PTEA Commendation

PTEA Commendation

2022-2023 Commendation

Dr Flora Gröning, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition

Student-created 3D Resources to Help Anatomy Learners

Dr Flora Gröning, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition

Provide a description and context of your innovative approach to enhance teaching and learning.

Anatomy can be challenging for students as it requires an understanding of complex 3D spatial relationships. In addition, anatomical specimens are confined to anatomy departments so that students cannot access these specimens out-of-hours or remotely. Digital 3D models of anatomical structures provide a solution, but many ready-made resources are of limited use to our students as they are not tailored to the specific learning outcomes of our courses. Therefore, I have worked with students over the past years to create our own 3D learning resources. My students (12 undergraduate students and 1 PhD student) have created and evaluated high-resolution 3D models and animations of diverse anatomical structures using a wide range of techniques (e.g. medical imaging, 3D photography, computer gaming and more recently 3D printing). These resources are now used in lectures, practical classes and online for self-study by students of Medicine and Medical Sciences.

Give a rationale for your teaching approach or new initiative.

Due to the high demand for 3D anatomy learning resources and recent technological advances, there is now a wide range of high-quality 3D resources available and some studies have shown benefits for students’ learning (Ben Awadh et al. 2022). However, as off-the-shelf learning resources are often too detailed, my students reported that they are confused as they are unsure about the level of detail that they are expected to learn. As I had previously used a wide range of 3D modelling techniques in my research, it was a logical step to use the same tools to support students in their learning. Creating such resources in-house and with students as partners has two key advantages: 1) the resources can be tailored to our curriculum and 2) students are actively involved in the decision on which resources are created and how these resources are designed to fit their needs.

Provide details of how your new teaching approach or solution has been/will be disseminated with colleagues and students within and beyond the University.

We have presented this work at national and international conferences (e.g. Anatomical Society Meetings, Congress of the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists and the National Scottish Education Conference), including 3 podium and 5 poster presentations by my students and 2 invited keynote talks given by myself. An invited joint book chapter (co-authored with 2 current and 1 former student) is currently in press in the series Biomedical Visualisation (Link), a second paper (co-authored with 3 former students) is currently finalised for submission and I have been invited to edit a book volume about digital visualisation in life sciences education. Beyond academia, we have publicised this work in public engagement events (e.g. EXPLORATHON and CaféMED) and it has received media attention (e.g. The Scotsman). Due to patient/donor confidentiality, we cannot share our models with other institutions, but the abovementioned invitations show the external reputation of our work.

Identify the key learnings points for the applicant, what have you learned from this initiative?

Collaborating with students to design and create these new resources has been very rewarding. I learned from them which areas they and their peers found most challenging and I gained new insights into their preferences for the design of 3D learning resources. Their input was vital in developing learning resources that students enjoy using. I was impressed by the drive, creativity and skills of my project students and this experience encouraged me to try other collaborative projects in which undergraduate students actively contribute to our teaching, such as our peer-assisted learning scheme for Medical Sciences anatomy teaching. The students using our new learning resources reported that these have helped them to identify structures in cadaveric specimens in class and in assessments, which used to be a major challenge and a common source of anxiety among students.

Explain how you have evaluated the impact of your initiative.

We have conducted 3 evaluations with students and staff using Likert scale questionnaires. These showed that our 3D resources are perceived very positively: 88% of the responding students enjoy using our 3D models, 90% want to use them for self-study and there was a significant preference for our 3D learning resources compared to 2D diagrams (p<0.01, n=99). We also compared different learning resources based on the same 3D model (n=61) and asked students about the perceived accessibility of different versions of the same video (n=19). I also introduced a new SCEF question that asks specifically about our 3D models and videos. Most responding students (49/62, 79%) found these resources effective for their learning. The 3D resources have also been praised by students in SSLC meetings and in informal feedback in class. In addition, I monitor Panopto viewing statistics, which show a high completion rate (>85%) for most of our videos.

Student Resilience Team

Student Resilience: From Surviving to Thriving

Dr Amy Irwin, Dr Heather Branigan, Dr Joy Perkins and Dr Ceri Trevethan

Provide a description and context of your innovative approach to enhance teaching and learning.

The wellbeing of students within our university has always been a key concern, brought into sharp focus following the Covid-19 pandemic and the need for students to adapt to remote learning, then the eventual return to campus. Resilience is an important element to consider when supporting students during periods of change – emphasised by the recent QAA (Scotland) Resilient Learning Communities Enhancement Theme. Keen to support resilience at Aberdeen, we brought together a multi-disciplinary team, including four student interns as partners (LTEP funded) to develop a zero-credit micro-credential undergraduate resilience course.

Our elective course is the first of its kind, spanning five weeks and utilising a unique approach to teaching. Content was co-created with students, with undergraduates contributing videos and blogs, as well as offering feedback on materials and activities.  The content is designed to encourage engagement, and includes podcasts, infographics, Padlets, discussion boards plus guided activities and a resilience journal.

Give a rationale for your teaching approach or new initiative.

The course was designed to use an online learning space to ensure flexibility (Castro & Tumibay, 2021), enabling students to access the course material, and complete associated activities, at their own pace.

We took the approach of engaging students as partners in shaping and co-producing their education (Bovill, 2019). Our student interns were a vital component of the course development process and were involved in every stage, including producing course materials. We also utilised student focus groups to review course materials and guide the production of innovative presentation methods including podcasts, blogs, guided activities, and animated videos.

In recognition of the individual, and varied, nature of resilience (influenced by social and personal factors – Findyartini et al., 2021), the course guides students through resilience self-assessment and selection of the most relevant / useful activities from the range of course materials. This ‘plan your own journey’ aspect produces a tailored student experience.

Provide details of how your new teaching approach or solution has been/will be disseminated with colleagues and students within and beyond the University.

Internally, we provide regular updates at LTEP meetings - enabling cross-fertilisation of ideas and practice. We presented at the Annual Academic Development Symposium 2022. We hosted a resilience stall at the BeWell and Inclusion week (2022), featuring interactive course activities, resilience journals and guided resilience walks. 

Externally, we have published our course development with WonkHE and through the Applied Psychology and Human Factors newsletter. We hosted a QAA ‘Theme leaders Group’ Informal networking session, April 2022 and presented at the QAA Enhancement Theme Conference, June 2022.

As a result of external activities, we have created an online Resilience CoP with members from RGU, Herriot Watt and Strathclyde Universities. Through this, we have shared our course outline and provided an overview of activities. In August 2022, we hosted colleagues from RGU to explore opportunities for collaboration. We are sharing our ongoing evaluation and look ahead to further joint collaborative activity.

Identify the key learnings points for the applicant, what have you learned from this initiative?

Looking back there have been several key team learning points, namely:

1. Students as Partners: Co-creating the course with students, to ensure the content is accessible, meaningful, and engaging, whilst including student-centred learning approaches.

2.  Collaborate with others: Working together with the BeWell team and other individuals via the QAA Enhancement Theme and LTEP meetings. Critical learning points from these interactions include, not to overload content for students on a zero-credit course, and to signpost students to existing relevant materials e.g., the University’s BeWell Toolkit.

3. Spread the word!  Providing clear and concise promotional materials for academic and professional services staff across the University. This was vital to help raise student awareness and engagement with the inaugural resilience course launch.

4. Draw upon other expertise: For example, the knowledge and experience of the University Health & Safety Officer, who advised on risk assessment for our community building resilience walks.

Explain how you have evaluated the impact of your initiative.

An online survey in week 3 gathered initial feedback, with comments commending the student created content and activities. The course feedback form indicated that 70% of students enjoyed the course, with comments suggesting the materials gave students ‘new insight into resilience’.

The weekly resilience journal entries provide insights into course experience. For example, in week 3 the students tried a metacognitive note taking activity, with positive reflections e.g. ‘This method reminded me to not write down every piece of information and only focus on the key points… helping me identify gaps in my knowledge’. Students completed a self-rating resilience scale in week 1 and 5, with all but one student reporting increases in their resilience levels.

The resilience CoP enabled feedback to be gathered from external colleagues, in addition to discussions conducted via QAA 2022, internal LTEP meetings, with BeWell colleagues and the University mental health working group.

2021-2022 Commendation

Dr John Barrow, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition

Visualising the Invisible - A Showcase of Visual Approaches for Teaching Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Provide a description and context of your innovative approach to enhance teaching and learning.

Biochemistry and molecular biology are subjects that aim to understand the molecular processes that occur inside cells. This means that by their very nature they are abstract and concept-driven subjects because the processes being taught are invisible to the naked eye. To enhance student understanding of these subjects I have had a long-standing theme to my teaching which aims to make the invisible visible by using visual approaches in my teaching. This has recently involved the creation of virtual and augmented reality approaches to visualising biological processes (here) as well as using other platforms such as Minecraft to aid understanding for students and school pupils (here). All these innovative approaches have the same theme – to place the learner at the molecular scale and allow them to see the processes in action in an immersive way. Overall, the aim is to demystify the subject and make the abstract tangible and relatable.

Give a rationale for your teaching approach or new initiative.

My rationale stems from my own experiences of being a student studying biochemistry, all of which was taught using diagrams, chemical equations and sometimes abstract imagery (aiming to simplify things). This is fine if you understand the processes being discussed in class, but if you do not – remembering that most students are learning the material in depth for the first time – then it is very easy to become lost and misunderstand the subject matter. As a visual learner myself and through speaking with students about their experiences of biochemistry and molecular biology teaching I embarked on the idea of teaching core concepts in a visual way. This approach started as videos being embedded into my lectures but soon became more involved and over the most recent years, thanks to funding for teaching projects, has developed into more technological approaches such as digital visualisations in virtual and augmented realities.

Provide details of how your new teaching approach or solution has been/will be disseminated with colleagues and students within and beyond the University.

This ongoing programme of work has been disseminated multiple times at University of Aberdeen events such as the Annual Academic Development Symposium, but it has also been disseminated widely through national (Physiology 2019) and international conferences (HAPS & VISUAL) and published works (Pharmacology Matters and Physiology News), winning best paper submission at the VISUAL conference and as the cover story for Physiology News, Issue 116. Due to the interest generated from this body of work I was invited to write a textbook chapter for a new academic text entitled “Technologies in Biomedical and Life Sciences Education", to be published by Springer in 2022 and currently in press. My materials have also been used in public engagement events such as the public lecture at Physiology 2019 and recently in celebrating 100 years of insulin at Aberdeen Science Centre.

Identify the key learning points from your teaching approach or solution, including any lasting impact on teaching in the future.

My aim is to integrate as much of the resources I have created into my teaching. Some of the visual teaching materials (e.g., the Body App – an augmented reality app to show insulin sginalling) directly relate to taught curricula, while others broaden and enhance the curriculum (e.g., a Minecraft world to highlight the menstrual cycle and women’s health). From my early career as a Teaching Fellow I have always tried to teach in this way and would be most proud of the fact that I will soon be publishing the textbook chapter that will be able to encourage aspiring teachers of the future to try these methods and approaches. They are not for all learners but they do, if used at appropriate points in the curriculum, enhance the learner experience for students and provide opportunity to aid understanding and pique interest in a subject that many students find challenging.

Explain how you plan to or will evaluate the impact of your initiative.

All of the examples given above have been evaluated through the use of feedback questionnaires, focus groups and more stadardised course evaluation feedback from students. I have often used final year Honours projects as a way of engaging students in this work. I find Honours projects a particularly fruitful way of evaluating new teaching methods and it allows students to work in partnership with us to develop curricula. The fact the students have often studied this material also means they have a deep understanding of the student experience and how their peers engage with my teaching. Future plans for evaluation include the use of emotional responses to these teaching methods so I can guage if students are truly engaged in their learning when particating in one of my classes, which will allow me to understand what ideas work best to enhance the student learning experience through visual approaches.

Virtual Outcrop Geology Group

Virtual Geological Fieldtrips

By Dr Jessica Pugsley, Dr Malcolm Hole, and Professor John Howell

Provide a description and context of your innovative approach to enhance teaching and learning.

Fieldwork is a central part of teaching at both Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels in the geosciences.  Fieldcourses account for ~23% of an undergraduate Geology degree and 17% of the IPG masters course. The Covid-19 pandemic and associated lock-downs produced a previously unprecedented scenario in which no field training was possible. The Virtual Outcrop Geology Group (Aberdeen and Bergen, Norway) are global leaders in virtual geoscience and as such UoA was well positioned to provide high quality, state of the art digital replacements for conventional fieldtrips using 3D virtual outcrop models, collected over the last 10 years using laser scanners and drones. The VOG Group have collected over 600 of these from the best geological outcrops across the World. The group created a besoke web database ( and released 290 of these into the public domain. V3Geo was also used to develop a series of virtual fieldtrips which emulate the field experience and allow students to access the geology from laptops, tablets and even smart phones. More advanced VFTs were developed for masters courses using the group inhouse software ( which culminated in 16 full taught days with assessments and exercises from fieldtrips to Utah and Spain.

Ongoing research on optimal Virtual Fieldtrip delivery, linked to student engament and learning outcomes has allowed Aberdeen to be World leading in virtual fieldtrips.

Give a rationale for your teaching approach or new initiative.

Ongoing research on virtual fieldtrip delivery by Dr Pugsley (Pugsley et al. 2021) suggested that the optimal teaching method is to simulate the field experience as closely as possibly. So fieldtrips were run in real time using a cominbation of V3Geo, Lime and other softwares such as the Virtual Microscope (UK-VM) which we have previously published on using for teaching. This real time delivery of material through a series of individual and group expercises encourages student engament and participation in a may not normally achieved in traditional virtual learning. Students worked on exercises, typically in groups and presented to the instructors and the class as a whole.   

Material was also recorded to allow students to access out of hours and because they have the virtual outcrops they are able to revisit at anytime. Dr Pugsley is an Aberdeen graduate (BSc, 2016; PhD, 2021) and 3D virtual outcrop formed part of her PhD research. Consequently she was ideally placed to design VFT from the student perspective.

Provide details of how your new teaching approach or solution has been/will be disseminated with colleagues and students within and beyond the University.

The Team has participated in various workshops run by CAD describing both the use of VFT and the more generic aspects of dual teaching. Each VFT involves a team of  staff that would normally deliver field courses. Consequently, most teaching staff in Geology & Geophysics have contributed intellectually and/or materially to the VTFs. V3Geo is also a poweful research tool and we have presented VFT at a number of conferences and has a strong social media presence. We also have an article under review in Geoscience communication (link below). There is also a strong social media presence for the group with regular tweets and posts on Facebook.

The initial success of this project has has led to VFTs becoming a component of GL1005, GL2510, GL2512, GL3026, GL3525 and GL4023 and PGT modules. VFT are now thoroughly embedded in the curriculum and will remain so even after we return to field teaching. As with the UK-VM we envisage VFT as an adjunct to field teaching.

Identify the key learning points from your teaching approach or solution, including any lasting impact on teaching in the future.

An early realization was that we could not replace all essential field skills (e.g. making structural measurements; examining and recognizing rocks) with virtual alternatives. Conversely, we also recognized that there are unique educational benefits of VFT (e.g. the ability to compare and contrast outcrops from different global locations; viewing outcrops safely from different aspects, including from above). Consequently rather than a simple replacement, VFT were built from scratch wth a particular emphasis on  the achievement of learning outcomes. Critically, selecting and designing appropriate assessment methods formed part of this initial planning.

A further learning is that delivering the VFT package in the same time frame as a ‘real’ fieldcourse, effectively mirrors the day-by-day progression and intellectual development. In some cases exercises were set on a daily basis and feedback given within 24 hours. Like the UK-VM will will use VFT as an adjunct to ‘real’ field courses in the future.

Explain how you plan to or will evaluate the impact of your initiative.

Details of how VFT have been evaluated are given in the two publications given in sections 3 & 4 above. In particular, we modified a series of questions posed to evaluate the UK-VM for the VFT evaluation. Student perception was gauged primarily through questionnaires, and where dual teaching was used, it was relatively easy to observe the level of engagement from students in the classroom. Even though VFT are suitable for delivery entirely online, it is easier to promote discussion in the face-to-face setting. Nevertheless, our experience shows that online, dual mode and face-to-face are all viable modes for VFT delivery.

Senior Years GP Teaching Team

Senior Years GP Teaching Team “Remote Consultations"

By Dr Laura Muirhead, Dr Linzi Lumsden, Dr Fiona Parker, Dr Kim Miller, Dr John KcKeown, Professor Val Wass, and Dr Ken Lawton

Provide a description and context of your innovative approach to enhance teaching and learning.

COVID-19 changed the landscape of consulting in primary care. Overnight consultations switched from face to face to being triaged by telephone or online tools and the use of video accelerated at a phenomenal rate. In order to equip our students to be able to function in this new world of consulting we devised interactive tutorials using all the available methods to allow students the opportunity to experience first-hand how these consultations felt before exposure to the clinical environment. They were issued logins to the NearMe Attend Anywhere software utilised by that NHS Scotland to ensure the teaching was as genuine as possible. These tutorials are undertaken in both 4th and 5th year in the week prior to placement. They are delivered by teaching fellows and members of the core GP teaching team to over 400 students. In 4th year Patient Partners (community volunteers) provide simulated experiences.

Give a rationale for your teaching approach or new initiative.

Our students need to feel comfortable in the consultations they may encounter whilst on practice placements to gain as much clinical experience as possible. Through work looking at clinicians’ attitudes to remote consulting performed by a University of Aberdeen 5th year elective student and through other work alongside our ANP masters programme we know that tutors do not find these consulting methods easy. There has been very little training for professionals, let alone students. We identified a clear need that if this is difficult for experienced clinicians then it would be even more so for students. We postulated that by exposing them to remote consulting methods prior to a placement they would feel less anxious about the technology and techniques and focus on the clinical presentations and learning that is derived from that during their time in surgery.

Provide details of how your new teaching approach or solution has been/will be disseminated with colleagues and students within and beyond the University.

Our new 5th Year tutorial was fully evaluated and the results of this have been published: Philip Cannon, Linzi Lumsden & Valerie Wass (2021) An innovative and authentic way of learning how to consult remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Education for Primary Care, DOI: 10.1080/14739879.2021.1920476

One of our 5th year medical students last year, Claire Adkin, was supported by one of our teaching team to complete an elective project looking at clinicians’ attitudes to remote consulting and subsequently presented a poster presentation on this: Adkin, C., Muirhead L Jan 2021. ‘COVID-19: the impact of working in remote primary care in Scotland: a questionnaire study’, ADEGS Academic Primary Care in Scotland: Innovation and resilience in the time of Covid-19  

Furthermore the skills learned in teaching these tutorials and being part of this work has enabled a member of our team to teach nationally on remote consulting skills at an advanced prescribers conference: Muirhead, L. Sept 2021. ‘How to do virtual consultations safely.’ Virtual Prescribing Conference, Continuing Professional Development for Non Medical Prescribing Healthcare Professionals. NHS Scotland.

This same tutor has also been able to deliver educational Covid sessions, including remote assessment and consultation skills, to the entirety of NHS Grampian primary care teams hugely helping in the battle that the wider NHS workforce has fought during COVID.

To the best of our knowledge we are not aware of others providing this support locally or otherwise.

Identify the key learning points from your teaching approach or solution, including any lasting impact on teaching in the future.

These are interactive enjoyable sessions for both student and tutor. We have found the use of patient partners and also the software that students will encounter when in practice has been of the most benefit for these teaching episodes.

This work has also changed how we support our tutors as a teaching team when they have students in practice. We focus our efforts on discussing how they have managed to adapt within their practices and how they might help the students get the best experiences from their placements. We have been able to reassure them that this preliminary work allows students to participate safely in remote consultations.

These tutorials will need to remain embedded in the curriculum, as remote consulting will exist in some form or other after Covid. We will be exploring how they can be developed and delivered in an efficient and cost effective manner, without reducing quality.

Explain how you plan to or will evaluate the impact of your initiative.

Significant evaluation has already occurred following the initial pilots of these tutorials and we will continue to monitor this both formally via SCEF and informally in discussion with students/tutors. Feedback has already been positive – excerpts taken from both 4th and 5th year comments.

  • Adapted tutorials about near me and telephone consulting were genuinely useful and equipped me with skills that I could put in place during my placement.
  • I particularly enjoyed the remote consultations tutorial. It was a helpful simulation of what would happen out in practice. 
  • I felt the remote consultations session was really helpful when it came to being out on placement.
  • The remote consultations session was really good.
  • The telephone consultation teaching was also helpful as it is a big part of GP life during the covid pandemic.  
  • Enjoyed the remote consultation session with Dr Muirhead. Was very useful considering primary care has changed significantly with telephone consultations. Was also useful to have a general chat about how GP has changed during COVID.

2020-2021 Commendation

George Patrick Ashcroft, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition

George Patrick Ashcroft photoProvide a detailed description of a teaching or assessment challenge posed/opportunity for innovation offered by the impact of the Covid 19 Pandemic: Early in the Covid Pandemic, the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition recognised that the traditional written final examination for 4th year medical students would need amending urgently before August 2020. A delay in assessment was not acceptable due to future workforce requirements, and an open book format did not meet the standards required. A solution was needed that enabled secure online question delivery with observation of, and interaction with, students completing the examination in multiple countries. As the lead educator for the final written exam, I created and led a multidisciplinary team to design and deliver a solution using existing university resources. Commercial options were unsuitable due to confidentiality, cost and time constraints.

In addition to practical planning and implementation, I addressed the fears of already stressed students about using a novel assessment format.

This project was the first of its kind to be successfully introduced in a UK medical school.

Give a reasoned account of your solution/new initiative: Prior to the Covid Pandemic I prepared the elements of our final written assessments using the Medical Schools Assessment Alliance (MSCAA) databank. A review of available online assessment platforms showed the MSCAA version was the most suitable and was hence selected.

We chose Blackboard for online proctoring, as the students were familiar with the system, it provided secure individual login via MyAberdeen, and was able to cope with over 200 students. A course site was created with a virtual pre-examination meeting room for student briefing and breakout rooms for video streaming of groups of four students. Secure in-room chat facilities enabled a constantly open channel for contact between students and invigilators. Further communication was possible via an examination email account if students had connectivity issues.

Confidential communication between examination coordinators and invigilators was established separately from students by using Microsoft teams, allowing the rapid discussion of problems as they arose.

Provide details of how your solution/new venture has been/will be communicated to colleagues and students: At an early stage we established regular student briefings to provide information about the progress of the project and to reduce their understandable anxieties. Multiple practice examinations allowed students to become acquainted with the software and examination processes. Contact via e-mail, examination chat, and questionnaire feedback identified issues requiring resolution. Invigilation by colleagues responsible for other year-group assessments allowed them to experience the platforms first-hand and to provide suggestions to improve the process. Written information, guidance, and online videos were produced for students, invigilators, and examination organisers, explaining the complete examination experience. Additional pre-examination training and debriefings were held for staff participating in, and potentially running, future examinations.

Written reports on the final solution were communicated to the medical school examination board allowing its use for other year groups. Information was also shared nationally with other medical schools seeking to organise online examinations. The University of Edinburgh is now exploring using this solution.

Key learning points from your experiences, including any lasting impact on teaching in the future: Covid undoubtedly improved the format and speed of communication at all levels, including with senior management, whose support and encouragement were vital to ensure success.   Remote online planning meetings, with consequent improved attendance, significantly enhanced our ability to incorporate experts from a range of disciplines to design and develop this programme of work. Video meetings will likely remain the norm in future.

Other pivotal factors in developing the project were regular communication with students of potential changes and listening to their comments. I propose to continue this in the future by improving email use, question and answer sessions and improving online questionnaires.

Although we continue to develop remote proctoring, we hope post-Covid to return to examination delivery in University premises, while retaining the online question format.

This is particularly relevant, as the General Medical Council is currently developing compulsory online advance knowledge tests for medical students using the MSCAA platform.

Explain how you plan to evaluate your teaching, learning or assessment solution/initiative: Student questionnaires were used during development of the platforms in order to identify any significant anxieties and practical problems, enabling their resolution prior to the final examination. Feedback from the students on the final examination itself is now being collected via online questionnaires, and we plan to continue this for the completed 2020/2021 year 2 and 3 proctored online examinations which have used this process.

Final examination results from 2020 were compared with those from written final examinations from the previous three years. The pass rates and spread of results were very similar, with no unexpected outliers. This initial work provided confidence in our examination development, and further, more in-depth, analysis of the results is now being undertaken by our psychometrician. A detailed description of the project development, examination process, and outcomes will be submitted for peer-reviewed publication in journals, providing further external review of our innovation.

Dr Cheryl Dowie, Business School

Experiential Learning Strategies within Dr Cheryl Dowie photo
Higher Education: Adapting role-play simulations
for online learning in Decision-making and
International Negotiation curriculum

Provide a detailed description of a teaching or assessment challenge posed/opportunity for innovation offered by the impact of the Covid 19 Pandemic: Blocked-taught course BU5072 ‘Negotiations and Cross-Cultural Management’ started on 30th November 2020. The course sheds light on cross-cultural business interactions required for sustainable business success in today’s international business environment.

Spotting value-creating opportunities, managing conflict during negotiations and understanding how to create long- term mutually beneficial business relationships require students to apply the strategies, concepts and frameworks taught in class in a face-to-face negotiation setting. I wanted students to experience the ‘flavour’ of real-life, face-to- face business negotiations in a safe environment, where they can negotiate with each other and receive feedback on this.

During the pandemic period, managing the role-play simulation group negotiation exercise online for 160 postgraduate students was challenging. The online activities involved circulating different instructions to group members based on the specific roles/characters they played, including checking different breakout rooms regularly and liaising with the group leaders to answer queries/issues that were raised.

Give a reasoned account of your solution/new initiative: Attending online ‘Teaching Innovation’ sessions during the pandemic made me adopt the following solution:

Two group leaders were appointed to supervise groups of eight, with a total of 20 groups created. Group leaders liaised with me regularly, to ensure all group queries/clarifications were managed efficiently and promptly for 160 postgraduate students. Secondly, this helped manage absenteeism because group leaders acted as backup for a role/character/s that was not present, during the group negotiations.

For the simulation exercise, a case study with background information was initially circulated to all students, and then separate instructions followed in the breakout rooms that were created for each of the remaining six group members in each group.  After individual preparation, students were requested to come together and record their real-time negotiations online.  They were then expected to write an individual reflective essay on this group negotiation.

Provide details of how your solution/new venture has been/will be communicated to colleagues and students: The course was designed to help students experience cross-cultural business interactions and apply the strategies, concepts and frameworks taught in class to business situations. Recorded lectures were uploaded a month in advance to help students understand what the course was about. On-campus teaching comprised of Q&A sessions, and online teaching comprised of sharing in-depth knowledge on negotiation strategies, concepts, frameworks and theories that were all recorded for students to access in their own time. Marking grids in place helped students understand what criteria were assessed and how to get good grades for their group and individual assessments.

All course information was uploaded on MyAberdeen and this along with course updates were communicated by email regularly. By liaising regularly with the respective group leaders, and class/programme representatives, I individually managed the course for 160 postgraduate students from the beginning (November 30th) until the end (grades were released in Jan-Feb 2021).

Key learning points from your experiences, including any lasting impact on teaching in the future: This blocked-teaching course was an intensive three-week course that catered to both full-time and part-time postgraduate students. Managing and coordinating the course on my own for 160 postgraduate students (business school and non-business school students) was challenging but I learnt that preparation is key for successful delivery.

Secondly, uploading recorded lectures a month in advance gave students the flexibility and time to go through them before the on-campus and online teaching sessions. The extra preparation and teaching hours were worthwhile, since learning objectives were achieved by all and it was nice to see that students recognised the effort put in.

Thirdly, I learnt that a blended learning approach, along with the synchronous and asynchronous sessions, provided students with in-depth insight into the subject, helped them deal with the cognitive load better and prepared  students well to complete their assessments. These experiences will definitely help me as an educator in future.

Explain how you plan to evaluate your teaching, learning or assessment solution/initiative: Meeting with the class/programme representatives once a week helped me gauge how the class of 160 students was coping and what help was needed. Accordingly, I was able to tweak areas of my delivery to cater to these requests/topics. Creating group leaders for the 20 groups also helped me address the issues/queries raised within the respective groups promptly.

Online teaching sessions with 160 students present, helped students learn from each other and helped me learn from the students as well. During the last debriefing session, I used an online poll (Mentimeter) to understand what students felt and learnt about the course.

Lastly, the SCEF report, individual student feedback also helped me understand how I can improve my teaching  and delivery. Additionally, the assessments helped me gauge how much the students learnt and understood how to link the theoretical aspects of Business Negotiations with practice.

Dr Amy Irwin, School of Psychology

Learning through doing: Improving engagementDr Amy Irwin photo
via activity boards

Provide a detailed description of a teaching or assessment challenge posed/opportunity for innovation offered by the impact of the Covid 19 Pandemic:
The need for active learning during the pandemic (and beyond)
The focus of my ‘Human Factors’ course for 4th year students is the application of Psychology to real world scenarios, linking theory to practice.  Prior to 2020 this course had been taught using the traditional didactic lecture approach followed by an essay-based exam.  Even before Covid I had been planning to alter the assessment structure of the course to enable practical application of knowledge and promote deep and continuous learning across term.  The pandemic required the move online and gave me the opportunity to completely redraft the course and change the assessment structure. Changing to an online environment highlighted several key issues that needed to be addressed: how to retain student engagement throughout term in an online environment, promoting active and deep learning, plus the need to enhance course structure to support students learning off-campus without regular face-to-face interaction.

Give a reasoned account of your solution/new initiative:
Learning through doing

Based on my experience of designing online postgraduate courses, I knew the discussion board function was useful for students to connect and share knowledge across set tasks. I wanted to develop this further, with the focus on applying course-based knowledge to generate creative solutions to posed problems.  Inspired by the work of Dyke (2007) who taught Human Factors concepts via a design task, I developed four specific assessments (Learning by Doing):

  • Incident analysis: Students selected their preferred method of analysis and applied it to an incident report.
  • Exit sign: Students applied their creative skills to design an inclusive exit sign.
  • Situation assessment: Students applied the principles of situation awareness to an accident.
  • Rude interaction: Students created a rude interaction based on the application of a theory / model.

The students posted their solutions via discussion boards, sharing their work with other students and thus developing a shared online resource.

Provide details of how your solution/new venture has been/will be communicated to colleagues and students:
At level 4 in Psychology the students can select their courses from a variety of options. I was aware that my plan for a series of four activity boards, in addition to more ordinary assessments, would require students to work consistently through the term. I highlighted this in the course handbook, which I shared with students both prior to them selecting courses and at the very start of term.  I followed this up with course announcements highlighting the upcoming exercises along with detailed guidance on how to approach each task.

The School of Psychology has regular staff forums every two weeks – I have raised my course design, and the potential use of discussion / activity boards at several of these meetings. I have also engaged with twitter chats organised by the University of Aberdeen Learning and Teaching Network – sharing my approach with academic staff beyond Aberdeen.

Key learning points from your experiences, including any lasting impact on teaching in the future:
High engagement: Students particularly enjoyed analysing real-world accident reports. I had provided abbreviated accident reports for their analysis; several students searched for, and then shared the full accident reports. They also found additional resources linked to the accidents such as video interviews, animated overviews etc.  This additional effort illustrated their high engagement levels.

Excellent achievement: To date the performance on the activity boards has been very high, with more than 50% of the class turning in excellent work (‘A’-grade).  Sharing responses via the discussion boards has led to a higher level of effort overall – students who began with lower levels of effort are now matching the level of detail and effort shown by other students.

Creativity is difficult: Students are not practiced at being creative.  As a result some of the students found that aspect difficult – I plan to provide additional support next year.

Explain how you plan to evaluate your teaching, learning or assessment solution/initiative: Pedagogical research indicates three criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of online learning: student outcomes, student attitudes and student satisfaction (Robinson et al., 2008). I will assess the activity boards via:

  • A mid-point student survey asking for opinions on the activity boards – this has already been conducted with data from 11 students recorded. The overall feedback indicated the students enjoyed them and felt the activities increased engagement: ‘I think the activity boards are helpful and keep you on track with the lectures and learning throughout the course. I think they implement much needed structure to the course especially in times of off campus study. I think they’ve been really helpful and they were a good idea to keep students engaged’.
  • Student feedback forms at the end of term. This will enable an assessment of student satisfaction.
  • Performance evaluation via student grades achieved for the activity boards and the course overall.


Dyck, J. L. (2007, October). Teaching human factors principles through design of an EXIT sign. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting (Vol. 51, No. 18, pp. 1168-1170). Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.

Robinson, C. C., & Hullinger, H. (2008). New benchmarks in higher education: Student engagement in online learning. Journal of Education for Business, 84(2), 101-109.

2019-2020 Runners Up

Dr Mirjam Brady-Van den Bos, School of Psychology

Introducing Qualitative Methodology in theDr Mirjam Brady-Van den Bos
Psychology Curriculum

Name and code of course to which the example relates:
PS3015: Methodology A

Number of students affected: 148

During which session did this take place: First half session

Context: Across the Psychology curriculum, approximately half the courses consist of methodology teaching. Most of this used to involve quantitative approaches, including statistics. Despite the rising popularity of qualitative methodologies, only a couple of lectures exposed students to this field. As a consequence, students gained a one-sided view of Psychology as a quantitative, top-down science. This is mirrored in the characteristics of our staff: most of us in Psychology are quantitative researchers. I myself am a qualitative researcher and in the past few years we have attracted 2 more qualitative colleagues. To broaden students’ research experience, over the past 2 years I have offered qualitative thesis project for final year students, and so have my qualitative colleagues. However, as it had not featured in the students’ curriculum, the learning curve for students was very steep. For us supervisors, the teaching was much more intensive than it would be for quantitative projects.

Activity: I have set up an entire strand of Qualitative Methodology teaching for third-year students, consisting of 3 theory lectures, 4 workshops, and a video-lecture on how to work well as a group. In the lectures, I explained the history of Psychology and I debunked the myths surrounding qualitative research. I also explained how to do interviewing and create good questions, and I showed how to do Thematic Analysis. In the workshops, students worked in groups to create interview questions on a chosen topic, then interviewed another group. Students then had to carry out a thematic analysis and write up a group report. The lecture on team work helped them get the best out of themselves and each other. In addition, I created materials to help colleagues who were involved in teaching in the workshops. In weekly teaching-preparation meetings I explained how they could facilitate the workshops and guide students’ learning.

How did you evaluate the effectiveness of the activity? I evaluated this new strand through a questionnaire sent out to all third-year students, after group report marks had been released. Twenty-seven students completed the questionnaire. Results from the rating-scale questions showed: 1. a significant increase in students’ understanding of Qualitative methodology 2. increased awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses 3. increased interest in Psychology 4. increased perceived employability (all p-values > .001). Open questions asked students’ general opinion on the Qualitative strand, what went well for them and what they struggled with, how the resolved the struggles, how they now view Psychology and science in general, and what they thought of working in a group. These data showed that group work was the main source of struggle for most students, and that their attitudes towards this often changed dramatically for the better. Students’ definition of ‘scientific rigour’ also expanded, with it no longer being limited to quantitative research.

Impact of the activity: 1. Third-year students: Their methodological repertoire and transferable skillset has expanded substantially. On the questionnaire students indicated their understanding had increased; this became strongly evident when I subsequently advertised a voluntary research assistantship, helping with my fourth-year qualitative thesis projects. I received 25 enthusiastic applications. 2. My colleagues; As mentioned above, I now have several colleagues who also will offer fourth-year thesis projects of qualitative nature. Students who apply for this will be more knowledgeable about the projects they undertake, meaning a lighter workload for supervisors. 3. Colleagues who helped teach the Qualitative workshops; They expressed greater interest in qualitative methodologies and more confidence teaching it.  4. Fourth-year students: They benefit in two ways. First, they will feel more confident choosing a qualitative project and are more likely to carry it out competently. Second, I can now pair them with third-year Research Assistants who understands Qualitative methodology, to facilitate triangulation.

Dissemination: I have shared my lectures and workshop materials with colleagues at Nottingham University, at the Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers in Psychology (DART-P) annual conference in Cardiff in June 2019. I have shared my materials also with an Educational Psychologist at Aberdeen City Council who is using it to teach her colleagues how to do Thematic Analysis. I will present the study based on my intervention more formally at the DART-P annual conference in Belfast in June 2020.

Dr Amudha Poobalan, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition

Enhancing postgraduate learning and experienceAmudha Poobalan photo
through Socio-Cultural Coaching for Careers and 

and Employability to Support Success: Pathways for Life Underpinning Success (SUCCESS PLUS)

Name and code of course to which the example relates: Implemented in three Masters programmes so far - Masters in Public Health (MPH); MSc in Global Health and Management; MSc in Human Nutrition Has potential to be rolled out to all postgraduate students

Number of students affected: 112 students from the 3 programmes

During which session did this take place: Threaded throughout all the 3 semesters of the postgraduate taught programme

Context: In the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, there are currently 24 taught post-graduate programmes. Most of these have significant numbers of international students coming from different countries, cultures and education systems; as well as UK students stepping up to Masters level. The intense one-year programmes expect students to hit the ground running with a heavy academic load from day one. This, combined with adapting from teacher centred, rote learning and memorisation practices, means students can struggle to cope with postgraduate level learning in UK Higher Education context. This may lead to poor academic performance, poor student satisfaction and mental health issues, despite their academic ability. While Higher Education sectors strive to provide student support in achieving their academic potential, personal developmental support is still in its infancy. Consequently, our stance was that providing socio-cultural mentoring will enhance learning and success of postgraduate students.

Activity: A scheme called SUCCESS PLUS (Socio-Cultural Coaching for Careers and Employability to Support Success: Pathways for Life Underpinning Success) was developed and implemented in September 2018. The scheme focussed on providing extended mentoring support to the socio-culturally diverse postgraduate students working towards holistic development and enhanced employability. Components of SUCCESS PLUS: After obtaining student consent, a short questionnaire survey was conducted to obtain demographics, work experience, expectations of studying in the UK, career aspirations and developing graduate attributes. Mentors were recruited using a snowballing technique to identify those who transitioned across subject disciplines, geographical areas and have experience of teaching and supporting postgraduate students for several years. Each student was matched to a mentor as closely as possible with career journeys. Mentors and students were provided with guidance on the remit of the programme along with suggestions on frequency of the visits and mode of contact/mentoring.

How did you evaluate the effectiveness of the activity? Nine months after implementation (May 2019), the scheme was evaluated using qualitative research methodology. Four focus groups and 17 in-depth interviews were conducted with students and mentors. An independent researcher was recruited to undertake the evaluation to reduce bias. Emerging themes from the interviews are improved integration; mature relationship and reduced isolation. Students felt that they could form a relationship with mentors; discuss sensitive issues with them without being embarrassed; and received guidance for future career prospects. Suggested improvements from mentors included an initial orientation session and information sharing. Student representatives at Student and Staff Liaison meetings indicated that this activity gave them space to talk to an academic in a stress-free situation and improved the way students handled the assessments, understood feedback and responded to it. Students also fed back to the external examiner, on exam board day, that they felt this was an important support system.

Impact of the activity: This scheme meets the needs of postgraduate students and bridges the gap in student support to enhance learning. While undergraduate students have personal tutees and medical students have Regents to support learning, postgraduate students do not have any formal support system in place within the SMMSN. Providing students with a mentor, who travelled the same pathway, faced the same struggles provides the students with a comfort zone and enhances their ability to learn; and improves student experience. When this scheme was initiated in 2018, this was intended only for the Masters of Public Health (MPH) students. However, as this proved to be quite effective, very soon, MSc Global health students were included in this scheme. This academic year, the co-ordinator for MSc in Nutrition requested that their students be included. This SUCCESS PLUS scheme is now being considered for postgraduate research students for promoting better student experience.

Dissemination: We have presented this activity at internal Teaching and Learning Network meetings and academic symposiums. The needs assessment for postgraduate student support was presented as a poster at the 10th Academic Development Symposium in April 2018; Following this, it was submitted as a report to LTEP in June 2018. In April 2019, this was presented as a swap shop workshop at the 11th Academic Development symposium. This brought out a good discussion on the need for postgraduate student support, personal development support in addition to academic support and pointers to improving PGT support. An abstract for oral presentation is submitted to the QAA Scotland’s international enhancement conference to be held in June 2020. The results from the evaluation of the SUCCESS PLUS scheme is being prepared as a manuscript to be submitted to the Journal of pedagogical research.

Professor Patience Schell, School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture

Chilean Arpilleras as an assessment method 

Name and code of course to which the example relates: SP35/45PC (2019-2020 year but the assessment was trialled in 2016-2017)

Number of students affected: 25

During which session did this take place: Second half session, 2019-2020

Context: I teach an honours course on women’s history in Chile and Mexico and was aware that a colleague at Queen’s University Belfast had used arpilleras, a Chilean fabric mural, as a form of assessment in one of her classes. For me, assessing with arpilleras offers students a chance to be more creative and it connects to the course themes. Arpilleras emerged as a women’s art form during the dictatorship (1973-1990) and usually depict scenes of everyday life. The spread of this art is interlinked with women’s coping and survival strategies, as arpilleras were sold in Chile and abroad, both to raise money for struggling families but also to raise awareness of the military dictatorship. Thus, I asked students to create a research-based arpillera and write a 1,000-word commentary about their research and the process. They were not assessed on artistic merit, but rather on research, process of work and conception.

Activity: I organise an in-class two-hour workshop training students to make arpillera dolls, as I was taught by Roberta Bacic. To ensure the students engage with each other, and with the exercise, I supply limited materials and tools. With only a few pairs of scissors, students have to borrow and share. In the session I offer focused training for students who have less experience in crafting. Afterwards, students come up with their topics and design/create the arpillera (I regularly check in with them in class to help with research and technical issues). At the end of class, I organise a reception, with food and drink that I provide, to display the arpilleras. Students are always amazed by the creativity and quality demonstrated by the arpilleras. They are also moved and engaged to hear more about the stories which the arpilleras depict and the stories that emerged during their making.

How did you evaluate the effectiveness of the activity? The arpilleras draw students to the course; they are eager to be more creative and they understand the logic in creating an arpillera in a course about Chilean women’s history. During the course, the experiential aspect got them into the historical issues with ‘head, heart and hands’. After the course, I found student feedback entirely positive about the arpilleras. A typical SCEF comment is: ‘I felt more engaged and creative, rather than having to do another essay which can get a bit mundane sometimes’. The external examiner was highly impressed with the quality of student work, both their reflections and the arpilleras. Students have continued to be involved with their arpilleras, as all have been invited to contribute to the work towards creating the library exhibition ‘Sewing Resistance: Teaching through Chilean Textile Art’ and the on-going public engagement activities; students have spoken publicly, written exhibition labels and hosted doll-making workshops.

Impact of the activity: Students understand aspects of Chilean history in an experiential way, which they could not get without the arpilleras. The arpilleras build a strong sense of community amongst the students. Students told me that the assessment was something they discussed with family and friends, as they felt emotionally involved with the history via their arpilleras. One student told me that they would all remember making the arpilleras for the rest of their lives. The exhibition also offers stories about Chilean and Mexican women’s history to the university community, as well as the wider community in the Northeast, and visitors who come from further away. Having their assessment exhibited in the library has been exciting and validating for the students. When they first saw the exhibition, they were amazed at how good their work looks and were delighted with how professional the exhibition itself is.

Dissemination: I have discussed assessing with arpilleras at university T&L fora and this assessment has been featured in StaffNet News as an example of learning and teaching good practice. The exhibition, ‘Sewing Resistance: Teaching through Chilean Textile Art’, at the Sir Duncan Rice Library (10 October 2019-31 May 2020) further disseminates the assessment. Academics from other universities (including Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham and Birkbeck) have found the exhibition inspirational, as their tweets indicate, and hope to be more creative in their assessments. In November, I have hosted two arpillera doll-making workshops, one for the PG school (in a session focused on ‘Practice-Based Research’) and one for the public via the Festival of Social Science. Further exhibition events are planned, and the exhibition has featured in the Evening Express. Previously, I hosted arpillera doll-making workshops for the Hispanic Society and for the former College of Arts and Social Science women’s network.

2018-2019 Runners Up

Dr Mirjam-Van den Bos, School of Psychology

Flipped ClassroomDr Mirjam Brady-Van den Bos photo

Name and code of course to which the example relates: PS2517 Advanced Psychology A: Concepts and Theory

Number of students affected: 250

During which half session did this take place: 2nd half session

In 2015 I completed the PG Cert in HE, which set my mind on fire with enthusiasm. I learned to reflect on my teaching, and discovered I was too focused on 'what I did', rather than what students were doing. This was particularly relevant in my second year course 'Personality'. By this point, students are familiar with the main topics in Psychology, so I wanted my lectures to go beyond simply 'adding to' existing knowledge. I wanted to create a learning environment in which my students could practice discussion and debate, and learn by actively 'wrestling' with theories and perspectives.

Activity: To this end I introduced the Flipped Classroom in 2015 (and it has been running ever since). I ask students to watch my pre-recorded videos (purpose-built for the Flipped Classroom, in 20-minute chunks) and complete several brief exercises, before coming to the timetabled session. In this timetabled session, instead of me 'delivering' a lecture, collaborative activities encourage students to apply the material from the videos and solve problems. A brief plenary session follows each activity, to ensure understanding and to encourage discussion across the entire lecture theatre.

How did you evaluate the effectiveness of the activity? Dr Darren Comber and I investigated student perceptions using qualitative interviews. Initially, the FC was not a success, evidenced by poor attendance (N=30/200). This was mainly due to not explaining the rationale, and pre-class exercises being seen as adding to an already full curriculum. The data enabled me to make changes: I explained what students could expect, and importantly, why we believe FCs are valuable environments for learning. This explanation made a large difference to the popularity of the FC, with 150> students now attending the sessions and end-of-course forms indicating that students benefit in terms of engagement and understanding.

Impact of the activity: I share my experiences of large-group interactive teaching at the University's PLTHE and 2-day Induction courses, which each run twice a year. The effects of these meetings have been widespread: since 2016 colleagues from Divinity, Mathematical Biology, Epidemiology, Medical Sciences, and Natural and Computing Sciences have contacted me for advice on how to make their own teaching more interactive. Within our own School, the FC is taken up by other courses as a way of making the most of the face-to-face time with guest lecturers from applied fields, who feel much more comfortable talking with rather than to students.

Dissemination: I share my experiences of large-group interactive teaching at the University's PLTHE and 2-day Induction courses, which each run twice a year. The effects of these meetings have been widespread: since 2016 colleagues from Divinity, Mathematical Biology, Epidemiology, Medical Sciences, and Natural and Computing Sciences have contacted me for advice on how to make their own teaching more interactive. Within our own School, the FC is taken up by other courses as a way of making the most of the face-to-face time with guest lecturers from applied fields, who feel much more comfortable talking with rather than to students.

Dr John McKeown, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition

General Practice LiveDr McKeown photo

Name and code of course to which the example relates:
ME2307 Foundations of Primary Care 1

Number of students affected: 170

During which half session did this take place: 2nd half session

Context: There are significant national recruitment issues in General Practice (GP), which present challenges for capacity in clinical teaching. In addition, there is a perception that GP is not an exciting or challenging speciality. We aimed to challenge this perception, building on recently published findings to develop and implement a teaching model that links the clinical and non-clinical learning environments in a unique manner. We utilised the new Digitally Enhanced Learning Space (DELS), and designed and delivered new teaching informed by evidence to facilitate career choices in GP, and addressed the requests of our students for more clinical teaching.

Activity: We delivered the first live teaching session direct from a GP surgery to students situated in the DELS room. Utilising software (Panopto) we transformed the teaching on GP consultations and for the first time made this accessible to year 1 students. With a GP facilitating discussion in DELS, we taught 40 students at a time, when only 3 or 4 students might have been taught in a traditional manner. This was a unique and novel bridge between the GP clinical setting and the University teaching setting, allowing facilitated discussion in student groups that was not previously possible.

How did you evaluate the effectiveness of the activity? The session was universally well received by the students. Written and numerical feedback demonstrated that 100% would recommend it to others with also 100% reporting it as 'interesting' and 'innovative'. It was rated as giving an excellent insight into the work performed during a GP consultation. From two small groups of 10, the session has been developed into teaching larger groups of 40 students. From this January it will be delivered to every Year 1 medical student in Year 1, with a proposal to deliver in later years of the curriculum as well.

Impact of the activity: Free text comments from students stated that they wished it to be integrated into the curriculum. This has been achieved with minimal requirement for increased capacity in GP clinical teaching capacity. We are progressing from a single GP surgery streaming video to multiple surgeries in different contexts. This teaching technique has the potential for demonstrating the extremely varied work that takes place daily across Scotland in rural and urban GP. The session attracted significant coverage in both local and national media. The style of teaching was picked up on social media, including by the Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood.

Dissemination: This technique has been presented at multiple medical cross-speciality local and national meetings and at DELS room promotional meetings. We hosted multiple workshops including the Scottish Medical Education Conference in Edinburgh and presented a poster at the national RCGP conference in Liverpool. The developers received a highly commended teaching recognition at the recent RCGP conference in Glasgow. The session was discussed recently at the national GP Heads of Teaching meeting in Warwick receiving significant interest. The proposed RCGP curriculum (2018) includes the suggested technique of "Viewing remotely transmitted live surgeries in groups", suggesting that this development has been noted nationally.

Dr Tavis Potts, School of Geosciences

Creating Environmental Leaders in the MSc inTavis Potts photo
Environmental Partnership Management

Name and code of course to which the example relates: GG5911 Partnership Project

Number of students affected: 17 MSc students

Context: The MSc in Environmental Partnership Management (EPM), through its flagship course GG5911, the Partnership Project, seeks to create the skills and confidence in graduates to become leaders in the global green economy movement. We seek to develop and embed the confidence and skills for students to become sustainability leaders in their communities, in businesses and in government and to develop green entrepreneurial skills that address major environmental problems. The Partnership Project is the stepping stone to achieving this, by placing students in real world roles addressing complex sustainability problems, developing their skills and improving their networks.

Activity: I negotiate with local, national and international organisations to identify pragmatic projects that implement the UN sustainable development goals. Examples include local community organisations (Huntly Community Partnership: developing a low carbon strategy); local government (Aberdeen Council sustainable food strategy; Shire Council: Sustainable NE 250 tourism); UK Govt Defra (coordinating UK marine partnerships) and international organisations (e.g. UN Institute Training and Research (UNITAR) developing a UN green education strategy). From September to February each year I negotiate projects (15 in 2018/19) for students ensuring that the placement is robust, skills based and develops the student's environmental leadership and innovation capacity.

How did you evaluate the effectiveness of the activity? Student feedback for GG5519 rates it as a highlight of the MSc. Graduate feedback (for example: describes how the Partnership Project improves confidence, skills and employability. Feedback from our students highlights this element, for example " the Partnership Project I gained practical project management skills and in-depth knowledge of sustainable development" - L. Robertson). We have evidence that employers are preferencing EPM graduates due the mix of practical skills and sustainability expertise developed by the degree. I am continuing to develop and grow the project offerings with Scottish, UK and international organisations and in-line with increasing student enrolments.

Impact of the activity: The key impact is securing employment for graduates in the green economy - 100% of our graduates from 2015 have secured employment. Several graduates have been employed with their project host, e.g. 2 students in Aberdeenshire Council in climate and circular economy roles; 1 in the Aberdeen Sustainable Food Cities program; and 1 leading the NE Scotland Coastal Litter project. We have developed several innovative extra-curricular opportunities, graduates are automatically affiliated with the Scottish Innovative Student Awards ( as level 1 future thinkers; we are exploring Star Award accreditation and have registered with the Bright Green Business network.

Dissemination: Our dissemination channels are our project partners, local and international networks. Recently I attended the 2nd Green Economy Learning Forum in Paris where I showcased the success of the MSc and the Partnership Projects. The outcomes were requests for new placements, UN level contacts (e.g. Green Growth Knowledge Platform & UNITAR) and involvement in a new UNITAR (UN) project on devising evaluation methods for green economy learning. In 2019, in line with our increased admission on the MSc, we intend to run a stakeholder / student / staff networking event highlighting the outcomes from our 17 Partnership Projects.