The integration of learning development into the student experience

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The integration of learning
development into the student
experience


A University of Huddersfield Teaching and
Learning Project


[
July 2011
]


Pat Hill, Amanda Tinker, Paul Squires, Vidya Kannara






2



Contents


The integration of learning development into the student experience

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3

Introduction

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3

Table 1


Proposed outcomes

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3

Methodology

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4

Outcomes

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5

Figure 1


Home page

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5

Figure 2


Project Information Page

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5

Dissemination

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7

Challenges and Benefits

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8

Conclusion and Recommendations

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9

References

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10

Appendices

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11

Appendix 1

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Appendix 2

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Appendix 3

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Appendix 4

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Appendix 5

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Appendix 6

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3


The integra
tion of learning development into
the student experience


Introduction

C
hanges to
the
funding of Higher Education
present new challenges; these will
require
innovative approaches to enhance the quality of the student experience. Although there are
measura
ble benefits to students from interventions in the form of workshops and one
-
to one
tutorials (Hill, Tinker & Catterall, 2010),
r
esearch undertaken during this project indicates
strong evidence that students benefit from the integration of learning develop
ment strategies
into the
core
curriculum (
Bloxham 2004;
Haggis, 2006). Manalo
et al

(2010) also illustrate
the advantages to institutions associated with such integration in ‘better retention and
completion rates'. This requires an institution
-
wide underst
anding of the complexities
involved in developing skills where context, dialogue, reflection and motivation are key
elements; relevance and timeliness are other major factors (Drew, 2004).


The aim of this project was to find and share examples of good pra
ctice and to promote the
philosophy of learning which is not based simply on a transfer of knowledge but equips
students with

skills to allow them to fully participate in the university learning experience, to
develop a sense o
f "graduateness" and to enha
nce
employability'

(Gerrard
et al
,
2005)
.


In the table
below
are the
main
outcomes put forward in the original bid. This report
will illustrate where and how these
proposed
outcomes have been achieved.





















Table 1


Proposed outcomes



1.

A set of generic principles to promote the proces
s of
integrating L
earning development (LD)

into curricula
at all levels


Examples of good practice based on case studies


2.

A framework signposting opportunities to embed or
integrate LD into curricula at all levels across the
University


3.

Conference
papers and journal publication

Final report




4


Methodology

Information was sought initially through Academic Skills Tutors

(ASTs) when the
attached rationale was distributed (see Appendix 1).Th
e skills list on this rationale
was compiled from various sources of undergraduate and graduate attributes
.
1

A
‘Mapping
template


was then produced which asked Departments to illustrate where
specific skills were practised and if they were taugh
t, who taug
ht them (s
ee Appendix
2). This template was not completed by all Schools but where it was it provided an
extremely useful tool for assessing any clear examples of where skills were
embedded
.
2

It
also identified any shortfalls in the teaching of skills at a
ll levels. It was
made obvious from the returned templates that many of the skills listed were being
required and assessed but not being taught
.
This template is included on the website
with a completed example and can be used as a framework to ensure that

all the
required skills are taught at appropriate times and are not unnecessarily repeated.


Based on the feedback from the templates and ASTs, individuals were contacted for
details of
case study
modules where skills have been successfully integrated int
o the
curriculum

(see Appendix 3 for case study template)
.

Collection of data from very
diverse sources proved to be extremely challenging. The team were committed to a
cross University collection and showcasing of good practice in integrating skills into

the Curriculum. Achieving this through a university
-
wide request for information
proved to be less effective than

the team had anticipated. To ensure a broad as
possible collection of data a personal networking approach was adopted in addition to
the sta
ndard data collection methodology previously outlined.


The difficulty in accessing information prompted us to initiate a
one question,
anonymous,
cross
-
University
e
-
mail
survey on what staff understand
from the term
‘embedd
ing skills in the curriculum’ (
s
ee Appendix 5

for example of responses). A
brief analysis of over eighty responses shows
that many members of academic staff
still believe that students should already be in possession of many of these skills and
that it is not their job to teach them; t
his, however,

works against
the employability
agenda which
increasingly requires universities

to equip students with the necessary
attributes to succeed in graduate positions.


This project has discovered many examples of innovative practice which integra
te the
teaching and learning of skills within the curriculum and it is these case studies that
form the basis of the project’s newly developed website.

The website was created
using an open source tool named Drupal (
http:/
/drupal.org/

). This choice was made
after research showed that this tool is freely available, reliable and is successfully
used within the University (
http://ipark.hud.ac.uk/

). Drupal supports a multi
-
dimensional,

faceted search which is invaluable in dealing with complex case studies,
and allows the user to access information from a variety of perspectives.
Through
an
analysis of these
case studies a

classification scheme was developed based on four
facets:
course

level; delivery method; skill; student task

(see Appendix 5
)
.
T
hrough this faceted search,

the reader can explore a variety of practices within the
University and have access to relevant resources on a whole range of skills. These
include all levels from
pre
-
foundation to post
-
graduate.





1

Since
expanded to facilitate faceted searches on the website

(see Append
ix 4
)
.

2

The Schools of Business and Education
,

in particular
,

g
ave positive feedback about it use
.



5


Outcomes

The outcomes include an interactive website on embedding skills

(outcomes 1
&2).
You
can visit the site at


http://embeddingskills.hud.ac.uk

(
see Figure
s

1
,

2

and 3

below
for sample pages
).



Figure 1


Home page




Figure 2


Project

Information Page



6


This site includes:


A
Mapping Template

provides a framework
to assess a course holistically in order to
identify where the necessary skills are practised and taught
. This can highlight any
omission or repetition and
signpost opportunities to embed learning development into
the curriculum, providing

a more seamless student experience with skills input from
the most appropriate source at the most appropriate time

(prop
osed outcome 2)
.


A
Searchable Database of C
ase

S
tud
ies
in a range of disciplines from all three
University campuses. These illustrate a wide variety of innovative teaching and
learning methods as can be seen in Figure 2 below. The template for the case
st
udies follows a standard format which includes a rationale, details of the module,
ideas for adapting, details of the innovators and resources (see Appendix 5 for
template). This template will be available on the website for users to contribute new
case st
udies to add to the database

(proposed outcome 1)
.





Figure 3


Case Study Faceted Search


A

Bank of R
esources

is

being made
available through the
case studies featured on
the
website and it is envisaged that this will continue to be expanded and refined
.

These include lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations, student activities, assignment
briefs, tutor notes and links to valuable websites

(proposed outcome 1)
.


A
Repository of Current Research
on embedding skills has been established on the
site which wi
ll be updated regularly

(proposed outcome 1)
.




7


A
Set of Generic Principles

(see Appendix 6
)
extrapolated from research and case
studies
(proposed outcome 1)


A
Discussion Forum
on embedding skills.

Academic Skills Tutors will encourage
subject lecturers to

explore and contribute ideas.


A

C
ollection of Data.
In response to a survey on
staff perceptions

of ‘embedding
skills in the curriculum’ over eighty responses were received. Two short videos of
student focus groups

were also made, giving valuable insight
s into student
perceptions of embedding and transferable skills. This qualitative data will be
analysed further and used as evidence in the proposed journal article.



Dissemination


(proposed outcome 3)
:


Internal

There will be a link to the website throu
gh TALI, iPark, the staff portal and the home
pages of School Unilearn sites. The Project team will seek to publicise this by
presentations at School Teaching and Learning Committees, TALI innovation
seminars,
Teaching and Learning matters

and
the TALI
new
sletter
. We have already
presented at UTLC and will also compete for an
open space at
the 2011 University of
Huddersfield
T
eaching and Learning C
onference.


Pat Hill and Amanda Tinker presented a paper on the project at the University of
Huddersfield SEPD

T&L Conference, March,

2011. The website has since been
presented and discussed at a curriculum development event on the undergraduate
framework in SEPD and was warmly received. Tutors are going to consult the
template and the case study resources before
finalising module details.


External

A poster was designed which illustrated three examples of embedding skills at
Huddersfield

(

http://tinyurl.com/6hm73qd

).
Pat Hill presented this at the Association
of learnin
g Development in Higher Education

(ALDinHE)

Conference at the University
of

Nottingham, April, 2010.


A conference paper: ‘Making Room for Writing and Reflection’ was given at the
Writing Development in Higher Education (WDHE) Conference
hosted by the
Wri
te
Now
Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
in
London in
June, 2010 by Pat
Hill. This gave full details of one module where skills were embedded but also
outlined the current project which was mentioned at the closing plenary as an
example of pro
gressive thinking.


Pat Hill and Amanda Tinker conducted a 90 minute workshop on embedding skills at
the ALDinHE Conference

at Queen’s University,
Belfast, April, 2011.This will be
written up as a paper and submitted to the
Journal of Learning Development
in
Higher Education.




8


Pat Hill presented

a paper at the European Association of
Teachers of
Academic
Writing Conference
at the University of
Limerick at the end of June
2011
which again
although it centres on one specific module include
s

details of the pro
ject.


Pat Hill is a member of the ALDinHE working group on professional development and
has recently been asked to chair a ‘Task and Finish’ group on embedding skills. One
of the envisaged goals is to expand the Huddersfield Embedding Skills Project
natio
nally; close links have been forged with London Met
ropolitan
University
. Pat
chaired a meeting of the

group
in London on 22
nd

June 2011 which Amanda also
attend
ed
.

There is a possibility of leading a Professional development day through
ALDinHE in 2011/12.



Challenges
and

Benefits


This project is

particularly relevant due

to current changes in higher education which
bring new challenges:


1.

Increased competition
makes the NSS survey on student satisfaction more
prominent

and higher fees can result in
raisin
g student

expectations

in terms
of value for money.



Many of these case studies involve innovative and interactive curriculum design
which can result in a more enjoyable student experience. Students are encouraged to
see the relevance to their potential c
areers, consider the skills they have developed
and make an informed choice about their future direction and the impact of their
course.


This reflection also helps students to think holistically about their course and this can
help in managing student exp
ectations as they become more aware of connections
and synthesis which results in a deeper level of learning.


2.

Employability
has become an even more important focus both for students
and institutions



Many of the case studies encourage students to articul
ate their learning development
and keep records of their skills which can be included as part of their Personal
Development Planning (PDP) and can help them in a competitive job market. This
awareness of their learning may also facilitate more positive NSS

responses.


3.

Efficiency

in reaching larger number of students with fewer resources
-


Timely integration of

relevant academic, employability and information literacy skills
within the subject curriculum is a key feature of the case studies. Coupled with
ref
lection this empowers students to become autonomous learners who can then
make the best use of resources. This project encourages a holistic approach to
curriculum design; using the templates has been useful in highlighting areas of
repetition and ineffici
ency.



9




Conclusion
and

Recommendations



The embedding of learning development
is
strongly

aligned to
the

University

teaching and learning philosophy:


Drawing on the professionalism of all colleagues, inspiring students to engage fully in learning, enabli
ng
the development of autonomous and effective learners with high aspirations; and providing innovative
learning experiences that develop our graduates to be highly employable, capable of advanced study,
and confident in their own abilities to contribute t
o the economy and society.


The team are committed to promoting this philosophy and
believe that

the embedding
project

would

be a major step forward in achieving a structured curricula approach to
learning development as part of a progressive Teaching and
Learning strategy
.
We
strongly recommend that UTLC
recognise
s

the use of

the

website
resources,
for example the mapping template and the examples of good practice,
as a
necessary
step in
the curriculum design and validation process.




10


References

Bloxham, S
. (2004)

‘Embedding Skills and Employability in Higher Education: an
Institutional Curriculum Framework Approach’

[online]

Higher Education Academy
..
Available from:
http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources.asp?process=full_record&section=generic&id
=410


[Acce
ssed
,
15
th

November 2010]


Drew, S. (2004)’How do you encourage usage of a computer based writing
resource?’ P
aper presented at W
riting
D
evelopment in
H
igher
E Conference,
Sheffield Hallam University.



Gerrard, C., Tweedie, S., McVey, D. (2005)
Embedding

Effective Learning Skills in
the Curriculum: Case Studies and Interventions.

University of Paisley, Scotland.


Haggis, T. (2006). ‘Pedagogies for diversity: retaining critical challenge amidst fears
of 'dumbing down'.’
Studies in Higher Education
, Vol. 31
, no. 5, pp. 521
-
535.


Hill, P., Tinker, A. and Catterall, S. (2010) ‘
From Deficiency to Development: the
evolution of academic skills provision at one UK university

Journal of Learning
Development in Higher Education

(2). ISSN 1759667X


Manalo, E., Mars
hall, J., & Fraser, C. (eds)(2010)
Student learning support
programmes

that demonstrate tangible impact on Retention, Pass Rates &
Completion.
Aotearoa (N.Z.):Ako Aotearoa Northern Regional Hub.




11


Appendices

Appendix

1

Initial Survey v
ia ASTs


Promoting the Integration of Learning Development into the Student
Experience.


What we hope to achieve:

To inform, encourage and support academic staff in embedding learning development
within the curricula.

To produce a repository of good practi
ce.


The first step is gathering information

ASTs
-

What is happening in your School?

Library staff


What are you involved in?


Survey of academic staff


Rationale:

This project is underpinned by the idea of a student experience which develops
attributes
which will enable students at all levels to make the most of their study and
prepare them for future employment.


Whilst valuing interventions and opportunities offered to students in such forms as
Academic Skills provision; PDP; Personal Tutoring and PAL,

this project is exploring
ways that learning development can be embedded within the curriculum. This
embedding is designed to eliminate problems associated with engaging students in
learning development by incorporating activities into their mainstream ac
tivities.


Embedding does not mean simply including these abilities in learning
outcomes but specifically designing opportunities for development within a
module and providing the necessary input or guidance to enable such
development.


Learning developmen
t in this instance
includes academic, information literacy and
employability skills.


The survey is designed to elicit examples of
good practice

which can be used to
develop a framework and toolkit to encourage and enable colleagues to include
learning dev
elopment within modules.


The following is a list of undergraduate and graduate skills and attributes; it has been
compiled from various sources but is not exhaustive so feel free to add to the list if
necessary:

critical thinking


self reflection


note
-
ma
king skills

oral communication



formal writing skills


interpersonal skills,

identifying and solving problems


leadership,

referencing

producing an argument


teamwork,


information literacy


computer literacy


organisation




12


Identify where these
skills are taught and how
; this may be already fully or partly
embedded or bolt
-
on.


Appendix 2

Mapping Template



TT = Taught by module tutor

TAS = Taught by Academic Skills Staff

P = Practiced

LS = Input from library staff


LEVEL

Module Titles

Modu
le



Modul
e




Modul
e




Modul
e




Modul
e




Module




Critical Thinking







Self reflection







Note
-
making skills







Oral communication







Formal writing skills







Interpersonal skills







Identifying and solving
problems







Lea
dership







Teamwork







Organisation







Producing an argument







Referencing







Information literacy







Computer literacy













13


Appendix 3


Case study template


School



Module Title



Level



Initiator



Rationale









Description of Initiative









Assessment







Ideas for adapting








Resources
















14



Appendix 4



























15


Appendix

5


Staff responses


In my subject, specific skills are
developed as an integral part of
the cu
rriculum. Repetition and
repeated explanation of these
skills occur in different topics of
the curriculum. This helps to
‘embed’ the skills as a part of the
learning process.


Either they should be taught and assessed
explicitly (and hence be part of the
curriculum)
-

and that might be true of
chemistry lab skills


or they should be
assumed as part of what any undergrad
should already know


and this applies to
most study skills. Of course some students
may lack the latter skills, in which case
they need
remedial work


but that is what
it is, remedial, not a core content of the
curriculum at university.


Teaching study skills within
the curriculum rather than
having them in a study skills
module or covered in one to
one sessions with study skills
tutor


It means cutting back on genuine
academic content. It also means
patronising our students, 18
-
21
year old students, with Mickey
Mouse bullshit they’ve already
learned in school and patronising
our mature students by treating
them like school kids.


It me
ans, to me, that whatever
items of coursework, projects,
presentations etc that we ask
students to do (in relation to
specific learning outcomes or
assessment criteria) they will
also help develop
key/transferable skills, ideally
as a consciously designed
element of pedagogy in
relation to previous, adjacent
and subsequent tasks.


It depends what skills
you are referring to. I
would expect that
transferable skills in
literacy in particular
would be taught in
every session with
numeracy and ICT
taught where

appropriate whatever
the topic.

What does embedding skills in
the curriculum mean to you?




16


Appendix 6



Generic Principles for Integrating Learning Development into
th
e Curriculum.


Collaborative:

Integrated learning development requires collaboration of all
those who are involved in the teaching and learning. This might include
course leaders, module tutors, lecturers, learning developers, librarians,
technicians, care
ers advisors and the students themselves, anyone who can
contribute in providing the most effective learning experience for the student.


Holistic:

It is important to consider the whole course rather than individual
modules and levels of study when integra
ting learning development. This
ensures that development takes place at an appropriate stage, eliminates
unnecessary repetition and that all relevant areas are covered.


Inclusive:

Learning development should be incorporated at all levels of study
progress
ively
;

it should
cater for different learning styles and needs.


Reflective
: Reflection is a crucial element in integrated learning development
as it makes the development of skills explicit. It allows students to discover
and articulate different aspects
of their own learning process. It encourages
them to acknowledge strengths but also to recognise areas for development
and set short and long terms goals.


Interactive
: Learning takes place when students are actively engaged.
Integrating learning developm
ent requires an innovative, activity
-
led approach
to delivery which allows students not only to practise and develop skills but
also the opportunity to develop as independent learners and critical thinkers.




Relevant:

Integrated learning development mean
s providing students with
the opportunity to develop abilities within the curriculum which are not only
relevant to their academic work but also to their future careers.


Timely:

Students should be given resources to develop their learning at the
appropria
te time. This means making space within the curriculum and
acknowledging that it might be more beneficial to teach the student how to
find facts rather than simply giving the facts.