Abstracts Parallel Sessions 3 (7 options)

Session 3 – 15:30-16:30 Tuesday 16th April

Delegates are requested not to swap rooms during the hour.

  Option 1 – Two 30-minute papers


“No individual can win a game by himself”: Collaborative development and delivery of academic skills at Leeds Beckett University

Laura Ettenfield, Leeds Beckett University

Through the use of a case study with the Carnegie School of Sport, this paper outlines the development of collaborative relationships between academic staff and the Library Academic Support Team in Libraries and Learning Innovation (LLI). It also describes the development of collaborative practices between academic skills tutors and academic librarians within the team, to embed academic skills development within the curriculum across all levels of undergraduate and taught postgraduate study in the School.

The 2017/18 academic year presented us with several opportunities for collaboration. In January, we began a small pilot project with the Sport Business Management degree course, assessing the impact of embedded academic skills teaching on student success. Our course approval and revalidation cycle provided us with opportunities to strengthen our in-curriculum teaching of academic skills through direct input into the development of modules supporting Higher Education study skills (including the design of assessments) for our sport courses at Level 3 (integrated foundation year) and Level 4. The creation of the Library Academic Skills Team (a merger of librarian and learning development teams) allowed us to further rationalise our in-curriculum skills programme and allowed us to strengthen links within the School. By capitalising on these opportunities, we have successfully increased the levels of in-curriculum teaching across all levels of study within the School and enhanced the effectiveness of the support we offer to staff and students alike.

In our session, we will outline our multi-pronged approach to developing collaborative practices (Machin, Harding and Derbyshire, 2009; Cassar et al, 2012) across and within teams to support best practices in learning development and improved outcomes for students. Through sharing examples of successful interventions (as well as those that were less successful), we will outline our approach to increasing collaborative practice across an Institution.


Cassar, A., Funk, R., Hutchings, D., Henderson, F. and Pancini, G. (2012). Student transitions – evaluation of an embedded skills approach to scaffolded learning in the nursing curriculum. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education [Online], 3(1), pp. 35-48. Available from:  https://doi.org/10.5204/intjfyhe.v3i1.102> [Accessed 9 November 2018].

Machin, A.I., Harding, A. and Derbyshire, J. (2009) Enhancing the Student Experience Through Effective Collaboration: A Case Study. New Review of Academic Librarianship [Online], 15(2), pp. 145-159. Available from: <https://doi.org/10.1080/13614530903240437>[Accessed 9 November 2018].


I believe I can write: the impact of writing workshops on self-efficacy beliefs and implications for future practice

Sonia Hood, University of Reading

This paper will report on the findings from an Ed.D thesis. It examines the relationship between self-efficacy beliefs and writing attainment, and explores whether a writing workshop designed to foster self-efficacy for writing offers students any advantage.

Developing academic writing skills is crucial to degree outcomes (Lillis & Scott, 2007) but, with explicit marking criteria (Lea & Street, 1998) and a language that is unfamiliar to those for whom university is not the norm (Thomas, 2010), it can be challenging for widening participation students. Research suggests that writing support offered to university students should also attend to the affective dimensions of writing, particularly self-efficacy beliefs (Zimmerman & Bandura, 1994).

42 students, following a Foundation degree programme, completed self-efficacy for writing questionnaires at three time intervals. The results from these were correlated with their assignment grades, academic goals and performance self–efficacy, and analysed to determine the impact of the different writing workshop conditions. In addition, eight semi-structured interviews, were conducted to explore the relative influence of each of the four sources of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997) on their self-efficacy for writing beliefs.

This paper will briefly summarise the conclusions drawn from this study, including the relationships observed between self-efficacy for writing, performance self-efficacy and academic goals. In addition, the impact the various writing workshops had on self-efficacy for writing beliefs will be shared. Crucially seven key recommendations will be offered to assist learning developers to support students with their writing development and foster their self-efficacy beliefs.


Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy : the exercise of control. New York: W.H. Freeman.

Lea, M. R., & Street, B. V. (1998). Student writing in higher education: An academic literacies approach. Studies in Higher Education, 23(2), 157.

Lillis, T., & Scott, M. (2007). Defining academic literacies research: issues of epistemology, ideology and strategy. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4(1), 5-32.
Thomas, L. (2010). Student retention in higher education: the role of institutional habitus. Journal of Education Policy, 17(4), 423-442.

Zimmerman, B. J., & Bandura, A. (1994). Impact of Self-Regulatory Influences on Writing Course Attainment. American Educational Research Journal, 31(4), 845-862. doi: 10.2307/1163397

  Option 2 – Two 30-minute papers


ICALLD project: Evaluating learning development, academic language and learning advising services

Steve Briggs; Jacqueline Hamilton; Xiaodan Gao; Andrea Lynch, University of Bedfordshire

In recent years there has been a growing requirement for Learning Development (LD) teams in UK universities to demonstrate service impact. This need corresponds with the increasing importance placed on graduate outcomes metrics (such as the NSS or DLHE) and associated impact on TEF outcome. The situation in the UK is not unique and tertiary academic language and learning advising centres in countries such as New Zealand have also experienced increasing pressure from their respective institutions to demonstrate the potential impacts of their services and to justify their funding needs.

Although regular evaluation is universally accepted as best practice amongst LD practitioners there is little consistency in how evaluation is understood and subsequently reported (previously highlighted by Briggs, Hayes and Kukhareva, 2014). As such, drawing meaningful comparisons between evaluation projects can be problematic.

In response to such challenges, the International Consortium of Academic Language and Learning Developers (ICALLD), which includes ALDinHE, ATLAANZ, AALL and LSAC, initiated a project in 2016 to examine evaluation practices within the learning development, academic language and learning advisory sector in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. This workshop will first report on the findings and present a draft evaluation framework from the project. The second half will offer participants a chance to apply the draft evaluation framework and reflect on their own evaluation practices.


Briggs, S., Hayes, L. and Kukhareva, M. (2014) Indisputable evidence of learning development impact? The experience of a modern day grail hunter. ALDinHE 2014: The Learning Development Conference, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, 14th April–16th April. Available at:  http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/news/6/aldinhe_conference_2014:_registration_closed.html?p=7_6_6 (Accessed: 20 Sept 2018).


Students as partners and enablers in Learning Development: Reflections on two recent partnership projects at the University of Surrey

Rachel Stead; Julie Lowe; Chidera Ude; Avgi Pourgoura, University of Surrey

The practice of Students as Partners (SaP) has gained significant recent attention in HE. Healey, Flint, and Harrington (2014) define SaP as a process of learning and working together involving both active engagement from, and benefits for, all parties. SaP partner contributions also operate, according to Cook-Sather et al. (2014), under three key principles: respect, reciprocity, and shared responsibility, and have, amongst many benefits, the potential to act as ‘counter-narrative’ to neoliberal conceptions of ‘student as consumer’ (Matthews, Dwyer, Hines, & Turner, 2018). Whilst student-staff partnerships in HE are now relatively commonplace, a systematic review by Mercer-Mapstone et. al (2017) reveals that they not only predominantly occur between faculty academics and students, but they also focus primarily on outcomes for the partners themselves; not so central are the outcomes or benefits that emerge for the wider student body.

This session showcases two case studies from the Student Staff Research Partnerships Project (SSRPP) at University X. Both are significant in their being initiated and led by Learning Developers in Professional Service areas and involve partnerships on multiple levels: students as co-investigators, co-designers and co-authors, students as subjects in action research, and students as critical reviewers of pedagogy. The primary aims of both projects are improvements in learning and in the student experience: in Health Sciences exploring the benefits of playful activities for student engagement in both subject learning and in tutorials, and in an extra-curricular, open-to-all, playful learning activity supporting transitions. The session will reflect on the value of and learning from these multi-level partnerships. Preliminary outcomes for students are emerging around the breaking down of power relations, stepping up to leadership roles, the benefits of cross and multidisciplinary team-working and the freedom and space to try new things without repercussions. Final outcomes will be explored in the session once both projects have been concluded.

  Option 3 – Two 30-minute papers


“Healthy pressure from peers”: The value of providing structured writing retreats for undergraduates

Dr Christopher Little, Keele University

Since 2016/17, the Student Learning team have been developing and running a range of undergraduate (UG) student writing retreats both within formal curricula and as part of our freestanding provision offer. There are many pedagogical reasons as to why we should develop and deliver writing retreats for undergraduates. However, this particular innovation came about due to a very different reason – failure. Since its inception, the Student Learning team has offered a wide range of workshops to support final year dissertations. Universally, this provision has failed to engage students, resulting in empty sessions and, frankly, wasted time.

Research has proven that staff writing retreats have a range of benefits from improved productivity and motivation through to an increased self-identification as ‘writers’ (Moore, 2003; Murray and Newton, 2009; Papen and Theriault, 2017; Swaggerty et al., 2011). Inspired by members of the Student Learning team attending staff writing retreats for personal development, writing retreats for undergraduates in were piloted in 2016/17, embedding them in the formal curriculum of one particular undergraduate programme. These proved extremely successful and were consequently made a part of our cross-institutional offering in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic years. This presentation will detail the relevant literature that has informed this endeavour, then detail the progress of these cross-institutional undergraduate writing retreats. It will discuss who engages with these retreats, what they achieve and the impact that they may have on future academic practices. Finally, it will suggest the future direction of this area of practice.


Moore, S. (2003). Writers’ retreats for academics: exploring and increasing the motivation to write. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 27(3), pp.333-342.

Murray, R. and Newton, M. (2009). Writing retreat as structured intervention: margin or mainstream? Higher Education Research & Development, 28(5), pp.541-553.

Papen, U. and Thériault, V. (2017). Writing retreats as a milestone in the development of PhD students’ sense of self as academic writers. Studies in Continuing Education, pp.1-15.

Swaggerty, E., Atkinson, T., Faulconer, J. and Griffith, R. (2011). Academic writing retreat: A time for rejuvenated and focused writing. The Journal of Faculty Development, 25(1), pp.5-11.


How to produce videos with students as co-creators

Karin Johnstone, University of Northampton

Research has shown that University of Northampton students use videos more than any other online content to improve their academic skills. Many of these videos are created by academic and professional staff and are ‘talking heads’ which may encourage the students to be passive learners. Some of the videos are ‘explainer’ videos presenting animated material that does not engage students.

This project involved students in becoming co-creators of the study skills video content. For the project to work it was necessary for Learning Development to collaborate with the subject module leader. The video project became an assessed piece of work which embedded academic study skills in the curriculum. The students explored what makes an effective educational video. They then created their own academic skills videos. Once the new videos were produced the whole student cohort was consulted and took part in further research about how useful the new videos were, and they also assessed the quality of the new videos.

This research seeks to establish practical and effective ways of working with students to provide relevant and effective resources in a department which may have few opportunities for direct regular contact with a cohort of students.This model of co-production will be one which can be used by other subject areas and student cohorts. This presentation will give a set of principles and guidance for developing online video content with students as co-creators.

  Option 4

15:30-16:00 – 30-minute paper

‘Zombie Attacks’: A Gateway Activity for Group Work Skills for Undergraduate Engineers 

Richard Bond, Brunel University London

‘Zombie Attacks’ is a learning development session for Brunel University undergraduate Engineering students. The activity responds to feedback that engineering students need to develop teamwork skills for during and post-university. “The world has been attacked by Zombies and you and your team have to work together to survive – but what do you do when the food runs out?” The activity can be used as an icebreaker and to signal that the session will be interactive. The experience builds confidence in speaking in small groups, highlights the teamwork skills required for engineers and links to Skills Audit activities and independent learning.

16:00-16:30 – Three lightning talks

The effectiveness of 1-1 maths support for students making the transition to higher education

Dr Khalid Khan, University of Central Lancashire

Students studying in higher education generally have come from a wide variety of different backgrounds and this, in turn, raises the question of how best to support students such that they are able to progress with their course of study. This study first looks in depth into a model of supporting the development of maths skills in engineering courses using diagnostics assessments. A robust 1-1 maths support system has been put in place which can help engineering students first build their basic maths skills and then also help with the mathematics course material throughout the year. As a result it is envisaged that there should be fewer students failing at the end of the year and so improving important metrics such as progression and retention figures. This new innovative 1-1 mathematics support system has been designed to provide essential key mathematics skills needed in a range of different subject areas across the different disciplines within the university. Many disciplines across universities ranging from Business, Finance, Economics and others rely heavily on the students having key unpinning mathematics skills and as such this model of support can be adapted and be a useful way of supporting the students through their chosen course of study. On a wider scale, similar model approaches could also be made adaptive to other areas of study which rely heavily on other key underpinning skills across the higher
education sector. Analysis and results from diagnostic assessments provide good initial comparisons on relative improvements been made using this model. The cost benefit analysis of implementing such a scheme also shows that there are enormous potential financial benefits for Higher Educational Institutions.

Structured Writing Retreats for Postgraduate Students

Katherine Koulle, UCL Institute of Education

In this lightening talk, we will present reflections on our experiences of organising three structured writing retreats for postgraduate students at the UCL Institute of Education. We will outline how we drew on existing research literature on writing retreats for academic staff and early career researchers to organise structured writing retreats for students on taught postgraduate courses and share tips for good practice.

Better Together: A reflection on cross-institutional working in Learning Development

Bev Hancock-Smith, De Montfort University

Working in a centralised Learning Development team, it is possible to feel estranged from activity at faculty and programme level; and indeed wider institutional initiatives. It is one such initiative however that galvanised a cross-institutional working group. ‘Dare to Be’ is a staff-to-student mentoring scheme with the broad aim of increasing student attainment of a ‘good degree’, with a particular focus on BAME student attainment. Working with colleagues across student services, the SU and colleagues within faculty, DMU’s Learning Development Team are working to co-ordinate, streamline and strengthen mentoring activity across the
institution. This lightening talk uses group formation theory (Homan, (1951), Tuckman and Jensen (1977) and Katzenbach & Santamaria (1999)) to explore the model of cross-institutional working which has subsequently emerged.

  Option 5 – A 60-minute workshop


How do you form and maintain your professional identity within a profession that is not fully understood?

Carina Buckley, Solent University; Louise Frith, University of Kent

The concept of professional identity is closely tied to that of a community of practice, which can be understood as a common area of knowledge with social structures that support the exploration and development of that knowledge, and the agreed enactment of that knowledge in practice. Within that community, individual practitioners construct their own ideas of how to be, how to act, and how to understand their work and themselves engaged in that work.

The Association of Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE) was established specifically to provide a community focus for those working alongside students to help them make sense of higher education. Although ALDinHE has developed a set of shared values for those working under its broad aegis, and a scheme that grants professional recognition to those practitioners fulfilling the values, such work nevertheless takes place under a variety of job titles and within a range of institutional structures. ALDinHE is therefore necessarily a community with a national span and no physical centre. Given the disparate nature of the
community, the variation in job descriptions and social structures that exist mainly online, what is the impact on ALDinHE as a community of practice, and on its members’ ability to form a strong professional identity?

We introduce a five-stage model that looks at a community of practice from a networking point of view, moving from novice to expert, and identify three key factors involved in professional identity: gender, career development and emotional labour. We posit that these three factors are interrelated and situational, and can work to undermine the formation and maintenance of a learning developer’s professional identity.

  Option 6 – A 60-minute workshop


Designing slides using learning and design theory to maximise learning and engage students

Jacqui Bartram, University of Hull

The ability to communicate aspects of learning development to students is key to our professional success. One of the common ways of doing this is via a PowerPoint presentation (or equivalent). However, most learning developers are not trained designers, have learned from poor role models or simply have not had the time or perceived need to develop their own skills in truly effective slide design.

This workshop looks at how design theory and learning theory can influence slide design to create slides that maximise learning and keep students engaged. A well-structured slide can increase both understanding and retention of information. Changing the way you use your slide titles can significantly improve understanding (Garner & Alley, 2013) and as psychological studies have long since confirmed that pictures are remembered more than words (Grady et al., 1998) switching to relevant visual material within the body of slides is shown to increase a student’s ability to understand and recall information (Mayer, 2005; Issa et al., 2011).

It isn’t always easy to switch written material into effective visual material and during the workshop delegates will learn how to approach this. Working is small groups, they will discuss and redesign poor, text heavy slides to follow principles shown to improve learning whilst also considering issues of good design and recent design trends in order to engage contemporary audiences.


Garner, J. & Alley, M. (2013) How the design of presentation slides affects audience comprehension: A case for the assertion-evidence approach. International Journal of Engineering Education, 29(6), 1564-1579.

Grady, C. L., McIntosh, A. R., Rajah, M. N. & Craik, F. I. M. (1998) Neural correlates of the episodic encoding of pictures and words. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 95(5), 2703-2708.

Issa, N., Schuller, M., Santacaterina, S., Shapiro, M., Wang, E., Mayer, R. E. & DaRosa, D. A. (2011) Applying multimedia design principles enhances learning in medical education. Medical Education, 45(8), 818-826.

Mayer, R. E. (ed), (2005) The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  Option 7 – A 60-minute workshop


Exploring possibilities for the ‘critical’ in Learning Development practice and theory; critical academic literacies?

Gordon Asher

This session focuses on the question; what is meant/might we mean by ‘critical’ in relation to Learning Development practice and theory, within wider contexts of contemporary HE, specifically the ‘crisis of the university’ (Bacevic, 2017)?

The terminology of criticality is ubiquitous in today’s university. In particular, requirements for ‘critical thinking’ and evidencing this in academic engagements and assessments. As such, there is considerable scope for learning developers to engage with staff, students and the wider institution on issues such as critical thinking, critical reading, writing and other forms of academic discourse. Increasingly, such work in the LD field is framed in terms of ‘academic literacies’, as a response to dominant deficit models of teaching and learning (Lea & Street, 2006).

Might we draw on further conceptions of the critical in HE, in considering its possible relevance to learning development, in contexts of an intensifying neoliberalisation of the university (Hall & Winn, 2017)? Specifically, how might we consider anchoring our work through an appreciation of the critical paradigm (Brookfield, 2005) and related educational approaches (such as critical pedagogy (Darder, 2008) and critical university studies (Morrish, 2018)), that view education as a public project committed to eo-social justice (Asher, 2015)?

Drawing on Hilsdon’s (2018) LD community research, I’d like to collectively explore possibilities and opportunities, limitations and restrictions, with respect to explicitly applying such a critical orientation to learning development theory and practice. Might such an orientation usefully consider a conception of ‘critical academic literacies’ (Asher, 2014) – as educational praxis, for eco-social justice?


Asher, G. (2015) ‘Criticality in Postgraduate Research and Writing’, in Ryan, E. & Walsh, T. (2015) Writing your thesis: A guide for postgraduate students, MACE Press

Asher, G. (2014) ‘Learning Development for Social Justice?: A Proposal – ‘Critical Academic Literacies’ Workshop, Association of Learning Developers In Higher Education Conference, ALDinHE 2014 University of Huddersfield, Apr 2014, http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/resources/files/hudd14/abstracts/4-2.pdf

Bacevic, J. (2017) ‘Why is it more difficult to imagine the end of universities than the end of capitalism, or: is the crisis of the university in fact a crisis of imagination?’ Jana Bacevic: Internal conversation, eternal emigration, 17.10.2017., https://janabacevic.net/2017/10/11/is-the-crisis-of-the-university-in-fact-a-crisis-of-imagination/

Brookfield, S. (2005) The Power of Critical Theory for Adult Learning and Teaching, Open University Press Darder, A. (ed.) (2008) The Critical Pedagogy Reader, Routledge Hall, R. & Winn, J. (eds.) (2017) Mass Intellectuality and Democratic Leadership in Higher Education, Bloomsbury

Hilsdon, J. (2018a) ‘Learning development: pedagogy, principles and progress’, ALDinHE 2018: The Learning Development Conference, University of Leicester, England, 2628 March. Abstract available at: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/events/leicester18.html

Hilsdon, J. (2018b) ‘The significance of the field of practice ‘Learning Development’ in UK higher education’, EdD Thesis, January, 2018,
The significance of the field of practice ‘Learning Development’ in UK higher education (my doctoral thesis)

Lea, M. R. and Street, B.V. (2006) “The ‘Academic Literacies’ Model: Theory and Applications” Theory into Practice Fall Vol. 45, no 4 pp. 368-377

Morrish, L. (2018) ‘Can Critical University Studies survive the toxic university?’, Academic Irregularities, 08.06.2018.,  https://academicirregularities.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/can-critical-university-studies-survive-the-toxic-university/


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