Author: Andrea Rialas

The Teaching Fellow Development Fund: Bhakti and Neha’s trip to Kyoto

The Teaching Fellow Development Fund supports Teaching Fellows and Learning Technologists in pursuing development opportunities. Bhakti Visani and Neha Ahuja (School of Public Health) were recently invited to present at a conference in Japan and the Teaching Fellow Development Fund helped them get there. Read about what they learnt at the conference in their blog post below.

By Bhakti Visani and Neha Ahuja (School of Public Health)

As two GP trainees currently taking an OOPE to do a medical education fellowship, we were both extremely lucky to go to Kyoto, Japan for the WONCA Asia Pacific Region (APR) Conference 2019 in May this year to present our experiences and learning in this post.

Neha and Bhakti at the WONCA conference

Why were we there? South East Asia’s primary care systems are currently in their infancy, but there is a strong drive to improve its standing and recognition because, as has been consistently shown across the world, high-quality primary care is the bedrock of a high performing health system and has the ability to reduce all-cause mortality, increase life expectancy, lower health inequalities and reduce costs amongst many other benefits.

This was one of the biggest lessons that was reinforced for us. Do we truly appreciate what we have until its gone? Often forgotten in the UK, this shows why we should invest our time and energy into high quality primary care and create a passion for it in our students too.

Amongst talks about the benefits of Primary Care, we also learnt from a myriad of streams including mentorship, education, quality improvement and surviving in the profession as a young doctor.

Dr. Felicity Goodyear-Smith gave us examples of a patient and clinician engagement programme (PACE) with doctor-patient dyads co-creating research. This was a great insight into forward movement in social accountability where the key stakeholders have ownership of the studies, use the findings and assist in dissemination. This of course raises questions about the implications on the professional boundaries in the doctor-patient relationship, and this short BJGP article explores their thoughts. If you are interested in the project, you might find this paper on PaCE gives a good insight.

 

Weighing scale to symbolise that "Nothing we do in medicine is risk-free. It’s all a balance."
Nothing we do in medicine is risk-free. It’s all a balance.

Another stark idea that was floated was about doing too much medicine. Dr. Iona Heath gave a powerful talk on the harms of overdiagnosis as well as our misconceptions on the benefits of multiple interventions. We already know that the burden of adverse drug reaction in the UK is high, with a report in 2006 showing that they result in 250, 000 UK admissions a year!

If you are as interested in this as us, you may find these links useful: Preventing Overdiagnosis and Choosing Wisely UK.

We also had the pleasure of learning about the cultural considerations in teaching and learning in a truly cross-cultural workshop run by none other than our wonderful colleague Dr. Maham Stanyon!

Picture of Dr. Maham Stanyon

Kyoto itself was beautiful to explore; full of Shrines, Pagodas and Zen gardens that seemed to be taken straight from a dream!

A pagodas and Zen garden in Kyoto

As an added bonus, we had an extra few days before the conference to try some local delicacies like Japanese curry, Ramen, Mochi and Melon-Pan! We dressed up in traditional kimonos and even came across geisha down an unsuspecting alley.

Despite the flaws in our UK primary care system, this opportunity reaffirmed our choice to be GPs and to be proponents for investing in a system that has the potential to truly have large scale health impacts when done in the right way.

 

 

 

Seeking out opportunities to learn from others – similarities and differences between UK and US higher education

By Lucy Heming, Senior Assistant Registrar (Quality Assurance and Enhancement)

A picture of the study tour cohort visiting Capitol Hill.

In May 2019, I travelled with 11 colleagues from universities across England and Scotland to America for a study tour arranged by the Association of University Administrators. We spent a week in New York City and a week in Washington, D.C. visiting universities, higher education bodies and the Department of Education. The purpose of our tour was to explore three themes: Student Expectations, Experience and Success; Research and Teaching; and, Funding in Higher Education.

We visited 11 HE institutions while we were there, covering a range of types: publicly funded and privately funded; UG focussed and PG focussed; community colleges and four year universities… What became apparent through our visit was the similarity of challenges facing higher education institutions in the US, to our own institutions in the UK and across the different types of institution in the US. There were also parallels to the work I am involved in at Imperial as part of the Quality Assurance and Enhancement Team and working closely on supporting the implementation of the Learning and Teaching Strategy through the Learning and Teaching Committee.A poster describing aspirations for students at Rutgers University (I am authentic, inclusive, responsible, resilient, engaged, a scarlet knight, Rutgers)

A big theme in the US was student success and how this was described and perceived. Given students in the US largely pay higher fees than students in the UK, it is not surprising there is a public, media and governmental narrative around the need for students to reap a financial benefit from their time at university. These debates are present in the UK and are particularly pertinent right now following the release of the Augar report. However, all of the institutions we spoke to defined student success more broadly than financial returns, seeking to ensure students had a well-rounded education, that students who were not entering with the same cultural and educational capital as others were given opportunities to thrive and that all students understood what it meant to be a good citizen and part of a diverse and inclusive community. This was seen, for example, through Columbia University’s ‘awakening our democracy’ discussion series and ‘engineering for humanity’ focus, programmes at all institutions to specifically support first-generation entrants, and Northern Virginia’s Community College focus on educating students in healthcare professions which would be directly of use to the local community (marrying up employment prospects with community needs).

The work Imperial College is doing in implementing the Learning and Teaching Strategy and specific developments such as I-Explore clearly align with these efforts, promoting inclusive learning and teaching approaches and curricula and providing students with opportunities to engage with other students on disciplinary and non-disciplinary studies. Discussions underway on how the College can build on internationalisation opportunities, widen participation further and enable all students to share their cultural capital in curricula and extra-curricula activities also tally with similar discussions in the US.

Connections between research and teaching are very important for Imperial and equally as important for most of the HEIs we visited in the US. As undergraduate students tend to follow a general education syllabus in the first two years of their studies before specialising in a major in their final two years, the modules with the most direct connection to research in the US HEIs tended to be at postgraduate level. However we saw good examples of the opportunities for students to explore the research in which their lecturers are engaged through assisting on research projects in their undergraduate years, similar to Imperial’s successful Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP). An example of this was at Rutgers University which runs a 10 week paid summer science programme where undergraduate students undertake lab work, along with in-year opportunities.

Rethinking curricula and learning and teaching methods was evident in the US institutions we visited. At American University, Faculty Learning Communities were being developed to enable staff with a similar interest to work together on generating and implementing ideas. These were staff driven but centrally funded and had been formed around areas such as decolonising the curriculum. Faculty were also being trained on how to have conversations around difficult subjects and were then training other faculty, sharing knowledge and building support networks for each other. This reflects models being used at Imperial by the Educational Development Office and Education Office about equipping staff to learn from each other and identify their own areas of transformation.

This opportunity to learn from other institutions and colleagues helps inform the way in which I will go about my job in future. I would encourage others to make the most of opportunities to do something similar.

To find out more about the Association of University Administrators, go to https://aua.ac.uk/ or email your branch advocates, Lucy Heming and Jon Milner-Matthews at aua@imperial.ac.uk

To find out more about the study trip, you can search #AUAUSA2019 on social media channels or read the blog posts at https://aua.ac.uk/aua-usa-study-tour-aua-blog-part-one/ (part two will be available soon). A full report on the visit will be available in the Autumn.

You can also hear Lucy’s thoughts on the similarities and differences between UK and US higher education on the ‘NACUBO in brief’ podcast here or wherever you usually download your podcasts.

Launching IMPLEMnT – a learning technology toolkit

by Katie Stripe, E-Learning Technologist, National Heart Lung Institute

On March 26 myself and Katie Piatt, University of Brighton, hosted a meeting at the College to launch the IMPLEMnT website to the London learning technologies community and colleagues at Imperial who have contributed to the site and been generally supportive. You may remember a blog I did a little while ago on the development of IMPLEMnT.

We started the day by updating Twitter with the new branding from amandalayton.com. We then, through our newly branded Twitter, set the scene for the day by tweeting about the meeting.

A screenshot of the IMPLEMnT website home page

What was the aim?

Demonstrating some of the technologies detailed on the IMPLEMEnT website and encouraging attendees to consider how they might contribute to and make use of the project in the future.

Who attended?

Tweet that includes a photo of the attendees

We had around 60 attendees from institutions across London, including about 20 representatives from Imperial College, as well as representatives from University of Brighton and Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

In total 25 institutions were represented and all Imperial faculties, as well as the Careers Service and the Library.

Warming up the crowd

An image of a tweet about using Kahoot to warm up the croud

Nothing engages a room full of learning technologists better than a bit of competition! Especially given there were prizes.

We kicked off by demonstrating quiz platform, Kahoot. There were of course rumours of cheating and ‘it’s a fix’ when first place went to Julie Voce organiser of the meeting.

The project

This was a short interlude in which we presented the project, its aims, its reasoning and how it is intended to work with and for the community. This part was not interactive but nevertheless used Canva, another technology from the IMPLEMnT site. Canva is an online graphics tool for creating, amongst other things, infographics and simple presentations.

The tagging problem

A tweet about the tagging problem which states that projects like IMPLEMnt are reliant on the expertise of the communityOne of the issues that we have encountered while building the IMPLEMnT site is the taxonomy we use and finding a balance between making it manageable while allowing the community to express the technologies used in its own terms. To highlight this we had the audience on their devices again to run a Poll Everywhere session where we asked them to tag two of the most well-known technologies we have on the site – YouTube and TurnitIn.

In both cases the audience came up with much wider ranging tags that we had decided on for the site. This highlights 2 issues. One, the broad range of descriptions available to people when describing technology and two, because of the joys of the English language we have multiple ways of saying exactly the same thing!

What we say and how we say it

A tweet from City Uni which includes a picture of Katie running a mentimeter quiz

We also looked at how IMPLEMnT is addressing the issues of language and how it is used in education. Of course, run as a quiz with a round on Latin, which managed to get 8 thumbs downs on Mentimeter, although a quick show of hands revealed a fair few people in the audience had studied Latin in school.

There is however a serious point to this which is to highlight the dangers we can face by the use of jargon when approaching academics to incorporate technology in their teaching.

Words like constructivism, contextual and entity, while perhaps appropriate when writing an academic paper on the use of learning technology may not be at all helpful when trying to increase engagement. One of the slides asked the audience to share what they thought the meaning of constructivism is and the answers ranged from “guiding students to build their own understanding” to “???” which just goes to show even in a room of professionals the range of understanding is extremely varied.

Spinning it all together

Katie Piatt using Wheel Decide - an online spinning wheel used for collecting case studies

The final part of our presentation involved Katie Piatt and a spinning wheel.

She spun the wheel to ask the audience: What can be used to support…by…?

This was a method of collecting some case studies for the site from the audience and of generating conversation around the tools used for certain types of teaching by forcing people to think past presenting with PowerPoint. However, this is also the future of the site. The wheel asked questions such as “What technology can be used to support collaboration by video” and in answering this question we are giving the users of the IMPLEMnT site ideas for themselves and their own teaching. We are also encouraging the community to share ideas.

The next phase of site development will be to make sharing easier, our postcards were not just a gimmick but a prototype of what we want to achieve. We are hoping that the site itself will hold full case studies but that those will be reduced to a format similar to the post cards which can be printed, shared on social media or embedded in other sites for training or promotion. Watch this space!

If you want a set of postcards then all you need to do is submit a technology or a case study to the site and we will put a set in the mail for you!

Embedding Academic Literacy within the Curriculum

By Andrew Northern, Teacher of English for Academic Purposes, Centre for Academic English

You may be familiar with the concept of academic literacy, but what exactly does it mean in the context of Imperial? Is it the ability to identify what is relevant from a lecture or a reading text? Is it the ability to communicate your science effectively to your target audience in speech and in writing? Is it the ability to recognise the need to adapt the way you communicate your science to an increasingly interdisciplinary audience? Academic literacy encompasses all of these abilities and more, and is thus an integral part of learning and engaging with science. Moreover, it is also a vital part of the Learning and Teaching Strategy and its drive towards a more inclusive curriculum in which the student experience is enhanced through active learning.

Here’s a quick example sentence to show you how successful communication of science to a target audience requires more than just accurate grammar and vocabulary  ̶  it requires academic literacy:

Using this theoretical background and a wide range of well-known qualitative research methods, this paper reports on the specific innovative management processes that were at work in the development of two new products over the last four years that were outside the core business of the Chilean forestry firm described earlier and which were nevertheless successfully developed.”

The risk is that the value of the work described in the sentence above may be clear only to the scientist and not to the intended reader or listener. As a result, the mind of the latter may start to wander away from the science and its impact may be lost. What if the information were organised and communicated as below?

“We used this theoretical background together with qualitative research methods to map and analyse the specific innovative management processes used to develop two new products at the Chilean global forestry firm. Despite being outside the core business of this firm, both products were successfully manufactured over the last four years.”

Dividing the information into two sentences enables the reader/listener to pause and process before taking in a new piece of information. The reader/listener can appreciate the value of the scientific work as it is given prominence in the second sentence. The meaning in the original sentence also becomes clearer and more accessible with the use of active verbs (“We used…to map and analyse”) and more explicit linking (“together with” instead of ‘and’). An awareness of the reader/listener ensures that the science is communicated successfully and effectively.

The Centre for Academic English (CfAE) is a team of academic literacy experts who specialise in the communication of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine. We provide courses, workshops and consultations that cover all areas of academic literacy and are available to all members of College, including academic staff.

You may have attended our workshop as part of Imperial College Education Day 2018. Specifically, in terms of the undergraduate curriculum review, the CfAE team is collaborating and sharing our expertise with departments across the College. Our mission is to ensure that Imperial College students can have the academic literacy competence they need as lifelong learners and science communicators, both on their degree course and in the workplace. You can find a detailed overview of the broad range of ways we are working to embed academic literacy in the undergraduate curriculum here.

Contact: english@imperial.ac.uk
Visit: Centre for Academic English, Level 3 Sherfield Building, South Kensington Campus
http://www.imperial.ac.uk/academic-english/

The Student Success Guide revisited: preparing Imperial students to thrive in a new learning culture

By Dr Tiffany Chiu and Dr Mark Anderson, Teaching Fellows in Educational Development, Educational Development Unit

The Learning and Teaching Strategy aims to “build a culture which values learning and teaching highly, rewards staff for their teaching and moves towards greater parity of esteem” between research and teaching. As with any cultural change, the language we use to share meaning and values will be an important vehicle for this transition.

To successfully navigate our rich educational landscape, students will need to be fluent in this language. Developing university-level ‘learning literacy’ early in their degree will enable students to recognise and harness the opportunities offered by our new teaching methods.

To support our students, we have introduced concepts of active learning in the recently-revised online Student Success Guide on How will you learn at Imperial, with descriptions of how these forms of learning and teaching activities might actually be experienced by learners, and why they can be valuable. We have framed this message around six broad types of learning activity that students may encounter on their degree programme. These are:

As students come to recognise these types of learning and understand the value of full participation, we hope that they will be better able to take active ownership of their education and enhance their self-efficacy. In line with the Strategy, this will create opportunities for us to work in partnership with students for knowledge creation and co-construction.

The Student Success Guide was promoted at the Fresher’s Fair this year, where a range of branded merchandise was distributed with clear signposts to the online Guide.

In alignment with the Imperial Graduate Attributes, the ultimate goal of the Success Guide is to support Imperial students to become skilled, empowered and independent graduates – specialists who are well-prepared to tackle global challenges. The Curriculum Review process offers an exciting opportunity to embed a variety of invigorating, collaborative and problem-solving learning activities that will help students along this path.

To find out more about these learning types and example activities at Imperial, visit Success Guide – undergraduate students. If you would like to discuss how you can develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance, please drop us an email.

Also, don’t forget to check out the Active Learning workshop series run by the EDU where we explore the six learning types and other active learning strategies.

 

Dr Mark Anderson (m.anderson@imperial.ac.uk)

Dr Tiffany Chiu (t.chiu@imperial.ac.uk)

Future proofing our students and our degrees

By Katie Dallison, Careers Consultant, Careers Service

The robots are coming! This call has never been more real than right now, and right here at Imperial, mainly because we’ll be involved in creating them. So here, at the dawn of the 4th industrial revolution of embedded technology, how do we make sure that our students are ready to take on whatever they will find once they graduate? We teach technical skills, and coding, and theories, but how relevant will some of this knowledge be in 10, even 5 years? How much of the subject related knowledge you gained for your undergraduate degree/s is still used or, in some disciplines, even correct today? According the World Economic Forum, the most sought after skills in 2020 for graduates will be these:

This image lists what the World Economic Forum expect the most sought after skills in 2020 for graduates will be

These skills link nicely to our Imperial Graduate Attributes and realistically, much of the teaching we do already incorporates elements of them. Embedding these attributes into curriculum is often a matter of highlighting where this is already being done, whether that is to students or ourselves, and ensuring we’ve given our students the tools to perform tasks we’re asking of them. For example, if we ask them to do a team project, where in the past have they learnt how to work in a team? Have they had a chance to assess what they are good at, or where they need to improve? How can we make sure we give them all of the tools to properly develop this vital, complex skill? There are some great examples already out there from Imperial and beyond.

Now is the time to make sure our degrees and our graduates are fit for purpose in the future. Yes, we’ll need to teach them solid academic knowledge but to really make sure we are producing the best, we’ll also need Imperial graduates that have the ability to communicate and adapt to an unknown, ever changing environment.

To find out more about embedding attributes visit Resources for staff, Workshop resources: 18 July Employers, Employment and Employability and to discuss your departments unique requirements, drop me an email.

Introducing StudentShapers

By Dr Mike Streule, Imperial StudentShapers Director, Education Office

This week sees the introduction of StudentShapers to the Imperial Community.

StudentShapers is a programme developed between Imperial College and Imperial College Union to support partnership between staff and students. The programme represents the Learning and Teaching strategy’s commitment to working closely with students during the strategy’s implementation and beyond. StudentShapers supports projects in educational development and educational research with the programme open to the entire Imperial College staff and student body.

Scheme framework

The scheme framework provides a structure and guidance for fostering effective co-creative partnerships between staff and students, with bursaries to support the student contribution. These partnerships can adopt either Curriculum Development and pedagogic enhancement and innovation (Theme 1) or Learning and Teaching Scholarship and Research (Theme 2). Within each theme there are various project streams (see image below).

This image outlines the different types of StudentShapers projects. Staff can propose: curriculum development projects (under Theme 1) for UG and PGT, Educational research and investigation projects (under Theme 2) for UG and PGT, Translation of research in to teaching projects (under Theme 1) for PGR and additional projects which are ad-hoc projects for all students at other times of year or across themes.

Key benefits (amongst many others) for staff:

  • Enhanced the relationship or trust between students and staff
  • Development of new or better teaching or curriculum materials
  • Increased understanding of the “other’s” experience (e.g. staff understanding student experiences or vice versa)
  • Expanding a department’s capacity for educational development work

Key benefits (amongst many others) for students:

  • Increased student engagement/motivation/ownership for learning
  • Increased student confidence/self-efficacy
  • Increased understanding of the “other’s” experience (e.g. students understanding staff experiences)

Project Funding Proposal Process

Applications submitted via the online form on the website specific to project type (guidance notes are given to help with submitting an application that will be approved); see deadlines on the website.  Funding proposals for projects partnering with UG or PGT students are geared towards ‘full time’ projects taking place in the summer vacation. However long term projects with lesser levels of commitment with UG or PGT students plus projects for PGR students can be proposed throughout the year.

Web: www.imperial.ac.uk/studentshapers

Contact: studentshapers@imperial.ac.uk

Follow on Twitter: @studentshapers

Introducing our educational research methods materials

By Nikki Boyd, Teaching Fellow in Medical Education, Educational Development Unit

By way of supporting the Learning and Teaching Strategy in its commitment to evidence-based innovation, we have developed a series of Educational Research Methods resources to help guide those in College who might be undertaking educational research or evaluation for the first time. Currently accessible from both the Teaching Toolkit and the Centre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship web pages, the resources are intended to provide an introduction to, and overview of, the key issues and considerations involved in educational research and evaluation, as well as to signpost useful further reading and resources that come particularly recommended from members of the EDU team.

Our experience in supporting scientifically-trained researchers in our postgraduate programmes over the years has enabled us to identify the main challenges that can confront those new to educational research or evaluation, and the intention is that these resources can either be used to “walk” novice educational researchers though the key steps in the process, or simply be dipped in or out of as needed. By way of inspiring our colleagues to engage with new methods, we have – where possible – included recent examples of where a method has been used in an educational research or evaluation capacity at Imperial specifically. We are very grateful to those colleagues who have allowed us to reference their work in this way.

Currently these pages encompass guidance to support the early stages in the research and evaluation process, along with details of other resources and networks that might be of interest. Work on them remains ongoing, however, and we hope to have further sections relating to the process of carrying out and disseminating educational research up over the coming weeks – so please do keep checking back.

These materials are intended to benefit the whole community of staff who are likely to be engaged in educational research or evaluation over the coming years, so we would very much welcome any ideas or suggestions you have which you feel would be of value to your colleagues. If educational research and evaluation is an area of particular interest to you, you may also be keen to engage with CHERSNet – the new network for supporting the development and dissemination of educational scholarship at Imperial. Please get in touch if you would like to be added to our distribution list.

Working with students as partners

By Nick Burstow, Deputy President (Education), Imperial College Union

Imperial College London often talks of working with ‘students as partners’, but until I started my role as Deputy President (Education) I had no appreciation for just how committed the College were to achieving this aim. My role allows me to sit on a number of committees, giving me the chance to directly represent the student voice at the highest levels of the College on all matters, no matter how big or small. The curriculum review is one such matter, and it is certainly one of the bigger ones!

Students have long expressed that they feel overburdened by a curriculum that is too excessive, with a heavy focus on factual recall rather than deeper, more conceptual understanding. The curriculum reviews offers the perfect opportunity for departments to address these concerns. Involving students in this process is essential, as they are able to offer a unique and valuable perspective.

My experience of the curriculum review so far is similar to that of George Orwell’s words in Animal Farm. Just as “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” I have seen that “all departments make efforts to involve students, but some departments involve students more than others.”

This framework, co-written by departmental and faculty level Academic Representatives, aims to provide guidance to departments on how to involve students in the curriculum review process. It is our hope that staff responsible for curriculum review will engage with this document, and apply its principles to their own practise.

Staff should not overlook the value that students can bring to the curriculum review process, and strive to work with them as partners. By using the framework for guidance, staff will be able to effectively tap in to the unique and valuable resource that is their students. In working together with one another, together staff and students can ensure that teaching at Imperial is the best it can possibly be.

Nick Burstow, Deputy President (Education)

Workshop support commences

Curriculum Review Kick-off Workshop

We have now kicked-off both Curriculum Review and our workshop support with the first of a series of workshops – the “Curriculum Review Kick-off Workshop.”

Curriculum Review teams were introduced to the range of support functions and staff across college who can support and inform departmental curriculum reviews.

The workshop drew on expertise from Academic Departments as well as the Education Development Unit (EDU), the Registry, the Centre for Languages Culture and Communications (CLCC) the Digital Learning Hub, the Graduate School, the Centre for Academic English, the Library Services, the Careers Services and the Student’s Union.

You can download a recap of this event from our new resources page.

Modularisation, QA and CMA workshop

We plan to run a number of follow-up workshops focused on specific aspects of Curriculum Review. We have scheduled the first of these for 21st March, 14:00-16:00.

This upcoming workshop will offer an opportunity to discuss in detail the implications of curricula design and modularisation for progression and assessment within new curricula, the requirements in terms of paperwork to submit via College’s QA committees, and compliance with CMA in terms of what we present in our prospectus for programmes and what we communicate to current and prospective students.

All Curriculum Review team members are welcome to attend and at least one person per team will need to attend. To sign-up please email ltstrategy@imperial.ac.uk