The University of Aberdeen’s LTEP was established in 2007 to encourage the introduction of enhancement activities in learning and teaching and to disseminate effective practice throughout the Institution. It offers small amounts of funding, provided by QAA Scotland, to support the work of their current Enhancement Theme, Resilient Learning Communities. Colleagues were invited to apply for Learning & Teaching Enhancement Programme (LTEP) funding which this year aligns with the QAA Scotland’s sector-wide Enhancement Theme, Resilient Learning Communities which runs from 2020-23. The Theme focuses on meeting the changing needs and values of an increasingly diverse student community and a rapidly changing external environment.
Please see below for Year 2 funded projects. Year 1 funded projects here.
Year 2 Funded Projects
- Standardised assessment rubrics - Help or Hindrance to feed-forward?
Dr Amudha Poobalan, Dr Leone Craig, Dr Fiona Campbell, Dr Rosa Lopez, Prof Andy Welch, Prof Steve Tucker and Dr Donna Maccallum
School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition
Provision of timely and effective feedback to students is crucial as it informs them how to improve their future assessments. Using assessment rubrics is one way of providing transparent and standardised feedback to students. However, there are inconsistencies in how these rubrics are used by staff and students.
Our project aims to enhance students’ learning by assessing how students and staff use standardised assessment rubrics as a framework to write assignments and provide constructive and useful feedforward, respectively.
In collaboration with School of Psychology, we will use an exploratory mixed methods study design to conduct focus group discussions (UG students, PG students, PG online students, and staff) and will follow up with a questionnaire survey. By understanding how feedback is provided by staff and used by students, we will identify how we can improve feedback and feedforward practices to enhance student learning
- Embedding Intersectionality: The pathway to an inclusive education
Dr Cheryl Dowie, Dr Julie Ross, Professor Abbe Brown, Dr Amudha Pooblan
Business School, School of Law, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition
Intersectionality is how race, gender and other individual characteristics, such as: disability, cultural and social background, overlap and intersect with one another to create our unique, individual and diverse identities. By creating a reflective space for both students and staff, intersectionality issues can be understood better and addressed within the wider ambit of other equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives, providing more opportunities for all to succeed.
The aim of this project is to work as an interdisciplinary team to encourage analytical reflection and co-create resources for students and staff on respecting intersectionality and developing inclusive practice that, in turn, will nurture resilient learning communities.
This project follows on from work already started through the regular “Open to All” and “Deep Dive” events. These events support inter-school collaborative initiatives among students and staff, share best learning practices, encourage ideas to improve student achievement and develop sustainable student-staff support networks to assist in attaining the University’s shared objectives and goals.
- Enhancing resilience through supporting reflective thinking and writing
Corina Weir, Dr Heather Morgan, Dr Kay Penny, Moses Ikpeme, Dr Samantha Donnelly
School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition
Teaching and supporting students to openly reflect on the difficulties and successes in their learning can help students to adapt to challenging setbacks, cope with stress related to their studies and establish active coping strategies; crucial processes in building resilience (Brewer et al., 2019; Lapina, 2018; Walsh et al., 2020). We will gather data on students’ views and learning needs, in terms of reflective thinking and writing, with the aim of developing a tailored of activities to support students in reflecting on aspects of their MSc research project. Following this, we will evaluate the activities to continually improve the support offered every year to students, with the goal of supporting their resilience in coping with difficult situations which can arise as part of everyday research.
- Steps to Resilience
Dr Amy Irwin, Dr Ceri Trevethan, Dr Heather Branigan, Dr Joy Perkins
School of Psychology
Although resilience has elements linked to internal characteristics, (e.g., self-confidence, optimism), it is also a dynamic capability – one which includes ways of thinking and acting that can be learnt and supported. Universities can facilitate resilience learning through the curriculum (e.g., the LTEP funded micro-credential course currently under development Building Resilience – From Surviving to Thriving) and through informal activities designed to encourage student participation and community building.
Recent findings from the Mind Mentally Healthy Universities Project (Mind, 2020) highlight that despite the growing provision of mental health resources and services at UK Universities, the majority of students do not engage with standard support services and resources.
This project will build a bank of student-generated content relevant to the concept of resilience in a variety of accessible formats (podcasts, vlog, blog, testimonial, images) to explain resilience and illustrate activities designed to support resilience. This resource will be made available across the University for inductions, workshops, student messages etc. This content will be evaluated through student feedback via online survey using thematic analysis.
This project will also produce a series of student-led “Resilience Walks” as a distinct activity designed to enable students to form small groups, take part in a guided activity and form connections with both peers and the city of Aberdeen. The resilience walks will be evaluated by an intervention style study where resilience and wellbeing levels will be self-rated and recorded prior to and after each resilience walk.
- Developing a reflective practice toolkit: a scoping study to enhance the resilience of staff and students within diverse communities of learning.
This project involves the development of a small pilot study designed to explore the learning needs of educators in the University of Aberdeen who deliver aspects of reflective practice in current credit-bearing undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses. The initial outcome will be the development of a pilot online toolkit designed to enhance resilience in a community of learning through encouraging engagement in reflective practice. The toolkit will contain information, practice examples and tools for reflective practice for participants to use at their own pace based upon their needs in reflective practice. The pilot toolkit will be hosted on the university virtual learning platform with the aim of facilitating a community of peer support and learning. It will be evaluated through gathering participants’ experience in focus groups for staff and for students respectively.
- Developing resilience of advanced entry students through peer and academic support.
Dr Heather Branigan, Dr Jacqui Hutchison, Dr Sally Middleton
School of Psychology, Access and Articulation
This project aims to enhance the academic resilience of advanced entry students (i.e., students who have completed the equivalent to the their first year(s) of study at a further education institution before entering into L2 or L3).
We seek to support this group of students by:
- Exploring existing support across the university through a staff survey
- Developing student-led content to provide peer support for advanced entry students
A main outcome of this project will be the development of support materials, by students for students. These support materials will be multi-modal, to provide choice and encompass the varied experiences of advanced entry students. Another key outcome from this project is to develop examples of best practice from the existing support structures throughout the UoA. Findings from the staff survey will be communicated with central and support services as appropriate.
By building on previous work to understand articulation students’ experiences, this project will work in collaboration with students to guide academic practice and support the resilience of all advanced entry students, including those transitioning from further educational institutions and other universities.
- Building Resilience Through Timely and Effective Feedback
Dr Jason Bohan, Dr Heather Branigan, Dr Jacqui Hutchison, and Dr Clare Kirtley
School of Psychology
This project has two aims; one, to help develop a resilient learning community through high quality assessment and feedback and secondly to address the sometimes negative student perceptions of assessment and feedback as evidenced via the National Student Survey (NSS) 2021.
In collaboration with the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, this project will investigate student and staff perceptions of timely and effective feedback in relation to a range of assessment practices. A mixed methods approach will be utilised using questionnaires and focus groups to explore student and staff perceptions and experiences of assessment and feedback practices for undergraduate, postgraduate and online students
- Supporting students and building student resilience through regional community volunteering and internship opportunities.
Careers and Employability Service
This research project is designed to investigate the work experience needs of care-experienced students across all years and disciplines at the University. It builds on previous research undertaken by the Careers and Employability Service in 2021 which indicated that care experienced students clearly recognised the need for work experience but were uncertain about how to access those internships and placements and lacked confidence to apply. The purpose of this research is to better understand barriers which might exist to participation and in the long term, to develop connections with firms and organisations in and around Aberdeen, to provide a structured pilot work experience programme for this particular group of students. Gaining deeper insights into the challenges facing care-experienced and estranged students will enable targeted and appropriate opportunities to be put in place to overcome barriers and build future resilience.