Parallel Sessions 3: 14.30 – 15.30

PAPERS (25 minutes each)

14.30 – 14.55

The literacies of online learning: Four factors for situating students in the online space
Carina Buckley
Solent University

The concept of literacies is familiar in learning development through its application to academic practices, information handling, and digital capabilities, which all form a spectrum of situated behaviours and identities (Jisc 2014). However, despite this familiarity, the unique events of 2020 threatened to undermine the confidence of practitioners and students alike in their abilities to manage, adapt and achieve effective online learning. As the ‘emergency’ online pivot (Hodges et al 2020) looked set to drag into 2021 as a more settled way of ‘doing’ teaching and learning, the narratives around how this form of teaching and learning was conceptualised also began to change (Nordmann et al 2020). While true online learning takes many hours of preparation and development (Chapman, 2010), nevertheless with time and experience students and staff harnessed the technology, adapted, and achieved. But is this enough? This paper posits that while technology and content have (rightly?) taken priority up to now, they do not in themselves put the student into the centre of their own learning. The literacies of online learning are those situated behaviours and practices which allow for the embodiment of a subject, leveraging the affordances of the technology rather than being led by it. I argue that the four concepts of community, journey, narrative and interaction are vital to the success of learning and teaching online in the longer term, and should be considered alongside the more familiar sets of literacies as a tool for humanising the online space and maintaining connection, participation and engagement. 


Teaching students to write about art: Results of a four-year patchwork text project
Craig Staff, Robert Farmer
University of Northampton

This presentation will present the findings from a four-year project designed to gather undergraduate Fine Art students’ perceptions of replacing an essay with a Patchwork Text Assessment (PTA), a form of assessment in which a series of self-contained, thematically related patches are written at regular intervals over a series of weeks or months and which are then stitched together with a final meta-patch exploring the unity and inter-relatedness of the individual patches. On completion of the PTA, students were asked various questions about their experiences, and their responses showed that, for the most part, they had found completing the PTA more difficult, more enjoyable, and more rewarding than writing an essay. Importantly, there were no suggestions that the PTA had dumbed down assessment practices, nor was there an increase in the workload of the academic staff supporting and assessing the PTA. The advantages of using the PTA were that it required students to write more regularly and to engage with a wider range of topics than would have been the case when writing an essay. It developed students’ abilities to write in a focused way, and, because the patches were closely aligned to the teaching schedule, strongly encouraged and rewarded attendance at taught sessions. It also gave academic staff a more immediate impression about which students needed additional support, and this allowed for early recommendations to contact academic support staff (e.g., learning development tutors, academic librarians, etc.) or to make appointments with their personal academic tutors.

15.05 – 15.30

Reading in the digital age: What do students think and do?
Helen Hargreaves, Beth Caldwell, Sarah Robin
Lancaster University

An increasingly important aspect of undergraduate study is the ability to deal with reading academic texts in digital format. Whilst the literature suggests that students prefer reading print texts (Mizrachi 2015, Foasberg 2014), and often have a deeper level of engagement with texts in this format (Mangen et al. 2013; Delgado et al. 2018) the reality is that for most students digital texts will be the norm. Study guides often focus on reading strategies that are considered broadly applicable to both digital and print formats. However, the differences between the two formats are likely to impact on the strategies used, with students developing their own approaches as they gain more experience. In this paper, we present preliminary findings from an ALDinHE funded study exploring students’ perspectives and practices in relation to digital reading. We carried out focus group interviews with 20 students in their second or final year of undergraduate degree programmes. Preliminary analysis reveals that reading in digital format does indeed form the bulk of students’ reading activity, with ease and speed of accessibility, cost and environmental considerations influencing this choice, and in some cases precluding reading in print. Students’ approaches to reading digital texts varied depending on reading purpose, but in general, students had developed a range of techniques to help them navigate digital reading. These included utilising digital tools, including searching within documents to find relevant information, using digital highlighters and making digital notes whilst reading. This paper will discuss these findings and their potential to inform the production of resources for reading development relevant to the digital age. 


  • Delgado P., Vargas C., Ackerman R. & Salmerón L. (2018) Don’t throw away your printed books: a meta-analysis on the effects of reading media on reading comprehension. Educational Research Review, 25, 23-38 
  • Foasberg, N. (2014). Student Reading Practices in Print and Electronic Media. College & Research Libraries, 75(5), 705-723. 
  • Mangen, Walgermo, & Brønnick. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58(C), 61-68. 
  • Mizrachi, D. (2015). Undergraduates’ Academic Reading Format Preferences and Behaviors. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 41(3), 301-311.

The impact of game-based learning on student achievement
Deshan Hewavidana
University of Bristol

The purpose of this study was to investigate the implications of game-based learning on student achievement for a group of students. Academic literature relating to game-based learning was examined to provide a critical analysis into educational games. To achieve the study objective, two platforms, Kahoot and Wordwall, were tested on my group of learners, and their achievement was measured through their performance during the different activities that each software offered. It was discovered that although game-based learning was novel for learners when first introduced, it became less appealing when continually utilised. Regarding platforms, almost all students preferred using Wordwall compared to Kahoot given its variety of activities. In the future, it is advisable for Institution X’s leaders to showcase the talents of lecturers who are actively engaging their students with respect to learning, for instance through trialling out the technology themselves in order to witness first-hand the impact of game-based learning. Moreover, it is recommended educators analyse the role of other styles of leadership in order to compare and contrast its impact with a transformational approach to game-based learning.


A collaborative approach to delivering academic skills support to undergraduate Psychology students
Craig Johnston, Brunel University

This Pecha Kucha style talk will use a series of images and words to present how I was able to collaborate with psychology lecturers to deliver bespoke academic skills workshops to their undergraduate cohorts. The presentation will provide the context to these workshops: the need to centrally coordinate academic skills support in order to provide equity of provision to all students as well as a specific focus on the development of their critical thinking skills. The outcomes and benefits of a more collaborative approach to supporting student learning will be discussed in the final slides of the presentation.

Embracing the final chapter: Conference for UG students working on dissertations
Natalie Bedford, Kasia Drozdziak
Leeds University

The University of Leeds Library Learning Services team hosted an online half-day conference for undergraduate dissertation students in mid- October 2020 to complement our online Final Chapter resource. Initially planned as an in-person event, the online version saw 1300+ students register. We arranged three keynote speakers: a Learning Services colleague, a student and an academic supervisor, and offered 3 x 3 30-minute parallel sessions on academic literacies topics that are key to the successful undertaking of an UG research project. We will look at what went well, what didn’t go as planned, and lessons learnt for next time.

Coaching student teams in a changing environment
Tom Edge
UWE Bristol

In October 2020 UWE Bristol began trialling online Team Coaching sessions with foundation and first-year undergraduate students across a range of courses. Students were allocated to groups and timetabled for fortnightly coaching sessions with academic and professional services staff. Sessions are designed to facilitate students’ understanding of themselves as students, make the most of their time at university, grow their confidence and to connect with others, building support mechanisms and resilience to help them through their studies. This lightning talk will highlight commonalities with aims of Learning Development and share experiences from the first few months of this pilot.

The groupwork toolkit: Promoting student accountability
Helena Beeson
University of Northampton

This lightning talk will discuss the introduction of an online groupwork toolkit to a cohort of students at the beginning of a group assessment. It will provide an overview of the rationale for the toolkit and feedback from the students. It was designed to give student groups a structured, but editable workspace to take control of their progress, store output and agree ground rules. The Toolkit was created in Microsoft OneNote but could be adapted to a range of programs or Apps.

From black screens to success
Jessica Lönn-Stensrud,
Julie Skattebu, Tone Gadmar, Heidi Konestabo
University of Oslo

As of March 2020, teaching in higher educational institutions in Norway went digital overnight. In a third semester pharmacognosy course, students have a written assignment. They struggle with finding, evaluating, and using sources, despite being offered a voluntary two-hour course. Facing 60 students in literature search and citation practices, and dreading the black screens, we came up with an alternative plan where the process of finding, evaluating, and using sources was tightly bound to the writing process. This resulted in a better understanding and higher attendance. Here we will tell you about the alternative plan and how we increased student participation.

Journey to hub and spoke: Embracing a new model of delivery
Gaynor Williams
Canterbury Christchurch University

The structure and location of learning development teams varies across the sector. At CCCU, the centralised delivery of learning development has recently been replaced by a hub and spoke model: characterised by the alignment of Learning Developers with faculties. Although, like many LDs, in the twelve years since joining CCCU as a Study Skills Adviser, I have experienced change, the review, which led to the introduction of the new model, presented challenges as well as opportunities. Now as we work towards implementation, I would like to share some reflections on the journey to embracing a new model of delivery of learning development. (Further information on the model was requested and provided)

Supporting students’ academic writing and Critical Thinking skills: What can we learn from applying knowledge used in EAP (English for Academic Purposes) to Psychology classes?
Jo Kukuczka, Rachel Maunder
University of Bristol

In this brief talk we will give an overview of our project exploring the feasibility of EAP instruction in Psychology classrooms. EAP has an established tradition of applying academic literacies across disciplines and brings many useful approaches that can be used with students to help them deconstruct texts and develop their writing. We investigate this through designing and delivering a research-informed EAP intervention (co-delivered by a Psychology lecturer and EAP expert), and evaluating its effectiveness through student and tutor feedback, and assessment outcomes. Our findings will be used to explore further opportunities to embed EAP practices into disciplinary teaching. (This session was accepted for 2020 and has not been changed for this submission).

WORKSHOPS (60 minutes)

Google Forms: A Versatile Tool for Designing Asynchronous Learning Modules
Silvia Rossi
Mount Royal University

For years, in-person workshops were the default type of learning development support for students in a first year, foundational Health and Physical Education course at my Canadian university. Then, the pandemic hit, and faculty decided the course would run asynchronously this academic year. The process of designing two robust asynchronous learning modules to fit the research-based writing assignments in the course (an annotated bibliography and an essay) has involved both expected and unexpected advantages and challenges. Google Forms has proven to be a simple, accessible and versatile web-based app for bringing together text, audio and video resources and activities, and its built-in quiz functionality allows students to receive instant feedback on their work. Importantly, these asynchronous modules permit students far greater choice over when and how they learn than the synchronous sessions ever did. Survey feedback reveals that students appreciated the variety of resource/activity types and modes in the module, and after initially completing all of the activities, they returned to certain sections multiple times as they worked on their assignments. In this workshop, participants will explore one of the learning modules, share their observations and feedback, and discuss how Google Forms compares with other tools for the creation of engaging, principled asynchronous learning resources.

Session Plan:

  • Poll (5 min) – Participants will respond to a short poll to gauge their experience with designing asynchronous learning modules. 
  • Background (10 min) – The facilitator will outline how and why LD and Librarian support for a first-year research-based writing assignment has evolved over the past four years, from separate in-class synchronous sessions to co-created asynchronous multimodal learning modules paired with synchronous Q&A sessions. 
  • Exploration of Asynchronous Learning Module (10 min) – Participants will access one of the learning modules to explore (individually) the resources and activities contained within it. Observations and 
  • Feedback (10 min) – Participants will share their observations and feedback on the learning module by contributing to a series of online bulletin boards, each of which poses a reflection question on a specific aspect of the learning module design (e.g., accessibility, learner agency, depth of engagement). 
  • Open Discussion (15 min) – The facilitator will lead an open discussion based on the themes arising on the online bulletin boards. 
  • Student Feedback (5 min) – The facilitator will share data from the recent student evaluation of the learning module. 
  • Final Reflection (5 min) – Participants will reflect on whether this type of learning module could be adapted to fit their context.

Objects for Active Learning
Amy West, Emma Kimberley, Sheryl Mansfield, Sam Thomas
University of Northampton
Wild card

In adapting to the current pandemic, most Higher Education (HE) institutions have moved sessions online (Baker, 2020). Reflection leads us to ask whether online provision has been sufficiently active and/or effective. At Northampton we were ready for virtual teaching as it was already part of our Active Blended Learning ethos (Institute of Learning and Teaching in HE, 2020) and both staff and students had the resources and digital literacy to cope with this transition. Although our sessions in the face-to-face world encouraged groupwork and discussion, using objects, cards and other physical resources, these were now redundant. Not wanting to lose the benefits we had experienced in these sessions, we are now adapting activities to an online active learning environment. Using objects as learning tools is a well-established technique. Object-based learning (OBL) uses artefacts to offer students experiential learning opportunities and is a successful pedagogy in HE (Hardie, 2015). Rather than focusing on the object itself, we employ each as a metaphor to explore concepts. Asking students to choose their own objects aims to promote inclusivity and enable student belonging, by sharing ownership of the learning. We have found using objects and cards, virtually and in the classroom, engages students, inspires curiosity, and focusses learning. Our wild card session will offer the opportunity for participants to bring their own objects and explore how these can be used to teach academic skills. Participants will need to come with an active mind and voice as the session will focus on embracing creativity and sharing new ideas.