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”.

Vignette of Practice – Developing Student Midwives’ Practice Performance: The SKIPP Initiative

Developing Student Midwives’ Practice Performance: The SKIPP Initiative

Institute of Health and Society


Teaching Team Award

Lead Award Author:

Julie Smith, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery


Tina Dennis, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery

Becci Godwin, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery

Lucy Hope, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery

Toni Martin, Lead Midwife for Education: Programme Leader

Lynne Mason, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery

Lisa Stephens, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery

Kate Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery

Ros Weston, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery


Ellie Sonmezer, Midwifery Lecturer Practitioner


The focus of this case study is to demonstrate how the Skills for Improving Practice Performance (SKIPP) initiative provides an example of the midwifery teaching team’s collaborative approach to student midwife education.


SKIPP was an innovation introduced in February 2017 to complement the existing clinical skills acquisition element of the programme. SKIPP was the idea of one midwifery teacher but successful implementation required the commitment of the whole team (UKPSF A1 and A4).


The SKIPP initiative is an example of excellent and inspiring practice because it adds value to the student experience by providing a safe environment to develop and hone a range of clinical skills (using high fidelity simulation equipment and mannequins), supporting the development of clinically competent and confident students and future registered midwives (NMC 2009; NMC 2015). Lendahls and Oscarrson (2017) found that students value the opportunity for repetitive practice of skills, enabling them to make the links between theory and practice, increasing confidence and preparing them for clinical practice. Providing students with the opportunity to identify and practice those skills in which they feel less confident respects them as individual learners.  By enabling students to attend as often as they wish, the initiative also supports those with different learning needs who perhaps require additional time or repetition to assimilate a skill.


The sessions were held fortnightly at lunch times and conducted in the Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre. They were accessible to all students across the programme, the premise being that students from different year groups support each other, resulting in peer teaching and learning. Drop-in sessions enabled students to be flexible and to fit in attendance around other commitments, maintaining their study/family life balance.  One or two midwifery lecturers were present at each session to provide support and feedback.


SKIPP guides for the students were developed by all members of the midwifery teaching team, requiring the team to update their own knowledge of clinical guidelines and the evidence base for practice. Facilitating the sessions also afforded members of the teaching team an opportunity to maintain and develop their individual midwifery skills.


The team believes that this innovation is an example of inspiring practice since it is clearly well received by students. Feedback has been extremely positive:

“So useful for becoming more familiar with equipment, theory and practice, which really helped with progression on placement.” 

 “I think SKIPP is absolutely fabulous for lots of reasons including making emergency situations much less frightening in practice.”

Further evidence of success can be found in the students’ module evaluations, requesting more sessions, and were identified as an excellent initiative by students in their feedback for the 2017 periodic review of the BSc Midwifery programme.

The midwifery team intends to extend this initiative to develop multi-professional SKIPP sessions in the future.



Lendahls, L. and Oscarsson, M. (2017) Midwifery students’ experiences of simulation and skills training. Nurse Education Today. 50, pp. 12–16.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2009) Standards for pre-registration midwifery education. London, NMC.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (2015) The Code. Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives.  London, NMC.

Forthcoming Learning and Teaching Conferences

Colleagues who attended the Learning and Teaching Conference on the 13th/14th June may wish to explore this list to see if there are additional places that they can share their work.

Forthcoming Learning and Teaching Conferences

The list of conferences related to the student experience and learning and teaching in HE, has been updated for the coming year. Information in the listing gives deadlines for proposals for papers where relevant as well as link to conference webpage.

Updated – May 2018


Vignette of Practice – Authentic Learning and Partnership Building through Module Design

Authentic learning and partnership building through module design 

by Gill Renfree, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management and Sport Development,

Institute of Sport & Exercise Science


This case study demonstrates the innovative and inspirational approaches I have taken when designing learning activities, teaching and supporting learning, and developing a positive and effective learning environment for first year Sport Business Management students in a
15-credit module.  The module has been designed and planned to enhance student understanding of the subject and to apply understanding and produce work that enhances their employability skills.  Through focusing on the areas of employer engagement and peer and formative assessment the module pushes students to achieve and ‘learn about learning’ and therefore enhance the students’ approaches to study and knowledge creation. Through these examples I address the core knowledge, areas of activity and Professional Values of the HEA Dimensions of Professional Practice framework (HEA 2011).


The module is split into two parts, the first focuses on understanding of concepts, literature and application within the sport industry which develop academic skills.  The second half focuses on practical application of theory into an authentic real life setting which immerses the students within an environment that cultivates learning by doing and this is particularly relevant to their future employability.  Offering this learning environment within a mandatory module has provided students with an opportunity to begin the process of absorbing, retaining and transferring their knowledge through working with industry (Lombardi 2007; Romenti, Invernizzi, & Biraghi 2012).  Engaging local employers has enabled students to transform their learning space from one that is classroom based into a sporting experience that places the student at the centre of their learning.  Due to the fast paced industry in which Sport Business Management is situated, the ability for students to acknowledge the wider context of how their learning and knowledge operates has implications for their HE experience but also how the degree meets that challenging environment.  In order to develop experience within an authentic environment and gain a better appreciation of the reality of how sport organisations promote their business, students go to a business setting and this transforms their theoretical learning into a real world application. However, the employers continue to be engaged with the module through the second assessment with their place of business providing the case study and being an integral part of the formative feedback/feed forward process.  Both are central to the authentic learning experience as real-world relevance requires examination, collaboration, reflection and application of knowledge (Yorke, 2003).  This facilitated reflection and also utilisation of feedback which could be implemented and fed forward into the students’ summative presentations.  The formative assessment session set up for the employers to engage with students has been innovative in its practice and the process has enabled external partners to provide rich and insightful feedback to students prior to summative assessments.  The inclusion of employers also helped motivate students to form a professional approach which aided reflection on learning and knowledge, but also how they present themselves to the wider world. There was an enormous improvement between the formative week of presentation to the employers and the summative presentation as students had ‘learnt by doing’, how to present their work effectively and what key points required highlighting based upon feedback received from the employer. As a result, this module and the focus on the authentic learning experience has enhanced the experience of all parties involved.


Reference List

HEA (2011) The UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education. Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/downloads/uk_professional_standards_framework.pdf (Accessed: 10th May 2017).

Lombardi, M.M. (2007) Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview. Available at: https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3009.pdf (Accessed: 17 July 2017).

Romenti, S. Invernizzi, E. & Biraghi, S. (2012) ‘Engaging employers to develop quality in higher education: the case of communication studies in Italy’, Quality in Higher Education, 18(2), pp.205-220.

Yorke, M. (2003) ‘Formative assessment in higher education: Moves towards theory and the enhancement of pedagogic practice’, Higher Education, 45(4), pp.477–501.

Vignette of Practice: Mind the Gap – Supporting Effective Transition for Direct Entry Students

Mind the Gap – supporting effective transition for

direct entry students


by Dr Susanna Prankel, Senior Lecturer in Biology,

Institute of Science and the Environment


This case study involves a Research Excellence Framework (Education) submission from within the Institute of Science and the Environment (ISE) on access to Higher Education (HE) teaching following a number of successes. These have included grant applications, research, course development, successful course delivery, evaluation of impact and dissemination of resources, along with publication. It is linked to the QAA Enhancement Theme ‘Student Transition’.


Students face challenges when embarking on HE studies at university, particularly on direct entry to level six. This investigation acknowledges the wider context in which HE operates recognising the implications for professional practice.


Having obtained grant funding I headed the project, working with a fellow colleague in ISE, Lorraine Weaver. We developed a bridging course (‘enhanced induction’) which aimed to help overcome barriers and ease transition (promoting participation in HE and equality of opportunity for learners). It also aimed to celebrate diverse learning communities, which can actually help individual learners to take ownership of their subject by supporting each other utilising their strengths. The course and all related resources were evolved further and made publicly accessible to other lecturers via websites and a CD-ROM. The latter were distributed in Education and Widening Participation events regionally and nationally and received good feedback.


My main aim was to raise the awareness of barriers to successful transition to HE in lecturers and to develop teaching resources to overcome such obstacles. These aims draw heavily on the concepts of constructive alignment and transactional analysis, emphasising the use of student-centred activities for learners, and encourages the use of different learning and teaching styles. It also highlights the importance of making students aware of their learning and their role in the process. One of the most successful exercises of the course is the sharing of academic expectations, critical thinking exercises and collaboration on grading criteria.



The resulting publication (Prankel and Weaver, 2012) was selected for the REF 2014 as ‘of national importance’. Since its online publication in 2016 it has been accessed 53 times on one site alone (using evidence-informed approaches and the outcomes from research, scholarship and CPD). An external examiner commented that: ‘The course is demonstratively providing an excellent opportunity for students with a non-traditional or weak academic background to find a route to success. Success parameters are student academic performance (module results, final awards and withdrawal rates) compared with that of previous cohorts. Materials from the project are still used to enhance teaching and induction. Currency is evidenced by a recent initiative at the University of Worcester which covers the same issues (see https://rteworcester.wordpress.com/category/teaching-excellence/), headed by Dr Sue Cuthbert.



The project allowed me to share my commitment to inspire lecturers and students alike to achieve their potential, making this pivotal process successful and enjoyable using innovative techniques. Co-ordinating teaching development involved reappraising my own practice. Most of all I wish to inspire others by sharing my enthusiasm of subject matter and the teaching process itself. Awareness augments learning and teaching.




Prankel, S., and Weaver, L. (2012). Enhanced Induction into a Science Top-up Degree – Easing Transition from Further Education Institutions. Bioscience Education Vol. 20, Iss. 1,2012. Available at:  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.11120/beej.2012.20000092 (Accessed: 18/1/18).

Vignette of Practice – Consideration of Preferred Learning Styles in the Module PSYC3646 (Forensic Psychology in Practice)

Consideration of Preferred Learning Styles in the Module PSYC3646

(Forensic Psychology in Practice)

 by Dr Gill Harrop, Lecturer in Forensic Psychology, Institute of Health and Society

and Dr Dean Wilkinson, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Health and Society


Dunn et al. (1995) found that matching students’ learning-style preferences to teaching strategies is beneficial to academic achievement, while Yassin and Almasri (2015) suggested that failing to consider students’ differing preferred learning styles can lead to students disengaging and feeling confused. In an effort to address this issue, learning preferences within PSYC3646 (Forensic Psychology in Practice) were considered within the context of Jahiel’s VAK model (2008), which identifies visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning preferences. This model was selected due to positive reviews within the pedagogical literature around the benefits of using VAK within an education setting (Willis, 2017; Fleming and Baume, 2006) and its wide use within schools, universities and teacher training institutions in England and Wales (Sharp, Bowker and Byrne, 2008).


We actively sought to accommodate different preferred learning styles across our teaching activities within this module. One example of this was a workshop on restorative justice, where the students completed individual reflection worksheets which mirrored a task that a young offender might be given within a one-to-one session. Discussion-based activities were then used to reflect on the potential uses of the worksheet in practice, followed by a didactic teaching session using a PowerPoint presentation, and analysis of an abstract from a recent publication, which the students read themselves before discussing it in small groups.


The final activity involved splitting the students into pairs and assigning one to be the ‘psychologist’ and one to be the ‘offender’. Students were advised that the ‘offender’ would be reading a short case study and then describing an offence, and the ‘psychologist’ would be listening and drawing. This allowed them to each pick the role that they felt most suited to. The ‘psychologist’ was given a piece of blank A4 paper, folded into 9 squares, and the task for each pair was to produce a storyboard of the offence, drawn out by the ‘psychologist’. This required the ‘offender’ to describe their offence (based on the case study description they had been given) to the ‘psychologist’, who then drew out the offence as a storyboard. The aim of the task was to help the ‘offender’ reflect upon the offence.


At the end of the task, the ‘psychologist’ in each pair described the storyboard to the class. Two examples of storyboard drawings from this activity are shown in Figure 1. The range of activities offered within this workshop (reading from academic literature, completing a questionnaire, discussion tasks, short lecture, describing a case study and drawing out the storyboard) ensured that all students had the opportunity to engage in tasks that matched their preferred learning style at some point in the workshop.


Figure 1. Student storyboard activity

Feedback from the workshop was very positive and students noted that the activities had helped them to remember what they had learnt, particularly the storyboard activity. Several students were still able to recount what they had learnt from this session, including their case study example from the storyboard activity, even though several weeks had passed, suggesting the range of activities had a positive impact upon student retention as well as engagement.


We continually evaluate the effectiveness of our approach through module evaluation forms, in-class focus groups and feedback from course committee. Feedback has been very positive, with the last module evaluation for PSYC3646 achieving 100% student satisfaction. The impact of our teaching also feeds into the National Student Survey results for the forensic psychology programme, and we were extremely proud to achieve 100% student satisfaction in the 2017 NSS. In addition, forensic psychology has consistently performed well at the Student Choice Awards, with a forensic psychology module being selected as the top module in our Institute for the last three years.




Dunn, R., Griggs, S. A., Olson, J., Beasley, M., & Gorman, B. S. (1995). A meta-analytic validation of the Dunn and Dunn model of learning-style preferences. The Journal of Educational Research, 88(6), 353-362.


Fleming, N., & Baume, D. (2006). Learning Styles Again: VARKing up the right tree!. Educational developments, 7(4), 4.


Jahiel, J. (2008). What’s your learning styles? Practical Horseman, 36(3), 32-37.


Sharp, J. G., Bowker, R., & Byrne, J. (2008). VAK or VAK‐uous? Towards the trivialisation of learning and the death of scholarship. Research Papers in Education, 23(3), 293-314.


Willis, S. (2017). Literature review on the use of VAK learning strategies. The STeP Journal, 4(2), 90-94.


Yassin, B. M., & Almasri, M. A. (2015). How to accommodate different learning styles in the same classroom: Analysis of theories and methods of learning styles. Canadian Social Science, 11(3), 26.

Vignette of Practice – Using Real World Audits to Develop Business Management Students’ Sustainability Knowledge Skills and Values

Using real world audits to develop business management students’

sustainability knowledge skills and values

 by Dr Kay Emblen-Perry, Senior Lecturer, Worcester Business School


In spite of the growth in specialist modules and integration of sustainability content into some modules, Business Management curricula have not adequately prepared students to deal with sustainability issues in the workplace (Waddock, 2007; Govender, 2016). It is now widely accepted that Education for Sustainability (EfS) has fallen behind the internal and external sustainability interests of businesses and change agents (Lonzano et al., 2013; Environmental Audit Committee, 2017); Laurinkari and Tarvainen, 2017). In response, I have designed and implemented an innovative approach to business sustainability learning, teaching and assessment for Business Management Students: Audit-based Learning (ABL).


ABL for EfS is learning achieved through preparing and undertaking a sustainability audit (a methodical examination of an organisation’s procedures and practices that determine or influence environmental, social or economic impacts) and reflecting on its outcomes. This hands-on learning provides students with a distinctive, experiential perspective in which they may engage in deeper learning as they are actively involved in the learning task rather than being passive recipients of information (Armier, Shepherd and Skrabut, 2016).


My Level 6 business sustainability module engages students in the completion of a modified Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability audit of a simulated real world company, presented as a bespoke online mixed media case study. Students act as Sustainability Consultants to perform the audit using the GRI process adopted by more than 1000 companies worldwide. Students then reflect upon their audit findings to design a sustainability management strategy. Together these form the module assignment and focus of in-class activities.


To provide innovative support and guidance I arrange creative in-class activities including ‘Meet the Manager’ sessions in which students hold audit meetings with managers of the case study company, role played by external sustainability practitioners. This allows them to test their audit findings and practice softer employment skills required for the 21st century workplace such as collaboration, critical thinking and communication (Buck Institute for Education, 2017) in the safe environment of the classroom.


My Level 6 module is operated as a Living Lab in which students participate in research into effective means and methods for EfS. This co-created research, which I have disseminated through international conferences and publications, suggests ABL can benefit students’ learning outcomes, engagement and module experiences. Research findings suggest ABL has delivered:


  • interactive, experiential learning
  • active, real-world learning, teaching and assessment methodology for EfS
  • sustainability knowledge, skills and values
  • tools to challenge thinking and behaviours of individuals and organisations.


My innovative learning, teaching and assessment approach to business sustainability delivers the hopes and demands of the three key factors in the complex, massified and marketised environment of HE (Lynch, 2006) and EfS: students, educators and employers. Students’ grades have improved and employment skills have been enhanced through ABL’s participatory user interactions advocated by Conole and Alevizou (2010) and Abdel Meguid and Collins (2017); student engagement, sustainability literacy and values for advocacy, that educators hope for have improved; students have become employment-ready and have graduated with the appropriate sustainability knowledge and employment skills that employers demand.



Abdel Meguid, E. & Collins, M. (2017). Students’ perceptions of lecturing approaches: traditional versus interactive teaching. Advances in Medical Education and Practice, 8, 229–241.

Armier D., Shepherd, C. & Skrabut, S. (2016). Using Game Elements to Increase Student Engagement in Course Assignments.College Teaching, 64, 64-72.

Buck Institute for Education (2017). Why Project Based Learning (PBL)? Available at: https://www.bie.org/about/why_pbl (Accessed: 22 November 2017)

Conole, G. and Alevizou, P. (2010). A literature review of the use of Web 2.0 tools in higher education. Available at: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk. (Accessed: 16 August 2017)

Environmental Audit Committee (2017). Sustainable Development Goals in the UK. Retrieved from https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvaud/596/59602.html (Accessed: 22 November 2017)

Govender, I. (2016). Evaluating student perceptions on the development management curricula to promote green economy. Environmental Economics, 7, 1-10.

Laurinkari J. & Tarvainen M. (2017). The Policies of Inclusion. London, UK: EHV Academic Press.

Lozano, R., Lukman, R., Lozano, F. J., Huisingh, D. & Lambrechts, W. (2013), Declarations for sustainability in higher education: Becoming better leaders, through addressing the university system’, Journal of Cleaner Production, 48, 10–19.

Lynch, K. (2006). Neo-liberalism and Marketisation: the implications for higher education. European Educational Research Journal, 5, 1-17.

Waddock, S. (2007). Leadership integrity in a fractured knowledge world. ‎Academy of Management Learning and Education. 6, 543-557.

Vignettes of Practice – Going on a Goose Chase – Promoting Practical Learning Through Technology

Going on a Goose Chase – promoting practical learning through technology

By Terri Grant
Senior Lecturer, Allied Health Sciences, Institute of Health and Society





Learning how to safely use and effectively prescribe equipment is a vital skill required by student Occupational Therapists. Like all practical skills, this takes time and repetition, which is often not available when students are on placement in the clinical setting. Without the opportunity to practice and make mistakes in this area within a safe classroom environment, students can struggle to establish appropriate situations in which they can learn about equipment.


Setting up appropriate classroom learning can be challenging – any experiential learning approach requires significant time to set up appropriately (Laurillard, 2010).  Providing students with individual attention as they practice these skills is not only resource intensive, but the presence of the lecturer can discourage students from making the mistakes that are required to expand their lateral thinking and problem solving abilities.  Experiential learning alone can lead students to overlook the theory base as they focus solely on the practical skills.


In order to instil the students with a sense of purpose, I used the freely available GooseChase app to create a blended-learning environment (O’Byrne and Pytash, 2015).  This used aspects of problem-based learning, social learning and experiential learning to support development of the required skills around the various uses of equipment in a safe environment.  Through the app, students played a game comprising 25 individual missions, each of which required photographic or video evidence in order to be awarded points.  More points were ascribed to higher difficulty tasks, and a small prize was promised as an incentive. This activity meets the UKPSF (The Higher Education Academy, 2011) in terms of developing and planning learning activities, assessing and giving feedback to learners, and developing effective learning environments, and also supports the professional value of promoting participation.


Playing the game led to extremely high (and competitive) student engagement.  Working in small groups allowed students to take on roles which suited their learning styles.  The game was backed up with the requirement to submit a “fact file”, structured to encourage students to critically evaluate the available equipment, and to use professional reasoning to justify equipment prescription based upon both need and Occupational Therapy theory.  These were reviewed along with the photographs and points adjusted accordingly.


An unexpected benefit was that the photographic evidence enabled identification and correction of hitherto unnoticed errors.  This innovative and engaging activity will enable students to enter practice with critical confidence that no matter what their placement learning experiences, they have the knowledge to safely and effectively analyse and prescribe equipment.


As a new career academic, trying this new technology has enabled me to effectively blend my 20 year clinical career with my new teaching career whilst maintaining a clear grasp on the pedagogic needs of a wide range of adult learners within the class.  This in turn promotes confidence and competence that is grounded in theory and yet encourages and facilitates creativity.  It is easily replicable between cohorts without losing its impact.


Laurillard, D. (2010) ‘An Approach to Curriculum Design’, Education, (April), pp. 1–35.

O’Byrne, W. I. and Pytash, K. E. (2015) ‘Hybrid and Blended Learning’, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 59(2), pp. 137–140. doi: 10.1002/jaal.463.

The Higher Education Academy, Guild HE and Universities UK (2011) ‘The UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education’, Learning, p. 8. Available at: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/ukpsf. (Accessed: 28th March 2017)