Student support initiative in the Medical School

by Dr. Peter Leadbetter.

With the FY for Medicine we have incorporated a new student support system (and have written an SOP) to support students.  

We also have provided links to key student support services offered by the University (for examples please get in touch)

Given that staff only have 3 FY students as personal-tutees (well for this course anyway) we have a system where PAT’s (Personal Academic Tutors) contact their students directly each week to see if they are managing academically and personally. This is then mapped to course attendance/engagement reports that course leads (me) download each week related to slides/resources/collaborate. If students have not been engaging contact is made and support offered (this may also include lodging a formal “cause for concern” form). 

With the FY students all previously timetabled sessions have been delivered online to date and online delivery is until early June. Although the format varies for each session, it is typically a flipped classroom approach where slides/resources are put on Blackboard prior to the session. Students go through these prior to meeting for an hour via collaborate (for each 3 hour session) to discuss content, issues and ask questions.

For more information or accompanying documentation please contact Dr Peter Leadbetter or Jayne Garner.

Supporting students in AHSC

In this case study Hazel Flight, AHSC within the FOHSC explains how they are working to ensure effective student communications.

“We are using collaborate, not just to teach, but to have catch ups.  I have a weekly catch up with each year group. This is optional for the students to attend, and give me the opportunity to check on how they are doing. Importantly it is not a teaching session, but a time when they can see each other, virtually, and ask any questions or raise any concerns”.

She continues: “As from this week I will be holding these monthly throughout the summer, for all three year groups”.

In addition “Most of us have also set up microsoft teams and so students can have the option of meeting up on line, a phone call or email contact”.  

For more information please contact Hazel: [email protected]

Flexible, Open and Social Learning: A cross-boundary professional development course

A warm welcome to #FOS201 and please come and join us!

We are back! Are you ready for 10 days of cross-institutional development to explore flexible, open and social learning together?

Dear colleagues and friends,

A warm welcome to FOS, the open cross-institutional course for professionals in Higher Education who teach or support learning and students who are interested in learning with others  from around the world about flexible, open and social learning together. The areas we would like to explore together are:

  • Digital literacies
  • Flexible pedagogies
  • Supporting learning
  • Communities and collaboration
  • Open education

The first three days will have a focus on getting to know each other and find out a little bit more about the course by clicking here:  

The team will share regular course updates on their website and on Twitter @fos4l (using the hashtag #FOS201).

Click here to find out more about The #FOS201 team.

Putting “content” online: Supporting student learning

Inclusivity in course design—curricular interventions by Ellie Kennedy, NTU.

A key focus of the Success for All educational development initiative was to ensure that curricular interventions—i.e. interventions into mainstream learning and teaching on the course—remain in focus.

Studies on inclusive interventions in the sector (e.g. Thomas 2012; Hockings 2010; Mountford-Zimdars 2016; UUK 2019) emphasise the importance of direct interventions into curricula, pedagogies and assessment practices. These studies found a strong reliance on “bolt-on” interventions, i.e. those in the “exclusive” and “co-curricular” areas of the matrix below. The same landmark studies emphasise, however, that inclusive integrated interventions are more likely to be successful. Within the landscape of intervention types, these “inclusive curricular” interventions sit in the upper left quadrant of the matrix below.

Courtesy of Ellie Kennedy, NTU.

The most effective strategies for addressing disparities, then, are often direct interventions into what is taught, how it is taught, and how learning is assessed. Further, inclusive interventions into learning and teaching can potentially provide the most transformative learning experiences, in that all students can learn from the diverse challenges and perspectives of their peers (in line with NTU’s Creating Opportunity strategy). Future work should include strategies to ensure that inclusive curricular interventions are embedded into learning, teaching and assessment.

The outline (below) may be used as a standalone resource or – better – incorporated in the existing advice and resources on putting lectures online:

The following are useful points to bear in mind when moving lectures or other “content” online. These points are in line with good practice to support Success for All as well as general student learning and engagement.

  1. Pre-record or curate existing content

Lectures do not need to be delivered synchronously, i.e. in real time. Any parts of a “traditional” lecture that involve the tutor speaking, or showing or demonstrating something, can be pre-recorded. Pre-recordings, or screen casts, can be made available to students instead of or in advance of live online sessions. Most students are likely to appreciate this, in particular those whose learning benefits from extra time to pause or rewind, and those whose schedule or IT access is disrupted in the current circumstance. Pre-recording also reduces the likelihood of technical glitches that can occur when large numbers of students try to access the content at the same time.

  • Use “chunking” if it’s convenient

In the current situation, tutors should use the most convenient means available to move content online as quickly as possible. This may mean screen casting full-length lectures. However, tutors should not feel under pressure to produce “lecture-length” content. A series of shorter “content chunks”, each with one or more associated activities, is more likely to increase engagement and support learning. This approach can benefit all students and may also help to narrow attainment gaps. Teaching teams can create their own “chunks” (for example, lecture segments) and/or curate existing resources such as podcasts, text excerpts, and short videos.

  • Embed short tasks

Content by itself does not assure learning: activities such as focussing tasks and knowledge-check quizzes will help students identify and grasp the key points. This is even more vital in the online realm, where the tutor cannot gauge understanding from physical cues such as body language. Such activities can be provided alongside content chunks or can be embedded into longer lectures. In this way students can use their own—and in some cases their peers’—responses in real time to check their own learning. Tutors can access student responses in real time or after the fact to check understanding and address any misconceptions.

  • Make content accessible

Personal Tutoring Online

Enhanced guidance to support colleagues in tutoring online will be available during the University Learning and Teaching Day. However in advance, and in addition to the existing Staff and Student Guides, University guidance and training resources and materials, you may find these link helpful:

Effective Personal Tutoring in HE is a comprehensive text that explores the core values, skills and a curriculum of Personal Tutoring, as well as providing a Personal Tutor Self Assessment system (at both individual and institutional level:

An online assessment tool to accompany the text can be accessed here:

Also, for further support please view UKAT’s Professional Framework that focus on personal tutoring but are applicable to wider student support.