Parallel Sessions 6: 14.00 – 15.00

PAPERS (25 minutes each)

14.00 – 14.25

Non-submission of assessments – the impact on the BAME attainment gap
Alison Loddick, Kate Coulson, Paul Rice
University of Northampton

In light of the BLM movement during 2020 and the spotlight very much focussed upon decolonising the curriculum within HEIs, projects are in development at the University of Northampton to understand a myriad of issues pertaining to BAME students and staff. During other research projects, it was noted that there is a BAME attainment gap: when comparing the percentage of students with a first-class or upper-second class honours degree, there is a thirteen per cent attainment gap between White students and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students (BAME) (Universities UK and National Union of Students, 2019). After some reflection and general steer from University of Northampton leaders, it was decided to investigate this gap to understand what is really going on. Previous targeted research examining three courses of concern had previously shown a high number of G grades – student non-submission. This research takes this further and examines the impact of non-submission on the BAME attainment gap. Three years of undergraduate attainment data at the University of Northampton was analysed to understand whether BAME students were more or less likely to submit assignments and the impact on student retention. The research opens up new avenues of conversation in relation to reducing this gap. 


Should Learning Developers provide instruction in the use of metadiscourse?
Samantha King
University of Northampton

Interactive metadiscourse is the language writers use to guide their readers through their texts and organise their arguments (Hyland, 2005). This can take the form of phrases, for example, this essay will discuss, or in conclusion; or individual words such as firstly or therefore. There is evidence that undergraduate essays containing a higher frequency of interactive metadiscoursal features achieve higher marks due to the increased readability of the essays and greater consideration of the needs of the reader in general (Cheng and Steffensen, 1996). Much of the existing research, however, has been carried out either with students in EAP classes or with native-speaking undergraduates attending a ‘composition class’, a class which teaches generic academic writing and largely features argumentative essays. To see whether this research is valid for the writing that we as learning developers are most closely involved with, i.e. assignments written as part of a course of study, two hundred summative assignments were collected from 67 undergraduates studying a health discipline. The assignments were analysed using software developed for the field of corpus linguistics (Scott, 2007) to identify how students used interactive metadiscourse. The results of this study suggest that including explicit instruction in Learning Development sessions in the use of some aspects of metadiscourse could be of value. This supports an ‘academic literacies’ approach (Lea and Street, 1998) in that it recognises the need to make clear the implied assumptions that surround academic writing and the inherent variation between disciplines and genres. 


  • Cheng, X. and Steffensen, M. S. (1996) ‘Metadiscourse: A Technique for Improving Student Writing’, Research in the Teaching of English, 30(2), pp. 149–181. doi: 10.1088/0953-4075/22/12/004. 
  • Hyland, K. (2005) Metadiscourse. London: Continuum. 
  • Lea, M. R. and Street, B. V. (1998) ‘Student Writing in Higher Education: An academic literacies approach’, Studies in Higher Education, 23(2), pp. 157–172. doi: 10.1080/03075079812331380364. 
  • Scott, M. (2007) ‘WordSmith Tools version 5’. Liverpool: Lexical Analysis Software.

14.35 – 15.00

Redefining researcher support to emphasise community and wellbeing
Nicola Grayson, Craig Morley, Sarah Kneen
University of Manchester

Researcher support at the University of Manchester (UoM) Library has recently undergone a strategic repositioning to incorporate more input from staff across our Teaching, Learning and Student division in respect to pedagogy and evaluation expertise. Our talk will explore how, through the implementation of learning development principles such as emancipation and partnership (ALDinHE, 2019), and via the creation of new research-informed principles, My Research Essentials (MRE) has sought to redefine the nature of researcher support at the UoM. We have worked in collaboration with both faculties and researchers to affect a positive changes and to facilitate a culture of community which research demonstrates to be effective in combating well-recognised problems such as ‘imposter syndrome’ (De Beavoir, 1958). We will share our approach to aligning support to the UoM’s wellbeing framework and we will describe the ways in which we have utilised our Library Student Team to deliver writing support peer to peer. Through our involvement in the OfS funded PGR Mental Health and Wellbeing project we will show how the MRE programme has opened up a space for researchers to support one another to move the UoM’s research culture forwards in a positive direction. We will share data and feedback in relation to how the support offered has been received, and we will trace emerging aspects of community as revealed by symbolic acts, significant stories, wellbeing activities and the power of conversation. 


  • ALDinHE. 2019. About the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education. [Online]. [Accessed 6 November 2019]. Available from: 
  • De Beavoir, S. 1958. Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter. London: Penguin books.

Engaging students online: A reflection on pedagogy, practice and the student voice
Arina Cirstea
De Montfort University

Engaging students online: a reflection on pedagogy, practice and the student voice This presentation will discuss critical challenges associated with stimulating different forms of engagement in online teaching and learning. Student engagement has been described as a complex concept, encompassing a set of behavioural, emotional and cognitive behaviours (Bond et al., 2020). The presentation’s focus will be on behavioural engagement, which generally refers to more quantifiable behaviours such as attendance and participation in tasks, and affective engagement, which is primarily linked to the development of effective peer-tutor and peer-peer relationships (Henrie, 2015). In the course of the presentation, personal reflections on teaching will be placed in the context of relevant literature as well as student feedback data extracted from the Learning Services Student Survey (March-December 2020). The talk will be structured around three areas. It will start by outlining barriers and challenges related to the transition to online delivery of a self-selecting workshop programme, with reference to registration, attendance and feedback data as well as recent research (Bryson and Andres, 2020 and Bao, 2020). The discussion will then move on to consider how some of these challenges were tackled in one-to-one support provision, by outlining student feedback on different types of synchronous and asynchronous one-to-one tutorial delivery. The data will be scrutinised to identify categories of student who benefited most from each type of delivery, and reflect on how inequalities can be better addressed. Finally, the discussion will be narrowed down to a specific learning activity, the use of break-out rooms for synchronous large group sessions, reflecting on some strategies used to boost participation in tasks and create a sense of community for a diverse student cohort. For each of these areas, participants will be provided with a set of practical recommendations, which they will be invited to review critically in relation to their own practice. 


  • Bao, W. (2020) COVID-19 and online teaching in higher education: A case study of Peking University. Human Behaviour and Emerging Technology 2, pp.113-115. 
  • Bond et al. (2020) Mapping research in student engagement and educational technology in higher education: a systematic evidence map. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 17 (2) [online] Available at <> [Accessed 13/11/20] 
  • Bryson, J.R. and Andres, L. (2020) Covid-19 and rapid adoption and improvisation of online teaching: curating resources for extensive versus intensive online learning experiences. Journal of Geography in Higher Education 44(4), pp.608-623. 
  • Henrie, C.R., Halverson, L.R. and Graham, C.R (2015) Measuring student engagement in technology-mediated learning: A review. Computers & Education 90, pp. 36-53.

WORKSHOPS (60 minutes)

Turning knowledge into power: From presentations to publications
Carina Buckley, Alicja Syska
Solent University, University of Plymouth

There is no useless knowledge in learning development. We are members of a profession characterised by its openness to a wide range of approaches, from heavily practice-based to wholly theoretical. Within LD, practitioners with varied backgrounds and experience produce a whole gamut of outputs, from blog posts and case study presentations, to review essays and other formal research publications. While this variety is undoubtedly a strength of the profession, as it provides space for the multiple perspectives that challenge and encourage development, it can also mean that learning developers feel they are either one or the other; that if they are comfortable (and adept) with practice and its reporting, then research and publication are not for them. Moreover, many practitioners feel that writing and publishing are insurmountable challenges, on a scale that demotivates and disables. We aim to challenge that perception by helping delegates address and overcome barriers to publication, firstly through an exploration of publication types, and then by mapping delegates’ own research areas onto the most appropriate for articulating their ideas and findings to the right audience. Ultimately, our goal is to convince delegates that all knowledge is useful knowledge and publishing it makes it only more powerful. Participants will be able to visualise their own knowledge as publishable knowledge, so they can ‘see’ it out in the world and thus be encouraged to write and continue the conversation.

Indicative outline of the session: 

  • Introduction and scene-setting – the value of professional conversation, and the barriers to it; recognition of the push/pull factors (invitation to delegates to share own experiences) [10 minutes] 
  • What is a publication in LD? (e.g. blog, LH resource, JLDHE article/case study/opinion piece) what is the value of each? Exchange of ideas [10 minutes] 
  • In groups, based on delegates’ own interest, participants examine the typical structure and style, topic, and referencing conventions of their chosen publication type, creating an ‘ideal’ model or even recipe for this publication type [20 minutes] 
  • Participants then map out their own research project/area of interest/example of practice, emulating the model/recipe in order to best articulate their knowledge/practice to an external audience [15 minutes] 
  • Closing overview [5 minutes]

Assessing learning in online workshops: A new approach
Lauren Cross
Mount Royal University

The transition to remote delivery in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic forced our team of learning strategists to quickly adapt our services and procedures. As we worked to transform our in-person academic workshops into interactive webinars, we debated how to manage student attendance and assess student learning in an online environment. We decided to have students complete a “Reflection and Participation Form” via Google’s Forms application after each webinar. This form includes a series of reflection and application questions about the webinar content, just like our anonymous paper workshop assessment forms used to, but the online form also provides feedback to students in the form of suggested answers and/or a review of key takeaways. The student then has the option to send a copy of their responses to their instructor as “proof” of their participation. While this combined format of participation-tracking and learning assessment involves certain challenges, it offers some noteworthy advantages related to increasing webinar registration limits, collecting student data, increasing content instructor awareness of strategist services, and providing more formative feedback to students. For these reasons, we may continue with this tool even when back on campus. In this interactive workshop, I will share my team’s lessons from using this type of learning assessment and will invite participants to share their successes, challenges, and ideas around assessing student participation and learning in virtual and in-person formats.

  • Background (10 min): The facilitator will describe how the pivot to online workshops has led to the development of a new tool and procedure for recording participation and assessing student learning. 
  • Check in (5 min): Participants will complete a polling activity that asks them to share whether their departments have had similar or distinct needs and procedures for tracking student attendance and learning before and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • Demonstration and Small Group Discussion (20 min): Participants will take on the role of students and fill out a Reflection and Participation form. In small groups, participants will debrief the experience of filling out the form and seeing the instant feedback, and will add their key takeaways to a shared bulletin board. 
  • Advantages and Challenges (10 min): The facilitator will share some of the advantages and challenges of the new tool and procedure. 
  • Open Discussion (15 min): Participants will share their experiences with attendance-checking and learning assessment in workshops.

Calling students to adventure: Using the hero’s journey as a tool for curriculum planning and reviewing course design
Alke Gröppel-Wegener, Robert Farmer
Staffordshire University, University of Northampton
Wild Card

This is an interactive, participative session (part presentation, part discussion, part scavenger hunt) in which delegates will be introduced to the stages of the Hero’s Journey. We will explore the ways that this storytelling archetype can be applied to delegates’ previous learning experiences, and also can be used as a framework to structure and design university modules and courses. During the session, a series of diagnostic questions will be posed to our heroes (the delegates), each of which will prompt the heroes to consider the position and momentum of students on their individual journeys; from leaving their ordinary world behind and entering the special world of Higher Education, to their return to the ordinary world at the end of each year – and finally their return at the end of the degree.

“Looking at teaching and learning as an archetypal Hero’s Journey is a good way of talking about education in its psychological and spiritual depths because the Hero’s Journey is fundamentally an educative one” (Mayes, 2010, p.11). Education is not simply a process of dispassionately acquiring and filing away discrete packets of knowledge, but is a journey during which characters are formed and in which individuals come to gain greater understanding of their subject and themselves. Students’ educational journeys are rich, complex and multi-layered experiences in which mental models of reality are challenged and changed, and where new ways of thinking become new ways of being.


  • Mayes, C. (2010) The Archetypal Hero’s Journey in Teaching and Learning: A Study in Jungian Pedagogy. Madison: Atwood Publishing.