Welcome to the Realising Teaching Excellence blog at the University of Worcester, where we hope to keep you informed about teaching and learning developments, create dialogue around developing excellence, and introduce you to examples of interesting practice.
See the “Teaching Excellence” page for the latest news and the “Interesting Practice” page for learning and teaching case studies. See the “Resources” page for the recently added “Busy Lecturer’s Guide to Inclusive Practice”.

Research Inspired Teaching at the University of Worcester

The following, drawing on extracts from the University’s 2017 TEF submission, gives an outline of our approach to developing the links between teaching and research.  We would very much like to publish some short University case studies on research inspired teaching – please get in touch with Carolyn Nisbet, if you would like to produce a case study for us.

 Developing Research Skills: Linking Teaching and Research

Our Learning and Teaching Strategy commits us to induct all students into research-informed academic communities of the University, both by engaging with the academic research and scholarship of others, understanding research processes, methods, ethics and engaging in their own research, usually through a final year independent research project. We also ensure that courses at level 6 consistently demonstrate alignment with the FHEQ by engaging our students with current, relevant research in their discipline. Students recognise and value our approach, with an outstanding NSS score of 87% of students agreeing or strongly agreeing with the statement ‘my learning has benefitted from modules that are informed by current research’ compared with a top quartile score of 81%.

Examples of curriculum related projects include:

  • Archaeology students participate in a “live” excavation research project designed to provide answers to nationally identified research questions
  • English students are engaged in e-editing early modern manuscripts or texts
  • Experimental Animation students conduct action based research working with external organisations to raise awareness of social issues
  • Creative Writing students work with the National Trust on a range of projects to better engage the public with the historical stories associated with local Trust properties
  • History students have worked with two Heritage Lottery funded community groups and a community historian to publish a book with History Press.

Continue reading “Research Inspired Teaching at the University of Worcester”

Unlocking potential: the key to inspiring Life-long and Life-wide Learning University of Worcester Learning & Teaching Conference 13-14 June 2018

Call for papers

The theme for the University of Worcester Learning and Teaching 2018 conference is:  Unlocking potential: the key to inspiring life-long and life-wide learning

In today’s culture of increasing accountability in Higher Education, this conference seeks to explore the opportunities for unlocking student potential. There are numerous strategies to inspire life-long learners, including authentic learning experiences, working in partnerships and sharing innovative approaches to learning, teaching and assessment.

The Conference will include a panel discussion on breaking boundaries and keynote lectures from:

Eric Stoller – A higher education thought-leader, consultant, writer, and speaker. He frequently gives keynotes on how educators can use social media for learning and engagement and is a proponent for teaching students about digital identity development.

You can get a taste of Eric’s work on his blog at http://ericstoller.com/blog/

Luke Millard – The Director of Educational Development Service at Birmingham City University;  he is a Principal Fellow of the HEA and was Chair of the European First Year Experience conference in 2017.


We invite proposals which showcase teaching practice that encourages independent, holistic and continuous learning from those who work and study at the University of Worcester, partner colleges and beyond.

Abstract proposals and Titles for Ignite, should be submitted using the linked form.  Abstracts for Oral and Poster presentations should be no more than 250 words.  A title and key words should be submitted for the Ignite presentations.

You are invited to submit an abstract to be presented in one of the following formats:

Ignite format – no more than 5 slides delivered in a short (max 5 minutes) session. Q&A will be at the end of all session along with networking opportunities.  See www.ignitetalks.io for more information.

Oral presentation – a presentation of no more than 12 minutes in duration with an additional 5 minutes for Q&A.

Poster – specific guidance on the final layout and formatting will be provided upon notification of acceptance.

Although the conference committee aims to accommodate as many applications as possible, this is a selective process and spaces are limited.  Where space is very limited in a particular strand, applicants may be asked to present in a different format to their original submission.

Proposals will be reviewed and applicants contacted during the week beginning 30th April 2018.

You will also need to register to attend the event in order to contribute to the conference; further information will be sent out in due course.

Criteria for acceptance

In order to be selected for the conference, your proposed contribution will need to:

  • Have clear relevance to the overall conference title and agenda
  • Be written with clarity so that the content is easily understood by the review panel and by conference delegates
  • Be of interest to conference delegates by describing practice or research from which others might learn
  • Ensure accuracy of citations, where these are used.

We are holding an abstract writing workshop on the 27th of February – please register on the staff development pages or enquire via ltconference@worc.ac.uk.

The closing date for submissions to the conference is Monday 9 April 2018.  Submissions received after this date will not be accepted.

For further information please contact ltconference@worc.ac.uk .

HEA Fellows meet to enhance role at the University of Worcester

Sean Bracken, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Education (Senior Fellow of the HEA)
Lerverne Barber, Associate Head, Institute of Sport & Exercise Science (National Teaching Fellow)

Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) is increasingly recognised as a means through which individuals can validate their commitment to high quality learning for students and research informed professional teaching. For Higher Educational Providers (HEPs) there is a growing realisation that fellowship processes provide a cohesive way to reflect organisational commitment to the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF). These standards provide a shared sector-based approach articulating the expectations in three core areas of action, knowledge and values.

However, once one has had fellowship bestowed, it can be challenging to identify what that means for future actions and whether there may be implications for engagement within a wider university and sector-based community. With this in mind, the University of Worcester’s latest National Teaching Fellow (NTF), Lerverne Berber, invited current staff with Senior (SFHEA) and Principal Fellowship (PFHEA) of the HEA to an open discussion as to how best a community of experienced practitioners might define their shared roles within the University of Worcester.  A lunchtime meeting took place on Monday 22nd of January 2018 and 21 colleagues attended, with a follow-up session for another 4 staff.

Group discussions focused on aspects such as: cross-Institute Continuing Professional Development opportunities; using learning and teaching monies to effectively resource support for colleagues’ learning and teaching development, including successful applications for HEA Fellowship and the University’s own Teaching Award Scheme; and the development of a strategic approach to supporting colleagues aspiring to achieve SFHEA, PFHEA and NTF.

Attendees revealed that they were keen to support other colleagues in the attainment of recognition for collegiate commitment to leadership in learning, teaching and assessment processes.  Colleagues also focused on their own potential to provide direction during Institute professional development days especially with reference to opportunities for strengthening reward and recognition. The concept of providing mentoring for colleagues was seen as a particularly important part of the role.

Colleagues recognised that the external environment and internal considerations have increased the visibility of learning, teaching and assessment policies and practices. Commensurate with this is the realisation that the UKPSF plays a pivotal role in informing our practices. For example, developing appraisal processes should provide scope for fruitful discussions pertaining to enhancement of career pathways using the diversity of reward and recognition options available to colleagues at the University of Worcester.

Following on from these initial discussions, a shared Blackboard space has been created where the community of Senior, Principal and National HEA Fellows have agreed to share insights about research, resources and support for colleagues in the wider University.  This should add a level of sustainability to the group, which promises to act as a dynamic collegial group concerned with peer and self-professional enhancement for learning, teaching and assessment. Further meetings are being planned and the development of some specific working groups are being discussed.

UMD Workshop – Linking and Learning Globally through Online Collaboration: Engaging with the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) and Beyond…

Most disciplines strive to ensure that their graduates have the requisite knowledge and skills to engage effectively in cross-cultural and transnational contexts.  However, many colleagues and students may struggle to find the time and resources to embed these concepts meaningfully into the curriculum. Associate professors Dr Helen Mongan-Rallis and Dr. David Syring from the University of Minnesota Duluth have joined a growing cadre of colleagues from across the globe aiming to overcome the challenge of connecting students and academics through collaborative online international learning (COIL).

Typically, COIL projects involve the co-development of a course, module or series of lessons by two or more lecturers from different countries who recognise that an innovative and valuable kind of learning occurs when students from different parts of the world work together on a common area of focus. Helen and David have ample experience of how this works by connecting students and lecturers so they can expand their understandings of intercultural and transnational learning.

If you’d like to develop links in your own discipline with other colleagues throughout the world, or even if you’d like to know more about COIL and how it works, then you’re cordially invited to attend one of two open sessions. Details of these sessions are as follows:

Monday 19th February 2018 – 9.15 – 10.15, at St John’s Campus (room BY 1147) An additional hour has been added (10:15 – 11:15) for an informal discussion/drop in session in the same room

Monday 19th February 2018 – 13.15 – 14.15, at City Campus (room CH 1003). An additional hour has been added (14:15-15:15) for an informal discussion/drop in session in the same room

Interested colleagues are invited to express their interest by signing on via the Staff Development Workshops website.

If you’re unable to attend either of these learning and networking sessions, and if you’d like to make an individual appointment to meet up with Helen and David while they’re visiting Worcester between the 19th and 22nd of February, please email Helen directly at:  hrallis@d.umn.edu.

Pledge to participate in the ‘Sustainable Development Goals Teach-In’ 19-23 February

The SDG teach-in is being promoted by the NUS and asks educators across UK universities and colleges to pledge to include the UN Sustainable Development Goals in their teaching, learning, and assessment in one or more of their courses during the week.  This may be done through case studies, debate, discussion, group work, or simulations relating to topics included within the SDGs. Ideally, students will learn about the SDGs and their relevance to the course. The SDG teach-in will give lecturers and teaching staff the chance to start the conversation, help raise awareness of why the SDGs should be at the heart of further and higher education, and stimulate the change needed to make this happen.  Find out more at https://sustainability.unioncloud.org/responsible-futures/esd-teach-in/pledge


Teacher Training using Learning Mats

Kim Hibbert-Mayne (Secondary PGCE PE Tutor)

Learning mats have been a tool in primary and secondary education for many years now; used to guide pupils around a topic or remind them of key ideas, concepts or vocabulary during a lesson. They can be used to extend the learning during an independent task or for homework.

For the same reasons I have been using learning mats in my own sessions for teacher training in secondary education. In this context they are a tool for information gathering, thought organising and for increasing the level of engagement when it comes to students taking their own notes. I find that learning mats encourage students to decipher the information being transferred and summarise it to ‘fit’ into the relevant boxes. They provide a focus for what students should be looking out for during a lecture, provide a structure to their notes and a sense of authorship once the learning mat has been completed. Their work can then be filed into a collection of visually stimulating resources which are easy to find, review and amend.

I use learning mats for every major session, topic or activity and make them electronically available for those working on their own mobile technology devices. I have also found that those with dyslexia benefit from this structured approach to note taking and information organising.

While on placement trainee teachers can find revising unorganised notes, academic sources and professional documents quite overwhelming due to the time constraints and the pressures of planning and teaching. General feedback is that learning mats are quicker and easier to look back upon for information and have been the first point of reference for many of my students’ lesson plans, units of work and for their assignment planning.

One student said that ‘They are literally a life saver and I know that without them I wouldn’t have taken notes in a way which would benefit me in the long term!’

Tips for creating effective learning mats:

Continue reading “Teacher Training using Learning Mats”

Shared cross-curricular activities for PGCE Modern Languages trainees and PGCE Mathematics trainees

Jane Moreton (Secondary Mathematics PGCE Tutor) and Isabelle Schafer (PGCE Secondary Modern Languages Subject Leader)

In January 2018, PGCE Modern Languages trainees and PGCE Mathematics trainees planned cross-curricular activities at the University of Worcester. Trainees’ interpretation of how to embed numeracy in their teaching and how to take into account pupils’ language needs were influenced by professional dialogue. They created thought provoking activities and they taught each other symmetry through famous French buildings, sports vocabulary through probability, food through combinations, averages through world competitions etc.







Feedback from trainees was overwhelmingly positive:

Modern Languages trainee: “This week the session with the maths trainees really helped me to see the infinite number of ways in which we can incorporate elements of maths into language lessons and how fun this can be for the students. I feel that I will have no trouble implementing these activities into my own lessons.”

Continue reading “Shared cross-curricular activities for PGCE Modern Languages trainees and PGCE Mathematics trainees”