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Curriculum Development

CETL-AURS is funding a variety of projects developing the hands-on student-focused aspects of practical learning. These include a range of discipline specific projects along with an inter-disciplinary project aimed at helping both students and staff.

New equipment has been purchased, and staff provided with additional staffing support to help develop teaching and learning materials.

On the larger scale we have been developing methods to map the development of students' research skills across curricula. Skills mapping not only helps to identify where gaps need to be plugged or modifications made to our degree programmes, but also helps convey to students themselves how their skills are growing and developing across their taught programmes.

Current Projects

In the School of Law we are creating an EBL exercise for Part 1 students.

The exercise will incorporate a client-focused research project that simulates the real-world legal research activites required in a practice-based situation. The exercise will:

  • engender independent research skills amongst Part 1 students;
  • encourage students to recognise the centrality of research activites to legal and associated careers;
  • develop wider student-centred and autonomous legal study skills;
  • assist in the embedding of 'careers-consciousness' within the academic programme at Part 1; and
  • help a group of students outside the UK HE Sector to become familiar with the approaches to research that are expected of them as part of their Reading degree.

This project will run from May 09 to March 10. For more details contact Paul Almond.

In the School of Management we are developing students' research skills through 'Engage in Business Research'.

This website, designed for students in Business Studies, Management and Economics, will provide clear and practical guidance about the process of conducting research. It will help students to:

  • recognise how specific research questions or projects relate to broader ideas and debates in their academic field;
  • formulate original and achievable research questions;
  • appreciate the approaches available to researchers, and to identify the most appropriate methodology for addressing a specific question;
  • obtain a clear understanding of some of the key methodological approaches widely adopted by scholars in the fields of business and economics, such as quantitative methods and statistical analysis, designing and developing case studies and collecting and analysing qualitative data.
  • develop an appreciation of both the strengths and limits of various methodological approaches as well as an awareness of research ethics.

This project will run from November 08 to March 10. For more details contact or Peter Miskell.

In Real Estate and Planning we are developing an Enquiry-Based module for Part 1 students.

The module comprises of a set of integrating projects that will develop students' research skills, enabling them to actively acquire knowledge, address questions and make connections between the various elements of the programme. The project-based module incorporates a large element of collaborative learning and provides students wit a high-impact experience that will excite and motivate them, and enable them to become much more active in their own learning.

This project will run from October 09 to Januuary 10. For more information contact Cathy Hughes.

Completed Projects

Within the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development we have:

  • developed a website – ENGAGE – that helps students develop their research skills throughout their degree programme. The website supports students in the completion of high quality scientific research in the Biosciences and provides advice and assistance from the basic principles of scientific research through to publishing. Engage provides more than just information, it contains podcasts, worked examples, exercises with answers, help sheets and quizzes.

View Report Contact: Julian Park

  • developed a module in Practical Nature Conservation, using the off-site University farms and providing practical experience in local areas such as chalk grassland and heathland. CETL-AURS has funded the refurbishment of the teaching facilities at the farms, along with fieldwork equipment and a minibus, enabling undergraduates to gain research and employability skills through the development of this module.

View Report Contact: Julian Park

In the Department of Typography

  • the mandatory Part 2 module History of Graphic Communication encourages hands-on learning through the use of the Lettering, Printing and Graphic Design collection. Students work with real artefacts and participate in practical demonstrations of printing.
  • the module has benefited enormously by the creation of a new printing workshop where all the equipment needed to demonstrate the major printing processes has been brought together.

View Report Contact: Mary Dyson

  • a further module for Part 3 students in Ephemera Studies has been developed. The University of Reading has several ephemera collections of world-wide importance, and the new module enables students to use and handle ephemera as part of their studies. It allows students to study documents first-hand and undertake self-directed research.

View Ephemera Studies project report Contact: Martin Andrews

In Zoology we have:

  • funded the creation of the Animal Diversity CD-Rom, used to enhance the teaching of the Animal Diversity module. The module is based entirely in the Cole Museum of Zoology and the CD-Rom is designed as a resource for this self-taught module enabling undergraduates to develop their research skills by using primary sources in the museum. Students studying the module also write content for future editions of the CD-Rom as part of the assessment. One element of the CD-Rom is a Museum Guide which is now available on a touch-screen kiosk for all visitors to the museum.

read article in Contact: Amanda Callaghan

Within the University Museums and Collections we have:

  • funded an Undergraduate Learning Officer post to develop collections-based teaching within the University. The University Museums and Collections have been an under-utilised asset in the past.
  • developed three new generic museum and material culture studies modules, aimed to appeal across the humanities and social sciences.

View Report Download a presentation Contact: Rhianedd Smith

Mapping Research Skills

This interdisciplinary project on mapping research skills within undergraduate curricula is divided in to three parts.

  1. An Overview Skills Description template providing a qualitative overview of the research skills that undergraduates will acquire during their degree programme allowing prospective and current undergraduates to view the degree programmes from a skills perspective.
  2. A Research Skills Audit Tool to allow staff to audit where and how in the curriculum research skills are being taught and assessed.
  3. A series of research skills workshops and questionnaires for undergraduates to raise students' awareness of their own skills development and engage them with opportunities to conduct research.

The Research Skills Audit Tool has been presented both nationally and internationally, and has featured in the Centre for Bioscience , and in the Bioscience Journal Skills Audit Tool Research Article.

View Report Contact: Anne Crook