Quizzes and statistics workshops

I’m just preparing for the first of several staff development workshops where we will be sharing some of our work on developing quantitative methods diagnostic quizzes, a student-centred learning activity developed in the University VLE, which in our case is Moodle.

It will be interesting to see how many of our colleagues have used Moodle quizzes already. I’m expecting they may be a commonly used activity in Moodle, although perhaps not so much in the humanities and social sciences?

We’ve been fortunate to work with a colleague in our pharmacy department who has been keen to use quizzes to help students to refresh their knowledge of introductory level statistics and identify areas of weakness, where we’ve provided links to further resources to help them review the areas they are less familiar with.

We’ve already run a focus group with six of the students and they were certainly very positive about the quizzes, although they didn’t seem to be too sure why they would need to know so much statistics, unless it’s in preparation for an exam. I think all will become clear when they have their face-to-face workshops in a few weeks!

I particularly loved this quote from one of the students:

“… a lot of us probably won’t end up using it [statistics] in life anyway.”

 This is interesting in the light of the Nuffield Foundation £15.5m funding now available for quantitative methods training for social science undergraduates:
“… a strategic response to the critical shortage of quantitatively trained social scientists in the UK, which has led to employers across all sectors unable to recruit people with the skills to apply quantitative methods to evaluating evidence and analysing data.”

We’re expecting staff to attend from the central elearning team and the library, as well as academics from several different departments across faculties which should provide a variety of views and experiences of teaching and using quantitative methods.

Melanie (Project Officer)


I recently attended the HEA workshop for those of us who have recently won an Individual Teaching Development grant. Lots of techniques at play to ensure we interacted as widely as possible which was important as there were about 60 folk in attendance.Image

And it worked well!  Not so much (for me) in terms of the specifics of my individual project but more widely in terms of our FLP. Specifically I came across several people, and hence several institutions, who are developing case studies and resources to contribute to the teaching of research methods. Those of us who are planning contextual and discipline-based cases to illuminate methods, for instance on our quantitative methods initiative, agreed to explore the possibility of sharing our efforts.  Since the creation of cases takes time, such sharing would allow is to move much more quickly in having a rich and diverse set of examples. A potential collaborative teaching development grant application was also considered. Watch this space……


Grant success

I am delighted that my HEA Individual Teaching Development Award proposal was successful and can be used in engaging our prospective stakeholders- students and employing organisations- in the process of designing flexible provision and making sure we make it relevant.

Just off to the HEA Networking Event in Birmingham for all those folk who also were successful in winning an Individual award this year. It will be interesting to see what links we might make.

Introducing ‘I-SEED-FL’

Implementing Student and Employer Engagement in Developing Flexible Learning
An HEA Individual Teaching Development Grant funded project

We’re pleased with our success in bidding for an HEA Individual Teaching Development Grant. This will support a project to engage potential end users – students, prospective students and employers – in our process to design flexible forms of postgraduate provision appropriately aligned to their needs: Implementing Student and Employer Engagement in Developing Flexible Learning (I-SEED-FL).

It also fits neatly with our over-arching Flexible Learning Project here at The University of Bath and alongside our JISC funded FLeXchange project, providing academic staff development for flexible teaching.

All three projects are responding to the anticipated changes in postgraduate student needs – the impact of increased student debt from higher undergraduate fees, demand for work-relevant courses and competition from international providers on the demographic of UK postgraduate students over the next 3-5 years. We propose that students will be increasingly mature, in employment, studying remotely and requiring flexible provision. Aligning learning outcomes to work-related objectives and employer needs will be crucial to remain relevant and this fund this HEA funded project will explore evidence-based approaches applicable across disciplines and institutions.

It’s great to have these three projects complementing each other, enabling us to take an holistic approach to our overall aim of exploring and developing a protocol for the delivery of postgraduate education through flexible delivery modes.

Find out more about I-SEED-FL on this page.

Development workshops discussion

As we begin to focus on the staff development aspect of the project it has been interesting to discover that there are a range of similar activities in development across the University.

person studying at computer screen

Today we had a meeting to share what was planned, knowing that our library service, computing service, e-Learning and academic staff development colleagues (and probably others!) had plans at various stages of development. It’s encouraging that staff development on the use of technologies and related pedagogies for both teaching and research practices are being considered across the university, although it also highlighted the difficulties in communicating and sharing these plans and the potential for duplication of effort – it was more by accident than established process that we made the initial connections!

The meeting achieved our aim of agreeing to at least develop a joint calendar of events and co-ordinated promotion of them, as well as collating details of each one to help identify areas where we may be able to collaborate and share the workload of delivering activities.

The reasons for planning events included:

  • To respond to the needs of specific user groups e.g. research students and staff wanting to use social media in research practices
  • To develop digital literacies – part of the JISC funded PriDE project
  • To develop capability amongst colleagues involved in this JISC Transformations project and our associated FLP
  • To provide ‘just-in-time’ training for teaching and learning staff
  • To develop practical ‘hands on’ skills
  • To help staff gain confidence in exploring new pedagogies and supporting technologies
  • Generally raising awareness and prompting discussions of a more strategic nature

students listening to a lectureIt seems that we will be considering several different types of event ranging from 30 minute practical sessions, to plenary seminars and workshops of varying length. A key aspect will be to capture the events with a view to building on the programme in subsequent years, using archive materials as preparation for the next iteration of an event as well as making them available to those who may miss the session first time around.

Coming together helped us to realize the opportunity to slot our events around those of others. Our initial plans were concentrated very much around the plenary type event, followed by focused events for our faculty and departments to explore ideas arising from these. It’s a relief to realize we won’t necessarily need to develop and deliver all of these single-handedly and it was helpful to share connections and networks which may assist us in convening speakers for our events.

I found the recent Innovating Pedagogy report from the Open University very timely in stimulating thoughts around possible topics for the plenary events and we’ll certainly be sharing details of events beyond the confines of the University as we get them off the ground.

Melanie – Project Officer

Opportunities and friends

We were visited recently by Liz Anderson, the Higher Education Academy’s discipline lead for Medicine and Dentistry, who is interested in our postgraduate Primary Care programme, for which I am Director of Studies, and the ways we are exploring flexibility within it and through the FLP project.

We explored how we might link the pathways within the Primary Care MSc, especially medical education, with the new Professional Standards Framework and particularly whether the cpd pathway could be submitted for accreditation by the HEA.  An important consideration will be the value that students, and prospective students, on this programme place on gaining the status of FHEA. Medical educators are usually clinicians who teach part-time be it within medical schools, in clinical practice or as part of doctors’ speciality training. We need to explore the extent to which association with the HEA is as meaningful in these contexts as it is in HE institutions. More later…….

Liz reminded us of the funding opportunities available from the HEA for staff development, teaching development, travel and international scholarship opportunities.

And great that Liz also agreed to be one of the project’s Critical Friends. As she is based in Bristol we hope to see more of her.



FLeXchange has had a busy few weeks and one of our early activities has been the evaluation of identified programme areas against strategic plans and the prioritization of these – one of our identified project outputs.  For the purposes of both FLeXchange and our own Flexible Learning Project, we needed to identify one or two masters level programmes to develop which will also enable us to identify staff development needs alongside teasing out the detail of the process of creating flexible or distance learning programmes.

The programmes we had identified from our initial research share the following characteristics:

  • Staff enthusiasm and motivation
  • Potential market worth exploring further
  • Potential scalability

And also meet one or more of the following broad objectives:

  • To increase student numbers
  • To improve the efficiency of delivery
  • To enhance the quality of teaching and learning and the student experience

The challenge we were facing was the differing needs and priorities of the departments within the faculty, thus it was proving difficult to get consensus on the selection of one or two programmes. However, by bringing together the various stakeholder groups, including the relevant individuals with strategic decision-making authority, and our academic colleagues who are contributing to the programmes, we were able to prioritise the programmes we had proposed. We now have a ‘green light’ to proceed to the next stage for two of the programmes, both of which are inter-departmental which will really help us to look at the complexities of working across the faculty. This was also a useful meeting for sharing the details of the project, updating everyone and encouraging others to share the responsibility of participating in and progressing the project.

As well as programmes we have also identified several mini-projects at the unit level, which have been much easier to progress since they don’t have such a broad stakeholder group or require the same level of approval. These have already helped us to begin thinking about staff development needs and following our recent meeting we have been actively encouraged to develop our plans for a series of staff development workshops which fits neatly with our plans for FLeXchange (and a free lunch was also mentioned!).

Melanie – Project Officer

Image credit: add1sun on flickr 

Welcome to FLeXchange

A warm welcome to the FLeXchange project blog.

As part of the JISC Transformations Programme the FLeXchange project is hosted by the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at The University of Bath. FLeXchange sits within the faculty Flexible Learning Project which is focused on the flexible delivery of postgraduate programmes, with the aim to create, evaluate and disseminate a process protocol for sustainable development of flexible programmes.

FLeXchange will contribute to one aspect of this project, to enhance institutional efficiencies in learning and teaching by engaging and developing staff, in both support and academic roles, to best equip them for the delivery of flexible learning programmes. Through this blog we will be documenting our progress as we facilitate cross-discliplinary collaboration and sharing of best practice in staff development.

The project is running for 12 months from June 2012 and we hope you’ll drop by to see how we’re getting on and please feel free to post comments and give feedback.  We’re very much hoping that our project will be informed by the experience of others as much as by our own findings, benefiting us all.

Read more about the project and who we are on the About FLeXchange page.