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T&L update: TEF, academic tutoring, and inclusive teaching materials

Gavin Brooks

Dear colleagues,

Welcome to the start of the spring term. With a number of T&L-related activities and developments happening across our Schools and Functions in 2019, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some updates on progress with our key strategic Teaching & Learning projects.

Our Teaching & Learning Strategy 2018-2021 identifies two strategic priorities for the next three years: delivering academic excellence; and offering an outstanding student learning experience. Our strategic T&L projects are all instrumental for enabling us to achieve these priorities.

TEF Subject Pilot

Preparations are well underway for our Teaching Excellence & Student Outcomes (TEF) Subject Pilot submission, which is due to be submitted to the Office for Students by 25 February. I would like to thank all colleagues involved across the University for their hard work to ensure our excellence in T&L is well reflected in our narrative statements.

The confidential results of the pilot will be shared with us in June. Please contact Helen Williams, Strategic Projects Manager (PSO) for further information.

Academic Tutor System

Following the launch of our Academic Tutor System (ATS) in September 2018, feedback from colleagues and students about the updated Tutor role and the new Student Welfare Team has been very positive. The Academic Tutor System Steering Group, chaired by Professor Clare Furneaux, will be focusing on evaluating the impact of these changes in the coming months. We look forward to reporting back as this information becomes available.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind Heads of School to ensure colleagues, especially those returning from extended leave and new/sessional staff, are briefed appropriately on the ATS and directed to School Directors of Academic Tutoring (SDATs) for further information. Colleagues in Schools and Functions are also requested to ensure all local policies and documents are updated in accordance with the ATS.

Students will be reminded to meet with their Academic Tutors through targeted communications at the start of term, and directed to the resources available to help them prepare for these meetings. Please contact Cindy Isherwood, ATS Project Officer (CQSD) with any queries.

T&L Conference: Building an academic community

Academic tutoring is a key theme of our annual conference ‘Building an academic community’, which will take place on Wednesday 23 January. Dr Catherine Bovill, Senior Lecturer in Student Engagement at the University of Edinburgh, will be delivering one of two keynotes on ‘Student-staff relationships as the foundation for partnership, engagement and belonging’. The second keynote will be delivered by Dr Alison Stenton, University of Oxford, on the topic ‘Tutoring through a pedagogic lens: Reflections on the power of talk for learning’. Further information about the programme and how to book is available online. Please contact with any queries.

Policy on Inclusive Practice in Teaching & Learning

Our Policy on Inclusive Practice in Teaching & Learning was launched last January to provide greater clarity and emphasis to our commitment to an inclusive approach, as set out in the Curriculum Framework and Teaching & Learning Strategy.

An Implementation Group, chaired by Professor Clare Furneaux, has worked over the past year to help embed the new policy and provide resources to support colleagues to create accessible teaching and learning materials. The Group’s role has now ended and a Teaching & Learning Dean will be responsible for monitoring the ongoing implementation and evaluation of the policy, as well as for keeping up-to-date with sector best-practice and any changes to the law that may require a change in our approach. The sub-committee on Delivery of Enhancement of Teaching & Learning (DELT) will receive resulting reports.

National Student Survey (NSS) and UK Engagement Survey (UKES) – launch 28 January

The week commencing Monday 28 January will see the launch of our two main surveys for undergraduate students – the NSS for finalists and the UKES for non-finalists. Both will be open until the end of April.

Marketing, Communication & Engagement (MCE) will coordinate the promotion campaign, in partnership with RUSU, which will include supporting materials for Schools to help promote the surveys locally to eligible students. For further information please contact Jennifer Rich, Student Communications Business Partner in MCE.

Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA)

Training and support has continued as the majority of schools move to increased electronic submission, marking and feedback during this academic year.  The team is continuing to engage with schools to ensure a smooth transition to the new processes. An online map of resources to support electronic assessment has been well received and can be accessed here.

Following on from the inclusion of undergraduate sub-modular marks in RISIS in the last academic year, sub-modular marks for foundation and postgraduate taught programmes are now also managed and visible in RISIS. Work has also commenced to provide an online, interactive Student Progress Dashboard for students and staff in spring 2019. More information on the Dashboard is available online.

The first stage of integration between RISIS and Blackboard has been implemented, meaning that submission points for assessments/re-assessments in Blackboard and “integrated columns” (IC) for Turnitin assignments (within Blackboard) are now automatically created from module data that is transferred from RISIS. From 1 February 2019, it will also mean that the majority of marks entered into Turnitin or Blackboard can be automatically transferred back to RISIS.

The EMA Newsletter provides regular updates on progress. You can subscribe or view it at EMA News.

Curriculum Framework

With each School due to review its UG programmes by the end of 2018-19, programme teams have used this opportunity to adopt a Programme-level approach, ensuring there is a clear narrative, progression and outcomes for the curriculum as a whole. Staff and students have been working in partnership on the redevelopment of curricula, for example co-designing modules and assessment criteria.

As the T&L Strategy (2018-21) identifies delivering academic excellence as a key strategic priority, the logical next step is to review PGT programmes in light of the Curriculum Framework. We will consult with School Directors of PGT Studies this term on the proposed timeline and seek feedback on opportunities and challenges regarding the PGT context.

CQSD will continue to support schools through the review and implementation stages and can provide guidance on all aspects of teaching and learning enhancement. Teaching & Learning Development Fund (TLDF) monies are available to support Curriculum Framework activities this term, please contact Victoria Bundy (CQSD-ADE) for further information.

Student Engagement Project

Over the past year, Professor Elizabeth McCrum has chaired a Working Group on Student Engagement, set up by UBTLSE to develop ongoing work on student partnership. The Working Group has initiated a number of activities to improve the University’s approach to student engagement, including reviewing current policy, contributing to the design of the T&L conference and defining in collaboration with staff and students principles of partnership for the University.

To realise the full benefits of our student engagement work and support the achievement of the T&L Strategy, UBTLSE has approved the establishment of a strategic project to continue and build upon the work of the Working Group, supporting Institutional and School-level improvements in student voice and partnership. Please contact Elizabeth McCrum (TLD) and Jess Johnson (PSO) for more information on the ‘Student Voice and Partnership at Reading Project’.

Personal and Lecture Capture

Personal Capture is the creation and uploading of short recordings, such as a screencast, while sitting at your desk using a PC, laptop or mobile device.  The Personal Capture Project Team has secured a supplier for a 12-month contract to trial this technology at Reading, providing software to record and also space to store recordings and access them via Blackboard. A number of ‘Personal Capture Champions’ have been appointed in Schools and Services - they will be getting started in the spring term, working with IT and the TEL team.  Following the trial, a University-wide Personal Capture service will be made available during 2019/20, allowing all staff to create and store recordings for their students.

Lecture Capture is the recording of a live lecture, with a student audience. A separate, larger scale project to consider the provision of Lecture Capture across the University has estimated costs and timeframes that have been submitted to the Strategy & Finance Committee for approval. Lecture Capture is increasingly and consistently being requested by both our students and staff; at many other institutions it forms a core part of the student learning environment. If approved, the project will involve stakeholders from across the University and will be guided by the research available to ensure effective and beneficial use. The Project Team has already visited a number of institutions to learn from their experiences.

Further information about our Teaching & Learning Strategy and the projects underway to support our ambitions is available on our website.

Thank you for your continued support. I wish you all the best for a successful year.

Kind regards,


Professor Gavin Brooks

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Teaching & Learning

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