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.


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”

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.

Share and Inspire Seminars Semester 1, 2017/18

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

Sharing Best Practice in Doctoral Supervision
This Share & Inspire session will share best practice in doctoral level supervision through a series of short talks from experienced supervisors across Institutes.

Further details below:

Subject Date and time
Sharing Best Practice in Doctoral Supervision

This Share & Inspire session will share best practice in doctoral level supervision through a series of short talks from experienced supervisors across Institutes. Talks will focus on: the transforming early PhD proposals, supporting students in developing philosophical foundations for doctoral study, inter-institute supervision, working in supervisory teams, and the role of coaching as an alternative model of doctoral supervision. The session will also highlight some of the developments in the research supervisor training programme at University of Worcester. This session is particularly relevant for colleagues currently supervising doctoral students, or those who may become engaged with doctoral level supervision in the near future.

24th April 2018

12.30 pm to 2.00 pm


Please book through the University Staff Development pages.

Realising Teaching Excellence in Teacher Training

The fifteen PGCE Modern Languages trainee teachers at the University of Worcester have made a great start to the teacher training course. On 29th September 2017, they celebrated the European Day of Languages at the Lacon Childe School in Cleobury Mortimer by teaching French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish to Year 9 pupils. Lessons focused on aspects of culture. Pupils found out about the Oktoberfest in Munich, the festival of lights in Lyon, the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, Italian landmarks, Brazilian and Spanish food and how All Saints Day is celebrated in Mexico.

Trainee teachers team-taught the same lesson three times so that all the year 9 groups could experience learning about six different aspects of culture. It was for some trainee teachers their first teaching experience in England, either because they are native speakers or because they taught in France, Germany or Spain on their year abroad. The initiative gave them the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the English education system before the start of the school placement. It gave them an insight into the importance of working collaboratively with each other, building effective working relationships with pupils and contextualising their teaching to engage pupils.

Here is what some trainee teachers said:


‘I really enjoyed my day at Lacon Childe. I felt that the lessons we taught went really well overall and I really enjoyed creating a rapport with the pupils.  l can see just how much I have learned in only three weeks.’


‘This week I gained confidence through teaching at Lacon Childe and learnt a lot about the school system and teaching in general. It was a great introduction to teaching and I now feel more confident to start placement one. As a group I feel that we delivered the lesson to the best of our ability.’


‘I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the 4 groups of Year 9 today and I found that when I started teaching I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm and passion for languages which I hope I managed to convey to the students. It was one of the best days of the course for me so far and gave me yet another opportunity to realise how much I will love a career in teaching.’

Isabelle Schafer

Modern Languages PGCE Subject Tutor, Institute of Education



Student information and study skills; a learner journey from pre-entry to level 6 – what can we expect and how do we support students in completing the journey to independence?

This is a report of a project undertaken by Dr Sarah Pittaway from Library Services.  She explores:

  • What is reasonable to expect of level 4 students in terms of study skills when they arrive at University?  The project found that there are wide variations in expectations of the study skills of students before they come to University:  ‘students lack basic academic writing skills’ vs ‘students are expected to have a basic understanding of academic writing’; ‘student lack research skills, including searching for material’ and ‘students are expected to be reasonably internet savvy and able to search’.
  • What study skills are students expected to develop through level 4 and what are the most effective ways of developing this? Some courses focus on textbooks, others on Resource Lists, there is variation in introducing journal articles and making this explicit in marking matrices.
  • What should we expect of students at level 5 in terms of referencing?  Should they be more or less ‘perfect’?
  • General agreement that at level 6, students should demonstrate ‘independence’ but some students struggle with this.  How can independence be taught and facilitated?

Read the full report

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 to arrange.