Education in Practice - November 2014

Education in Practice: Vol. 1 No. 1, November 2014

Download a complete version of the EiP November 2014 issue (pdf)

Alternatively each article can be downloaded individually below:


1. Editorial 

Jon Green & Michael Grove

2. Case study: Sharing Good Practice at a Grassroots Level: A Student Rep Workshop for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences 

Helen Ansell, Adam Greenhill, Ryan Dickinson & Nicola Wilkin

The School of Physics and Astronomy has a well-established Student Rep system, numbering around 25 Student Reps in total, composed of Reps from all undergraduate years and postgraduate taught programmes. Students in the School actively engage with the scheme, which is so popular that it has been necessary to run elections this year. The School runs weekly informal meetings in addition to the compulsory SSC (Staff-Student Committee) meetings. We were aware of the existence of Student Rep systems in other schools but we knew little of how they operated. The aim of this project was to share good practice across the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) with the intention of making recommendations on how to improve the Student Rep system at the University.

3. Case study: Library Services Roadshow: Taking ‘The Library’ to the Students

Lisa Anderson, Stephen Bull & Helen Cooper

In February 2014, Library Services piloted a ‘Library Services Roadshow’ in the Birmingham Business School. The 3-hour event, which saw Library Services set up a temporary, staffed, stall in the School, aimed to increase awareness of the many ways that Library Services can support the School’s students. This case study provides details on the pilot event, its impact and results from a survey conducted during the event along with some recommendations for anyone wishing to trial a similar event.

4. Case study: Multiple Mini-Interviews for Selection of Medicine Students

Austen Spruce & Celia Taylor

In 2012/13 The University of Birmingham Medicine courses (5-year and graduate-entry) successfully introduced a multiple mini-interview (MMI) process for selecting students. This report describes why our interview process was changed and a preliminary analysis of the impact of this interview format.

5. Literature review: Developing E- and Blended Learning Approaches for International Students

Hayley Maxwell, Alessandro Mottura, Richard Nickalls, Jane Sjoberg & Karl Nightingale

International students represent a large and increasing proportion of the undergraduate cohort, but tend to achieve lower grades than UK home students in many disciplines. This appears to reflect the challenge(s) of studying with lower level English skills, and acclimatising to an unfamiliar academic culture. Here we discuss the experience of designing supplementary e-learning materials and/or blended learning environments aimed at supporting these students, and outline how we evaluated their effectiveness.

6. Case study: Rapid Personalised Feedback (and Feedforward) Using Mail Merge

Jerry Pritchard

This article highlights the need for personalised feedback on student work using experiences from the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham. It is argued that the value of such feedback is enhanced when it is clear to the student how a particular exercise builds on previous experience, and when it is clear that the developing skills will be used again to further improve performance. Using an example of a practical scientific write up it is suggested that the use of comment banks along with a requirement for students to actively reflect upon their performance promotes active engagement with feedback. Students were required to contribute in the feedforward activity as failure to do so resulted in the percentage mark (but not the grade), being withheld. Provision of personalised feedback was facilitated by use of mail merge. Although this was not essential it increased the efficiency and speed of the marking and feedback process for the staff involved. The high level of student participation and positive comments in the module evaluation questionnaire suggests that the exercise positively reinforced student engagement.

7. Paper: Developing and Embedding Inclusive Policy and Practice within the University of Birmingham

Michael McLinden, Michael Grove, Jon Green & Andy Birch

The University of Birmingham established an ‘Inclusive Curriculum Working Group’in February 2014 to explore how inclusivity can become more effectively developed and embedded within the curriculum in order to support colleagues in thinking about inclusive curriculum design so as to promote success amongst all students. The main focus of the Working Group is to identify challenges and barriers in order to provide practical solutions and embedded changes to policy and practice. This article describes the innovative data collection methods that will be drawn upon through a process of educational enquiry to monitor change over a given timeframe in relation to agreed goals and success criteria. This includes an organisational change framework (McKinsey 7S) that will be used to enable the impact of the Working Group to be measured and monitored over a given timeframe in relation to agreed goals and success criteria. Future publications will report on progress in relation to the proposed activities, evaluate the methodology and data collection methods and explore the extent to which the project outcomes can be drawn upon more broadly within the higher education sector.