Please note that we have closed application submissions as of the 16th of September, 2022.
The University of Aberdeen’s Learning & Teaching Enhancement Programme 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 LTEP funding which aligns with the QAA Scotland’s sector-wide Enhancement Theme, Resilient Learning Communities now in its final year. The Theme’s focus is on meeting the changing needs and values of an increasingly diverse student community and a rapidly changing external environment.
Year 3 Funded Projects
- A Scoping Network - Ethical Engagements in Creative Practice Research and Teaching
A Scoping Network - Ethical Engagements in Creative Practice Research and Teaching
Professor Suk-Jun Kim, Dr Jo Hicks, Dr Matthew Machin-Autenrieth, Ms Pauline Black, Dr Thomas McKean, Dr Frances Wilkins, Dr Isabel Segui, Dr Bárbara Barreiro, and Dr Helen Lynch
School of Language, Literature, Music, and Visual Culture
Despite a growing emphasis on research governance and ethics in higher education, ethics is often a difficult and confusing topic of discussion in practice-based research and creative arts practice as well as in the teaching context. Furthermore, there is a lack of resources that practice-based researchers (research staff and PGR/PGT students) and lecturers in creative arts and practice-based disciplines can refer to when engaging their research and teaching or supervising their students.
The aim of this networking initiative is to examine issues surrounding ethics in creative arts practice and practice-based or -led research and teaching in Scottish higher education. It strives to create a space in which a more constructive dialogue between institutional responsibilities that aim to promote ethical research practice in general and perform gate-keeping exercises through approval processes and training programmes on the one hand and disciplinary and interdisciplinary discourses where consideration of ethics are deeply embedded in the ethos of their practice.
The project will run two scoping workshops: the first scoping workshop (in February 2023) will invite staff and PGR/PGT students at the University of Aberdeen who are engaged in practice-based research or teaching in creative practice disciplines, and also those who are involved in conducting institutional ethics approval processes and exercising university ethics policies; and the second scoping workshop (in April/May 2023) will invite a panel of several researchers from other Scottish HE institutions in similar disciplines and examine the key objectives the project.
- Developing Supportive Postgraduate Communities
Developing supportive postgraduate communities
Dr Kirsty Kiezebrink, Heather Morgan, Leone Craig, Toni Gibson & Andrew Maclaren
Feeling part of a community whilst undertaking a university degree is critical to enable student to achieve their full potential. Conversations with our postgraduate students in 2021-22, (where our numbers grew fivefold), we identified a need to feel more connected, less anonymous. We aim to develop a programme of activities, in partnership with students, aimed at enhancing students’ sense of community and developing key skills identified by students as important. We will use a ‘experience-based co-design’ approach (Robert et al, 2010) at all stages from the design of the potential intervention through to the evaluation of the implementation. T intervention will consist of a programme of events incorporating team building activities, transferable skills development and programme of discipline-specific training events, including debates on hot topics. A key question for resilient learning communities is “How do we ensure that we are able to support our diverse learning communities?”. This initiative is aimed at not only supporting the diversity of the community but actively celebrating this diversity and encouraging students to gain confidence in sharing their own experiences and views with the wider community and learning together through a series of peer support workshops
- Developing the resilience of Advanced Entry students through evaluation of support for staff and students
Developing the resilience of Advanced Entry students through evaluation of support for staff and students
Dr Jacqui Hutchison, Dr Heather Branigan, Dr Sally Middleton, Georgina Leeves
School of Psychology, Access and Articulation
QAA Scotland identify resilience as a key skill, and evidence suggests a connection between resilience and transitions (e.g., from FE college to university) with resilience being a key factor in successful student transitions. This project aims to enhance the academic resilience of Advanced Entry students (i.e., students who have completed the equivalent of their first year(s) of study at a further education institution before entering into L2 or L3) by building on our previous work in this area.
A primary outcome of this project is to run a workshop for University of Aberdeen staff (academic and professional services) and other individuals involved in supporting Advanced Entry students across the sector. The workshop will involve sharing findings from our previous work in this area, as well as generating cases of good practice throughout the academic community and developing an institutional Community of Practice. A second outcome of the project will be to evaluate our new student toolkit containing resources for Advanced Entry students, via a student survey, to ensure the toolkit is sustainable and fit for purpose.
This project will work in collaboration with students to guide academic practice and support the resilience of all Advanced Entry students.
- Staying in and getting on: Developing strategies to support widening access students in their medical studies
Staying in and getting on: Developing strategies to support widening access students in their medical studies
Dr Katie Gibson Smith, Prof Colin Lumsden, Dr Kim Walker, Dr Amudha Poobalan, Dr Anita Laidlaw
Centre for Healthcare Education and Innovation
The Gateway2Medicine programme has been established with the aim of supporting those from non-traditional, and less privileged backgrounds, to pursue a career in medicine. However, the disadvantages facing these students do not simply disappear once they enter medical school and hence, it is important to understand how widening access students may be best supported over the course of their undergraduate studies to ensure that they are not only retained, but also progress within the profession.
This research aims to address this evidence gap and to develop an evidence-based and theory-informed intervention strategy to support widening access students’ resilience and retention in the MBChB. Workshops will be undertaken with students and educators to assist in the development of a support strategy. The research will generate evidence to inform the student experience specifically in relation to identifying the mechanisms via which widening access students may be best supported throughout the MBChB.
- Supporting international PGT students to overcome language barriers
Supporting international PGT students to overcome language barriers
Dr Sandie Cleland and Dr Zeshu Shao
School of Psychology
International students consistently report language barriers as a source of stress, not least because the skills required to pass language admissions requirements are not the same as the skills required for effective academic writing. For postgraduate taught (PGT) students this issue may be compounded by the fact that they only have a brief time to acculturate to a new education system. The current project aims to understand the language barriers experienced by international PGT students, and to evaluate awareness and use of academic writing support services at the University of Aberdeen. The first phase of the project will use qualitative methods (focus groups guided by a semi-structured interview schedule) to understand the perceived language barriers affecting the experience of international students at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Glasgow. The second phase of the study will use questionnaire methodology combining both quantitative and open-ended questions to establish University of Aberdeen international PGT students’ awareness and access of language support services. A key objective of this project will be to foster collaboration both internally (e.g., academic schools and central support services) and externally (with the University of Glasgow). The end goal is to use this knowledge to develop more general guidance on how to support international PGT students to overcome language barriers early on in their programme of study.
- Using video to build reflection and resilience during practicum placement assessments
Using video to build reflection and resilience during practicum placement assessments
Dr John Paul Mynott, Faye Hendry, Katrina Foy, Lorna Stewart
School of Education
This project aims to explore the experiences of students using video as part of their student placement assessment and to what extent video supports student-led reflection on practice.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) department at the University of Aberdeen introduced video as a tool for observing student teachers’ practice on placement, at a time when in-person visits to schools were not permitted. Using a situational analysis approach to grounded theory, this project will explore questionnaires and focus groups with students about their perceptions and experiences using video within their placements and the impact this had on their own reflections on practice as a means to consider how using video to support students in placement can be developed in future.
- Understanding taught postgraduate students learning experience and the development of resilient learning skills
Evaluating learning and teaching experience of taught postgraduate students
Dr Zeshu Shao, Dr Clare Kirtley and Dr Mirjam Brady-Van de Bos
School of Psychology
This project aims to investigate how postgraduate taught students develop essential resilient skills to efficiently overcome academic and personal challenges, anxiety, and pressure by evaluating their learning experience and expectations. In particular, we will use a mixed methods approach including questionnaires and focus groups to explore how postgraduate taught students’ academic resilience is related to their educational background (e.g., their previous knowledge and skills and education systems), academic and personal challenges (e.g., changing of education and living environment, cultural conflicting, language barriers, mental health issues, etc.), and their learning expectations (e.g., reasons for pursuing a PGT degree, plans for future employment and study, etc.). The outcomes will be applied to guide academic practice to support resilient learning in postgraduate taught (PGT) students.
- Evaluating and developing the explicit teaching of assessment skills for first year Education students
Faye Hendry, Dr John Paul Mynott, Dr Colin Christie, Alan Grieve & Gordon Stewart
School of Education
This project aims to systematically evaluate a series of skills inputs delivered in tutorials with first year undergraduate education students, and, subsequently, to co-construct and develop enhanced materials for these inputs in collaboration with a group of students.
Over the past few years, tutors have developed and taught short inputs on academic skills (usually 20-30 minute mini-workshops) in weekly tutorials with first year undergraduate education students. The purpose of the skills inputs is to build the students’ skills and to improve attainment in essay-based assessments by improving confidence and resilience in undertaking assignments at Higher Education level. Using an action research model, we will ask students to review the inputs and then work with them to co-construct enhanced inputs which will improve attainment and confidence further.