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”.

Retention and Success initiatives

During the course of last year it was clear that there were a great deal of on-going initiatives aimed at improving student retention and success. We are now seeking examples of any evaluated initiatives which we can gather together and make available to anyone in the University with a responsibility for improving student retention and success

Information is provided using the form and a completed example is available of a tried and tested’ module level intervention.

You should typically include the following key elements:

1. Level of the intervention (School, Course or Module)
2. Your reasons for taking action
3. A description of what you did
4. The evidence which demonstrates the positive effects on retention and/or success
5. Resources

Please send completed submissions to Will Bowen-Jones (w.bowen-jones@worc.ac.uk)

While there is a no fixed deadline, it would be great to have at least one example from each School by the end of October.

Examples will be posted on the Tried and Tested page

New resources to support student transitions

September marks the start of an exciting and life-changing journey for thousands of young and not-so-young people, as they start university.  Many students, however, struggle with the initial transition from school or college into university, and within the first few weeks question whether higher education is for them.

In response to this challenge, Student Minds has collaborated with Canadian organisation TeenMentalHealth.Org (led by internationally-renowned psychiatrist Dr. Stan Kutcher) to ensure that this period of transition is met with information, support and guidance through the development of two new online resources for UK students.

These resources support many of the priorities set out in Universities UK’s Step Change framework, aimed at supporting HEIs to take a whole organisation approach to the mental health of their students, young people and staff, so that it is embedded across all policies, cultures, curricula and practice.

Continue reading “New resources to support student transitions”

Library teaching menu and self-audit tool for course teams

Library Services have developed a new tool-kit to support students in the development of study, research and information skills.

The tool-kit consists of:

– an audit tool for course teams to agree expectations about the skills students should have or develop at each level of a course and to identify how these are articulated to students
– a menu of what teaching and support the Academic Liaison Librarians can provide, working in partnership with Departments/course teams.

Colleagues are encouraged to get in touch with their Academic Liaison Librarian to discuss embedding skills into the curriculum to support student success.

New resources for supporting staff and students with assessment and feedback

From the Assessment Task and Finish Group, two new guides for staff and students have been produced:

Making feedback on assignments effective; a style guide for tutors

Providing feedback on assignments is one of the most time-consuming things tutors do. Extensive research shows that it can also be one of the most influential things tutors do to improve student learning. However, this relies on the students engaging with the feedback. It is known that successful engagement leads to better attainment for students and more positive student survey results. This document aims to provide guidance so that time spent marking has an impact.

Assessment Guidance for Students

This guide provides short explanations for various commonly used terms (e.g. formative and summative assessment) in order to help students, particularly those at Level 4, with their general knowledge and confidence in understanding the assessment process at the University.

We hope you will find the guides helpful and we encourage you to use them as a basis for course team discussions to help in further strengthening a consistent approach to explaining assessment and to providing feedback on assessments.

Note also that the University Assessment Policy was reviewed and updated at the end of the last academic year and can be found at http://www.worc.ac.uk/aqu/documents/AssessmentPolicy.pdf

EDULEARN18: 10th Annual Conference Review

EDULEARN18: 10th Annual Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies

2nd – 4th July 2018, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

EDULEARN is one of the largest international education conferences for lecturers, researchers, technologists and professionals from the educational sector. Every year the conference brings together more than 800 experts from 80 countries to present their projects and share their knowledge on teaching and learning methodologies and educational innovations.

Antonio Gracia, a member of the EduLearn organising committee, opened the conference. He set the tone through his narrative of educational change and finding ways to succeed in an ever-changing landscape.

Sunanna Chand (Remake Learning) gave an insightful keynote on the fourth Industrial Revolution due to rapid technological advances. Organic communication is needed rather than hierarchical communication to solve complex challenges through collaborative solutions and a network lens for social change (Ogden, 2016) that ‘keeps learners at the centre’. You can see the website www.remakelearning.org and subscribe to their newsletter.

Eric Mazur (Harvard University) conducted a captivating keynote on students’ first exposure and their engagement with learning outside the classroom (flipped learning). He introduced a fascinating social learning network tool entitled ‘Perusall’ (https://perusall.com) that facilitates student engagement with learning material that can be integrated into learning management systems. An asynchronous system that has the ability to prepare students in and out of class through a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic drivers.

With themes ranging from ‘Assessment of Student Learning’ to ‘Virtual Reality in Education’ and on to ‘Leadership and Management in Education’, there was something for everyone.

Stimulating perspectives from the conference included:

  • Gamification of assessment practice in higher education to affect learner behaviour and attitudes (Bedwell et al 2012; Lander)
  • Mental health and the impact on online retention
  • Conceptual, open-ended tasks for use with learner analytics
  • Personal academic tutor training model in skills, data dashboards, resilience and boundaries
  • Change management and quality assurance to integrate multiple stakeholders in a shared transnational joint degree programme
  • Active learning-focused teaching in a digital future classroom incorporated zoned teaching areas where critical thinking, social interaction and investigative skills could be engaged with on a rotational or student needs driven basis
  • Innovative and creative approaches to student learning. Including: google classroom, multi-modal formative feedback, I-poems to support Personal Academic Tutoring.


Want to know more, see

Bedwell, W. L., Pavlas, D., Heyne, K., Lazzara, E. H., & Salas, E. (2012). Toward a taxonomy linking game attributes to learning: An empirical study. Simulation & Gaming: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 43, 729-760.

Landers, Richard. (2015). Developing a Theory of Gamified Learning. Simulation & Gaming. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268632276_Developing_a_Theory_of_Gamified_Learning DOI 10.1177/1046878114563660.

Ogden, C., (2016) Thinking Like A Network. Interaction Institute for Social Change. February 9. http://interactioninstitute.org/thinking-like-a-network-2/


Advance notice of next year’s conference – EduLearn19 will be the 11th International Conference. It will be held in Spain in July 2019.


Authored by: Catriona Robinson, Lerverne Barber & Kerry Whitehouse

Vignette of Practice: Alternative Models of Practice Education for Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy

Alternative Models of Practice Education for Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy

 by Dr Yvonne Thomas, Principal Lecturer – Allied Health Professions,

Institute of Health and Society


 The following case study identifies the development of a range of alternative practice education (PE) models, including Role-Emerging Placements, International Placements; Student-Led Clinic and two pilot Collaborative Learning in Placement (CLiP) placements that have been established in Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy programmes.

Through effective leadership, the adoption of a range of alternative practice education models within both programmes has been promoted to students and to professional colleagues in practice. In 4 years the feedback from students and practice educators supports the effectiveness of Role-Emerging Placements to promote student confidence and competence.

One of the crucial elements has been in promoting the value of PE to professional colleagues in practice, and engaging them directly in the development of the new programme and the alternative models, through Practice Educator Training courses and annual Practice Educators Days.


 International Placement

In 2016 an International Placement was developed for Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy students in their final year of study. The placement was conducted in Vietnam and provided volunteer students an opportunity to complete their final 6 weeks placement in the Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City. The International Placement was possible because of my previous contacts in Vietnam and my experience in developing overseas placements. Through my positive encouragement, commitment and leadership other staff became motivated to support this international experience for students in 2018. Student feedback was excellent and graduates from this cohort have expressed an interest in volunteering to assist future student placements in Vietnam.


 Student-Led Clinic

As Academic Lead in Allied Health, I instigated the development of an inter-professional student-led health and wellbeing clinic, at the University of Worcester McClelland Centre. This development provided an opportunity for health professional students from different disciplines, to work collaboratively to provide health and wellbeing programmes that meet a community need. International research on Student-Led Clinics indicates their value to student learning and to the community users. To effectively lead this development, I have undertaken research and supported evaluation and research by students, to evidence the student and service user experience.


CLiP Project

In 2018 we established two new pilot sites for the development of CLiP (Collaborative Learning in Practice), which is a new model that uses coaching methods to encourage students to learn in collaboration. This model changes the one-to-one basis of supervision or preceptorship with a four-to-one model whereby the students learn with and from each other and are coached by the educator. Two CLiP placements, one in Occupational Therapy and one in Physiotherapy, have been undertaken and evaluated, both with Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust. There is more scope to increase the number of CLiP practice education projects locally.


Through developing new models of practice education my own leadership skills have developed by inspiring others to adopt new practice education models. It has been essential to articulate and evidence new ideas and then facilitate pilot projects to evaluate and ensure the best outcomes.