Indicative workshop details

This page contains information about some of the workshops I run most frequently. These details should be regarded as a starting point for clients wishing me to adapt them to particular requirements. Most workshops can be adapted for a 2 or 3  hour time schedule, but the first on Getting Published requires a minimum of a full day, and can also be presented as a two day residential workshop by universities keen to give colleagues a head start in writing about learning and teaching for publication. 

Getting Published
If you are someone who really wants to get published and have been meaning to get down to it for a long time, but actually have never managed to do so or have published very little, this workshop is designed for you. Focussing on getting published about learning and teaching innovations, but more generically applicable, this workshop will give you opportunities to:

  • consider your reasons for wanting to publish;
  • discuss a range of outlets for publishing, including refereed journal articles, books, conference proceedings and newspaper articles;
  • examine how best to maximise chances of getting work published in journals, avoiding some of the most common pitfalls;
  • consider the benefits and disbenefits of co-authoring;
  • explore some techniques for getting down to the writing and adapting material already written for publication.

The workshop will be highly participative, including lots of writing tasks and focussing on making you more productive in your writing, and will draw upon the expertise of the widely published workshop leader (who also has some gruesome tales to share).

The workshop above can be run as a suite of short workshops over a period of time for a group of teaching-only staff who are keen to publish and possibly work towards PhDs by Publication.

The next group of workshops are all focussed on assessment and can be combined into full days by negotiation.

Streamlining assessment: giving feedback effectively and efficiently
Teachers in higher education understand the importance of giving good feedback to students, both to maximize achievement and to support retention. Research in the field suggests that good feedback has a significant impact on student achievement, enabling them to become adept at judging the quality of their own work during its production. The National Student Survey and other means of providing feedback from students to universities suggest that assessment and feedback are commonly areas of dissatisfaction in UK universities.

This interactive and evidence-based workshop will focus on what kinds of feedback work best for students, enabling participants to:

  • discuss the importance of feedback as part of the learning process;
  • review how feedback can be used as part of a cycle;
  • consider how they can enable students to learn from each assignment cumulatively;
    making feedback fit for purpose.

Making a difference through assessment
If we want to improve students’ engagement with learning, a key locus of enhancement can be refreshing our approaches to assessment. Sometimes we need to take a fresh look at our current practice to make sure assessment is for rather than just of learning.
In this practical workshop involving tasks and the Biscuit Game designed to foster assessment literacy

In this workshop we will consider:

  • methodology: which methods and approaches would be most appropriate and efficient for particular contexts and purposes?
  • agency: who should be undertaking assessment? Tutors, peers, students themselves, employers and clients can all participate in student assessment to good effect.
  • timing: end point and continuous assessment can both be valuable, but choosing when to assess students can have an impact on how they address the task.
  • weighting: if we want to show the value we attribute to the demonstration of particular competences and skills, we can do so by higher or lower weightings for different points in the programme depending on desired outcomes.
  • orientation: in some assignments we may wish to focus particularly on process and in others we may instead focus on outcomes.

By the end of the workshop, participants will have had a chance to:

  • review current assessment practices with a view to redesigning some elements of them;
  • consider how best to brief students to ensure best possible achievements;
  • discuss the impact of changes to mitigate inherent risks and maximise impact.

Feedback for Learning
In recent years, there has been an increasing awareness in higher education of the importance of assessment and feedback as a factor in engaging students fully in their own learning. Using outputs from a number of UK and international projects exploring how assessment can be for not just of learning, this workshop is designed to help participants explore how best to improve feedback and thereby enhance students’ likelihood of achievement and retention. By the end of the workshop, participants will have had opportunities to:

  • discuss the impact feedback can have on students’ learning and success;
  • consider what some international experts have to say about what comprises effective feedback;
  • explore how feedback and ‘feed-forward’ can link to effective learning;
  • review a range of means by which by which feedback can be delivered effectively and efficiently.

Assessing students in Large Groups
While student numbers tend to be capped in many universities, cohort sizes are still increasing. As class sizes grow and staff find themselves marking many more assignments without increased time allowances to do so, we need to find ways to manage the assessment of large numbers of students without overburdening staff. In this workshop, participants will have opportunities to:

  • discuss some of the challenges of assessing large groups of students;
  • review a range of assessment strategies which might be used in large groups;
  • review the importance of good assessment to promote student learning;
  • consider a range of means by which we can provide feedback effectively and efficiently.

Peer Assessment
Research indicates that involving students in assessing their own and each other’s work has substantial benefits in terms of achievement and engagement. However, implementing peer assessment can be problematic unless it is well-designed, effectively briefed and executed competently. In this highly practical task-based workshop, participants will have opportunities to:

  • consider reasons why involving students in each other’s assessment can promote effective learning;
  • participate in activities to model peer assessment in class;
  • review how peer assessment can be integrated in their own practice.

Assessing more students: ways of using productive assessment with large numbers
Competing pressures on academic staff mean that many are seeking ways in which they can genuinely help students learn through assessment, but do so without it resultant in excessive additional workloads. A wide range of means are available to staff, including the use of group oral and written reports, statement banks, assignment return sheets, model answers, computer-aided assessment, and self and peer assessment. Each method is widely used in Higher Education, and each has value according to the subject area, level of students and the type of assignment. Through individual and group tasks, participants will be given opportunities to:

  • consider a range of ways in which to give feedback;
  • review diverse means of doing so efficiently and effectively;
  • debate the pros and cons of diverse means of giving feedback;
  • prioritise which approaches work best for their own learning contexts.

The rest of these outlines cover other aspects of teaching and leading in higher education.

Inspiring teaching

Almost everyone remembers a great lecturer who inspired them at university, and far too many remember some awful ones. Many however were fine but uninspiring. This workshop is designed to explore what really works in Higher Education teaching to lift the mundane into the inspirational. During this participative workshop, participants will have opportunities to:

  • Discuss what comprises inspiring teaching;
  • Review some descriptions of outstanding teaching;
  • Debate how we can ‘breathe life’ into our teaching;
  • Consider how you can adapt your approaches to make your teaching (even) more inspiring.

Academic Leadership in the 21st century university
Programme leaders hold a pivotal role in universities in ensuring that strategic imperatives are translated into action rather than being rhetorical ambitions. When senior managers work closely with Programme Leaders, it can be a very powerful partnership that can bring about real change in universities. Building on recent work on how changes can best be introduced in the current, complex, rapidly-changing and challenging higher education context, this session is designed to enable participants to:

  • discuss the range of means available to programme leaders to impact on the curriculum and the student experience;
  • explore how initiatives to enhance the student experience can be managed to maximise their potential success;
  • consider the ways in which advocacy and leadership can lead to genuine changes in practice at a local level.

Enhancing the student experience to maximise retention
Retention is a matter of high importance to universities in the UK and internationally. The costs of drop-out are high, both institutionally in terms of financial disadvantage and poor performance against benchmarks, and also personally for the students who are likely to suffer the negative consequences in terms of both career and damaged self-esteem. Research tells us that students who have struggled to enter higher education in the first place are disproportionately represented among those who leave without completing their courses. We have learned a lot in recent years about the kinds of factors that predispose students to drop out of university, and the kinds of behaviours that are indicators of the likelihood of students leaving early. While there will always be a proportion of students who drop-out for reasons beyond our control, there is much we can do to minimise attrition.
In this participative workshop, using examples of pragmatic approaches from the UK and internationally, we will explore arrange of interventions that we can undertake individually, as faculties and departments and as institutions as a whole to reduce the likelihood of student drop-out. By the end of the workshop, participants will have had opportunities to:

  • consider what research tells us are the factors that impact on student retention;
  • review a range of enhancements to curriculum design, delivery and assessment that can improve student retention;
  • prioritise actions and interventions that they can implement in their own local contexts.

How can we best support students in transition into university, from level to level and into employment?
Students entering higher education often face real challenges, as many aspects of the study experience (from concepts of learning to where to find lunch) are different from their previous experiences. We can help the students greatly (and improve our retention and achievement data too) if we support them effectively at this time. Similarly, the transition between levels of the undergraduate programme can be difficult, and are likely to become more so with increasing fees, as students may be more likely to question the value of continuance. Transition to employment (that some call ‘outduction’) has been reasonably well-supported in the past, but we will need to maintain momentum in the tough current climate. In this presentation participants will be given opportunities to:

  • consider what are some of the barriers to effective transition;
  • review some strategies to ease transitions;
  • think through how students can be supported to be active agents in their own successful progress through their undergraduate studies.