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”.

Essay mills and contract cheating

QAA has published this week guidance setting out best practice around promoting academic integrity in higher education, through tackling students’ use of third parties’ services in order to cheat. It covers the use of essay mills and other forms of contract cheating. It describes the issues, and sets out the steps providers can take to deal with these.

The new guidance recommends:

  • clear information for students on the risks of cheating, including academic misconduct being reported to relevant professional bodies
  • support for students to develop independent study skills, including academic writing
  • using a range of assessment methods to limit opportunities for cheating
  • blocking essay mill sites and taking action against essay mill advertising on campus
  • smarter detection, including new software and greater familiarity with students’ personal styles and capabilities
  • appropriate support for whistle blowing – to protect accuser as well as accused
  • student involvement on academic misconduct policies and panels.

We will of course be considering the guidance in more detail, and what we can do to implement best practice.

See http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/Contracting-to-cheat-in-higher-education.pdf

Bronze, Silver or Gold – how’s your Blackboard site looking?


Baseline standards for VLE use were introduced in September 2015 and an audit of modules from the 2016/17 academic year has found that 94% of modules now have a tutor enrolled indicating a minimum level of engagement with the VLE. An increase of 2% from last year.

A further spot check of 50 random courses found that the vast majority were complying with baseline standard requirements with many exceeding the minimum and providing online learning resources and activities which were engaging and attractive and clearly enhanced the students’ learning experience.

With this high level of engagement, we wanted to encourage teaching staff to think about their Blackboard sites and  consider ways that they might provide a better learning experience for their students.

With this in mind we have designed a self-audit tool which staff can use to appraise their own use of Blackboard in line with the baseline standards, and we have used the bronze, silver and gold categories to mirror the TEF.

You can access the Blackboard Module Self Audit but if you would like us to come and talk to your course team and provide some examples of “gold” standard sites we would be happy to attend a team meeting or provide a bespoke workshop. Please contact eos@worc.ac.uk to arrange.

Learning and Teaching Conference 2018

UW Learning and Teaching Conference 2018


This is early information regarding the University of Worcester’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, which will take place on Weds 13th June 2018, 4.30pm – 7pm and Thursday 14th June 2018, 9am – 5.pm.


This year the conference day 1 will commence at 5pm with our first Keynote speaker. This will be followed by a series of ignite presentations (5 minutes each) and then the opportunity to view the poster presentations and network over a cheese and wine reception.


Day 2 will begin at 9.30am with a panel session, with the opportunity to discuss key themes of the conference and ask questions.  This will then be followed by a series of conference presentations throughout the day, culminating in the second Keynote speaker and closing address. It is hoped that the change of format will continue to attract a large number of colleagues and will enable inclusion of some alternative delivery approaches, providing increased opportunities for more staff to share their innovative, inspirational and excellent learning and teaching.


Further details of the conference and its theme will follow but colleagues are encouraged to hold these important dates in their diaries.

Launch of 2017-18 Students as Academic Partners scheme

Following a successful SAP scheme in 2016-17, with very high quality projects being completed, we are pleased to announce the launch of the 2017-18 scheme. Applications are now open until 30 October 2017. Please can you share this information with colleagues who may be interested in applying to the scheme.

Students and staff are invited to submit applications which have a clear emphasis on supporting future course development and improving the course and student experience. The scheme seeks to employ students as active partners of learning and teaching project teams based within the University. SAP is open to all students who are eligible to work in the UK and registered on a course for this academic year, and to all staff at the university.

Information on the scheme and details on how to apply are below:

SAP Project Scheme 2017-18


Final reports from previous years are also available for inspiration!

We look forward to receiving your application. Please contact us if you need any further information.

Karen Blackmore (k.blackmore@worc.ac.uk), academic lead for the SAP project scheme
Carolyn Nisbet (c.nisbet@worc.ac.uk) project manager for the SAP project scheme

Share and Inspire Seminars Semester 1 2017/18

Share and inspire seminars for the autumn term are aimed at generating discussion and sharing practice in relation to issues of academic practice that we know are challenging to colleagues.

Creating effective learning environments and classroom civility: we know that managing student behaviour in the classroom can be challenging, and is a concern to staff and students alike when learning is ‘disrupted’.  This session and the follow-up opportunities will explore solutions.

Developing student’s academic and study skills is central to the higher education experience, but what assumptions do course teams make about the skills students have at the start of their course, and are there effective and innovative ways to support development, working with Library Services?  This session will showcase examples of practice.

Research inspired teaching and employability are key considerations for any undergraduate or postgraduate curriculum – but how can they be related to provide effective learning?  This session will explore examples and identify ways in which students can develop employability through developing research sills and understanding.

Further details below.  Please book through the University Staff Development pages.


Subject Date and time
Changing behaviour: Creating effective learning environments and classroom civility


Civility: Formal politeness and courtesy in behaviour.


This Share and Inspire workshop aims to provide a solution focused and interactive session exploring how we move towards effective learning environments and classroom civility in the context of Higher Education.  It offers a variety of examples of pro-active and reactive strategies that have proven successful for presenting colleagues; draws upon research and literature in the field; and invites you to critically reflect upon your own practice and role in creating an effective learning environment and classroom civility.  Future opportunities will be available to follow-up with peer-supported clinics and reciprocal review of practice.  The workshop will begin with reflection over lunch at 1.30pm.


Tues 17th October 2017

lunch 1.30 pm and session start, ends 4.15 pm

Mapping the Learner Journey


This Share & Inspire session will share the results of research into the student learner journey, in which staff were interviewed about their experiences and expectations of students’ skill development throughout their degree programmes.  This session will help course teams think about their curricula, and how students are supported to develop a range of study skills, sharing examples of good practice, exploring some issues and challenges presented by the data, and offering an opportunity to discuss how these findings can be taken forwards.  It will also showcase some of the developments Library Services are making in response to these findings to support curricula and develop the student experience.


Thursday 8 November 2017

12.30 pm to 2.00 pm

Research Inspired Teaching 


An exploration of ways of enriched student learning and enhancing their employability skills by engaging them with the challenges and excitement of research.


Monday 4 December 2017

12.30 pm to 2.00 pm

Teaching Excellence Framework: Policy Update

In July the government published the specification for the first year of TEF subject pilotsSubject level pilots will be run in 2017/18 and 2018/119 before subject level TEF runs fully in 2019/20 (TEF Year 5).  This also announced the use of a new teaching intensity measure.

On 7 September Jo Johnson announced a number of ‘refinements’ to the TEF methodology, arising from the TEF Lessons learned: summary report, and intended to make HE providers more accountable for teaching excellence.  These changes come into effect for TEF Year 3 (ie immediately).

A summary of the arrangements for the subject pilots and the changes to the TEF methodology is outlined below.

Continue reading “Teaching Excellence Framework: Policy Update”

New National Teaching Fellow

Many congratulations to Lerverne Barber, Deputy Head of the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, who has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship.

Having had a very successful career as a Secondary Physical Education teacher and Physical Education Adviser/Inspector, Lerverne Barber joined the University of Worcester in 2004 as a Lecturer in the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science. Lerverne’s passion for inclusive learning and teaching and her extensive experience and subject expertise, ensured that she was quickly promoted to Course Leader and then Principal Lecturer, for Learning, Teaching and the Student Experience.

Read the full news story about Lerverne via https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/person/lerverne-barber