. (2006) How do we learn? Queen Alexandra Hospital, Harlow: Lecture to NHS librarians.

Artman, M., Frisicaro-Pawlowski, E. and Monge, R. (2010) ‘Not just one shot: extending the dialogue about information literacy in composition classes’. Composition Studies, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 93-109.

Meldrum, A. M. & Tootell, H. (2004) ‘Integrating information literacy into curriculum assessment practice: an informatics case study'. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 49-58.

Association of College and Research Libraries (2000) Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Chicago: American Library Association.

Paglia, A. & Donahue, A. (2003) ‘Collaboration works: integrating information competencies into the psychology curricula’. Reference Services Review, Vol. 31, No. $, pp. 320-328.

McGuinness, C. & Brien, M. (2007) ‘Using reflective journals to assess the research process’. Reference Services Review, Vol.35, No. 1, pp. 21-40.


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Parker, L. & Freeman, M. (2005) ‘Blended learning: a mutual approach to embedding information literacy into the curriculum’. In: Librarians' Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC): London, 2005: Proceedings. Available online at http://www.lilacconference.com/dw/archive/resources/ 2005/parker.pdf [accessed 26the September 2011].

http://www.sconul.ac.uk/groups/information_literacy/s even_pillars.html [accessed 26th September 2011]. SCONUL Advisory Committee on Information Literacy (2011) The SCONUL Seven Pillars of Information Literacy: core model for Higher Education. Available online at http://www.sconul.ac.uk/groups/information_literacy/p ublications/coremodel.pdf [accessed 8th September 2011].

Partridge, H., Baker, A. & McAllister, L. (2008) ‘The Reflective Online Searching Skills (ROSS) environment: embedding information literacy into student learning through an online environment’. IFLA Journal, Vol.34, No. 1, pp. 55-71.

Sharkey, J. (2006) ‘Towards information fluency: applying a different model to an information literacy credit course’. Reference Services Review, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 71-85.

Powis, C. & Rosling, A. (2005) Teaching skills for information & learning resources staff. De Montfort University, Leicester: Workshops delivered to members of CoFHE East Midlands.

Sonley, V., Turner, D., Myer, S. & Cotton, Y. (2007) ‘Information literacy assessment by portfolio: a case study’. Reference Services Review, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 4170.

Richardson, H. C. & Ward, R. (2005) Developing and implementing a methodology for reviewing eportfolio products. Wigan: Centre for Recording Achievement. Available online at http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/Resources/externalth resources/eportfolio-products-cra-report [accessed 26 September 2011].

Star, C. & McDonald, J. (2007) 'Embedding successful pedagogical practices: assessment strategies for a large, diverse, first year student cohort', International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 18-30. Available online at http://eprints.usq.edu.au/3466/1/Star_McDonald.pdf [accessed 26th September 2011].

Rogers, J. (2007) Adults learning. 5th edn. Maidenhead: Open University Press/McGrawHill.

University of Bedfordshire (2009) An introduction to teaching, learning and assessment at the University of Bedfordshire Available online at http://www.beds.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/26 593/guide1tandlassessment-jan09.pdf [accessed 26th September 2011].

Salisbury, F. & Ellis, J. (2003) ‘Online and face-to-face: evaluating methods for teaching information literacy skills to undergraduate arts students’. Library Review, Vol. 52, No. 5, pp. 209-217. SCONUL Advisory Committee on Information Literacy (1999) Information skills in higher education: a briefing paper. Available online at

Walton, G., Barker, J., Hepworth, M. & Stephens, D. (2007) 'Using online collaborative learning to enhance information literacy delivery in a Level 1 module: an evaluation’, Journal of Information Literacy, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 13-30.

Thriving as an International Student: Personal responses and the trajectories they create. Tony Shannon-Little, School of Law, Social Sciences and Communications, University of Wolverhampton Abstract: During a study investigating their experiences on a British university campus, relatively successful long stay international students critically reflect on their experiences of cross-cultural interactions and how these have shaped not just their current behaviour but also their longer term attitudes and aims, or in Wenger's term their trajectories.

A tentative taxonomy of trajectories is described and its pedagogical relevance discussed in terms of ways that this understanding can inform staff interventions to enhance intercultural learning, not only of international students but of home students and staff also, and lead to further critical reflection by all participants on their own cultural influences.


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Introduction The experience of living and studying in another country is regarded as having a potentially transformative effect on the individual on a wide variety of levels, academic, cultural, intercultural, linguistic, personal and professional (Coleman, 2011). The comparison of different cultures and the learning which takes place, both for the sojourner and members of the host community with which they have contact, is seen as beneficial as it can foster the development of intercultural competence, 'an amalgam of knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, skills, and behaviours, representing both cognitive and affective learning, and comprising an awareness of the relativity of cultures, including their own, and a recognition that culture is a social construct ' (Coleman, 2011: 3) However much research in recent years has revealed disappointingly low levels of interaction between International and local students due to perceived shyness, indifference, negative stereotypes and linguistic difficulties on both sides (Volet & Ang, 1998; Otten, 2003; Cathcart et al., 2006; Schweisfurth & Gu, 2009; Sovic, 2009; Harrison & Peacock, 2010). In an overview of studies published between 1995 and 2005, focused mostly on adaptation to US universities, Andrade (2006) reports that these language and cultural issues are often detrimental to the level of international students' health and ability/opportunity to establish supportive social links, potentially reinforcing a cycle of ever decreasing contact with locals, to the detriment of cultural learning opportunities for home and international students alike. Research intended to shed light on ways to improve contacts has tended to focus on identifying problems encountered during the initial transition period (Brown, 2009; Sovic, 2009). An alternative approach is to investigate the experiences of relatively successful students and the resulting effects on their knowledge of and approach to intercultural learning. A study of the experiences of students resident on a multicultural campus for longer than one year, who have developed some confidence in describing their successes in coping with this cross-cultural experience, may increase our knowledge of the range of successful behaviours and possible outcomes, leading to the identification of strategies which will support cross-cultural learning. In the first part of this paper a study of the experiences of students resident for 18 months or

longer is described. This is followed by an attempt to outline possible implications for our pedagogy. Method 14 (9 female/5 male) students from overseas were interviewed about their experience of studying for 18-30 months at the University of Wolverhampton. Students from nine countries, from Europe, Central Africa and East Asia took part. Volunteers (aged between 22 and 38) were studying a range of disciplines on the Wolverhampton City site. During 50-60 minute semi-structured interviews the students were asked about their domestic, social and study networks and the nature of their cross-cultural contacts. They described their adjustment over time to a multicultural campus and strategic choices that they made, and offered suggestions to improve communication between home and international students. Responses were recorded, transcribed and analysed to draw out common themes. Findings Most students contrasted their approach to social and domestic contacts, compared to study-related interaction; like the respondents in Brown's (2009) study of newly arrived students, they quickly developed and maintained a strong supportive domestic network based on nationality or cultural affinity wherever possible, but unlike with Brown's interviewees this secure emotional base was not constraining as it also served as a solid platform from which they could venture into cross-cultural interaction with classmates from different cultures. Over time students adopted a variety of roles with classmates and tutors, positioning themselves at various times as dependent, e.g. as non-native speakers, but also as pro-active members of the collective, e.g. as good organisers in group work (Shannon-Little, 2011). From interviewees' descriptions of their own responses towards other cultures and their motivations, a sense of coherence in attitudes and aims emerges for five relatively distinct types, influenced by domestic context, medium-term plans and self-image. Some of the types have aspects in common so are not mutually exclusive, but each type displays a distinctive attitude to cross-cultural interaction heavily influenced by, and in some case influencing, their future aims – for which I have utilised Wenger's term (1998) 'trajectory'.


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The following brief descriptions of each type, with supporting quotes (using pseudonyms), will illustrate this tentative typology of approaches to intercultural learning. The classification is divided into 5 trajectories, termed Settler, Discoverer, Adventurer, Collector and Miner, although this typology could be added to or refined through further research. Settler (three females): mature student already resident in the UK for 3+ years, having chosen or been forced to emigrate, studying to improve their employment prospects with a view to permanent residence. They wish to make the most of opportunities including cross-cultural dialogue and all adopt a strategy of minimising underlying differences, to allow them to come to terms with new environment more easily (without ignoring their own strong moral codes). Thus they stress our common humanity, regardless of culture, as the following quote demonstrates: We are all human beings we share the same emotions, more or less the same stories and stuff, so it's been a good experience for me and slowly I start to feel like I belong. I don't feel like the outsider anymore. (Lucy) (Self) Discoverer (two females): individuals with a strong emotional base within their first culture, but who are open to the host culture and feel more comfortable with some aspects of it compared to their home culture. Gina remarks: 'And people here they teach me to be humble and low profile, I mean because sometimes Chinese is quite high profile, they like to showing off everything. People here tend to be low profile even a simple life make them happy, so I learned to be simple and be more happy. And to be independent', while Karen appreciates the greater privacy: 'Chinese people talk a lot about things and gossip. English are like – as long as you are happy. That's the big difference. So I more prefer to go out with English people. I feel like I got more privacy'. She describes a fundamental change in her relationship with her parents: I changed my values, attitudes, changed the way I see the world. The first thing is about my parents. Before I came to England I listened to them, everything what they told to me, because they give me money to live for whatever I do. (...). When I come to England I realised it's my life, I should be the one who says if I want to do it or not, rather than what they tell me to do or not. (...) Even though I

didn't want to do it, I got to do it because I thought I should be respectful. Now, I start to argue, I start to tell her why I think it's not right. (Karen) Both Gina and Karen emphasise, in different ways, their curiosity and the satisfaction they gain from developing their creativity through interaction with other students' ideas. They feel as if they have a better understanding of themselves after this experience, and wish to continue learning from less culturally bound perspectives, even if intending to return to their home country after study. Adventurer (four European females): broadly speaking they have all successfully adapted to this cultural experience (and sometimes others) and are proud of their resilience. They have to some extent outgrown their home culture and are now interested in further cross-cultural experiences. When I am looking at my home town right now, it seems so small and unimportant somehow, because I know that I come from there but when I go back and meet all the people that I have known from since I was a child, I don't have much in common now with them and I feel more, I feel that I can read people in more careful way now whereas when I go back to Poland there are people there who are 'self-centred' maybe I would say. They don't take others views into consideration. (Beata) Many have previous experiences from other countries, including Erasmus placements, and all have longer term plans for further residence abroad. There is a strong sense of excitement about future opportunities, Collector (four males): The interviewees on this trajectory, while studying hard to gain a good qualification, have a related goal to collect knowledge of other cultures for use later in achieving their strong ambitions for a future (often clearly planned) job, either back in the home culture or in a more international setting. As Henry explains: ' I want to start my own business. I want to be an auditor, my own company. (...) With foreign companies.[The contact with other nationalities here will be useful, because] basically I don't feel nervous, because everyday I stay there and have contact. It will help you to improve your conversation skills' . The emphasis is on seizing the current opportunities through proactive crosscultural interaction, sometimes going to great lengths, as time is limited/precious. Although they


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make use of a co-cultural safe zone in their domestic life, there is scarce sympathy for peers who are too anxious to participate in the necessary cross-cultural interaction. Information on cultural differences and practices is seen almost as a practical set of experiences or data to collect, and there are no value judgements against home culture norms. In fact Mark declares that it is necessary to accept them as they are: 'for you to really work well in other cultures you have to accept them, to integrate yourself to be part of them to understand their ways, and that will help you to get on'. They are accepted as the rules of the game as played in the culture currently under scrutiny, and potentially useful information for other contexts. Miner (one male): Although there is only one of the interviewees whose approach is placed in this category, there are references from several interviewees (and in the literature, e.g. Spurling 2006) to co-nationals who have not integrated into the multicultural campus as fully as the interviewees in this study have done. Students in this category will operate almost exclusively in comfortable home-culture networks, learning whatever intercultural skills are needed for survival, while minimising the disruption this may cause. They may regard the cross-cultural experience as positive, as is the case with the

student in this study, or as a frustratingly inaccessible opportunity because of difficulties in engineering deeper contacts, or even as an ordeal which they would prefer to put behind them, but in any case they have adjusted their targets and aim to achieve the goal of their qualification and leave, and look forward to the end of their stay and a return to familiarity. There is limited curiosity about the host culture, either because it has been experienced and found relatively uninteresting or unattractive, or because it has been difficult to engage with and thus remains impenetrable to the student who retreats to its margins, and thus is even more strongly attracted to home culture networks. Another interviewee refers to other international students with just such an instrumental approach Not every Chinese people [want to mix with other nationalities]. Some people just want to finish their degree. They spend their time on PS3 (...) They want the time pass so quick, and when they get their degree they can think 'Oh the task has finished! I can back to China. I can back home my normal life'. They think they are suffering here, they are not enjoying the experience here. (Joe) The table below gives an overview of the primary benefit/motivation for each type of trajectory.

Type

Primary benefit from cultural contacts

Settler

Learn how to survive and thrive in this environment

Discoverer

Understand myself better

Adventurer

Rise to the interesting challenge of new encounters

Collector

Gather knowledge and skills to use later

Miner

Instrumental: obtain what is needed and return to home culture.

Discussion This initial categorisation may prove to be insufficiently exhaustive or discriminating, but provides a starting point for a more discerning understanding of student motivations and trajectories, and can inform strategic intervention by staff to enhance the opportunities for greater cultural learning between home and international students. The Settler type may describe a minority trajectory for international students, but is of interest because of the tension between a pragmatically useful universalist stance – that we are all the

same 'underneath' - and the individual's desire to maintain identity-defining characteristics which are at odds with the norms of the new culture. The Miner type is perhaps of greater relevance because of the general lack of success that it can typify, as the student has withdrawn from any but cursory attempts at cultural learning. From a tutor's point of view it would be preferable to prevent (or reverse) this trajectory where possible through fostering increased interaction of a supportive nature, during the initial low risk familiarisation stages of forming the cohort in the early weeks of the semester before co-cultural


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social networks become too entrenched and before the gradient of risk increases with assessed group work (Shannon-Little, 2011). Engineering multicultural membership of workgroups is a necessary but not sufficient step in this, and tutor support must be highly proactive. Osmond & Roed's five recommendations to institutions/academic staff for smoother interaction in group work between domestic and international students (2010: 123) are very helpful:  provide language support classes  emphasise to domestic and international students benefits of cross-cultural interactions  establish clear rules and expectations in advance of group work for all students  build in enough time for groups to gel, supported by regular tutorials  include intercultural content to allow all students to make some unique contribution.

synergy'. This works on the level of developing knowledge and skills for specific types of interaction (which is the prime motivation expressed by the collectors in the above study). However, there is also a possibility to stimulate learning at a metacognitive level, if we also ask learners to consider the experience from the perspective of an adventurer (how would you feel/react to a similar challenge in a different cultural context(s) as specified by the tutor?) or of a discoverer (what light does that shed on your own beliefs, attitudes, behaviour? Does that change your perspective in any way?). Not all students will necessarily be stimulated by such questions to consider the transferability of what they have learned from these experiences, but the greatest potential of cross-cultural contacts is not just in terms of what we can learn about others: as Adler (1975) remarks, interaction across national boundaries 'begins with the encounter of another culture and evolves into the encounter with self' (p. 18)

However these recommendations are not enough in themselves as they do not necessarily stimulate reflection on the process of collaboration. De Vita (2001) argues that in addition to clarifying with students the purpose within the module of groupwork and establishing rules for engagement, tutors need to devise in-class exercises to familiarise students with the skills needed, and to provide a structure and classtime for debriefing and evaluation of the process of group work both as a group and individually, supported by use of reflective journals.

Many academics might feel anxiety at their lack of training (Otten, 2003) for dealing with the cultural diversity that students in their courses represent, and indeed for coaching students in group work skill, and staff development is an issue which must be addressed, but in the meantime intercultural learning is such a priority for our students and ourselves that it must be addressed here and now. De Vita & Case (2003: 388) warn that interaction must be relevant to the students' courses and well-planned as such cultural learning must go beyond superficial mingling to 'the discovery and transcendence of difference through authentic experiences of cross-cultural interaction that involve real tasks and involve emotional as well as intellectual participation.' Our own participation as staff need not be expert but must be both emotional and intellectual if we are to do our students justice.

Cross-cultural learning is not just a one-way-street, with local students particularly needing the sustained exposure to other perspectives, and the earlier that collective recognition and mutual respect are achieved, the greater progress that can be made towards acknowledgement of both interdependence and reciprocal learning opportunities. This is where a more detailed understanding of possible trajectories can assist the tutor in structuring cultural learning activities to foster a more sophisticated understanding of the crosscultural experience and its transferability beyond the current context. De Vita (2001: 32) refers to a two-phase process of 'ensuring both the exploration of what each cultural perspective has to offer (de-centering) and the integration of the strengths of each (re-centering), so as to produce more effective outcomes through cultural

References Adler, P. S. (1975). ‘The transitional experience: An alternative view of culture shock’. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 13-23. Andrade, M.S. (2006) ‘International students in Englishspeaking universities: adjustment factors’. Journal of Research in International Education, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 131-154. Brown, L. (2009) ‘Ethnographic study of the friendship patterns of international students in England: an attempt to recreate home through conational


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interaction’. International Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 184-193.

Internationalisation and the student voice: Higher Education perspectives. London: Routledge.

Cathcart, A., Dixon-Dawson, J. & Hall, R. (2006), 'Reluctant hosts and disappointed guests? Examining expectations and enhancing experiences of crosscultural group work on post-graduate business programmes'. International Journal of Management Education, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 13-22.

Otten, M (2003) 'Intercultural learning and diversity in Higher Education'. Journal of Studies in International Education, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 12-26.

Coleman, J. (2011) Study/Work abroad and employability, Shaping the future. University Council of Modern Languages. De Vita, G. (2001) The use of group work in large and diverse business management classes; some critical issues. International Journal of Management Education, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 26-34 . De Vita, G. & Case, P. (2003) 'Rethinking the internationalisation agenda in UK higher education'. Journal of Further and Higher Education, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 383-398. Harrison, N. & Peacock, N. (2010) ‘Interactions in the international classroom: The UK perspective’ in E. Jones (ed.) (2010) Internationalisation and the student voice: Higher Education perspectives. London: Routledge. Osmond, J. & Roed, J. (2010) ‘Sometimes it means more work.... Student perceptions of group work in a mixed cultural setting’ in E. Jones (ed.) (2010)

Schweisfurth, M. & Gu, Q, (2009) ‘Exploring the experiences of international students in UK higher education: Possibilities and limits of interculturality in university life’. Intercultural Education, Vol. 20, No. 5, pp. 463-473. Shannon-Little, A. (2011) Developing the multicultural community of practice: Starting at Induction. Warwick: Internationalisation of Pedagogy and Curriculum in HE Conference. Sovic, S. (2009) ‘Hi-bye friends and the herd instinct: international and home students in the creative arts’. Higher Education. Published online 25 March 2009. Spurling N. (2007) ‘Exploring adjustment: The social situation of Chinese students in UK Higher Education’. LATISS: Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 95-117. Volet, S. E. & Ang, G. (1998) 'Culturally mixed groups on international campuses: an opportunity for intercultural learning'. Higher Education Research & Development, Vol. 17, No.1, pp. 5-23. Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Student engagement and the role of feedback in learning Ann Wilson, Adjunct Lecturer/Project Co-ordinator (Teaching Development), University of New South Wales Abstract Using an historical approach the intention of this paper is to identify from the literature better practice in feedback. Assessment is an essential element in the learning cycle, and is central to an understanding of how learning outcomes are achieved. It is through their assessments that we come to know our students, if our teaching has been successful and plays a significant role in determining the students’ success. However, unlike the teaching process, assessment does not have the same dialogic element that learning and teaching now has. While feedback is a key element in formative assessment, we do not know how our feedback is understood by the learner, or what meaning they make of it. What makes good

feedback, and how do we ensure that learners can understand and act upon it? The current language of learning and teaching is underscored with the concept of student engagement with the curriculum. However, the language of assessment often remains in the realm of judgement and the way it is conveyed is clearly in the transmission model of teaching where rigidity, standards and rules stand in place of dialogue, flexibility and learner centeredness. Introduction A seminal paper on feedback was published by Black & Wiliam (1998) in a special issue of Assessment in Education. Their research focused on formative assessment, and citing the work of


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Crooks (1988) indicated that the focus on the summative features of assessment has diluted the impact that assessment has on learning. A key element to formative assessment is feedback, and Black & Wiliam identify four elements that make up a feedback system:  Data on the actual level of some measurable attribute  Data on the reference level of that attribute  A mechanism for comparing the two levels, and generating information about the gap between the two levels  A mechanism by which the information can be used to alter the gap (Black & Wiliam, 1998:48) We need a clearly defined task, criteria that establish what good performance is for that task, and the ability to convey that understanding of the criteria to the learner. This definition feels overly mechanistic, using the language of electrical circuitry, a metaphor that recurs throughout the literature and highlights an important factor in feedback often ignored: the meaning and impact of feedback on the student. Undoubtedly the skill of the teacher in crafting useful feedback is an important element in the process. Sadler (1998) notes that the quality of the interactions between teacher and student are at the heart of teaching and learning and identifies six resources that teachers have in making judgements about assessment:  superior knowledge of content  attitudes towards teaching and learning  skills in constructing assessment tasks  deep knowledge of standards and criteria  evaluative skill in making judgements  expertise in framing feedback statements. That teachers can deliver high quality, expertly framed feedback statements, needs to be further substantiated to enable us to establish what high quality feedback is. Nicol (2006) suggests the following definition of quality: ...good quality external feedback is information that helps students troubleshoot their own performance and self-correct; that is, it helps students take action to reduce the discrepancy between their intentions and the resulting effects’ (Nicol et al., 2006:208). Nicol makes four suggestions:  Make feedback relative to the criteria;

o

Teachers are master practitioners in the discipline their knowledge is deep, not only of the task set, but also of the language of the discipline. The feedback needs to be phrased in such a way that it bridges the gap between the language of the master and novice. Provide it so students can act on it; o For the feedback to be useful there needs to be an opportunity to use it. Not only does the feedback need to be understood by learners, but they also need an opportunity to try again. This requires that they understand what is intended by the feedback, and recognise the opportunity to put this new understanding into practice. Provide corrective advice, not just strengths and weaknesses; o Corrective advice would include how a learner might do the work better. For the better piece of assessment this might easy to identify, however for work that is of a lesser standard this could represent a sizeable piece of work for the teacher. Limit feedback to what can be used and prioritize areas for improvement; o Feedback is a time consuming and effortful task and it important for the teacher to recognise the utilitarian nature of feedback. However, given that the student understands what needs to be done, and has an opportunity, there also needs to be a willingness on the part of the student to try again.

How do we ensure learners can make sense, and use, of our feedback? Feedback is not only concerned with a prediction by the teacher of what the learner might learn and be able to do; it is also the interaction of the learner with this prediction. How do we ensure that the learner can make meaning of feedback? The learner needs not only to understand the feedback and the gap it is describing, but also needs to feel empowered and willing to address it.


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Sadler (1989) points out that the action is the learners to take; to close the gap between the ‘state revealed by the feedback and the desired state’ (Black & Wiliam, 1998:54). Thus the learner must understand the feedback to be able to action it, and they need to perceive that this is a possible task, and the gap between current performance and good performance is not impossibly wide. Self-assessment, and self-knowledge, what Nicol et al. (2006) calls self regulation by learners, are essential elements of the process. The work of Nicol et al. (2006) provides a useful framework - cognition, motivation and belief. He suggests that self-regulation is the degree to which students can regulate aspects of their thinking, motivation and behaviour during learning. Nicol et al.’s work is predicated on the work of Biggs (2003) and his concept of constructive alignment- the idea that learning occurs when students construct their own understanding of what is to be learnt, and are activity engaged in learning. Nicol (2006) indicates that the transmission model of feedback has only recently been challenged. If feedback is the teachers’ domain, as part of the transmission model of learning, then it would disempower the learner. Further, if the feedback is written by the teacher the assumption is that the student can understand it, that the teacher is highly skilled in framing feedback. As Nicol et al. point out ‘viewing feedback as a cognitive process involving only transfer of information ignores the way feedback interacts with motivation and beliefs’ (2006:201). Gibbs & Simpson (2004) examine what they term conditions in which assessment can support learning, and of the ten conditions, seven are concerned with feedback being that it:  Is provided both often and in detail;  focuses on actions under the students control;  is timely and students have opportunity to act on it;  is appropriate to the assignment;  is understood by the student;  is attended to by the student;  is acted on. The last three echo the work of Nicol et al. (2006) that the student can understand the feedback (cognition), that the student can attend to the feedback (motivation), and that they act on it (belief). Sadler tells us that: By quality of feedback, we now realise we have to understand not just the technical structure

of the feedback (such as accuracy, comprehensiveness and appropriateness) but also its accessibility to the learner (as a communication), its catalytic and coaching value, and its ability to inspire confidence and hope (Sadler, 1989:84). The catalytic, coaching and inspirational value of feedback connects with the concept of belief espoused by Carless (2006) provides further evidence of the affective impact of assessment exploring issues of power, emotion and discourse in relation to the written feedback given on students’ assignments. He identified a number of differing perceptions between tutors and students in terms of the emphasis on grades, usefulness of feedback and fairness of the judgements and suggests assessment dialogues as a means of clarifying these differences. Feedback as dialogue Nicol (2010) examines students’ negative reaction to written feedback, which, students claim, is difficult to understand and does not meet their needs. Previous research identified that most feedback was largely negative in nature, focussed on the mechanical aspects of the task and provided little that offered a clear direction on how to improve. This research indicated that there is a need for students’ to engage with the feedback to make sense of it. Nicol (2010) proposes that feedback should be conceptualised as a dialogue between teacher-student and/or peer-to-peer where meaning is constructed, as dialogue is fundamental to successful learning and teaching. This view is explored by Burke (2011) in work that builds on the ASK approach (Burke & Pieterick, 2010). Burke proposes feedback tutorials where students engage with the feedback they have been given, providing a site for the feedback dialogue. Students can only achieve goals if they understand them, which is difficult as feedback is often written in a coded and tacit format. Students need to be able to understand on what basis the judgements of their work are being made. As Sadler points out ‘the teacher...accepts a considerable responsibility in trying to turn an assessment episode into a significant learning event’ (2010: 540) and that students face a number of challenges in being able to interpret this feedback; the students’ potential blindness created by their belief in what they intended to write, the students understanding of the communication from the teacher and their understanding of what the teacher intended by


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the feedback, and if they understand all this, their ability to action the feedback. Work by Beaumont et al. propose a dialogic feedback cycle that focuses more on preparatory and in-task guidance – what the task requires and formative drafts, in their words 'reconceptualising feedback as a guidance process' (2010:14). Bloxham & Campbell (2010) suggest that often the language of the disciplines is arcane and confusing and that students can only become part of the subject community by engaging in an active shared process (observation, imitation, participation and dialogue). Their research focuses on moving the learner from passive recipient of feedback to interaction with the marker. This involved interactive cover sheets where students identified the particular aspects of their work that they wanted feedback on. Bloxham &Campbell assert that the language of assessment and feedback is difficult for students and point out that students, unlike other novices, are expected to write in the language of the discourse whereas a novice is usually allowed to take a passive role. They suggest helping students to enter into dialogue with academic staff, by developing first a facility with the language of the discipline. The work of both Nicol (2010) and Sadler (2010) build the case for the development of students’ capacity to make sense of teacher feedback through the student using criteria in the act of appraisal. This can be developed through dialogue with peers and teachers. Talking about assessment provides opportunity for the novice to practice some of the language of the master, and to construct understanding through discussion. Nicol et al. (2006) suggests that students are already engaged in self-assessment when they engage with the assessment task in hand, and to further this, students could reflect on the kind of feedback they would want on the work, and providing assessment of their work. Boud et al. (2001) explore the role of peer learning and peer assessment in higher education, how giving students the teachers’ experience of marking, the student can become more skilled in making judgements about assessments. Peer and self assessment also offer some useful strategies for dealing with the workload involved in developing good quality feedback, and providing the coaching experience that may prove to be a useful manifestation of the self regulation identified by Nicol et al..

Conclusion There are several elements to the equation of what makes good feedback. Firstly is the assessment task itself and the assumption is that it is worthwhile and central to the focus of the course? Does it provide opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding and facility with the course content? Is it aligned with the learning focus of the course? Further, for feedback to be really useful it needs to be actioned, so there may be more than one assessment task or opportunity to resubmit assessment for review and regrading. Secondly, what is the role of the teacher in providing feedback on the assessment task submitted by the student? Understanding the twoway nature of assessment feedback, in that the feedback also impacts on the assessment task itself, needs to be read as an insight into the assessment setting. The teacher needs to be able to explain in a language to be understood by the learner, and to engage in dialogue around both the task and the feedback. Further the teacher needs to be sensitive to the mentoring and coaching opportunity afforded in the feedback and the impact of feedback on self-esteem and motivation. Thirdly are the two roles of the student: Firstly, is the student as learner and their understanding of both the task and the feedback, and the development of their skills of selfassessment? Within this are the impact of the feedback on the learner in terms of emotion and ego, and the effect of this on motivation and self efficacy. The second is the role of the student in the opportunity afforded by assessment by peers and the potential of developing a coaching role. The potential for feedback to come from other sources – peer, self as well as teacher, may provide a necessary adjunct to teacher only feedback, with some benefits in terms of the development of judgement and appraisal skills in learners. For students to be able to be competent at assessment appraisal they need three crucial elements (Sadler, 2009) – understanding of task specifications, then quality, then criteria. In this paper I have traced the evolution of feedback from the process analogous with sound feedback systems, the transmission model, to the


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acknowledgement of the importance of the reception of the feedback by the learner, the dialogic model. While teaching practice has reflected the centrality of the learner in the process, assessment and feedback has been largely informed by the need to make judgements, and until recently has not embraced the learning aspect of assessment. Ultimately, for better student learning outcomes it is important to establish how we can develop students’ facility with self assessment and to identify what we can do to help the learner move from defensive response to feedback to engagement and curiosity. This leads me to consider why we have made the practice of providing feedback on assessment assessment as learning – so very different to the practice of teaching? Dialogue and learning conversations are an intrinsic part of teaching, but have been strangely missing from assessment. Dialogue, and the centrality of the learner in the process, carries with it an acknowledgement of the emotional context in which it operates.

cover sheets'. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 291 — 300. Boud, D., Cohen, R. and Sampson, J. (2001) Peer learning in Higher Education. London: Kogan Page. Carless, D. (2006) 'Differing perceptions in the feedback process'. Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp. 219 — 233. Crooks, T. J. (1988) ‘The impact of classroom evaluation practices on students’. Review of Educational Research, Vol. 58, pp. 438 – 481. Gibbs, G. & Simpson, C., (2004) ‘Conditions under which assessment supports students’ learning’. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Issue 1, pp 3-31. Nicol, D. J. (2010) 'From monologue to dialogue: improving written feedback processes in mass higher education'. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 35, Noo. 5, pp. 501 — 517. Nicol, David J. & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006) 'Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice'. Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp. 199 — 218.

References

Sadler, D. R. (1989) ‘Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems’, Instructional Science, Vol. 18, pp. 119 – 144.

Beaumont, C., O’Doherty and M., Shannon, L. (2011) Reconceptualising assessment feedback: a key to improving student learning? Studies in Higher Education, January.

Sadler, D. R. (1998) ‘Formative assessment: Revisiting the territory’. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, Vol. 5, pp. 77-84.

Biggs, J. (2003) Teaching for Quality Learning at nd University (2 edition). Buckingham: SRHE and Open University. Black, P. and Wiliam, D. (1998) ‘Assessment and Classroom learning’. Assessment in Education, Volume 5, No. 1 pp7-74. Bloxham, S. & Campbell, L. (2010) 'Generating dialogue in assessment feedback: exploring the use of interactive

Sadler, D. R. (2009) 'Indeterminacy in the use of preset criteria for assessment and grading'. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 159 — 179. Sadler, D. R. (2010) 'Beyond feedback: developing student capability in complex appraisal’. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 35, No. 5, pp. 535 — 550.


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Key Pedagogic Thinkers Jacques Lacan David Mathew The French psychoanalyst, psychiatrist and teacher Jacques Marie Émile Lacan was born on April 13, 1901 and died on September 9, 1981. In his twenties, Lacan abandoned religion and was rejected for military service. He entered medical school and, in 1926, specialised in psychiatry at the Sainte-Anne Hospital in Paris. As part of his training, he entered into a lengthy, problematic analysis and was eventually regarded as unanalyzable. (This latter fact must surely be regarded as ironic, given the fact that more has been written about Lacan than about any other psychoanalyst, with the exception of Sigmund Freud.) In 1931, Lacan became a licensed forensic psychiatrist, and for the rest of his life and career (which were more or less the same span of time) he investigated psychoanalysis, including the work of Sigmund Freud, and made a breakthrough in 1936, when he presented his first analytic report at the Congress of the International Psychoanalytical Association in Marienbad on the 'Mirror Phase' – 'a decisive turning-point in the mental development of the child,' as he would later phrase it (Lacan 1953). As well as the major contributions Lacan made to psychoanalysis and philosophy, his legacy lies in his work he did with his students. Each of the seminars he gave in Paris between 1953 and 1981 lasted one year, and they were usually conducted to a fascinated audience that attended every week and often hung on his every word. The audiences were often made up of intellectuals from varying fields, as well as students. He dealt in depth and with passion with the subjects of the unconscious, the castration complex, the ego, identification, and language as subjective perception. He insisted on 'a return to Freud', and concentrated on the linguistic nature of psychological symptomatology, and Freud's work in relation to contemporary philosophy, linguistics, ethnology, biology and topology.

Lacan expected a lot from his class. Sometimes he would revisit earlier material, but just as often he would assume a stock of knowledge from his observers. Although his Seminars – roughly onethird of which are now published in English – are regarded as among the more accessible of Lacan's material, it is important to stress that even the Seminars were not for beginners who had not done their homework. In my opinion, it is precisely this sense of intellectual nourishment that is attractive. As well as his ideas having had a colossal impact on critical theory, literary theory, twentieth-century French philosophy, sociology, feminist theory and clinical psychoanalysis, they have also influenced me directly, as a student of psychoanalysis myself. Lacan's work – as challenging, sometimes frustrating as I occasionally find it – is enjoyable for these very same qualities. It pushes you harder as a reader. It pushes you harder as a thinker. Lacan makes you work. All of this said, however, there is little point in pretending that Lacan did not have his faults. He was famously irascible and bad-tempered. He had a taste for scandal – that of others and that which he caused himself – and he seemed to share with his beloved surrealists a mischievous tendency to provoke, viewing as he did provocation as an important element in psychoanalysis itself. 1953 saw tLacan’s notorious falling-out with the Société Parisienne de Psychanalyse, which in turn saw his membership within the International Psychoanalytical Association revoked. By the 60s, the public regarded him as a far-left supporter, and he was vocal in his support for the student protests. He was also accused of not only borrowing from others (a somewhat ironic accusation, given the field of psychoanalysis), but of invoking other men's work and claiming to base his own arguments on them.


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To this day, Lacan continues to divide professional opinion; my own view is that this can only be to the good. (After all, who wants to read a writer who only creates consensus?) Many commentators regard Lacan's work of 1959-60, Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis (Lacan, 1992) and Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (Lacan, 1977) to be among the most influential works of psychoanalysis of all time. Lacan's late work (dealing with masculine and feminine jouissance – or, loosely speaking, 'enjoyment' or 'pleasure') had great influence on feminist thought, as well as on postmodernism. In addition to the Seminars, we have the enormous volume of collected writings, Écrits, a fine and fresh translation of which was published in 2006. There is even a slender volume called My Teaching (Fr. 2005; Eng. 2008), which is where I would advise anyone new to Lacan to start reading. For more information on Lacan, there are hundreds of websites to browse. 'lacan dot com' can be found at

http://www.lacan.com/lacan1.htm (for Lacan with a US spin); or you might want to try http://www.iep.utm.edu/lacweb/ or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwlirZQLAAg. However, please be advised that due to the nature of the work that Lacan conducted, some of the material contains adult themes and the occasional swearword. References Lacan, J. (1953) ‘Some Reflections on the Ego’. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, Vol. 34, pp. 11-17. Lacan, J. (1977) Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (Jacques-Alain Miller (ed.), trans. Alan Sheridan). New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Lacan, J. (1992) Seminar VII. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 1959–1960 ( Jacques-Alain Miller (ed.), trans. Dennis Porter). New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Lacan, J. (2008) My Teaching. London/New York: Verso. (Originally as Mon Enseignement. France: Éditions du Seuil, 2005). Lacan, J. (2006) Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English (trans. Bruce Fink.) New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Will health students engage with a health information blog? Janine Bhandol, Academic Liaison Librarian, UoB Abstract Background: The health librarian at the University of Bedfordshire wanted to explore ways of reaching out to health students, especially distance learners and those juggling studies with full-time work. Objectives: The aim of this action research study was to assess the impact of a health information blog on a cohort of distance and part time learners studying for MSc Public Health. Methods: Data was collected by means of an online survey and visits to the blog were monitored using the Google Analytics programme. Results: Almost half of respondents reported that they had not visited the blog as they were not aware that the blog existed, despite targeted publicity and emails alerting them to the blog. However, students who had visited the blog found the information useful, both for preparing assignments and in their professional health care practice. Conclusions: Libraries need to ensure that blogs are adequately marketed and promoted, otherwise it is unlikely that they will be successful.

Introduction This small-scale action research study grew out of an interest in communicating with health students via a subject blog. Blogs are a form of online journal, and one of their main attractions and advantages is the ease of publishing quickly without the need to know computer code such as 1 HTML . Another advantage is the fact that it is usually free to set up blogs, making them a highly 2 cost-effective communication tool . Blogs have grown in popularity since 2000 and have been introduced within higher education as both a learning tool and a means of disseminating 3 information . At the same time, blogs have grown in popularity with libraries who want to reach out to their customers. Indeed, libraries have embraced Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis and podcasts, and while there are many published articles about how libraries and librarians are using these new communication platforms, there is a lack of significant research as to their impact. As Booth (2007:298) states,


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libraries ‘adoption of technology has been largely 4 uncritical’ . Reaching out to health students at the University of Bedfordshire The University of Bedfordshire has over 1000 health care students, many of whom are either located far from the main Luton campus or who are studying by distance learning. In addition, many health-related courses are provided to students who are either working as health care professionals full-time, or are required to undertake health care placements, which can make it difficult for them to access the library during normal hours. Although the librarian travels to all University campuses frequently to meet with students, and offers telephone and email support, academics report informally that only a small percentage of students who are referred to the librarian actually make contact. This could be for a number of reasons, including lack of time, lack of awareness of how the librarian can help, and lack of confidence perhaps. Research suggests that 5 students studying at a distance may feel isolated . Health students at the University of Bedfordshire already have access to online support via the Health Subject Guide (http://lrweb.beds.ac.uk/guides/health). However, the guide is based on relatively inflexible content management system software which does not lend itself to rapid updates. This makes it difficult to tailor content towards different student needs which reflect curricular demands throughout the year. The advantages of communicating via a blog rather than on the subject guide itself is that a) blogging is easier and quicker than creating web pages on the online subject guide b) a blog allows readers to comment and communicate with the blog author and c) an easily searchable FAQ can be 2 created for blog readers to search . Additionally, providing this information via a blog enables students to access information where they are, rather than having to come to the library. Dickey argues that blogs may help distance learners to 5 feel less isolated , and Ramsay & Kinnie highlight the need for librarians to reach out to students rather than expecting students to come to the 6 library . For the purposes of this study, it was decided to focus on a cohort of 107 students studying for MSc Public Health, which offers a number of modes of study, including distance learning. The reason that this particular course was chosen is that students come from diverse backgrounds, both in terms of location (distance learners from all over the world, including Nigeria,

South Africa, India and Pakistan), and also in terms of professional background (the student cohort includes doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals such as dieticians). These students are juggling busy lives and may never have the opportunity to visit the library in person and so it was with these types of students in mind that the subject blog (called Health Info Blog) was created. Objective: The aim of this project was to assess the impact of a health information blog (Health Info Blog) on a cohort of distance and part time learners studying for MSc Public Health. The blog was designed to act as both a current awareness service and a forum in which students could communicate with the librarian and each other. The impact of the blog was measured by analysing traffic to the blog, and also by examining whether students commented on blog posts. Additionally, an online survey asked students how they had used the information on Health Info Blog, and whether it had affected either their academic practice (i.e. writing assignments) and/or their professional health care practice. Methods: The blog was hosted on the Google Blogger platform, a free platform which is easy to set up, with the URL bedshealth.blogspot.com. The blog was given a template to fit in with the University of Bedfordshire’s house style. Students were alerted to the blog by BREO (the University of Bedfordshire’s virtual learning environment) announcements and also by emails. After the blog had been running for two months, students were invited to take part in an online survey (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com) about Health Info Blog, focussing on whether they had found the information useful and if the information had any impact on their academic or professional health care practice. Throughout the study, the traffic to Health Info Blog was monitored using the Google Analytics programme. Results: Eleven, or 10.2% of 107 targeted students responded to the survey. Of these, five students reported that they had not visited Health Info Blog. When asked for a reason why they hadn’t visited, four of them stated that they didn’t know the blog existed, yet these students had been told about the blog via a variety of publicity materials, including emails, announcements on the University’s virtual learning environment, and the library’s Twitter page. However, six respondents had visited Health Info Blog and all of them found the information either


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‘very useful’ or ‘somewhat useful’. Three students indicated that they were able to use information from Health Info Blog in their assignments. There was a follow-up question asking how they were able to use the information but not all respondents completed this. One student commented: ‘The children eating what they watch was useful in an assignment on bariatrics’. Another reported that: ‘Getting material for my assignments have (sic) been difficult but since this blog was set up by my faculty librarian it's been pretty easy’. In answer to the question, ‘Have you been able to use any information from Health Info Blog in your professional practice?’ two students indicated that they had and four indicated that they had not. The two respondents who indicated that they had used information from the blog in their professional practice declined to answer the follow-up question (perhaps for reasons of patient confidentiality). Students were also asked if they had been able to use information from Health Info Blog for any other purpose, and all six respondents indicated that they had. When asked in what way they were able to use the information, four students responded. One indicated that they had used the information: ‘To expand my knowledge and further my reading’. Another reported that: I did not purposefully log onto Health Blog page, I went in there just like I log onto any other University website, because I knew very little about it. Then I found that information on the page was very interesting and useful for personal development. However, I've not been able to use the information for assignments because I've not had any assignments directly related to information on the page. But, I've often read the pages for personal development. One respondent had used the blog to explain the concept, and it was stated: ‘I was trying to explain how blogs meant for a particular discipline is useful to a friend and I used the health blog as an example’. Another respondent indicated that the blog had helped to shape their professional development, reporting that: I enjoyed reading about the five a day for children and other useful topics. It has helped

shape my thinking and in my discussion and experience with other colleagues and nonhealth professionals. The Google Analytics programme tracked visits to Health Info Blog and from 1st March to 31st May 2010 there were 171 ‘unique’ visitors to the blog (unique in the sense of ‘new’ visitors, rather than those who were returning). It is likely that some of these visitors were not students at the University of Bedfordshire since blogs are available to anyone over the Internet. This figure works out to an average of 2.7 visitors per day throughout the period of the study. However, traffic to the blog was not steady and generally went in peaks and troughs. Some posts on the blog were definitely more popular than others. Whilst most visitors (n=255) went directly to the ‘home page’ of the blog, the second most popular page (n=111) was a post about tips for students on writing academic reports. This post was aimed directly aimed as M.Sc. Public Health students who had an academic report assignment due imminently. Blog posts about ‘health inequalities’ were also popular, as this is a very relevant issue for public health students. In fact seven visitors had searched the blog specifically for the term ‘health inequalities’. Another relatively popular post (the page was viewed 10 times) was ‘Do children eat what they watch?’ which reported on a study linking childhood obesity to television advertising. Although Health Info Blog was intended to be a communication forum there were only two comments on the blog during the time of the study. These were both from the same student. Post were generally written to attract comments and discussion and the librarian ended many posts on the blog with the question ‘what do you think?’. Two of these types of posts attracted comments, including one on whether giving obese people financial incentives to lose weight was a good idea (public health themes were generally chosen for these types of ‘discussion’ post as it was assumed that the students would be interested since they are nearly all working in public health roles). The survey asked students to indicate if they would be willing to take part in some follow up research. Five respondents stated that they would be willing, however only one student responded to the follow up. The follow up questions were


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focussed on whether students were using any other blogs or Web 2.0 technologies, and whether they thought that a blog was the best vehicle for keeping up to date with health information. The student who answered the follow-up questions reported: I do not usually use blogs generally, yours was the first I tried to keep up with and I must say I am enjoying it. It keeps me abreast [of] the latest health news. I hope to keep reading them. When asked if blogs were the best way of communicating current health information, the student stated: Blogs are good but maybe not the best way to provide current information. But the blogs are good, other alternatives are the media-TV and newspaper. However, the student asserted: ‘… blog will and is helping me change my health care practice day by day’. Discussion Although the response to the survey was poor, the findings indicate that students who visited Health Info Blog found the information useful. Additionally the blog traffic indicates that blog posts were read, and in some cases had over 100 hits. Blogs and other Web 2.0 technologies are becoming more popular in health care; however Ward et al. identified a number of barriers to their use in health care education, including a lack of 7 support from health academics . Interestingly, the research evidence suggests that library blogs are most successful when they have support from 8 academic staff . The M.Sc. Public Health teaching team were very supportive of Health Info Blog, but in the future this could perhaps be reinforced in other ways, for example by putting information about the blog in course handbooks or other ‘official’ documentation. Visits to Health Info Blog peaked when posts were directly related to assessment issues. For example, a timely post about how to write an academic report produced the highest number of visits to the blog as it was related to an imminent assessment on the M.Sc. Public Health course. Research has shown that library blogs are most successful when they demonstrate ‘nearness’ to 9 their target audience and this is something that Health Info Blog lacked due to its nature as an

information-giving tool. One of the ways around this might be to introduce ‘guest bloggers’, perhaps students or academic staff who could write one-off posts pertinent to current health issues or assignment topics. There is some evidence to suggest that blog visitors feel more inclined to interact with educational blogs which share personal experience, rather than information-providing 9 blogs such as Health Info Blog . Interestingly, some students contacted the librarian regarding issues raised on the blog via email or face-to-face which suggests that perhaps students felt reluctant to post on the blog, or were perhaps unfamiliar with the nature of blogs or the technology. The literature is full of examples of ‘digital lurking’, where students will read and reflect on blogs and 10 discussion boards but do not ‘leave their mark’ . Interestingly, Holley & Oliver argue that it is pointless to introduce technology and expect students to engage with it without understanding 11 the social and cultural barriers they may face . They make the point that students often have too much to do anyway, juggling work with studies and family life, and international students may also face language barriers. Perhaps, then, it should not be so surprising that students do not engage with new technologies. On the other hand, Wishart & Guy argue that online discussions remove barriers by enabling busy students to participate when and where they want to, giving 12 them the flexibility they need . Coldwell et al. make the point that previous learning experiences can influence students’ engagement with technology, with those preferring a ‘teachercentred’ approach less likely to engage with 13 student-led online discussions . They go on to make the point that ‘Western’ nationalities are more likely to engage with online learning, and also women are more likely than men to post online. One of the largest (and few) studies of library blogs was carried out by Coulter & Draper, who examined whether blogs were effective as 14 information skills teaching tools . Their aim was to reach out to students, especially distance learners, and encourage them to be reflective and critical about the way they searched for and evaluated information. Ten blogs were created (each allied to a course) and linked to an online subject guide. However, Coulter & Draper found that traffic to all of the blogs was very low, and there was little to nil interaction between students


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and librarians via the blog. When Coulter & Draper surveyed the students, they found that over half were unaware of the blog’s existence. A major weakness of this study is the fact that Coulter & Draper (2006:104) did not heavily promote the blog ‘to avoid the impression that other means of contacting [the librarian] (e.g. email, phone) were discouraged’. Similarly, Kozel-Gains & Stoddart (2009:133) found in a follow-up study of three library blogs aimed at Faculty members in Boise State University that ‘readership was minimal to 15 nonexistent’ . The authors determined that poor marketing and ‘lack of visibility’ was one of the major causes of the poor response. Indeed, one of the major weaknesses of this study was the relatively timid publicity and promotion of the blog (although at the time the librarian felt that there had been almost too much publicity in terms of the number of emails to the students and posts to the University’s virtual learning environment). Perhaps, like Coulter & Draper, it was because the librarian did not want the students to feel that they could not get in touch any other way. Also, the librarian was wary of ‘over-egging the pudding’ and sickening students to the whole idea of the blog due to the seemingly relentless promotion. As it turns out, both of these fears were unfounded since four out of five students who had not visited the blog were unaware it existed. It is likely that this unawareness was also the reason for such a poor response to the survey. It is clear that the methods used to promote the blog failed. The research literature shows that making a blog ‘visible’ to the target audience is fundamental to creating an 14 effective, successful blog , so in some respects Health Info Blog fell at the first hurdle. Conclusion Ultimately, blogs do not have to be highmaintenance. And the software is easy to use and versatile, enabling a variety of media to be uploaded instantly without the need to know computer programming language. In this way, blogs have the advantages of ease and convenience over other more labour-intensive methods such as newsletters, which make them very attractive to libraries. However, the research in this area is scarce, but indicates that library blogs generally are underused. There is some evidence to suggest that students respond best to educational blogs which have a personal touch and 9 which demonstrate ‘nearness’ to them and these two things can be achieved by blending information-only posts with other, more personal,

types of posts. The ‘nearness’ factor can be improved by closer liaison with academic staff to ensure that blog themes are relevant and timely. Other innovations, such as introducing students as ‘guest bloggers’ should also be considered. However, the research has shown that it is important to analyse the barriers students may face before implementing new technologies, otherwise students will not engage and may even feel more isolated. Notwithstanding this, the students who accessed Health Info Blog found the information useful and relevant to both their academic study and their professional health care practice. The hardest part was alerting them to the fact that Health Info Blog existed in the first place, and this was the major weakness of this smallscale study. Blogs, like any other library resource, require adequate and timely marketing, otherwise students will never know they are there. Key Messages Implications for Policy: Although blogs are a convenient and cost-effective way for libraries to reach out to students, effective marketing and publicity needs to be put in place to make blogs a success. Implications for Practice: Librarians thinking of starting a blog need to ensure that they have active participation and ‘buy-in’ from relevant stakeholders to maximise engagement. References 1

Williams, J. & Jacobs, J. Exploring the use of blogs in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 2004, 20(2), 232-247. 2 Blood R. The weblog handbook: practical advice on creating and maintaining your blog. Cambridge: Perseus, 2002 3 Bar-Ilan J. The use of weblogs (blogs) by librarians and libraries to disseminate information. Information Research 2007, 12(4), [Online serial] http://informationr.net/ir/12-4/paper323.html 4 Booth A. Blogs, wikis and podcasts: the 'evaluation bypass' in action. Health Information and Libraries Journal 2007, 24, 298-302. 5 Dickey M. The impact of web-logs (blogs) on student perceptions of isolation and alienation in a web-based distance learning environment. Open Learning 2004, 19(3), 279-291. 6 Ramsay, K. & Kinnie, J. The embedded librarian. Library Journal 2006,131(6), 34-35. 7 Ward R, Moule, P. & Lockyer, L. Adoption of Web 2.0 technologies in education for health professionals in the UK: where are we and why? Electronic Journal of eLearning 2009, 7(2), 165-171. 8 Chan, C. & Cmore, D. Blogging toward information literacy: engaging students and facilitating peer learning. Reference Services Review 2009, 37(4), 395-407.


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Eshet-Alkalai Y, Caspi A, Eden S, Geri, N. & Yair, Y., editors. Interpersonal and group interactions using educational blogs. Proceedings of the Chais conference on instructional technologies research.; 2009; Raanana: The Open University of Israel; 2009. 10 Paz Dennen, V. Pedagogical lurking: student engagement in non-posting discussion behaviour. Computers in Human Behavior 2008, 24, 1624-1633. 11 Holley, D. & Oliver, M. Student engagement and blended learning: portraits of risk. Computers & Education 2010, 54(3), 693-700. 12 Wishart C & Guy, R. Analyzing responses, moves, and roles in online discussions. Interdisciplinary Journal of ELearning and Learning Objects 2009, 5, 129-144.

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Coldwell J, Craig A, Paterson, T. & Mustard, J. Online students: relationships between participation, demographics and academic performance. Electronic Journal of e-Learning 2008, 6(1), 19-30. 14 Coulter, P. & Draper, L. Blogging it into them: weblogs in information literacy instruction. Journal of Library Administration 2006, 45(1), 101-115. 15 Kozel-Gains, M. & Stoddart, R. Experiments and experiences in liaison activities: lessons from new librarians in integrating technology, face-to-face and follow up. Collection Management 2009, 34(2), 130-142.

Learning and Teaching in Business through Rich and Varied Information Sources Ian Hughes, Business School, University of Wolverhampton Introduction There is an old Chinese proverb, sometimes attributed to Confucius, which states 'I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand', which suggests that experience is the best teacher. There is a close fit here with issues which Kolb (1984:21)) discussed about the Lewinian experiential learning model which hinges progress in learning on the impact of the 'concrete experience'. However, another proverb sometimes attributed to Confucius says 'By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.' But there is no real dichotomy here, experience can be a bitter teacher – how many students do you know (or even colleagues or perhaps even yourself) who have learned through personal bitter experience the simple lesson of 'Read the question before you start, while you are answering it, and again when you think you have finished'. For a graded summative assessment failing to consider this can be personally disastrous, but it is a lesson remembered (hopefully) by most. But is personal experience the only option? Can we learn 'experientially' from other people’s experience? Dewey ( 1938:69) suggested a model of experiential learning based on observation of the environment (conditions), knowledge of what has happened in similar situations in the past – through personal experience or from information, advice or warnings from those with wider experience, and judgement to blend these into a decision (author’s emphasis).

This paper explores areas around experiential learning, case study use, problem based learning and the requirement for students to engage with more complex learning and assessment environments. This requirement is driven by student learning strategies (Lim and Johnson, 2002) and employer perceptions of student competency shortfalls (CBI, 2007). A possible solution used by the author in teaching project management techniques is explored in terms of pedagogy, and student and teacher engagement. The approach offers a rich and varied set of information sources, and provides students with a complex environment to analyse and report on. Simplicity or Complexity – 'Customer Wants and Needs' Goodwin and Jenkins (1997) assert that 'Lessons using stories, fables, myths, and legends have an advantage because they can deal with complex issues concisely'. But why do we need to consider complexity? Should we rather concentrate on simplifying teaching content and 'vehicles' to provide basic 'nuggets' of knowledge which the students then apply in whatever assignment we offer them? The answer here has two parts. Firstly, if we are content that our only goal is to get students through courses, and that students are a happy party to this concept as they all fall into Richardson’s (2005:676) concept of strategic learners, then perhaps that works. However, if within Higher Education (HE) we are here to develop deep learning, the we need to consider how our approaches to teaching might support that Richardson (2005:677 ).


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Secondly, we may consider our customer base and responsibility to be broader than any student’s immediate goal. Jackson (2009) reviewed literature on employers’ views of the competency of graduates in the work environment. While this revealed broad contentment with some graduate attributes, such as use of ICT, many other areas were considered to be deficient. Although Jackson concentrated on key competencies, such as organisational and communication skills, there was also an underpinning theme in the concerns expressed about graduates who 'learn little about how to analyze and solve complex, messy problems that confront today’s business managers and leaders as they seek to navigate the global economy' (Quelch (2005). This is supported by comment within Boud & Solomon’s work (2001:165) which defined executive effectiveness as 'demonstrating decisiveness combined with sensitivity in making difficult judgements in response to complex situations' , and Knight & Yorke (2004:8) who reported comments from managers who felt that students lacked ''the ability to handle ambiguous and complex situations'. The challenge is for business schools to develop student ability to look at complex and messy problems rather than simplistic scenarios where students can quickly learn to hunt for 'key words' and develop simplistic answers so that we as academics can have an easier time grading the papers. I would describe this as a two dimensional approach to a 'case study', a single text source which relays a series of 'facts' to the students to review and create some order out of. For students who have come up through a standard education system of school-college/university this is far too often what they are used to, and often quite adept at finding the 'keywords'. However, it is an approach which is fairly easy to create and maintain – changing the names of target organisations, or minor amendments to data, to maintain currency and reduce risks of plagiarism. The problem with building complex learning environments such as the case studies used within the Harvard Business School is that they usually take time and effort to develop, and yet without careful preplanning could be obsolete very quickly,

and may have fairly few information types (e.g. a complex text based source). If the developed case can only effectively support one set of assignments then the work can at best be rotated through the process every five years or so(to avoid 'inherited plagiarism'), or at worst used once and thrown away. These days with decreased staff levels, and pressure on staff to generate other income, then a non-sustainable approach is out of the options list. So the question then becomes how to develop a 'three dimensional' learning environment or vehicle, rich in information and information types, which allows a series of different questions to be asked, that does not require an excessive amount of work to create, or absorb a large amount of money to buy( there are case sources out there for 'hire',e.g. from ECCT – Cranfield University). Ideally, the vehicle should support at least a case study approach to learning, if not moving fully to a problem based approach (Savin-Baden, 2000; Hmelo-Silver, 2004). Teacher’s Needs and Wants The teacher is part of this overall environment, and Figure 1 depicts the overlapping interests, while emphasising that each player has interests outside the overlap. Heffernan et al.(2009) investigated what makes a good lecturer, coming to the conclusion that 'dynamism' was a key attribute in a good teacher, and their views are supported by Entwistle (1987:20 - 21) who talks of students 'sharing the lecturer’s enthusiasm' especially if the lecturer can provide 'striking examples and enthusiasm'. Teachers in HE may be deeply interested in their own research subject area, but not perhaps enthralled by teaching it, or involved in delivery of content which is outside their own personal research area. Here then motivation to deliver good teaching may be low – which in turn is likely to reduce any real dynamic approach within the teaching of what may well be a fairly dry subject area in itself. Already, if Heffernan et al. are to be believed, we are moving out of that good teaching and learning opportunity and into a module of diminishing teacher, and thereby student, interest and motivation.

Figure 1

Industry and Society A Possible Way Forward Teacher Student


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How can we merge the concepts discussed so far to develop a meaningful teaching and learning environment, that is re-useable, motivating for the teacher and student alike, has relevance to course and 'customer' requirements, yet does not require excessive amounts of content creation for already overburdened staff ? I found myself in this dilemma teaching elements of a project management course involving the analysis of project requirements and the preparation of project documentation. Adding to my woes, the cohort was very mixed, including practicing consultants, ICT experts, production managers, NHS and FE College administrators, and 'normal' students. I needed a vehicle which would give no one individual a particular advantage, yet engage all in discourse so that peer to peer learning could also be enabled. A key tenet of project management practice is the area of Lessons Learned. Project management methodologies such as Prince 2 (OGC, 2009) emphasise the importance of learning from the positives and negatives of a project, through a structured learning log and associated end of project report. These lessons should be shared within the organisation/organisations concerned to enable organisational learning, although there is debate within the profession about how often this really takes place. These concepts fit closely with those around reflective practice described by Schön (1987), and others. Industry has highlighted a problem with Business School graduates as being unable to re-contextualise what they have learned so that it fits within their new environment and new projects (CBI, 2007). Projects by nature are or have some aspect of uniqueness (Lock, 2007:5) so what happened in one project may not match with the next. Ideally, therefore, this ability to recontextualise also needs to be part of what we teach, and somehow embedded within the overall approach. The approach under investigation takes events from history, both ancient and modern, and looks at them through modern project management approaches, engaging the student with a complex environment, rich in information sources. However, because of the richness of the information source subject areas other than project management could benefit from the approach. Suitable events that are well supported include Titanic, The Great Escape, The Battle of Britain and many, many, more. They are useful in that there are written sources, oral history sources, and DVD sources – often both historically

based and entertainment based – and are the subject of associated project management focused books. One advantage of the use of historical contexts rather than recent projects is that they are more likely to have good information sources, that are less likely to be clouded by litigation issues or 'marketing' spin. This multiple view of the events under study means that students need to engage with the complexity of the material, and also apply some analysis and judgement as to the validity of some of the information provided. Lim and Johnson (2002) comment about student’s learning strategy being driven by the complexity and perceived value of their studies, and the complex problems presented in these stories provide a rich resource. The 'entertainment' DVDs become a useful source, but one which they need to consider carefully; this applies whether it is a Hollywood blockbuster or a Shakespeare play. Anecdotal evidence, from two student cohorts, suggests that they find the approach interesting and engage readily with the material and the learning construct. Several students went on to develop a personal interest in the subject matters used for the classes. So far the 'stories' used are Henry V , The Great Escape, and The Dambusters . As the DVD is purchased by the student as a personal copy they must watch the DVD within their own time to be able to then engage within class, or to attempt the assignment; this becomes leverage to engagement and obviates issues around copyright. So, the student interest seems to be satisfied. The story and supporting information is complex and the 'history' has to be re-contextualised into the parameters of modern project management, so at least some of the 'industry' requirements are met in reaching for traditional approach shortfalls. The third stakeholder, the teacher, controls the choice of subject matter. Ideally the teacher picks an event or series of events that s/he has some personal interest in, thus helping with their own motivation and dynamic delivery. However there are some parameters to be considered, eg ideally the DVD should not be a recent release, as they tend to be more expensive, nor too obscure, as this may impact on availability for students to purchase. Seek a story where the DVD includes multiple language sub-titles to help at least some foreign students as well as maintaining inclusivity for students with a hearing problem. The nature of the story should also fit in with the learning outcome requirements, the educational aims need


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to be supported by the 'entertainment, rather than the entertainment driving the education. By utilising existing rich information sources, the teacher can concentrate on the assessment design and relevant teaching, rather than on the generation and maintenance of 'background' information. The richness of the information 'cube' available allows different assignments to be developed, indeed at multiple taxonomic levels if need be.

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) (2007). Shaping up for the future: The business vision for education and skills. London: CBI.

So far this historical event approach seems to address a range of pedagogical issues, but little real evidence is available. This work will represent an ongoing study and attempt to gain insight from teachers, students and industry through a questionnaire based study engaging with teachers and students in a range of environments, and with professionals to try and gain an industry perspective.

Goodwin, S. & Jenkins A. (1997) ‘Teaching Through Stories’. Journal of School Health, Vol. 67, No. 6. Available online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.17461561.1997.tb06314.x/abstract [Accessed 15th August 2011].

Conclusions Good teaching drives good learning, and good teaching is driven in turn by enthusiasm and the use of 'striking' examples on the part of the teacher. Complexity in content, with a variety of information sources, and the use of a 'story telling' construct can help deliver that richness and complexity that future employers fear is missing in business school graduates cognitive skills. Different teachers will be enthused and motivated by different concepts, and some may well find that using historically based stories, supported by movie industry DVDs, famous plays, and academic historical texts gives them a useful source of content and context. But this does not have to be historical fact, perhaps a teacher might be fascinated in some useful work of fiction that could form the basis of learning and discussion – from Lord of the Rings to The Italian Job, Starwars to Casablanca. There is a risk that “the Story” might be too strong and in fact interfere with the intended learning – at present we do not know and further study into this pedagogic construct is required. While the author’s work so far has focused on the subject domain of Project Management, it is doubtful that this is the only subject area within the business field that could employ this concept. References Boud, D., & Solomon, N. (2001). Work-based learning: A new higher education? Buckingham, England: SRHE & Open University Press.

Dewey, J.(1938) Education and Experience. New York: Macmillan. Entwistle, N. (1987) ‘A Model of the Teaching-Learning Process’ in J. T. E Richardson, M. W. Eysenck and D.W. Piper, Student Learning. Milton Keynes: SHRE and OU Publishing.

Heffernan, T., Morrison, M., Sweeny, A. & Jarrat, D. (2009) ‘Personal attributes of effective lecturers: The importance of dynamism, communication, rapport and applied knowledge’. International Journal of Management Education, Vol.8, No. 3, pp. 13-27. Hmelo-Silver, C.E. (2004) ‘Problem-Based Learning: What and How Do Students Learn?’ Educational Psychology Review, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 235-266. Jackson, D. (2009) ‘An international profile of industryrelevant competencies and skill gaps in modern graduates’. International Journal of Management Education, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 29-58. Kolb, D. A. (1984) Experiential Learning. New Jersey, Prentice-Hall. Knight, P. and Yorke, M. (2004). Learning, curriculum and employability in Higher Education. London: RoutledgeFalmer. Lim, D. H., & Johnson, S. D. (2002). ‘Trainee perceptions of factors that influence learning transfer’. International Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 6, pp. 36-48. th

Lock, D. (2007) Project Management. 9 Ed, Aldershot: Gower. OGC (2009), Managing Successful Projects with Prince 2: 2009 Edition. London: OGC. Quelch, J. (2005) A New Agenda for Business Schools, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Volume 52, Issue 15, Page B19, Available online at http://chronicle.com/article/A-New-Agenda-forBusiness/18206/ [accessed 22 Feb 12] Richardson, J. T. E. (2005) ‘Students’ Approaches to Teaching in Higher Education and The Open University’. Educational Psychology, Vol. 25, No. 6, pp. 673 — 680.


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Savin-Baden, M. (2000) Learning in Higher Education: Untold Stories. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press.

Schön, D. A. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. London, Temple Smith

Book Reviews Bad Education Phil Beadle Crown House (2011) Review by Nick Collis Bad Education is an often humorous, sometimes enlightening and occasionally shocking compilation of ‘Super Teacher’ Phil Beadle’s ‘On Teaching’ Guardian columns. Beadle, who came to public attention applying his award-winning teaching techniques to a group of delinquents in Channel 4s ‘The Unteachables’, draws on his wealth of experience to dispense anecdotes, observations and insight into the world of the professional educator, covering a wide range of topics from the practical – ‘The Learning Environment: Life in a Glass Dungeon’ to the more contentious ‘Politics and Policy: Welcome Mr. Gove’. It is the earlier chapters that prove the most insightful, showcasing the frequently soulcrunching obstacles that modern secondary teachers have to face on a daily basis, both within the classroom and without – 'What are we learning today sir?' 'The possessive apostrophe' 'But we learned that yesterday' 'No. You didn’t' 'You’re a crap teacher sir' – being one memorable example. Beadle effectively skewers some of the pomposity and buzzword addiction of policy makers in some of the book’s best chapters – the use of ‘Assessment for learning’ in place of ‘assessment of learning’, a sudden dictate to provide ‘Key Words’ for lessons and New Labour’s educational mantra ‘Poverty is not an excuse’, all receiving an F from Mr. Beadle. Misguided policy makers are not the only ones to be on the receiving end of a tongue lashing. Information Technology, the PC brigade, academics, homophobia and taxi drivers all rouse the author’s ire as well. Beadle comes across as caring and passionate about both his pupils and the teaching profession throughout the book, and it’s this warmth that engages the reader and makes the swipes at those mentioned above all the more palatable.

There are some inconsistencies along the way which jar slightly. I.C.T and its use within schools is both celebrated and derided within the book’s 180-odd pages. You’d be hard pressed to pin down the author’s opinions of New Labour’s educational policy (in full flow by the time these columns were written) as this too seems to ebb and flow throughout. Some of this could be down to the elongated nature of newspaper column compilations not being written as a continuous narrative. Overall, this is an enjoyable and interesting read for anyone interested in education and the kind of challenges that are faced by teachers on a daily basis. For those teachers, I imagine reading this without a knowing smile and continuously nodding head will prove difficult. For those looking to become teachers, this book may come as a shocking and sobering risposte to the adverts of smiling, happy children listening attentively at the teacher’s feet that the government use to lure idealistic grads into the profession. I hope, and doubt, that it would put many off however, as the author’s passion and excitement for his chosen vocation is evident throughout. It’s this passion, coupled with the humanity and humour evident in each one of these columns, that makes this book a great read. Ethics Protocols and Research Ethics Committees: Successfully Obtaining Approval for your Academic Research Dan Remenyi, Nicola Swan, Ben Van Den Assem Academic Publishing International (2011) Review by Peter Norrington This is a purposefully small book, written in a style which should be accessible at any university student’s level. As a small book, it cannot cover every aspect of ethics and research, certainly not in depth, and perhaps not in breadth. So, rather than reading this inappropriately as a contribution to academic discussion on research ethics, the questions I am interested in for reviewing this book are 'who is this for?' and 'will it meet their needs?'


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Ethics is, as the authors acknowledge, a complex area, and one that is here to stay. They also state that it is an area with which universities have only engaged in the past ten to fifteen years, outside of medicine where the original need arose, and which universities do not yet have embedded in researcher training. Broadly following the chapter headings, the book covers ethics protocols (what they are and what they are for); what research is; how research ethics evolved; research ethics committees (RECs); the outline of the submission process, amending a protocol; data protection legislation; cross-culture, class and language research, REC processes and decisions, and how to respond; a case study; advice to researchers, and some end notes on related issues such as intellectual property rights, plagiarism, outsourcing aspects of research, and relationships. The back cover marketing explicitly and only mentions 'research degree candidates' and 'faculty'. The Preface opens with 'Masters, Doctoral and other Research [sic]', and closes with, 'research students and degree candidates'. Meanwhile, the 'How to use this book' page opens with a '… guide to researchers who have to obtain approval for an Ethics Protocol… also be useful to members of university faculties who are involved in advising students about ethics approval'. Then the Prologue (making three 'sections' before the book gets started) opens with 'in the field of business and management studies' and then talks variously about researchers, academic researchers, doctorates and research masters degrees. The authors use such phrases throughout the book as if they are always interchangeable. Worryingly, I claim, the early distinction, in chapter 2, between teaching (and we would co-emphasise learning in this university) and research activities could mean that 'non-research' students could leave with no understanding of any ethical requirements or implications (REC, legal, personal, or otherwise) of the sources or applications of what they have learnt. This is a gap in explanation, notwithstanding the intended audience of research students submitting to a REC, as undergraduate student research requiring REC approval is mentioned explicitly in chapter 10. If you acquired the book regardless of the field you research in, you will find the content tailored towards business and management studies. However, you would have to skip to chapter 10 to

find examples of REC decisions relevant to this field, having been provided earlier with examples from medicine–health. By this time, I suggest, someone new to ethics may have lost engagement. These examples and some fieldrelated scandals (again rather than medicine– health as given) would make this a live topic which a student (or faculty) could then own as significant and important. The inclusion of much of the medicine–health – and indeed the other historical background material – is interesting and important in its own right, and should perhaps be part of researcher / student knowledge, but in the context of this particular book it would be better cut down or removed, and the examples and scandals made more relevant to one discipline or drawn from a wider range. It is only when you reach the single case study, of research that involved a field REC and an NHS REC, that the medical background becomes relevant. The requirements of NHS research are too important and resource-intensive to be condensed into a generalist book, where they override the needs of everyone else. In general, if you acquired the book as a research student at any level, you would not find in it any distinction between the needs of these levels, nor any between a research student and someone who researches, whether or not they have already obtained a research degree. Perhaps there should be no differences on the line that ethics is ethics; but this is not stated. Working the other way, taught postgraduates and undergraduate students’ (even at third year dissertation) needs are not addressed, despite the fact – at least in our University – that they are often expected to engage in research of kinds beyond literature reviews, some of which easily include submission to a REC, or that ethical dimensions should be included in their curriculum. Moving from the ‘who’ to the ‘what’, the Preface finishes with, '[t]his book provides advice in dealing with the REC which increasingly research students and degree candidates need to address'. The REC focus strikes me as making the REC process worse for the student – or at least not improving it – because of the presentation, rather than as an approach. According to 'How to use this book' it is 'not a ‘how-to’ book'; I am unclear as to how a book can provide advice without any how-to. Particularly, if the ethics protocol submitted is intended as an


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intelligent approach to ethical research (rather than an unconsidered tick list) such a book must engage – as this one does – with how to address the issues a REC will expect, and some commentary on how perceptions can affect researchers and REC members’ views. If understanding the REC’s motivations and processes is so important to supporting the student, then those motivations and processes could be used to structure the book radically. What we have is a rather traditional ‘ethics is – research is – protocol is’ approach, with the REC being dealt with in Chapter 8 and advice on how to move through the REC’s processes in chapter 11. Any sense of the student researcher being involved in a (Wengerian) community of practice is too remote, if present at all, to avoid the sense of distance implied by the student 'dealing with the REC' or 'coping' with its decisions, or that supervisors have 'superficial' ethical knowledge (which is deeply troubling in its own right), while at the same time claiming – rightly – that ethics should be a part of the research, not a burden on top of it. Any sense that the REC is part of the student’s intellectual, cultural, emotional and physical protection and development is lost; and considerations that perhaps many students will not yet be aware of are mislaid, such as institutions' legal duties.

to start, unless there are other accessible texts you know of already , but one shared copy should be enough, and you will need to remember that this is an introductory book at the start of, or even before, a research project. If you are faculty staff (academic, research school, research office), you may well be better off with a well-written research ethics guide (and training sessions) for your institution, with specifics relevant to the disciplines your institution teaches and researches in. Marxism and Education: Renewing the Dialogue, Pedagogy and Culture Peter E. Jones (ed.) Palgrave Macmillan (2011) Review by Andrea Raiker

There are other flaws in the book, of varying severity, such as: expanding NIH incorrectly as National Institute [singular, sic] of Health; the incorrect definition of a university (in the UK at least); no definitions for confidentiality or privacy to compare with anonymity; no consideration of models of, for example, disability and how this changes the location and content of ethical issues the focal word does not capture; no mention of the non-UK student and how their ethical position is complex, and more complex when they conduct research outside the UK. And an odd error in a book on ethics, connecting ethics to a society’s code of moral conduct or mores without explicitly noting that ethics are argued and structured in ways which morals and mores are not.

This book is not a call to man the barricades though I did begin to read with a certain prejudice at the back of my mind, aged about nineteen, clothed in black and complete with beret and embryonic moustache. But instead of putting Marxism and Education aside as being OK for undergraduates but not for mature academics with pensions to consider, I read...and read...and read. This book places Marx firmly in the centre of political debate about education now. I began to mull over how university courses bound to neoliberalist outcomes determined by the employability agenda appeared to be manufacturing the graduating young according to the needs of employers. I wondered how different this was, in essence, from the Victorian capitalism observed by Marx during his time in Manchester. Then, most children and young people were educated for their place in a production line. Today blue-collar workers are white-collar workers in the main, but the concept of ‘place’ remains. It is time, as Series Editor Antony Green argues , for us to consider the Coalition’s reforms through a Marxist lens so that we might recognise ‘...the emergent nature of social relational forms, their ontological depth, and the ever-present need to be wary of the foreshortening effects of undialectical abstraction and reifying practices’ (Foreword vii).

So, does it meet anyone’s needs? If you already have good resources on ethics in your field, or if your research field does not have a social science aspect: no. If you don’t have a short, accessible introduction to ethics in social science: a limited yes, but you will require materials related to the specifics of your field. If you are in business and management: you may well find this a useful place

Renewing the Dialogue, Pedagogy and Culture is the third publication in Palgrave Macmillan’s Marxism and Education Series. All three volumes contain antihegemonic dialectical analyses centred on a range of interpretations of ‘education’ and ‘culture’. This volume has three sections: ‘Marxism and Culture: Educational Perspectives’, Marxism and the Culture of Educational Practice’ and


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‘Marxism and Education: Advancing Theory’. Each section contains three chapters written by individuals who are passionate about both Marxism and education. Strangely this is not offputting but stimulates curiosity. The chapter ‘A Little Night Reading: Marx, Assessment, and the Professional Doctorate in Education’ was irresistible. The ideas discussed, for example, what students understand by theory and doctoral study as labour, are articulated with great elegance and force. I have already given this chapter to a PhD student as an example of how philosophical perspective, educational theory and classroom practice can provide a seamless structure for the development of originality, the ultimate outcome of doctoral studies. It has to be said that occasionally conceptions of ‘good’ academic writing have to be to put aside so that the arguments can be enjoyed. For example ‘...the sacred cows of finance and the market were fair game in the media...’ would probably attract underlining and one or two exclamation marks if it had appeared in an undergraduate assignment. But writing in this way is in keeping with Marxist principles: definitions of what is ‘good’ are established by the elite and should be challenged. In general, however, the writing style is what you would expect in an academic volume. The term ‘culture’ is fully explored in relation to educators, students and the learning environment, but the over-arching perspective on culture is Marx’s own, ‘...human activity as the fundamental life-affirming and life-creating condition of our species’. In other words, this book invites us to engage with the culture of learning, an intellectual culture of critical dialectic analysis aimed at social emancipation and economic transformation. At a time when the Secretary of State for Education is insisting on ‘traditional’ curricula in state schools on the one hand and supporting autonomy of study in the free schools and academies, perhaps those interested in education might welcome renewed debate on the contradictions in capitalism, and the need for struggle so that the voices of those whose raison d’étre is learning and teaching can be heard.

Inclusive Practices, Inclusive Pedagogies: Learning from Widening Participation Research in Art and Design Higher Education Dipti Bhagat and Peter O’Neill (Eds) ACE/ADM-HEA/NALN/CHEAD (2011) Review by Garry Layden 'We need to no we no nuthink'

1

Widening participation should be a top priority at all UK universities. But how many of us really understand its challenges, and how we can overcome them? This book seeks to provide clear, persuasive, constructive and often radical advice for Art and Design academics, but I believe it also has much to say to those from other disciplines – more on this later. Bhagat & O’Neill take a wide view of what they term the 'learning lifecycle: from pre-entry to entry, from further education to higher education, from undergraduate to postgraduate, from graduation to career and perhaps re-entry into higher education' (p. 39). Referring to Bourdieu’s concepts of cultural capital, habitus and field, they tell us that widening participation: …has increasingly been seen as primarily addressing socio-economic class and increasing lower socio-economic groups’ access to and success in Higher Education. While this is important, Bourdieu also offers a way to understand not only how class works as a barrier, but how socio-economic privilege works to thicken and complicate the barriers of age, disability, gender, race and sexuality. Thus, work to widen participation in Higher Education must address the totality of these barriers to offer real, structural change (p. 21, my italics). The book argues that the nature of Higher Education needs to be changed radically in order to meet the needs of all students. Many academics might believe they are already meeting those needs. However, Bhagat & O’Neill contend that institutions (or individuals within them), can end up adopting exclusive practices without meaning to or even realising because of what they expect from applicants at interview, or the kind/s of written work they demand, or the learning environments they provide, or the support they offer to students in difficulties, or a variety of other reasons. 1

Page 212


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If I have a criticism, it is that this book needs a conclusion. The first chapter focuses largely on the background to widening participation, and subsequent chapters take the reader through the learning lifecycle, with each containing a discussion by the editors followed by one or more papers authored by senior academics, researchers, and practising visual artists. However, there is no conclusion that pulls together the numerous strands and delivers a clear, holistic summary. That said, I did not read a chapter without realising, I can do more to widen participation than I’m doing now. Furthermore, I think several papers might interest readers from beyond Art and Design. Key examples include Chapter 5 'Spaces of Learning', in which Olivia Sagan discusses how students’ experiences of pre-university learning environments can hinder their undergraduate success; Chapter 8 'From Disability to Learning Differences', in which Jane Graves declares that dyslexia is 'an alternative learning style' (p. 221); and Chapter 7 'Academic Writing in Art and Design', in which John Wood challenges the role of rigour in design research. A fascinating read. Leading Issues in Innovation Research Daniele Chauvel (ed.) Academic Publishing International Ltd Review by Deena Ingham Innovation is often regarded as the key that can unlock both fame and fortune – innovators are looked to for deliverance from economic hard times and to provide competitive advantage. Innovation fuels economies, inspires others and is a change-agent, from the innovative life-changing wheel to the lifestyle-changing iPhone. In educational terms the study of innovation, research into its properties and the all-important teaching which develops innovative practice are all addressed within this book. The multiple authors appear to agree that innovation is an essential, which in many cases has been only tangentially tackled by academia. This book comprises articles published in the Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, and papers delivered at the 2010 European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Each of the 12 chapters are self-contained papers bringing together different viewpoints and perspectives on innovation within academia and practice, from academic authors working across the globe. Their approach to the subject of innovation is as broad as their geographic locations; from Japan to Dubai,

Portugal to Finland, Greece to Mexico and, you may be glad to hear, England is included. Key themes running through this work feature creativity, and the necessity and importance of new thinking in educational and business practice. Academically this includes revisiting the ways students are able to innovate whilst in higher education; to research opportunities in relation to the factors and outcomes of innovation; and ways to develop genuine effective entrepreneurship. Transformative learning and radical approaches to the way in which creative learning is generated, such as ‘unlearning,’ are examined as ways to add real benefit to innovative entrepreneurial education. The need to challenge existing practice as a way of developing innovation within both academia and practice are also tackled. Research and Development (R&D), the traditional lifeblood of business survival is an area of change, explored together with today’s Knowledge Economy which is seen as a catalyst for innovation. One chapter particularly caught my attention, The requirement for academic programmes which enable graduates to exploit experiential learning in order to enhance both the innovation process and impact of learning are recognised by Alexandros Kakouris, in his chapter ‘Radical innovation versus transformative learning: A Kuhnian reading.' Kakouris identifies and explores five phases of innovation connecting them directly to transformative learning theories from Mezirow, Kolb, and others. The focus within this book could be forgiven for being concerned with big business alone, but the content selection has been developed by the editor to go far wider, addressing the growing number of SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises) and the ways in which they can develop innovation capability. For higher education institutions developing vocational business courses, the potential and requirement to develop innovation management and development within their graduates is addressed within several papers. It is useful in a diverse collection such as this to have an editorial commentary of each chapter, and Daniel Chauvel includes one such for each paper, conveniently situated between the title, author/s and the abstract. Together with the ubiquitous keywords they make navigating through this work easier for the browsing reader.


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The book concludes with exploration of Open Innovation and Open Innovation Communities, supported by Web2.0 technologies and enabling collective collaboration. As with any innovative practice and particularly those online, user motivation and rewards for both practice and academia come under the spotlight. In a tantalising glimpse into what the future may hold, Maria Antikainen explores CrowdSpirit,

FellowForce and Owela from the perspective of users and results. If you are involved in developing approaches to the multiple facets of innovation from the perspectives of research, study or practice in any area of business or enterprise, or are keen to ensure innovation within your area of higher education, this collection of papers could provide the catalyst to innovative your own practice.

Evaluation of a Global MBA Programme Yongmei Bentley & Habte Selassie, University of Bedfordshire INTRODUCTION E-learning continues to develop rapidly supported by increasing sophistication of information technology and by better understanding of how to make content and delivery more effective. Moreover, new forms of e-learning support system are being introduced to higher education institutions in an effort to meet the studentcentred learning paradigms recommended by UNESCO (UNESCO, 1998). The creation and implementation of effective quality assurance for such learning processes has been identified as one of the most challenging tasks. Jara & Mellar (2010) and Martテュnez-Argテシelles et al. (2010) point out that the collection of student feedback should be a central part of strategies to monitor the quality and standards of teaching and learning in higher education institutions for both conventional learning and e-learning. Jara & Mellar (2010) note also that while research into e-learning abounds, studies that focus on the effectiveness of the provision of e-learning are limited, and that this is a gap to be filled. This article reports on the evaluation of, and the consequent changes to, the global e-learning MBA programme from the University of Bedfordshire. The research was conducted by three members of the MBA team - two Senior Lecturers and the Elearning Development Manager. The aim was to investigate the learning experiences and perceptions of the students and to evaluate the effectiveness of the e-learning support system. LITERATURE REVIEW The rapid growth of online academic course provision worldwide has changed the learning environment for both students and teachers (Landry et al., 2008; Lapointe & Reisetter, 2008;

Williams & Williams, 2010). In terms of quality assurance, Zygouris-Coe, et al. (2009) note that instituting a well-structured quality assurance process can be expensive and time consuming, but can be worth the effort. For example, the study undertaken by Kidney et al. (2007) supports this. They state that the merit, quality and success of the e-learning programme they investigated were mainly due to the proper application of the quality assurance strategies. Moreover, Rajasingham (2009) notes that new educational paradigms and models that challenge conventional assumptions and indicators of quality assurance are becoming possible with the help of the increasing sophistication in information technology. Deepwell (2007) makes a distinction between quality assurance and evaluation, and views evaluation as an instrument of quality enhancement rather than quality assurance. While the measurement of student feedback is recognised as an important component of quality assurance, there have been mixed reports as to its effectiveness. For example, Gurトブ & Drillon (2009) state that analysing users' perceptions regarding an e-learning system can provide valuable data to evaluate and improve its functioning and performance. On the other hand, Jara & Mellar (2010) report from their research findings that student feedback was not always fully adequate to support quality enhancement. Researchers are cautioned that they will, therefore, need to make judgements in this area. Finally, Lapointe & Reisetter (2008) suggest that the new reality of online learning demands a reassessment of our understanding of what makes for the most productive student engagement. The findings below are intended to help move towards an answer to this question.


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OVERVIEW OF THE GLOBAL MBA PROGRAMME The MBA programme investigated here is a twoyear part-time MBA delivered in the UK, and at partner overseas universities in Oman, India, Germany, Poland, South Africa and Switzerland. The programme is mainly delivered online via the UK University’s e-learning learning support system, but also includes periods of face-to-face teaching. For the overseas sites such teaching is delivered by the lecturers from the UK University who make regular visits to the overseas sites, and by lecturers of the counterpart local universities in partnership with the University’s course leaders. Typically the blended learning for this programme consists of four weekends of face-to-face lectures and workshops at the local Business School and ten voice-over-the-Internet live classroom sessions in each semester. This is supported by the provision of extensive online learning materials, easy access online discussion boards for collaborative learning, an e-library and many other resources. The revised course structure of this programme, based in part on the findings from the first and second rounds of the questionnaire survey, consists of five modules in the first year and five in the second:

Year 1: Leading and Managing People; Accounting for Leaders; Marketing Products and Services in a Dynamic Environment; Mobilising Creativity and Innovation; and a Leadership project. Year 2: Strategy; Operations and Project Management; Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management; Thriving in a Competitive Global Context, and an Integrated Management project. RESEARCH METHOD The primary research approach for this study was longitudinal survey (Dillon et al., 1987), using semistructured questionnaires to collect data from respondents. Three rounds of survey were conducted across selected course sites at different points in time, thus enabling examination of the changes that occurred in the attitudes and satisfaction levels of the students. Survey forms were either delivered online or handed out in class. Table 1 gives an overview of the three rounds of questionnaire survey conducted over a period of three years. There were 149 valid responses out of 290 students taking the course when these surveys were carried out, representing a 56% response rate.

Table 1: Overview of the questionnaire survey (N=149)

Country

1st Survey (2008) 2nd Survey (2009) 3rd Survey (2010) Total No. Total No. Total No. Total No. Average No. of of Response No. of of Response No. of of Response of response responses students rate responses students rate responses students rate responses rate

Oman

30

77

39%

30

53

57%

40

71

56%

100

51%

India

18

19

95%

7

16

44%

-

-

-

25

69%

UK

6

6

100%

-

-

-

4

9

44%

10

72%

Poland

9

30

30%

-

-

-

-

-

-

9

30%

Germany

-

-

-

-

-

-

5

9

56%

5

56%

Total

63

132

66%

37

69

50%

49

89

52%

149

56%

DISCUSSION OF KEY ISSUES For evaluating this blended-learning MBA programme, the evaluation process was designed to measure the quality and effectiveness of technology-enhanced teaching, and the learning experience of the students on the course. The investigation focussed in particular on the areas of: course management, learning and teaching, online learning content, assessment, the learning support systems, and students’ overall experience of taking this course (see Table 2 for specific areas surveyed).

The first survey round As Table 1 shows, in the first survey round 63 completed questionnaires were received from four MBA centres - Oman, India, UK and Poland. Survey results are presented in Table 2. Overall, the results showed a fairly high level of satisfaction with the programme, with an average of 62% of the respondents perceiving the average of 29 aspects of the course being measured as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, versus 25% perceiving


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this ‘average’, and 13% as ‘poor’. In terms of service quality, 22 out of the 29 aspects surveyed showed a combined percentage of ‘excellent’ and ’good’ to be greater than the combined

percentage of ‘average’ and ’poor’. Six results had these percentages about the same, and one (item 17, on Voice Café) had this percentage significantly reversed.

Table 2: Results from the first survey round (% response by category) Q

Survey Items

Excellent Good Average Poor

1

Registration process/administrative support

31

55

11

3

2

Teaching at Induction/assignment support

20

60

16

4

3

Teaching at local institution

18

58

24

0

4

Module Handbooks

22

47

27

4

5

Local Tutor support

15

45

33

7

6

Module information from local institution

9

67

22

2

7

Local support facilities

9

51

26

14

8

Textbook availability

18

33

22

27

9

Usefulness of CD ROMS

20

44

22

14

10

CD ROM materials/ weekly online material

20

44

22

14

11

Reading materials on BREO

26

38

27

9

12

Learning resources

22

45

22

11

13

UK tutor support

11

51

33

5

14

Slides on BREO

25

44

25

6

15

Audio/video clips

3

45

21

31

16

Relevant website links

15

43

29

13

17

Voice Café/WIMBA

11

26

25

38

18

Course/module response

2

47

42

9

19

IT training and support/ online guides

11

35

42

12

20

Assignment instructions

16

53

27

4

21

Assignment submission procedures

16

55

13

16

22

Assignment feedback

15

36

29

20

23

Referral procedure

13

57

23

7

24

Failure procedures

18

39

17

26

25

Academic offence procedures

16

44

16

24

26

Social networking opportunities

9

38

33

20

27

Overall experience with the tutors

24

51

23

2

28

Overall experience of online support

8

49

36

7

29

Overall experience of undertaking the MBA

20

46

29

5

16

46

25

13

Average of responses shown:

As this was a semi-structured questionnaire survey, the respondents were given the opportunity to offer comments where appropriate in order to provide more detailed information on the topic areas being investigated, and to encourage suggestions for improving the course content, delivery approach, and support systems. Overall, the comments indicated a need for more support for the students’ independent learning process. Suggestions generated by this first round of survey, combined with feedback from UK and local staff, were then considered. A detailed

discussion of the changes that resulted is excluded here due to restriction on article length, but is given in Bentley et al. (2010). The second survey round Subsequent to the course changes a second survey round was conducted in 2009 covering Oman and India, with 37 valid responses received. This second survey had 19 questions the same as in the first round. The primary purpose was to measure any improvement (or otherwise) resulting from the course changes, and to uncover additional


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issues. A comparison between all three survey rounds is given in Table 3. For consistency, question numbers are those of the first round.

despite effort for improvement after the first survey some areas did worse, including teaching by local institutions, and the referral assessment and the failure procedures. This indicated that further effort was needed to improve the students’ experience, though in part it might be that later students were more demanding, especially for services related to certain university procedures. Overall, the average percentage of respondents who rated the course as ‘excellent’ and ‘good’ on the topics included in this comparison improved from 63% in the first survey to 74% in the second. This was seen as an encouraging finding, and justified the extensive work by all the parties involved to improve the design and provision of the course.

An examination of the results from the first two survey rounds showed that 14 out of the 19 topic areas investigated in common across the surveys had improvements in the second survey in the ‘positive’ response category (% of ‘excellent’ plus ‘good’), with nine areas showing a gain of 10% or more. Significant improvements included: teaching at induction by the UK lecturers; the quality of module handbooks; UK tutor support; audio/video clips; ICT training and support; social networking opportunities; overall experience of online support; and the overall experience of undertaking the MBA. However, it was surprising to see that

Table 3: Comparison of the results of equivalent questions from all three survey rounds (% response by category) 1st Survey (2008) 2nd Survey (2009) 3rd Survey (2010) Areas covered Excel Good Av. Poor Excel Good Av. Poor Excel Good Av. Poor Registration process/ administrative 1 support 31 55 11 3 22 59 19 0 27 46 21 6 Teaching at Induction/ assignment 2 support 20 60 16 4 27 62 11 0 26 50 24 0 3 Teaching at local institution 18 58 24 0 5 62 30 3 5 42 45 8 4 Module Handbooks 22 47 27 4 14 67 19 0 8 54 16 22 5 Local Tutor support 15 45 33 7 30 27 36 7 22 56 11 11 CD ROM materials/ weekly online 10 material 20 44 22 14 22 51 16 11 29 49 19 3 13 UK tutor support 11 51 33 5 49 32 16 3 22 48 30 0 15 Audio/video clips 3 45 21 31 25 61 13 1 Q

17 Voice Café/WIMBA IT training and support/ online 19 guides

11

26

25

38

53

32

14

11

35

42

12

14

54

20 Assignment instructions 21 Assignment submission procedures

16 16

53 55

27 13

4 16

27 30

57 48

22 Assignment feedback

15

36

29

20

16

23 Referral procedure

13

57

23

7

14

24 Failure procedures

18

39

17

26

25 Academic offence procedures

16

44

16

26 Social networking opportunities

9

38

28 Overall experience of online support Overall experience of undertaking 29 the MBA

8 20 16

Average of responses

1

-

-

-

-

30

2

10

50

38

2

3 19

13 3

16

76

8

0

46

19

19

-

-

-

-

45

31

10

-

-

-

-

19

26

40

15

-

-

-

-

24

17

44

30

9

-

-

-

-

33

20

78

5

16

0

-

-

-

-

49

36

7

30

49

5

16

22

56

16

6

46 46

29 25

5 13

30 27

49 46

16 20

5 6

57 22

24 50

18 22

0 5

The third survey round The third survey round in 2010 covered Oman, Germany and UK, with 49 valid responses obtained. As can be seen in Table 3, there were 11 questions which covered the same areas as in the first and second surveys. The programme had been further changed following the second survey, but not radically in most areas, so for many of the questions that were the same it was not surprising that the results were similar. For example, on the key question that asked about the students’ overall

experience of the MBA, there was a marginal improvement (from 79% to 81%), but unlikely to be significant. Some other findings were disappointing. For example, evaluation of the teaching at the local partner universities was again rated lower than previously. This fall in rating was partly counterbalanced, however, by a large jump in the rating of quality of local tutor support, reflecting the significant effort that had been put into improving this area. Respondents were again encouraged to make comments where they felt this could improve


JPD 39

future course provision, and all replies were useful. Most were fairly straightforward, and not surprisingly some respondents asked for additional resources (for example, more tutor time or faster response on assignment marking) that were unlikely to be met without a change in level of staff provision. A further issue related to the perennial question of assigning the proportion of group work to Individual work. Nevertheless, overall, the third round of the survey (and the two preceding ones) gave a generally positive picture of how the students felt about the course, with some highly complementary remarks being made when students were asked to summarise their general satisfaction with the course. Additional analyses of the survey findings are on-going which will help further improvements to be made. REFLECTIONS ON THE RESEARCH One of the main limitations was the change in sites surveyed at each round. Pragmatic considerations had led to these changes, including timing of when courses were offered, and occasions on which surveys could be carried out without interrupting teaching schedules. For this reason the comparability of responses between survey rounds needs to be handled with some caution. But set against this, in general the course was being taught to students of a rather similar level across all sites and with similar expectations such that it is felt that on balance useful conclusions could be drawn. Changes were also made to the question sets over time. This is not thought a major impediment to the overall value of the surveys, as most such changes were determined by straightforward factors, such as questions being no longer relevant, or where new questions were designed to measure course changes following a previous survey round. CONCLUSIONS The article reports on the evaluation of a blendedlearning MBA programme provided by the University of Bedfordshire both in the UK and at a number of overseas partner-institution sites. The evaluation was a longitudinal study, involving a sequence of surveys of students’ perceptions of the course. Findings from these surveys, plus other review procedures, were used to make changes in both course content and course delivery. The research is contrasted with much of the research into the evaluation of e-learning courses which relies on data gathered just once, and

where cross-sectional designs have been applied. By contrast, the longitudinal approach employed here enabled the charting of changes over time, thus enriching the process of course design, and monitoring the changing satisfaction of students and other stakeholders. Overall, the survey findings indicated a high level of satisfaction with the MBA programme, and this satisfaction increased following the changes made. In particular, the findings supported the detailed choices by the providing university and the partnering institutions in the structure and content of the blended-learning approach adopted. The findings give credence to the view that an edelivery approach is well suited to work-based part-time MBA students who are ‘relatively mature, already business-aware, conversant with information technology, and have access to the elearning facilities and resources required’ (Priestman, 2010). Furthermore, the findings supported the claim of Gurău & Drillon (2009) that student feedback can provide valuable data to evaluate and improve the functioning and performance of an e-learning system. By identifying areas for course improvement, this research has attempted to implement the concept of ‘evaluation as an instrument of quality enhancement, rather than just quality assurance’, as suggested by Deepwell (2007). It is hoped that the outcomes of the evaluation of e-learning in this research have improved not only the quality and effectiveness of this particular programme, but may also help improve the quality and effectiveness of the teaching and learning processes of global blended-learning courses offered by other institutions across the world. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors thank the University’s MBA team for their support and the students for taking the survey. REFERENCES Bentley, Y., Shegunshi, A. & Scannell, M. (2010) 'Evaluating the Impact of Distance Learning Support Systems on the Learning Experience of MBA Students in a Global Context'. Electronic Journal of eLearning, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 51-62. Deepwell, F. (2007) ‘Embedding quality in e-learning implementation through evaluation’. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, Vo. 10, No. 2, pp. 3443.


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Dillon, W. R., Madden. T.J. & Firtle, N. H. (1994). rd Marketing Research in a Marketing Management. 3 . Edition. Burr Ridge: Richard Irwin Inc. Gurău, C. & Drillon, D. (2009). ‘Evaluating the effectiveness of an international e-learning system: The case of Montpellier Business School’. Proceedings of the International Conference on e-Learning, 2009, pp. 174181.

Martínez-Argüelles, M., Castán, J. & Juan, A. (2010). ‘How do students measure service quality in e-learning? A case study regarding an internet-based university’. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 15159. Priestman, T. (2010) MBA Approval Document, University of Bedfordshire, 26 May 2010.

Jara, M., & Mellar, H. (2010) ‘Quality enhancement for e-learning courses: The role of student feedback’. Computers and Education, Vol 54, No. 3, pp. 709-714.

Rajasingham, L. (2009). ‘Breaking boundaries: Quality elearning for global knowledge society’. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, Vol. 4, No. !, pp. 58-65.

Kidney, G., Cummings, L. & Boehm, A. (2007) ‘Toward a quality assurance approach to e-learning courses’. International Journal on E-Learning, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 1730.

UNESCO (1998). ‘World declaration on Higher Education for the twenty-first century: vision and action’. Proceedings of the World Conference on Higher Education, Paris, 5-9 October, 1998.

Landry, B. J., Payne, D. & Koger, M. S. (2008) ‘From ‘chalk and talk’ to online offerings: keeping pace with technology in education’. International Journal of Management Education, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 300-317.

Williams, M., & Williams, J. (2010) ‘ Evaluating a model of business school students’ acceptance of web-based course management systems’. The International Journal of Management Education, Vol. 8, No.3, pp. 59-70.

Lapointe, L. & Reisetter, M. (2008). ‘Belonging online: Students’ perceptions of the value and efficacy of an online learning community’. International Journal on ELearning, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 641-65.

Zygouris-Coe, V., Swan, B., & Ireland, J. (2009). ‘Online learning and quality assurance’. International Journal on E-Learning, Vol. 8, No.1, pp. 127-146.

Learning Beyond Compliance: A comparative analysis of two cohorts undertaking a first year social work module Avril Bellinger, Faculty of Health, University of Plymouth. Fumiyo Kagawa, Centre for Sustainable Futures, University of Plymouth. Abstract This paper addresses a current gap in education for sustainable development (ESD), an international educational movement, with a particular focus on teaching and learning innovations. Reflecting upon the mainstream ‘business as usual’ approaches in the ESD discourse, theories and practices of transformative social work are considered to make a significant contribution to that end. Empirical research was conducted to examine a new pedagogical approach introduced within an established module taught in 9 different groups to first year UK Social Work students during the academic year of 2007/8. The core change investigated was the replacement of detailed weekly instructions for teaching staff. The new guide articulated a pedagogical framework for the course and

outlined themes and objectives, leaving detailed planning and delivery to individual teachers. Explorations were made through a comparative analysis of the responses of teaching staff and students for pre- 2007/8 academic years and 2007/8 year respectively. Data were collected using both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. The research findings include students’ positive view towards the classroombased learning and some indications of deeper and wider understanding of social justice. Staff reported a renewed sense of professionalism. This research illuminates the potential for learning beyond compliance within existing curriculum frameworks. Key Words social justice, social work, education for sustainable development, transformative learning, curriculum innovation, compliance


JPD 41

Introduction This paper explores the interaction of two different Higher Education (HE) perspectives concerned with promoting social change. The research was conducted in collaboration between the authors: a social work academic and researcher of education for sustainable development (ESD). It reports on empirical research conducted during the academic year of 2007/8 which examined a new pedagogical approach introduced in the first year module of Social Work programme at the University of Plymouth, U.K and the result of this for students and teachers. The paper introduces key characteristics of ESD and its interface with social work to justify the research questions. The context for the research is offered as a story of curriculum innovation in a social work programme followed by an account of the quantitative and qualitative research methodology used. Key findings are presented followed by reflections on the wider implications of social work pedagogies to ESD and to other disciplines. Education for Sustainable Development Education for sustainable development (ESD) is an international educational movement and it currently enjoys huge momentum through the United Nations Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). According to UNESCO, the lead agency of the decade, ESD is ‘a process of learning how to make decisions that consider the long-term future of the economy, ecology and equity of all communities’ (UNESCO 2006). ESD addresses interconnected contemporary socio-economic and environmental issues based on the values of respect for dignity and human rights, social and economic justice for all, protection of Earth’s ecosystems, cultural diversity, and a culture of tolerance, non-violence and peace (UNESCO 2006: 16). The following keywords which are frequently used to define ESD are helpful to understand key tenants of ESD: creation of awareness; local and global vision, responsibility (learn to be responsible), learning to change; participation; lifelong learning; critical thinking; systemic approach and understanding complexity; decisionmaking; interdisciplinarity; problem-solving; satisfying the needs of the present without compromising future generations (UNESCO, 2009: 27). A central challenge of this international educational movement is deeply embedded in the

ambiguous notion of sustainable development and conflicting understandings of the role of education. Despite ESD’s comprehensive and inclusive vision, Khan urges critical educators’ engagement with the ESD movement since the UN Decade of Sustainable Development is, in his view, ‘nothing other than a deductive pedagogical '…greenwash developed by and for big businessas-usual’ (2008: 7-8). The contested notion of sustainable development which enjoys wide supports across all political lines is referred to as a ‘political compromise’ (Sauvé, 2004), a ‘political dream ticket’ (Bonnet, 1999) or a ‘multi-purpose glue’ (Perez & Llorente, 2005). It can be seen as a new area of information to be learned but one that does not affect the structures and processes within which the learning takes place. Without much unpacking of tensions between economic, social and environmental sustainability, mainstream sustainability and its manifestation in education, the inconsistencies and incompatibilities of values are maintained (Selby & Kagawa, 2010). Policy-driven phenomenon of mainstream education for sustainable development is, in the words of Jickling and Wals ‘…a product and carrier of globalizing forces’ (2008:39). By uncritically embracing market driven economic growth model, most ESD lacks deep critical reflection (Selby & Kagawa, 2010:39-40): …in this untroubled state, there has been a preoccupation with the instrumental and pragmatic task of embedding ESD in institutions and systems through developing and establishing benchmarks, indicators and checklists; developing skills taxonomies; refining auditing and monitoring tools; drawing up performance league tables; and other potentials mechanisms for targeting, standardisation, measurement and control. In a similar vein, Jickling (2005) has been strongly concerned about instrumentalist and deterministic ESD pedagogical approaches in which teachers hierarchically pass on predetermined expert knowledge/learning outcomes to learners. The Social Work Education and Education for Sustainable Development Interface Social work is a personally engaged practice in which use of self and a capacity for working creatively in situations of uncertainty are fundamental (Fook et al., 1997; Taylor & White, 2006). Anticipating severe consequences of rising prices resulting from peak oil, floods and other natural disasters through climate change, the field


JPD 42

of social work plays a critical role in working with those communities which are already disenfranchised and likely to be hit first and most severely by those social and environmental challenges. Social workers are predominantly engaged in supporting people in such communities both in the UK and internationally. Taking a global perspective raises questions about the sustainability of individualised eligibility-orientated state interventions when even the comparatively well-resourced UK provision is under such economic pressure. Social work in the UK has not been routinely connected with sustainability. Indeed the proposals in response to the Social Task Force Report (DH, 2010b) are silent on this matter. However the need to address both social sustainability (i.e. creating healthy, equitable, and diverse communities) and environmental sustainability are increasingly urgent in the context of serious global environmental challenges which are already affecting the large number of the world’s population (Whiteford et al., 2010). The transformative tradition of social work theory and practice (Bailey & Brake. 1975; Ferguson & Lavalette, 2007, 2010), means that a focus on individuals should not mean that social work is reduced to a de-politicized and pathologizing response to global pressures. Transformative social work education is situated within dialectical relationships between the global and the local. It strives to develop context-specific solutions in ways that address the individual and global structural issues simultaneously (Whiteford et al., 2010). Hugman’s review of the identity of social work indicates that there is a prevailing trend in the UK towards producing compliant social workers who confine themselves ‘…to the competent delivery of services’ (2009:1143). He urges the profession to seek inspiration from the global South in order to preserve practices that address both individual needs and wider issues of social justice. It is important to note that some of the general themes underpinning education for sustainable development are already embedded in the theory and practice of social work: substantial knowledge about groupwork (Brown, 1992; Doel & Sawdon, 1999; Preston-Shoot, 2007; Benson, 2009), constructivist approaches (Parton & O’Byrne, 2000; Healy, 2005) and a concern for the congruence of content and process (East & Chambers, 2007). Similarly, there is evidence that ecological models for assessment and intervention

(Brofenbrenner, 1977; DH, 2000a; Jack & Gill, 2003) have been widely adopted in the UK. Criticality is regarded as a pre-requisite for good practice (Ford et al., 2005; Brookfield, 2009). In the UK, students and practitioners are familiar with the notion of ecological approaches. However, these fall short of an ESD definition of ecology. In social work they refer to ‘family and environmental factors’ (DH, 2000a) or to ‘economic and political structures, national and European legislation’ (Baldwin, 2000). Such frames of reference are limited to a notion of ecology that is disconnected from global reality and presumes a continuing entitlement to an unequal share of global resources. Most importantly social justice concerns lie at the core of social work education (IFSW, 2000; Ferguson & Woodward, 2009). The recent UNESCO review on the first half of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development points out that ‘ESD-triggered innovations in teaching and learning are still in their early stages’ (2009:71). This indicates that accumulated social work pedagogical experiences have much to offer to the ESD. UNESCO goes on to state that: there is a world-wide call for alternative methodologies that can strengthen people’s SD [Sustainable Development]-related capacities such as: understanding complexity; seeing connections and interdependencies; participating in democratic decision making processes; and questioning dominant and longaccepted systems and routines that appear fundamentally unsustainable. (2009:71). Social work education theories and practices are not free from obstacles. For instance, helping learners to develop critical and creative capacities within a current dominant framework of higher education presents some challenges. Increasingly students see themselves as consumers with a right to expect that teachers deliver the education, training, and qualification for which they have paid. Failure may even result in litigation as students exercise their right to complain about course delivery (Onsman, 2008). In this way, the world of higher education mirrors the commercial and service environments in which consumers have a right to consistent, equal and quality assured education. Such a culture produces pressure on teachers to demonstrate that students have not been disadvantaged by differences in their experience and can drive teaching towards a formulaic approach


JPD 43

(Leathwood, 2005). Almost twenty years ago, the dangers of a reductionist approach were identified by Bel Hooks: At this historical moment, there is a crisis of engagement within universities, for when knowledge becomes commoditized, then much authentic learning ceases. (Hooks, 1989:51) More currently, Kathy Maclachlan (2007) reviews the increasing constraints within HE institutions and their impact on teaching practices. Equally it should be noted that the UK social work employment environment is one of increasing regulation, micro-management and targets based on short-term politically driven imperatives (Jordan & Jordan, 2000). Graduates are expected to arrive at their first jobs able to deliver services with economy, efficiency and effectiveness (Jones, 2008) to people whose needs have been defined as extreme within that particular agency’s eligibility criteria. Thus, whilst the values of social justice and human rights and the practices of community engagement are embedded in social work teaching internationally, it can be a challenge for both teachers and students to negotiate these competing realities. Students can find the relevance of classroom teaching hard to retain in the messy complexity of the practice environment where their task is often highly constrained by bureaucratic process (Peckover et al., 2008; Hugman, 2009; White et al., 2009). A Story of Curriculum Innovation This research collaboration came about as a result of the social work academic’s participation in the Centre for Sustainable Futures (a HEFCE funded Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning) which has a mandate to embed sustainability content and pedagogy into all disciplines. Module changes were already in progress when the researcher identified them as being an example of ESD and so an appropriate focus for study. The interface between the two areas described earlier meant that a lens of ESD could be used to interrogate the social work process to the illumination of both. Foundations for Professional Practice is a one year core module (20 credit) at Stage 1 of the BSc (Hons) Social Work Programme, an honours degree which leads to the nationally recognised professional qualification, at a university in the UK. The programme is offered at the two geographical locations within the South West of England to

approximately 100 students. This module is 'a core strand of the degree and carries the principal task of developing critical reflection, awareness of social injustice, professional identity and academic skills' (Butler, 2007:1). Its learning outcomes include academic skills, the development of professional identity and understanding of social work values and self-assessment skills. The module consists of classroom-based learning and practice learning experience. For the former, students spend two hours per week over two academic terms, while for the latter students spend a minimum of 40 days in community-based agencies offering social care activities and undertaking a community development project. 100 students are divided into small groups of ten to fifteen and each group is taught by an academic teaching staff member supported by a Practice Learning Manager (practice educator employed by the university) who is in charge of communitybased practice learning. It is well understood that the task of connecting classroom teaching with practice is problematic (Thompson, 1995; Clapton et al., 2008; Bellinger, 2010). So the inclusion of learning in classroom and practice environments, together with joint teaching by practice educators and academic staff was intended to promote students' ability to connect theory and practice. During the academic year 2007/8, changes were introduced for this module in the classroom based learning environment, whilst retaining the same learning outcomes from the previous year. Lying behind this decision was the teaching staff members’ dissatisfaction with the detailed weekly instructions they were previously required to use. During the summer of 2007, those who were involved in the delivery of this module were invited to discuss their concerns and suggest alternative ideas about pedagogies. They were unanimous in a wish to use teaching approaches that were more congruent with their concerns for social justice. Subsequent collaboration between the authors identified that these motives were in harmony with ESD principles. It was also considered that the alternative approaches would in turn help students deepen and widen their own personal awareness and commitment for social justice through their profession. Staff were invited to generate ideas about how students could be helped to learn the module outcomes and these were generated through a workshop session. Reflecting upon the concerns and suggestions raised during the meetings, module leaders came


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up with two concrete changes. One was the replacement of the detailed instructional ‘Teacher Guide’ with one which clarifies a pedagogical approach for this course and gives some practical guidance to the teaching staff . Underpinning the change was an approach to adult learning that was holistic and concerned with acknowledging and working with the whole person using a variety of media (Miller, 2007). The intention was to support students at the beginning of their social work course to challenge their acquired frame of reference and become more open to other ways of thinking and being in the world. This included making space for reflecting on 'disorientating dilemmas' in which individuals' previous ways of making sense of the world were disrupted and subjected to rational examination (Mezirow, 1991, 2000). It also acknowledged that such deep and transformative learning has significant emotional and spiritual dimensions (Dirkx et al., 2006). Significantly, no attempt was made to adjust the content of the module teaching to include explicit focus on environmental aspects of sustainability. In planning the module changes, none of the teaching team saw this as a priority so this would have seemed artificial. In place of detailed instructions for each session, the new teacher guide identified aims and objectives for each theme spanning a three week period. These included: developing the framework for learning; understanding groups and how to work in them; being a skilled learner; seeking and using feedback; interacting with the public; what is social work; social justice; critical reflection and identity. Teaching staff members were highly encouraged to use their own resources in response to specific group needs. The guide suggested the importance of using: (1) an engaged pedagogical approach by modelling the behaviours which tutors were trying to promote; and (2) various interactive pedagogies by linking theory and practice in a critical manner (Butler, 2007). Another key change was fully to embed students’ reflections within each classroom based learning session by allocating at least 15 minutes per session reflection time. Students were invited to reflect on their learning experience through, for instance, writing an individual reflective log for which they were offered guided questions. Following the initial review meeting, there were conscious efforts to continue dialogues among the teaching staff members in the pedagogical innovation process. The research interviews with staff by the ESD researcher, (see below) produced

a level of reflection that sharpened critical awareness and affirmed positive practice. In this way a constructive learning environment was modelled in order to generate a sense of ownership and community of learning (Wenger, 1998) among all the teaching staff. Research Questions and Methodology Through their collaboration, the authors recognised that social work had developed and been implementing the content and pedagogical elements which are underrepresented within the current ESD discourse (UNESCO, 2009) as quoted at the beginning of this paper. It was considered that examining the example of curriculum innovation experience explained above would help to advance the current discussion on theory and practice of ESD. The empirical research examined both students’ and teaching staff’s experiences with regard to a new pedagogical approach. Two research questions guided the inquiry: 

In what way does the change in the pedagogical approach of the module influence students’ learning and their development of social justice awareness, in particular? In what way does the change in the pedagogical approach of the module influence tutors’ approach to teaching?

These questions were examined in a comparative manner by analysing three types of data. First, two sets of on-line student questionnaire surveys were implemented from April to June 2008. One was for the first year students and the other for the second year students. Most of the questions were identical. However, for the second year students, the questions were framed to obtain their retrospective view on the module. 28 first year students responded (the return rate of 41 percent). Because of the very small sample from the second year, the authors have decided not to include the sample from the second year in the analysis. Second, a portfolio analysis was conducted of 15 pieces of work. Two samples were drawn randomly from four different grade levels (i.e. 4050; 50-60; 60-70; Over 70) and from both 2007/8 and 2006/7 submissions. These two sets of first year student portfolios were compared (cohort 2006/2007 had only one portfolio for over 70). The coding and analysis were made according to the themes predetermined by the authors with a particular focus on students’ social justice


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awareness. It is important to note that this coding is value ridden. Category A is considered as a narrow and limited learning outcome, while moving towards category B and then category C is considered as desirable. The students’ reflection section within the portfolio was mainly examined. Authors analyzed the data independently and later they compared their analysis. In addition to the above, student marks for all the student portfolios from each year were compared (i.e. 2006/7 cohort 101 samples, and 2008/9 cohort 100 samples) to check whether there was any significant change in the distribution. Third, a total of six tutors who have taught the module both pre and during the academic year of 2007/8 were invited to one short semi-structured individual interview. It aimed at eliciting their comparative views on pedagogies they used as well as their views on pedagogical implications for student learning. Qualitative data from the individual interviews were audio recorded and transcribed with their prior consent. Analysis was made according to emerging themes. The involvement in the research was voluntary and the participants’ anonymity and confidentiality were guaranteed throughout the research process. Enabling Learning (Processes) to Address Social Justice The analysis of the on-line survey has revealed that the majority of student respondents were positive about the learning experience in the classroom. For instance, a majority of them chose ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ to the following statements identified as the module outcomes: [this module] has helped me to understand the role and function of social work in society (82 percent); to be familiar with the knowledge, skills and ethical frameworks that underpin social work practice (79 per cent); to assess my own strengths and learning needs (71 per cent). 93 per cent of the respondents chose ‘yes’ when asked if there was any significant learning for them in the 108 classroom-based learning. When asked to write about the factors which facilitated their learning, students identified the following factors: group discussion/work (9 responses); teaching/facilitating styles (5 responses); supportive learning atmosphere (5 responses); individual learning such as reading, essay writing, homework (4 responses), work experience/practice (3 responses).

More than 90 percent of the respondents also agree with the statement that the atmosphere of this module is different from other modules they have taken so far. When asked to explain how the atmosphere of the class was different, 10 student respondents explained it using the terms ‘informal’ ‘friendly’ ‘relaxed’ and ‘personal.’ Others also wrote the class environment was ‘comfortable’ to express their own opinions and to ask questions (10 respondents). However, it is important to note that a small number of students touched on tensions and dysfunction relating to group dynamics. With regard to the regular reflection time within the module, 64 per cent of student respondents found it helpful for their learning. This reveals an interesting contrast to the teaching staff members’ sense of failure to the reflection time experience which will be explained in the following section. When asked if their understanding of social justice changed since they started their study at the university, nearly 70 per cent of respondents answered affirmatively. Widened and deepened understandings are observed in their written comments to some extent. For instance, one student wrote 'I now know a bit about this, whereas before I knew nothing.' In the words of another student: Social justice to me is something that is an ongoing debate with as yet no clear right or wrong answer. Social justice is much bigger and more complex than I originally anticipated. In the survey, students highlighted an increased level of critical consciousness developed through the classroom learning. For instance, one student wrote, '[this module] has caused me to identify who I am and be more aware of how my identity impacts upon others.' Similarly one student stated ‘I am far more aware of how my values can affect how I practise and I now view everything from an anti-discriminatory view point’. Another student began to '…investigate stories or reports in the media in more detail and do not rely on one source of information.' Some indications of widened and deepened understanding of social justice are also observed through the portfolio analysis. The portfolio analysis comprised two independent readings of the same material by the authors looking for 5 specific themes derived from the literature. In terms of themes: ‘reasons for social justice,’ ‘identifications of issues’ and ‘student perceptions


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about issues of social injustice,’ both cohort groups possess more or less similar levels of awareness and understandings. However, there is an interesting improvement in the two remaining themes. Although there was no indication of global awareness among the portfolios of sample students from the 2006/2007, portfolios of the top three grade levels of sample students from 2007/8 indicate more global levels of awareness than local and national levels. Most significant contrast is observed in personal change. Behaviour changes are strongly manifested in all four grade levels of samples students in 2007/2008. In reviewing the student portfolio marks for the cohorts, it appears that the top ranges of marks (60-69 and 70-79) have shown significant improvement for the 2007/2008 cohort groups. Although the research indicated an overall positive response from the students, clearly it is a weakness in the research that no baseline data was available for the two cohorts under consideration. It must also be acknowledged that further research would be needed to see whether attitude and behaviour changes are sustained and accumulate throughout the programme. A Renewed Sense of Professionalism There are a number of emerging themes from the interviews with teaching staff members. First, by employing the new pedagogical approach, all of them expressed their renewed sense of joy and excitement towards teaching. For instance, one staff said, 'I absolutely enjoy it… I love the flexibility of it and the opportunity that it offers for lots of discussion and debate within the student groups. In no way is it didactic teaching' (Staff 5). Another staff also put the experience affirmatively as follows: [It is] great, refreshing, [and] allowing for creativity. [It is] allowing us to use whatever resources we have, [and] being quite flexible and creative in what we use and how we do it. And certainly the focuses/themes have been issues that are very close to my heart in terms of values, social justice… (Staff 1). By following the previous mode of teaching, teaching staff members commonly did not feel a sense of ownership or freedom in the ways they taught and the teaching materials they used. Staff 4 felt 'as if we were going through motions, that we were filling two hours with stuff made by somebody else…It was like I was delivering something for somebody else.' The new approach

has clearly influenced on staff’s self-worth and self-esteem: 'It makes you feel like a grown up. It makes you feel valued' (Staff 1). Second, the interviewed teaching staff noticed that new pedagogical approach allowed more spaces to address students’ experiences and concerns in the classroom learning environment. This does not mean such an emergence never happened before, but during the academic year of 2007/8, they recognized that there were more of these. The less prescriptive teaching structure gave ‘permission’, in the words of one of the interviewees, to allow spaces for students’ concerns. According to Staff 2, such interactions became possible because the new pedagogical approach strongly encouraged students to bring their own experience to the classroom discussions. In this approach, contemporary social work student concerns about ESD issues of consumerism, environmental degradation and food security, had space to be explored without the defensiveness often generated when these issues are ‘on the agenda’. It is critical to note that dealing with emergent learning needs and playing a facilitator’s role in that process is not always comfortable and easy for the teaching staff members. Some of teaching members admitted that their tendency was to use teacher-centred methods, although they philosophically support learner-directed and participatory teaching and learning approaches. Staff 4 reflected on one particular occasion when the student group 'started to go off on a discussion of its own' and she felt 'less and less confident in what [she] was doing.' When she noticed students’ comments which were not thought through, she carefully asked a few questions 'to get them to thinking about what they were saying without them shutting them down.' In retrospect, Staff 4 states, 'For me it was a moment of learning to let go and trust that the process will actually become a learning environment.' Such a transition is not easy. Third, the new pedagogical approach contributed to create better working relationships among the teaching staff members. They began to talk more to each other, and to share the module resources which each individual have gathered. Staff 3 now feels a 'very strong sense of teamwork.' Above all, classroom teachers and Practice Learning Managers are working collaboratively more than before. Both began to recognize and use more of each other’s strengths in the classroom learning


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environment. Previously they were both contributing to a classroom teaching but they normally divided a time slot into two and each looked after only their own section. There were often cases that Practice Learning Managers did not feel comfortable in the ‘academic’ teaching environment at the classroom. Regarding this point, one Practice Learning Manager states: Personally I have had more involvement this year in facilitating … Personally I have gained a lot of confidence, I have to say. I think it has broken down quite a lot of those power issues between practice and academic [staff members+ because *of+ …having the opportunity to be more involved (Staff 6). Fourth, in terms of the embedded reflection time, teaching staff members commonly expressed the difficulties or even failure of this approach. All staff members allocated the last 15 minutes for students quietly and individually to write down their reflective logs. In contrast to the flexibility embedded into the main part of the session, this reflection remained as a ‘routine’ and did not meet the diverse student learning styles with regard to self-reflections. Fifth, the interviewed staff members identified some wider obstacles in promoting a participatory mode of teaching and learning. One of such example is a gap between existing students’ ‘giveme-an-answer’ attitude and promoting ‘no-rightanswer’ culture. Some of the teaching staff expressed that many students were used to passively receive the information and answers. Students’ attitudes to seek ‘facts’ and ‘right answers’ are also significantly influenced by the existing assessment modes. They are assessed through traditional means, which do not necessarily capture the new experiences and capacities they have developed through the participatory pedagogies. According to Staff 3, students 'get, and quite rightly so, very preoccupied with assessments and their learning disappears because of that.' This is a remaining challenge. There is also a gap between this teaching method with the consequent attitude students are encouraged to develop in this particular module and other classes which remain ‘traditional’ by using didactic teaching and learning methodologies. Some staff felt that traditional practices in the wider context of the faculty and university structures similarly inhibit students’ genuine participation. Sustaining changes in the classroom setting would be supported through

changes in the wider environment. This also remains as a challenge. Reflections The above sections have highlighted the changes that took place in relation to new pedagogical approaches introduced in SCW 108 during the 2007/8 academic year. Students’ positive view toward the classroom-based learning and some tokens of their deeper and wider understanding of social justice alongside teaching staff members’ renewed sense of professionalism and an increased level of teamwork culture are encouraging changes. So what allowed this change to happen? The first factor seems to be a conscious shift of management module leadership style from ‘control’ to ‘collaboration’. It had been the concern of module leaders to give precise instructions with a view to delivering the equal levels of student learning among nine groups across two campuses. It is often believed that the student learning quality can be best managed through a reductionist approach such as micromanaging the behaviour of staff in the classroom. This echoes the ways that practitioners’ behaviours are controlled in practice through, for example, detailed recording processes (Parton, 2005; White 2009) and fails to acknowledge the value of trust rather than surveillance (Smith, 2005). However, paradoxically this study has illuminated that democratic decision making process allowed teaching staff members to be more motivated and to become more creative and collaborative than ever before, when shedding the detailed instructions. Second, the courage which teaching staff took throughout the year, by not necessarily knowing if their new approaches work or not, helped to them to learn. They seemed to be convinced that if teachers would like to support students to become open to learning, they must model such an attitude as a learner, first and foremost. For a teacher, this poses a challenge: whilst it is energising to be working in the classroom in a way that is always new and fresh, it does demand personal exposure, vulnerability and acceptance of the discomfort. Fook & Askeland (2007) articulate how it can be embarrassing or foolhardy to reveal incompetence or ignorance as a teacher but that critical reflection relies on ‘disclosing to others what is not understood in order to learn from it’ (ibid:528).


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Third, it is important to note that such a fundamental shift in teaching practice took place without changing either the module outline or the assessment requirements. Whilst curriculum change may be seen in terms of requiring formal and structural change, the curriculum innovation examined here shows what may be possible simply by changing pedagogical approach within the classroom. As discussed earlier in this paper, we are in an educational environment that is increasingly formulaic and evaluates what is done through measuring compliance (Maclachlan, 2007). This research offers an opportunity to review practice within such frameworks in order to promote teaching and learning rather than compliance and what Freire calls ‘domestication’ (2000). Social justice demands that we not be complicit in maintaining the status quo. Indeed, to be involved in transformative process is to resist, in multiple ways, standard practices and the social normativity that supports inequities and oppressions (Benjamin, 2007:196). Although this was a small scale study, the abovedescribed insights will contribute to fill in the current gap in ESD-triggered innovations in teaching and learning. In turn, ESD has enabled the social work team to take confidence in a wider global perspective on teaching practices and to reappraise approaches familiar to the profession. At the time of writing the social work programme has implemented a new, non-modular programme structure inspired by the changes begun in 2007. Further research into the impact on student and staff experience is in process. Even without wider structural changes, these ideas could be translated to other disciplines and modules. Change can be started wherever you are. (Editor's Note: Fumiyo Kagawa has since left the position mentioned at the start of this paper.) References Bailey, R. & Brake, M (1975) Radical Social Work. London: Edward Arnold. Baldwin, N. (ed.) (2000) Protecting Children and Promoting Their Rights. London: Whiting and Birch. Bellinger, A. (2010) ‘Talking about (Re)Generation: Practice Learning as a site of renewal for social work’. British Journal of Social Work, Vol. 40, pp. 2450-2466. Benjamin, A. (2007) ‘Afterword – Doing Anti-Oppressive Social Work: The Importance of Resistance, History and Strategy’ in D. Baines (ed.) Doing Anti-Oppressive

Practice: Building Transformative Politicized Social Work. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing. Benson, J. (2009) Working More Creatively with groups. London: Routledge. Bonnet, M. (1999) Education for Sustainable Development: A Coherent Philosophy for Environmental Education? Cambridge Journal of Education, Vol. 29, No. 3, pp. 313-324. Brofenbrenner, U. (1977) ‘Towards an experiential ecology of human development’. American Psychologist, Volo. 32, pp. 513-531. Brookfield, S. (2009) ‘The Concept of Critical Reflection: promises and contradictions’. The European Journal of Social Work, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 293 – 304. Brown, A. (1992) Groupwork. London: Ashgate. Clapton, G., Cree, V. E., Allan, M., Edwards, R., Forbes, R., Irwin, M., MacGregor, C., Paterson, W., Brodie, I. & Perry, R. (2008) 'Thinking 'Outside the Box': A New Approach to Integration of Learning for Practice'. Social Work Education, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 334-340. Department of Health (2000a) Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families. London: TSO. Department of Health (2010b) Building a Safe and Confident Future: Implementing the recommendations of the Social Work Task Force, Department of Children, Schools and Families, Department of Health and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in partnership with the Social Work Reform Board. London: HMSO. Dirkx, J. M., Mezirow, J. & Cranton, P. (2006) 'Musings and Reflections on the Meaning, Context and Process of Transformative Learning: A Dialoge Between John M. Dirkx and Jack Mezirow'. Journal of Transformative Education, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 123-139. Doel, M. & Sawdon, C. (1999) The Essential Groupworker: Teaching and Learning Creative Groupwork. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. East, J. & Chambers, R. (2007) 'Courage to Teach for Social Work Educators'. Social Work Education, Vol. 26, No. 8, pp. 810-826. Ferguson, I & Lavalette, M. (eds.) (2007) International Social Work and the Radical Tradition. Birmingham: Venture Press. Ferguson, H. and Woodward, R. (2009) Radical Social Work in Practice: Making a Difference. London: Polity Press.


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Ferguson, I. & Lavalette, M. (2010) Radical Social Work today: Legacy, Relevance and Prospects. Bristol: Policy Press. Fook, J., Ryan, M. & Hawkins, L. (1997) Professional Expertise: Practice, Theory and Education for Working in Uncertainty. London: Whiting & Birch.

Leathwood, C. (2005) ‘Assessment policy and practice in Higher Education: purpose, standards and equity’. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 307-324. Maclachlan, K. (2007) ‘Learning for democracy in undemocratic places: Reflections from within Higher Education’. Concept, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp.8-12.

Fook, J. & Askeland, G. A. (2007) 'Challenges of Critical Reflection: 'Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained''. Social Work Education, Vol. 26, No. 5, pp. 520-533.

Mezirow, J. (1991) Transformative dimensions of adult learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.

Ford, P., Johnston, B., Brumfit, C., Mitchell, R. & Myles, F. (2005) Practice Learning and the Development of Students as Critical Practitioners - Some findings from research. Social Work Education, Vol. 24, No. 4, pp.391407.

Mezirow, J. (2000) 'Learning to think like an adult: Core concepts of transformation theory' in J. Mezirow and Associates (eds.) Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Freire, P. (2000) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Continuum Books: New York NY.

Miller, J. (2007) The Holistic Curriculum. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Healy, K. (2005) Social Work Theories in Context: A Critical Introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Onsman, A. (2008) ‘Tempering universities’ marketing rhetoric: a strategic protection against litigation or an admission of failure?’ Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, Vol. 30, Issue 1, pp. 77-85.

Hooks, B. (1989) 'Toward a revolutionary feminist pedagogy' in Talking Back: Thinking Feminist – Thinking Black. London: Sheba Press, pp. 49-54. Hugman, R. (2009) 'But is it Social Work? Some Reflections on Mistaken Identities'. British Journal of Social Work, Vol. 39, pp. 1138-1153. IFSW (2000) International Federation of Social Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work (2000/2001) The Definition of Social Work, available online at http://www.ifsw.org/f38000138.html [accessed 13.4.2010]. Jack, C. and Gill, O. (2003) The Missing Side of the Triangle: Assessing the Importance of Family and Environmental factors in the lives of Children. Ilford: Barnado’s. Jickling, B. (2005) ‘The Decade of Education for Sustainable Development: A Useful Platform? Or An Annoying Distraction?’ Australian Environmental Education, Vol.22, No.1, pp.99-104. Jickling, B. and Wals, A. (2008) ‘Globalization and Environmental Education: Looking Beyond Sustainable Development’. Journal of Curriculum Studies, Vol.40. No, 1, pp.1-21. Jones, R. (2008) 'Social Work and Management' in A. Barnard, N. Horner, & J. Wild (eds.) The Value Base of Social Work and Social Care: An Active Learning Handbook. Maidenhead: Open University Press. Jordan, B. & Jordan, C. (2000) Social Work and the Third Way: Tough Love and Social Policy. London: Sage.

Parton, N. & O'Byrne, P. (2000) Constructive Social Work: Towards a New Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Parton, N. (2005) 'Every Child Matters: The shift to prevention whilst strengthening protection in children's services in England'. Children and Youth Services Review, Vol. 28, No. 8, pp.976-992. Peckover, S., White, S. & Hall, C. (2008) 'Making and Managing Electronic Children: E-assessment in child welfare'. Information, Communication and Society, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 375-394. Perez, J.G. & Llorente, T.P. (2005) ‘Stultifera Navis: Institutional Tensions, Conceptual Chaos, and Professional Uncertainty at the Beginning of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development’. Policy Future in Education, Vol. 3, No.3, pp.296-308. Preston-Shoot, M. (2007) Effective Groupwork. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Sauvé, L. (2004). ‘Sustainable Development in Education: Consensus as an Ethical Issue’ in W. Scott & S. Gough, (eds.) Key Issues in Sustainable Development and learning: A Critical Review. London: Routledge. Selby, D. & Kagawa, F. (2010) ‘Runaway Climate Change as Challenge to the 'Closing Circle' of Education for Sustainable Development’. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, Vol.4, No.1, pp. 37-50. Smith, C. (2005) 'Understanding Trust and Confidence: Two Paradigms and their Significance for Health and


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Social Care'. Journal of Applied Philosophy, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 299-316. Taylor, C. & White, S. (2006) 'Knowledge and Reasoning in Social Work: Educating for Humane Judgement'. British Journal of Social Work, Vol. 36, pp. 937-954. Thompson, N. (1995) Theory and Practice in Health and Social Welfare. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. UNESCO (2006) Framework for the UNDESD International Implementation Scheme. Paris: UNESCO Education Sector. UNESCO (2009) Review of Contexts and Structures for Education for Sustainable Development. Paris: UNESCO.

White, S. (2009) 'Error, Blame and Responsibility in Child Welfare: Problematics of Governance in an Invisible Trade'. Available online at www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/apsocsci/activities/460/ th [accessed 11 October 2010]. White, S., Wastell, D., Peckover, S. & Hall, C. (2009) 'Managing Risk in a High Blame Environment: Tales from the 'Front Door' in Contemporary Children's Social Care'. Risk and Public Services, London & Oxford, ESRC Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation, pp. 12-14. Whiteford, A., Horton,V., Garrard, D., and Butler, A. (2010) ‘Sustaining communities: Sustainability in the Social Work Curriculum’ in P. Jones, D. Selby and S. Starling (eds.) Sustainability education: Perspectives and practice across Higher Education. London: Earthscan.

Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Peer Assisted Learning: Project Update Eve Rapley, Centre for Learning Excellence Laying the ground for new initiatives can be an exciting yet challenging experience. Reflecting on the implementation of the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) pilot study to date, the views of students from across the scheme have been reassuringly positive, which is entirely as a result of the endeavours and commitment of the staff and students involved. Pioneering something new can be a lonely road at times, but the feedback and response from the students makes it one worth travelling. Yes, there have been a few bumps in the road on the journey towards the notion of peer assisted learning being part of the wider student experience at this university. Yes, it has and will continue to take time for something new to become accepted and embedding into the culture of academic departments. Yes, PAL is striving to establish itself against a backdrop of logistical and inevitable staff and student time pressures where other activities are placed higher on the priority list. Whilst the steps towards success may not always have been big strides, PAL has certainly made its mark upon those who have been participated of the study; first year participants, PAL Leaders and Academic Course Contacts (ACCs) (unit tutors who are responsible for timetabling PAL and directly

supporting their PAL Leaders in terms of the flavour and content of the PAL session). PAL fosters cross-year support between students on the same course. Its origins are from SI (Supplemental Instruction) schemes from the USA (Martin, Blanc & DeBuhr, 1983), which are timetabled, but voluntary, student-led study skills sessions. Utilising trained, experienced second and/or third year students to guide new students and to facilitate discussions, PAL is intended to help students: • adjust quickly to university life; • acquire a clear view of course direction and expectations; • develop their independent learning and study skills to meet the requirements of HE; • enhance their understanding of the subject matter of their course through collaborative discussion; • prepare better for assessed work and examinations (Fleming, 2008). PAL also helps to de-mystify the parlance and academic jargon often used in universities, to unpick themes and topics encountered in lectures and to help new students to help themselves when problems and issues arise. To put Peer Assisted Learning into context, the


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pilot forms part a wider PAL community within UK HEIs. Since the first UK HEFCE-funded project to explore Peer Assisted Learning was developed by Kingston University in 1989, there are currently 340 peer mentoring programmes operating across 159 universities. This accounts for 86% of UK universities (Andrews & Clark, 2011) and should be interpreted as being indicative of the benefits PAL can bring to an institution and its students. Since September 2011 the CLE co-ordinated PAL pilot has trained 28 PAL leaders in the following seven discipline areas: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Computing Interior Design/Interior Architecture Social Work Education Sports Coaching English Performing Arts

PAL Leaders run a one hour PAL session with a group of first year students (10-20 students approx.) on a weekly basis. Around 650 first year students across the seven discipline areas have experienced PAL in Term 1. The sessions have been linked with a named unit in order to give them purpose and structure. The sessions have also been operated as scheduled, timetabled events rather than opt-in sessions. This was a strategic decision as the literature constantly indicates the need to avoid PAL being badged as ‘remedial’ in any way. A recent large study by Andrews & Clark (2011) confirmed that: University-wide ‘opt-out’ programmes in which peer mentoring is offered to all new students, are particularly successful because in capturing the whole population of new starters peer mentoring is not viewed by students as a ‘deficit model of provision’ but is instead seen and accepted as part of the university culture (page 83). Areas of Strength (University of Bedfordshire pilot findings – Term 1)  

positive feedback from the majority of participants; participants expressing interest in becoming PAL Leaders next academic year;

some very committed Academic Course Contacts (ACCs) who have given a lot of time and effort to the scheme; PAL Leaders comment that scheme has improved their confidence and communication skills; tutor feedback indicates those who attend PAL regularly have improved understanding of their course and are more interested and engaged.

Areas for Improvement (University of Bedfordshire pilot findings – Term 1) 

initial briefing and training of ACCs to ensure greater understanding of PAL and their role; timetabling to ensure appropriate rooms and times on days when other sessions are scheduled; scheduled and compulsory ongoing PAL Leader training.

Feedback has been gathered via interview and focus groups with PAL stakeholders throughout Term 1. The overwhelming findings suggest that first year students are positive about PAL. When asked about why they attended and what they got out of the sessions, the majority of first year students commented upon the 'safe and informal environment' where they were free to ask 'stupid questions' which they would not be comfortable asking their tutor. This chimes with many other PAL studies where the perceived lack of formality and judgment is cited as being a major reason for participating. Tariq (2005) states that: undergraduates found PAL a highly valuable learning experience. In particular, they found the less formal, comfortable and relaxed atmosphere of the PAL session provided them with greater freedom to ask questions and exerted less pressure on them to answer questions correctly than a more formal staffled session, as well as assisting them to understand the topics covered. Students also unanimously voiced praise for PAL in terms of the empathetic relationship between themselves and the PAL Leader with the PAL Leader having direct experience and study success to draw upon. Studies by Martin & Arendale (1993) note that 'successful second and third-year students are better equipped than lecturers to help first-year students to become expert students'.


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Whilst most were positive, there have been small pockets of resistance from some students (mainly mature students) who felt they did not need help and did not see the wider benefits of PAL in terms of social and community interaction. This is not uncommon and numerous studies have identified that 'students resent being forced to participate in remedial modules and programmes' (Smith et al., 2007). This perception has been noted and steps taken to inform all students that collaborative working is beneficial to them and that PAL is for all students, not those who need additional help with their studies. Other studies also make it clear that the issues and challenges experienced thus far are not isolated to this pilot. Early adapters of PAL have written extensively of issues with perception, buy in and establishing PAL as a cultural norm within a university. Falchikov (2002) identifies 'persuading colleagues and overcoming resistance to change as key to the process, particularly in terms of selling the scheme'. Capstick et al., (2004) reinforce Falchikov’s findings stating: PAL must be widely supported by colleagues to ensure the initiative is championed by many rather than by two members of staff and also to elicit collaboration for instance by suggesting to students possible activities that may be used in PAL sessions. Whilst Ashwin (2002) goes on to suggest that: …at managerial or institutional level PAL should therefore be presented to them (staff and students) as 'a tool to shape and support courses. In terms of attendance and participation, the pilot has performed well with some areas enjoying significant attendance rates. To benefit from PAL, 'it has been shown that students need to attend regularly, i.e. at least 40-50% of the sessions' (Donelan and Kay, 1998; Coe et al., 1999 cited by Fostier & Carey, 2007). The overall average attendance across all seven discipline areas was around 35% which is not particularly out of step with other studies. Indeed, in the pilot run by Fostier & Carey (2007) at Manchester University, they recorded: '23% became regular participants (i.e. attended 4 or more sessions). This was considered to be a very good level of participant retention for the pilot year (Coe et al., 1999; Ashwin, 2002) as many established SI schemes do not exceed this figure (Ashwin, 2003).

However, in areas using third year PAL leaders, coupled with supportive ACCs who met weekly with PAL Leaders and offered clear steers with regard to content and themes to discuss, the attendance averaged 65% which far exceeds published PAL attendance data. These groups also had to contend with PAL being timetabled on days when there were no other scheduled sessions for the first year students. When first year students were asked why the came in on a Friday afternoon when they had no other classes, the response was simply that they enjoyed 'getting their heads around tricky stuff from lectures' as well as 'being able to talk and learn in a friendly environment'. Whereas the PAL path is now well trodden in many HEIs, it is still relatively untouched at the University of Bedfordshire. The steps taken in Term 1 have been significant ones. Whilst they have been made by relatively few, it is hoped that greater numbers will take those same steps in the forthcoming academic year in order to tap into the benefits of PAL. References Andrews, J & Clark, R (2011) Peer Mentoring Works! How Peer Mentoring Enhances Student Success in Higher Education. Birmingham: Aston University. Ashwin, P. (2002) ‘Implementing Peer Learning Across Organisations: the development of a model’. Mentoring & Tutoring, 10(3), 221-231. Capstick, S. & Fleming, H. (2001) ‘Peer Assisted Learning in an Undergraduate Hospitality Course: Second Year Students Supporting First Year Students in Group Learning’. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 69-75. Coe, E., McDougall, A. and McKeown, N. (1999) ‘Is Peer Assisted Learning of benefit to undergraduate chemists?’ University Chemistry Education, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 72-75. Falchikov, N. (2002) Learning Together: Peer tutoring in Higher Education. London: Routledge Falmer. Fleming, H (2008) Evaluation of the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) Scheme at Bournemouth University 2007/2008. Available online at www.bournemouth.ac.uk/library/feedback/docs/pal_re port.pdf [accessed 3rd February 2012]. Martin, D.C. & Arendale, D. (1993) ‘Foundation and Theoretical Framework for Supplemental Instruction’ in D. C. Martin, and D. Arendale (eds.) Supplemental Instruction: Improving First-year Student Success in High-risk Courses. National Resource Center for the


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Freshman Year Experience. Martin, D.C., Blanc, R.A. & DeBuhr, L. (1983) Peer Assisted Learning: a case study into the value to student mentors and mentees. In Smith, J., May, S & Burke, L (2007) Practice and Evidence of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Vol. 2, No. 2, October 2007, pp. 80-109 80. Tariq, V (2005) ‘Introduction and Evaluation of Peer-assisted Learning in First-Year Undergraduate Bioscience’. Bioscience Education Journal, Volume 6, November 2005. Available online at http://www.bioscience.heacademy/journal/vol6/beej-6st 3.pdf [ accessed 31 January 2012].

The Journal of Pedagogic Development, Vol 2 Issue 2 Spring 2012  

The JPD is developed in the Centre for Learning Excellence at the University of Bedfordshire.