Research Inspired Teaching at the University of Worcester

The following, drawing on extracts from the University’s 2017 TEF submission, gives an outline of our approach to developing the links between teaching and research. We would very much like to publish some short University case studies on research inspired teaching – please get in touch with Josh Simpson (j.simpson@worc.ac.uk) if you would like to produce a case study for us.

Developing Research Skills: Linking Teaching and Research

Our Learning and Teaching Strategy commits us to induct all students into research-informed academic communities of the University, both by engaging with the academic research and scholarship of others, understanding research processes, methods, ethics and engaging in their own research, usually through a final year independent research project. We also ensure that courses at level 6 consistently demonstrate alignment with the FHEQ by engaging our students with current, relevant research in their discipline. Students recognise and value our approach, with an outstanding NSS score of 87% of students agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement ‘my learning has benefitted from modules that are informed by current research’ compared with a top quartile score of 81%.

Examples of curriculum related projects include:

  • Archaeology students participate in a “live” excavation research project designed to provide answers to nationally identified research questions
  • English students are engaged in e-editing early modern manuscripts or texts
  • Experimental Animation students conduct action based research working with external organisations to raise awareness of social issues
  • Creative Writing students work with the National Trust on a range of projects to better engage the public with the historical stories associated with local Trust properties
  • History students have worked with two Heritage Lottery funded community groups and a community historian to publish a book with History Press.

Students as Co-Researchers

We also provide undergraduate students with the opportunity to undertake paid work as research assistants over the summer vacation. The Vacation Research Assistantship scheme provides our undergraduates and recent graduates with ‘hands on’ experience of working on a research project, enabling them to gain insight into a research career, as well as enhancing their CV.

Examples of VRAs Schemes:

  • A student worked with our Mood Disorders Research Group to explore the impact of a storyline on postpartum psychosis featured on BBC’s EastEnders (2016)
  • A student was employed on an ongoing project in physical geography working with cutting-edge technology (Unmanned Aerial Systems), to assess river morphology and potential causes of floods and of riverine habitat destruction (2015)
  • A student worked with our Biomedical Research Group on a pilot project investigating the link between a tumour suppressor protein and Leukaemia (2014).

Students as Academic Partners (SAP) scheme

The SAPs scheme offers students the opportunity to work in equal partnership with academic staff to develop the student learning experience, by integrating students into the teaching and learning communities of academic departments and cultivating a sense of ownership and engagement in course development. Students are paid for their time in working on the project and their findings are presented at the annual University Learning and Teaching Conference.

Engaging students on this range of projects has fostered a partnership culture which encourages and celebrates the scholarship of learning and teaching and of pedagogic and discipline based research. It also directly impacts on the learning and employability of students. A number of projects have been published in the annual peer-reviewed Worcester Journal of Learning and Teaching and students co-present at University and external Learning and Teaching Conferences.

Examples of SAPs Prjoects;

  • Student Script Editors: 2nd and 3rd year students acting as critical peer mentors for 1st year students in Screenwriting (now embedded in the course curriculum)
  • Early Modern Studies: a journal of student research; development of an online inter-disciplinary journal (now launched as a sustainable journal)
  • Strengthening Resilience: development and use of a behaviour management toolkit (course material) for initial teacher training courses.

Students as Co-Creators and Academic Partners

In 2016, we piloted 8 Vacation Teaching Development Assistantship (VTDA) projects, modelled on the VRA, providing students or recent graduates with experience of collaborating on an educational development project over the summer vacation. The focus of the projects was the development of e-learning materials. We provided project planning and ‘technology enhanced learning’ curriculum design workshops and support for the students. All projects produced outputs that have had a significant impact on courses and on the learning and skills development of the students involved.  In 2017, we funded 5 more VTDA projects – see here what they achieved.

 

 

 

 

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