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Highlights from T&L: Academic Tutor toolkit, new Principles of Partnership, and more...

colour portrait photograph of teaching and learning dean Gavin Brooks

Welcome back for the third and final term of the 2018/19 academic year. It has been another busy few months and, with so much going on, I wanted to share some key developments on our strategic Teaching & Learning projects.

Academic Tutor System (ATS)

We are delighted to launch the Academic Tutor Toolkit which provides a range of resources for Academic Tutors, including useful advice for developing practice, tips and activities for tutor meetings, frequently asked questions, links to key policies, and a section aimed particularly at Directors of Academic Tutoring.  Developments planned for the future include a section for new Academic Tutors, and case studies of Academic Tutors working in partnership with their tutees to develop their academic, personal and professional skills. We hope the Toolkit will help Academic Tutors to locate resources and services easily and quickly.  If you have an idea of a resource that you would like to see included in the Toolkit, please contact Joanna Cordy.

The first evaluation of the impact of the ATS Project is underway, using a range of methods to capture feedback from staff and students.  A short online survey for Academic Tutors is now open and will run for three weeks. Tutors’ feedback will enable us to both assess their experience of the ATS so far and inform the next phase of the Project (2019-20). Please do complete the survey and ensure that your voice is heard. 

If you have any queries about the evaluation, please contact Joanna Cordy.

Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA) update

The EMA Programme has achieved a substantial amount this year. Schools are increasing their use of online submission, feedback and grading significantly and, in our recent survey of 416 students, 95% supported this change. Schools are using new or enhanced processes to manage these activities, with clearer roles and responsibilities which has meant, in some cases, reducing the administrative burden for academic staff.  A broad range of support and training activities continue to be provided, primarily by colleagues from the CQSD TEL team, and our innovative Online Resource Map, which draws together written and video content from all stages of the assessment and feedback cycle, is proving very popular.

Last year, we made individual undergraduate summative assessment marks available on RISIS. This year, we have extended this provision to summative PGT and Foundation modules. Now, all assessment marks are managed and visible in RISIS, providing transparent and secure assessment data for staff and students. Building on this, we have been working on an enormously complex piece of work designed to get RISIS and Blackboard to “talk” to each other, reducing some administrative tasks and the risk of error. On 3 January, Blackboard started to create assessment submission points based on information held in RISIS and, from 1 February, we started to see automatic marks transfer from Blackboard/Turnitin to RISIS. Over 13,000 marks have been transferred to date – a pioneering achievement in the sector!

For further information on these achievements and more, please visit the EMA Programme site, contact Academic Director, Emma Mayhew, and/or sign up to the monthly newsletter.

Join the Student Engagement Community of Practice

The Student Engagement CoP is a forum for sharing experiences of, and taking forward, good practice in student engagement and student-staff partnerships in teaching and learning activities, including curriculum enhancement, student voice and feedback. The CoP meets once a term and supports/advises on the work of the Student Voice and Partnership Steering Group. As well as sharing information about projects and partnerships across the University, we encourage colleagues to feedback from any conference attendance relating to Student Engagement, and have the opportunity to inform evolving policy and practice. 

Currently, we are looking to expand our membership to include more academic staff across all schools, who have a particular interest in student-staff partnerships and engagement to contribute to this community.

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 8th May. If you would be interested in joining the Student Engagement CoP please email Catherine Foley (Chair) or Victoria Bundy for more information.

TEF Subject Pilot 2018/19 – our summary Provider Statement

In February, we submitted our application to the Office for Students (OfS) to participate in the TEF Subject Pilot 2018/19. Our final Provider and Subject statements were the result of a significant amount of work from colleagues across Schools and Functions. I would like to reiterate my thanks to everyone involved for their time and their support to ensure our excellence in teaching and learning is well reflected in our submissions.

As part of our application, we produced a two-page ‘summary Provider statement’ which I would like to share with you. This statement is the result of considerable effort from Professor Elizabeth McCrum with significant contributions from an excellent Provider Statement team. It is unique in that it sets out our commitment to offering an outstanding teaching and learning environment for all our learners, while honestly and openly acknowledging areas where we know we need to improve.

Participating in the TEF Subject Pilot has provided us with a valuable opportunity to reflect on, and to gather impact evidence of, our teaching and learning excellence and enhancement across the Institution and to identify where we might improve. The Evaluation and Impact team in CQSD is leading on an internal evaluation of this pilot on behalf of the TEF Strategy Group to ensure that we identify actions we can take to be better prepared for the mandatory exercise in 2020/21.

Curriculum Framework

UG programmes across all Schools are moving into the implementation phase of their Curriculum Framework reviews, adopting positive changes to teaching, learning and assessment. CQSD have been working alongside Schools to deliver bespoke development opportunities for staff and students, and have introduced new sessions on the T&L Programme to support programme review. Highlights for the Summer term include:  Employability and Student Success, Developing Student Assessment Literacy through Assessment Criteria and Rubrics, and Final Year Projects And Dissertations: From Design To Delivery.

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. The PGT Review phase will commence in September 2019 and run for 2 years. Programmes in scope include: PGCE, PGCert, PGDip, MA/MSc, MRes, Taught elements of MA/MSc by Research and Professional Doctorates. To find out more, or to get started on your PGT programme review, please contact Nina Brooke who can support you in planning your approach to the review.

Building an Academic Community – highlights from the T&L conference

Our annual Teaching & Learning Conference ‘Building an Academic Community’ was a resounding success, with 100 attendees for the keynote and workshop sessions throughout the day. We were particularly pleased to see so many students in attendance, making an invaluable contribution as delegates, workshop presenters and stall holders at the lunchtime ‘marketplace’! 

This spirit of working in partnership with our students is emphasised by our new Principles of Partnership, launched by Professor Elizabeth McCrum during her welcome address at the conference. These values underpin student-staff partnership at Reading and were intrinsic to the morning keynote from Dr Catherine Bovill (University of Edinburgh), who highlighted the importance of relationships between students and staff as the foundation for partnership, engagement and belonging.

The theme for the afternoon was the Academic Tutoring System (ATS) and Dr Alison Stenton (University of Oxford) delivered a fascinating keynote on ‘Tutoring through a pedagogic lens: Reflections on the power of talk for learning’.

Slides and video footage from the day can be found here: 

Student drop-in event – ‘Share a sofa’

In the last week of the Spring term, I hosted an open student drop-in event with the Full-Time RUSU Officers. Students were invited to ‘Share a sofa’ and ask me their questions. A number of T&L topics were covered – you can watch a short video summary here.

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 productive term. 

Kind regards,


Professor Gavin Brooks

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

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