Month: July 2019

Making transatlantic HE connections at Imperial

Dr Camille Kandiko Howson, Associate Professor of Education

On 11 July 2019 the Centre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship hosted a group of 24 Executive Doctoral students studying higher education management from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. The students are mid-career professionals who have full-time roles ranging from Assistant Provost & Director of University of Florida Online at the University of Florida to Senior Associate Dean of Technology-Intensive Education at Georgetown University and Legislative Director, Council of the District of Columbia, and undertake their doctoral studies at the same time.

The Executive Doctoral students had an introductory session with Vice Provost Professor Simone Buitendijk and Assistant Provost Alan Spivey and engaged in discussion about implementing the Learning and Teaching Strategy. The students were particularly interested in aspects of leading cultural change and funding and finance.

A dynamic panel discussion on Admissions, Widening Participation and Outreach followed with Catherine Eames, International Student Recruitment Manager, Andrew Tebbutt, Director of Student Recruitment and Outreach, Caz Ulley, Head of Student Recruitment and Marketing and Mel Williams, Director of Admissions and Student Support. Debate included the characteristics that were included under the ‘access and widening participation’ banner, how outreach and admissions teams work in parallel, and the Exec Doc students were surprised to learn about the multiple levels that Imperial engages with through its outreach activities.

Following lunch, staff from the Centre and the Educational Development Unit participated in an active research networking session, sharing topics of study, current projects and similarities and differences in the US and UK systems. Imperial research and teaching staff and doctoral students benefited from speaking about their current research and learn from fellow students. Contacts have already been made from the event and future collaborations are in discussion.

The day concluded with an invited session on UK HE Politics and Policy from Professor Andy Westwood, Vice Dean for Social Responsibility, Faculty of Humanities, University of Manchester. There was lively discussion and debate about global challenges facing UK and US higher education, the challenges and opportunities for research intensive institutions such as Manchester and Imperial and ways that higher education can help foster connections across increasingly divided societies.

The visit highlights the leading role in evidence-based higher education research and scholarship that Imperial is investing in, and the global reach of the activity.

Enhancing engagement in medical education

Nikki Boyd, Senior Teaching Fellow in Medical Education

This year’s Annual Scientific Meeting for the Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME), ‘Sustainability, Transformation and Innovation in Medical Education’ was held from 3-5 July at the SEC in Glasgow.

Building on my interest and experience in promoting inclusive learning environments, I facilitated a ‘Pop-Up Event’ on the second day of the conference on the topic ‘Sustaining medical students’ engagement and well-being through positive and inclusive learning and behaviour management strategies’. The aim of the ‘Pop-Up’ feature is to enable specific opportunities to network and share ideas with those interested in the same issues, and I was privileged to be joined in my session by colleagues from universities in Saudi Arabia and South Africa (as well as from across the UK) from a broad range of medical education backgrounds, all of whom shared a passion for sustaining student well-being and enhancing the learning experience.

Nikki standing in front of her presentation

My session centred around an activity which encouraged delegates to compare the merits of particular approaches and strategies for enhancing and sustaining engagement, and discussions within this elicited a range of important considerations of pedagogical, institutional and professional relevance as well as those specific to the immediate dynamics of the learning and teaching environment. Such discussions enabled colleagues to generate ideas about the priorities for further development and research in this field, and for me to signpost the EDU’s online resources on managing inclusive learning environments and their importance in supporting one of the key pillars of Imperial’s Learning and Teaching Strategy.

I would be very happy to discuss this more in person. If you would like to find out more about the Pop-Up Event and the approaches and strategies discussed in the session, please do get in touch.

A spotlight on Imperial innovation in Newcastle

Dr Tiffany Chiu, Senior Teaching Fellow, Educational Development Unit

Last week, I and other Imperial staff attended the Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference at Northumbria University in Newcastle. This year’s theme was ‘Teaching in the Spotlight: Innovation for Teaching Excellence’. The aim of this conference is for practitioners and researchers to share and explore innovative teaching practices and pedagogies in different areas of focus in higher education, which contributes to teaching excellence and the quality of student learning. The area of our contribution was under the strand ‘Innovative practice that aids transition and retention’.

Freddie Page and I presented our use of the ‘ideal’ university student survey  to facilitate discussion on staff and student expectations of university students as part of induction exercises in the Dyson School of Design Engineering and how it has contributed to an inclusive and supportive culture and community. This is one of the key agendas of Imperial’s Learning and Teaching Strategy: “we share an ambition to build a community that is supportive, inclusive and diverse”. Being able to initiate this kind of conversation with students, we promote and encourage greater transparency between lecturers and students on the expectations of university students, contributing to support students with the transition from school to university. This survey is part of an ongoing educational research project which looks into views and expectations of what it means to be a university student, from the perspectives of students and staff across UK higher education institutions. You can find our presentation slides here: Ignite_Advance HE_TC-FP presentation

Our experience at this conference was wonderful – there were a lot of interesting and practical ideas for learning, teaching and assessment practice, amongst many other aspects in higher education. We attended some sessions on induction exercises and something we took away from them is that it is important to think about how we can better support students to develop their sense of connectedness and belonging at the early stage of their journey at Imperial, as this is one of the key influences on student success.

We’d be happy to talk more about this in person. If you would like to discuss how you can use the ‘ideal’ university student survey as part of the induction programme in your department or at any stage of the student learning journey, please feel free to get in touch with us:

Dr Tiffany Chiu

Dr Freddie Page

You can also have a look at the blog post we co-wrote on managing student expectations and understanding of what it means to be an Imperial student via Learning and Teaching Strategy blog.