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

Faculty Reports


The Business School

Focus on IT skills project

students but without an equivalent increase in human resources. In response to this challenge we have already developed a unique suite of on-line tutorials and teaching resources which we call the WebDevRes (Web Developer’s Resource or WDR). The WDR provides a comprehensive, dynamic on-line environment which guides students methodically through the technicalities of writing simple web pages up to the creation of truly dynamic e-Commerce web sites. The students are able to access this resource from any location that provides access to the Internet

The WebDevRes (WDR) provides a mission critical resource to BIT. There is a real need to develop this resource so it is scaleable to meet current and future demand. It is also important that this development has tangible benefit for the Business School as a whole. The WebDevRes does have limitations. For example it is difficult for students and staff to maintain progress logs or to provide students with meaningful and timely feedback. Such limitations can be overcome by integrating the WDR with WebCT. This would provide a truly unique and comprehensive e-learning resource enabling us to offer a flexible blended-learning environment.

This project supports the first year IT Skills development unit. It is a crucial one for the Business School as it lays important technical foundations for over one thousand students. The current approach to learning and teaching of this unit makes it difficult for tutors to identify and offer support those students who most need it. Holistic redesign of the unit has been undertaken. Essential to this blended-learning approach is the development of a set of on-line formative assessments. The students can take the assessments at any time and, having completed an assessment, receive instant feedback. The feedback is not simply “right or wrong”. The questions have been written in such a way that each student receives individual feedback about their apparent weaknesses and are then directed to an appropriate source of help. This might be a web site, a remedial tutorial or lecture, or any other form of resource. Having used the resource to try to address their weaknesses the students are allowed to take the test again. If they are still unsure about a particular concept they are directed to approach a member of the IT Skills Teaching Team. Using WebCT it is possible to observe general weaknesses with a cohort of students and to take appropriate remedial action, most likely a remedial tutorial/lecture.

The provision of timely feedback, coupled with this dynamic response to students needs, enables us to manage over 1250 students without an increase in human resources.

Dave Tucker
e-mail: d.tucker@mmu.ac.uk
telephone: 0161 247 3025


Faculty of Food, Clothing and Hospitality Management

The Faculty held its second Learning and Teaching Day in September with a focus on issues determined by colleagues in the Faculty. The programme for the day included Personal Development Plans (PDPs), Developments in Web CT , Plagiarism, Disability Awareness, Developments in the Faculty Intranet etc. There were a number of both internal and external speakers, including inputs from the L & T Unit and the site librarian’s team. Attendance on the day was generally quite good and better than at the previous event but some work still needs to be done on impressing the importance of these events (opportunities) upon colleagues. The issue of PDPs has been prominent in the Faculty’s learning and teaching discussions over the early autumn period. The debate had been opened at the Faculty L & T Day and was continued at the joint meeting of programme leaders organised by FASC and the Faculty L & T Committee. The debate circulated around how PDPs should be put in place from September 2005. The consensus of opinion was that courses within the Faculty have personal skills embedded in them, the issue was more about how they would be assessed to form part of the student’s personal development plan. A further issue related to encouraging students to engage with their own PDP and be active in completing sections of it. The Faculty was not keen to give actual unit value to personal development skills as it was felt that this would eat into subject matter of courses.

The Department of clothing Design and Technology has embarked upon a new Leonardo project from this autumn. The project is to develop in association with our European partners learning material in the field of garment technology. It is envisaged that this work will partner the previous work done in pattern technology and the virtual factory. It is intended that it will be web based and provide students with both a resource to supplement lectures and innovative learning material on garment technology.

The Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee is scheduled to meet later in the term and still has a small amount of money available to pump-prime learning and teaching projects. If colleagues would like to pursue an L & T project the committee would be pleased to hear from them.

Michael Jeffrey
Chair Faculty Learning and Teaching Committee


Faculty of Humanities, Law & Social Science

The Faculty Prize for Teaching Innovation and Excellence 2004 has been awarded to Margaret Kendall and Jenny Craven for their project “Faculty information and guidelines for supporting disabled students” which had resulted in a publication sent recently to staff in the Faculty and posted on the Faculty Learning & Teaching website. Congratulations to the team and to Margaret in particular as being on the winning team for the second year running. The project and subsequent publication addressed many of the questions raised at the Faculty’s SENDA workshop last year. Congratulations also to Richard Eskins, Department of Information and Communications, for his recent appointment as Learning and Teaching Fellow and to Margaret Kendall and Bill Johnston on their re­appointments as Senior Learning & Teaching Fellows in the Faculty.

The Faculty Learning & Teaching website has been re­vamped by Mark Griffiths, Faculty Web Officer, and now features a blog-type home page allowing staff to easily upload items and make comments. See http:// www.hlss.mmu.ac.uk/ltc/ It is hoped that this facility will improve communications within the Faculty on issues related to learning and teaching. Margaret Kendall and Eddie Higgins have been appointed to lead the Faculty’s staff WebCT mentoring initiative. Eight mentees from six departments have been identified. The scheme is now operational and many interesting projects are underway. It is hoped to work closely with the parallel scheme running at MMU Cheshire.

Bill Johnston has been awarded a grant from the Higher Education Academy to investigate comparative strategies for evaluating e-learning at MMU and the new (virtual) University of the Arctic . Bill continues his work as a member of the taskforce setting up the pedagogic framework of this circumpolar university – details at http://www.uarctic.org/ index.html

Margaret Kendall is now a member of the steering group for the HE Academy Subject Centre for Information and Computer Science (which replaced the LTSN-ICS) and attended her first meeting in Belfast on 2nd November. Alicia Prowse and Margaret Kendall have had their proposal for a poster accepted for the 4th Annual WebCT European User Conference in Barcelona (6th-9th February). The title is “Supporting 1st year undergraduates through blended learning”.

Wm Johnston


MMU Cheshire

85 people attended the 2nd Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, which was held on 15 September at the Alsager campus. The day was introduced by the Dean, Dennis Dunn, who reminded the audience of some of the issues raised by the first conference and what was happening across the Faculty to support and develop learning and teaching practice. Dr Della Fazey from the University of Bangor gave the opening keynote presentation (see article elsewhere in this issue) and then there were parallel streams, with a choice of four sessions at a time. There were several participants, and several presenters, from other Faculties.

The Innovations in Learning and Teaching Action Group has planned a series of events on the theme of

Creativity and Innovation in Learning and Teaching . There will be lunchtime sessions in February and April, and one half day session in June [after exam boards].

The eLearning mentoring scheme has got underway, with six confirmed participants at the time of writing, and two possible additional ones.

The Learning Support action group has sent out a questionnaire to find out how different learning support systems (Online materials, Student Services, special departmental responsibilities and the Students’ Union) are being used across the Faculty and the results will inform the programme of staff development and production of further guidance.

A Mature Students Day was held on 18 June 2004 and was very successful in identifying key issues which affect this cohort. This has since prompted various initiatives. The event was supported by Fempowerment, a European Social Fund research project of the Faculty’s Centre for the Promotion of Social Inclusion.

Mary Issitt




Winter 2004
ISSN 1477-1241

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