Learning and Teaching in Action

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MMU Learning and Teaching in Action
Volume 3, Issue 3: Focusing on Students

Published by: Learning and Teaching Unit

Rachel Forsyth

Conceptualising the Student-Tutor relationship
David Webster

Developing and Sharing Best Practice
Della Fazey

Plagiarism: a how NOT to do it guide for students
Bill Johnston

Designing out Plagiarism & supporting Widening Participation
Richard Eskins

Enhancing Feedback to Students
Jonathan Willson

Degrees of Uncertainty or TIPS for Success?
Gill Rice & Karen Duggan

The Employability of History Students
David Nicholls

Diversity and Achievement
Kate Kirk

LT2004 fast-forward: A winning formula
Mike Cole

Faculty Learning and Teaching Reports

Learning and Teaching News from the Library

| View this article as a .pdf file |

photo of kate kirk

Kate Kirk

Senior Learning and Teaching Fellow, Department of Applied Community Studies

Diversity and Achievement


Kate Kirk, who is a Senior Learning and Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, was awarded a National Teaching fellowship in this year’s round of the Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship awards. Kate, who has worked in the department of Applied Community Studies for 20 years gained the award for the work that she has done in implementing inclusive learning and teaching strategies for ‘non- traditional entry’ students. She will use the award to fund the expansion of her research project ‘Diversity and Achievement- How ‘Non-traditional entry’ students succeed in Higher Education’.

The first phase of the above project was supported by the University and by the Social Policy and Social Work Learning and Teaching Support Network (SWAPltsn) and a full report is available on the SWAPltsn website. (http://www.swap.ac.uk/)

Phase One of the research project involved an evaluation of a ‘holistic’ and integrated approach to the support and development of learning that is a feature of the Applied Social Studies/Social and Community Studies Programme of courses in the Department of Applied Community Studies. This provided significant information on ways in which first year undergraduate ‘non-traditional entry’ students in Social Work and Youth and Community Work access, use and value resources, both within, and outside, the University.

A notable feature of the project has been excellent student participation in the design of the research methodology and the creation of an ethical framework for the research. Commitment by students to the project is further evidenced by the contribution made by participants to the presentation of findings to an audience of academic colleagues (January 2004). This high level of commitment has also extended to Phase Two of the Project- a longitudinal study of a sample of the same cohort as they progress through the second and third year of undergraduate study.

The National Teaching Fellowship Award will enable the development of Phase Two in order to provide an expanded, detailed account of factors that contribute to the support and development of learning, retention and success of diverse non-traditional entry students in Higher Education. In addition to the above mentioned longitudinal study, new developments include three focussed studies:

  • Firstly, an examination of the experience of students of African Caribbean and African heritage.
    A partnership with a colleague Dr. Diane Watt, and with the Carriocca Educational Trust in Manchester, has been formed in order to carry out this aspect of the research.
  • Secondly, a study of students who are the ‘First in the Family’ in Higher Education and
  • Thirdly, a study of students who are ‘Care Leavers’ (e.g. fostered).

Insight will be gained into the complex processes that are involved as such students pursue academic achievement.

Outcomes from the research project will include students’ involvement in the production, for publication, of ‘case studies’ of their experiences in Higher Education. Information will include details of diverse pathways into Higher Education, earlier educational experiences e.g. primary, secondary schooling, FE (e.g. Access courses) and sources of support and identification of challenges faced. Valuable insight into ways in which students manage their learning, and their lives, in order to succeed will be gained.

Research outcomes will contribute to:

  • raising the profile of non-traditional entry students,
  • providing positive role models for future students,
  • the further development of inclusive policies and practices in widening participation and access to HE,
  • the design of targeted learning and teaching strategies to support the development of learning of non-traditional entry students,
  • the production of materials for publicity and recruitment, pre-course preparation and student induction.

The NTF award means that Kate can take up a standing invitation to become a Visiting Scholar in the Institute for Learning and Teaching at the University of Sydney in Australia. This will enable a comparative, international dimension to be added to the work and this will be achieved through collaboration with the School of Social Work and the First Year Learner Project in Sydney.

Kate Kirk
e-mail: k.kirk@mmu.ac.uk
telephone: 0161 247 2132


Winter 2004
ISSN 1477-1241

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