Abstracts Parallel Sessions 4 (6 options)

Session 4 – 10:45 – 11:45 Wednesday 17th April

Delegates are requested not to swap rooms during the hour.

  Option 1 – Two 30-minute papers


Understanding perfectionism in students: Hercules’ Muscles or Achilles Heel?

Jane McKay; Kim Williams, Glasgow Caledonian University

Perfectionism, the tendency to set high personal standards whilst making critical self-evaluations (Flett et al., 1989; Frost et al., 1990), is a widespread and important issue among students (Kearns et al., 2008). Indeed, higher education has been described as a ‘breeding ground’ for perfectionism (Kearns et al., 2008), estimated to affect up to 25% of students (Radhu et al., 2012). Perfectionism is considered to have healthy and maladaptive aspects, with extreme levels being linked to adverse student learning behaviours and outcomes (e.g. procrastination, difficulties completing assignments, reduced academic performance, anxiety; Kutlesa & Arthur, 2008).

Learning development practitioners at Glasgow Caledonian University have become increasingly aware of the consequences of perfectionism in their interactions with students. However, as most perfectionism literature resides in psychology and therapeutic fields, education-based knowledge on how to best support perfectionist students is lacking. Given that learning development professionals are likely to encounter perfectionist students frequently, increased awareness and support strategies targeted at the learning development community are needed. Aligning with the conference theme, ‘critical and innovative learning  development practices’, this paper will report on the findings of both a pilot and ongoing project designed to explore the influence of perfectionism on the
experiences of physiotherapy students, and how they can be effectively supported. It is hoped that this will serve as an important step in increasing awareness of how perfectionism can act both as an Achilles’ Heel, in debilitating learners, and (with effective support strategies), as a Hercules’ Muscle, by propelling learners to high levels of academic and life success.


Flett, G. Hewitt, P. & Dyck, D. (1989). Self-oriented perfectionism, neuroticism and anxiety. Personality and Individual Differences, 10, 731–735.

Frost, R. O., Marten, P., Lahart, C., & Rosenblate, R. (1990). The dimensions of perfectionism. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14, 449–468.

Kearns, H., Forbes, A., Gardiner, M., & Marshall, K. (2008). When a High Distinction Isn’t Good Enough: A Review of Perfectionism and Self-Handicapping. Australian Educational Researcher, 35(3), 21-36.

Kutlesa, N. & Arthur, N. (2008). Overcoming Negative Aspects of Perfectionism through Group Treatment. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy 26 (3), 134-150.

Radhu, N., et al. (2012). Evaluating a Web-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Maladaptive Perfectionism in University Students. Journal of American College Health 60 (5), 357-366.


‘Active Interactions’: redefining student engagement with one-to-one provision

Heather Barker; Julie Lowe; Robert Walsha, University of Surrey

A key aspect of academic and learning development work in many institutions is the offering of one-to-one interactions with learners in drop-in sessions or by appointment. Whilst group teaching sessions are often subject to analysis, observation and feedback, benefits of individual interactions from a learning and teaching perspective are generally less investigated. This inspired our Learning Development team to critically evaluate our one-to-one provision with the aim of enhancing the nature, quality and value of these interactions. Systematically, members of the team appraised and reviewed provision, thinking deeply about aspects which could be rethought and substantially enhanced. The working group’s evidence-based approach embraced pedagogic theory, sense of place and partnership, all of which became underpinning tenets of ongoing work to develop an ethos of student-centred inclusivity, collaboration and partnership, and wellbeing and flexibility. Our ongoing exploration of key themes of learning, space, creativity and interactions has encompassed a range of literature and theories. An initial focus on seminal educational theories such as active learning (Bonwell and Eison, 1991) and Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning cycle led our thinking to digital concepts of connected learning (Ito et al, 2013). The project has also extended to considerations of geographical theories of space (Cresswell, 2004) and psychology such as transactional analysis (Berne, 1961) and social cognitive theory (Bandura, 2002).

In the session, we will share our experiences of challenging learner (and our own) expectations and our efforts to foster more intuitive participation and  engagement. Presenting examples and feedback from initiatives such as café-style drop-ins and resources encouraging preparation and reflection – as well as reconsidering the physical environment via an opportunity afforded by a major refurbishment, the presentation will highlight successes and challenges encountered. In the spirit of active engagement, part of the session will include a collaborative ideas “exchange and gain” forum for sharing experiences and from which it is hoped we can mutually learn.


Bandura, A. (2002) ‘Social Cognitive Theory in Cultural Context.’ Applied Psychology, 51(2), pp.269–290.

Berne, E. (1961) Transactional analysis in psychotherapy a systematic individual and social psychiatry. New York: Grove Press.

Bonwell, C. C. and Eison, J. A. (1991) Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom (ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1). Washington, DC: The George Washington University, School of Education and Human Development.

Cresswell, T. (2004) Place: a short introduction, Oxford: Blackwell.

Ito, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., Schor, J., Sefton-Green, J., and Watkins, C.S. (2013) Connected learning: an agenda for research and design. Digital Media and Learning Research Hub: Irvine, CA

Kolb, D. A. (1984) Experimental learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Prentice Hall: Enlewood Cliffs

  Option 2 – Two 30-minute papers


Building postgraduate students’ critical dissertation writing skills and confidence

Melanie Crisfield, Brunel University London

Although writing a master’s dissertation requires a specific set of skills, there is little research regarding the transition to postgraduate dissertation writing. At the master’s level, students must critically evaluate existing literature and analyse research findings in relation to that literature (Biggam, 2011; Rudestam and Newton, 2011) in more depth than is required for an undergraduate dissertation. For many postgraduate students, however, there may be a disconnect between knowing that they are expected write more critically and understanding how they can do so (Fergie et al., 2011). To help students develop their writing abilities, ASK designed a two-week, semi-intensive writing course for master’s students. The workshop was open to PGT students from across Brunel’s College of Business, Arts, and Social Sciences, and the students who elected to attend participated in four practical sessions on managing and writing their dissertations: general academic writing; writing a literature review; writing a critical discussions; and working effectively with their supervisors. To help students trace their own development as writers (Rudestam and Newton, 2011), the workshop participants rated their confidence in nine areas of academic writing at the start of the first session, and then again at the end of the fourth session. This paper will discuss how a series of targeted interventions for master’s students assisted in building the confidence and academic skills needed to write their dissertations.


Biggam, J. (2011) Succeeding with your Master’s Dissertation: A Step-by-step Handbook, 2nd edn. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Fergie, G., et al. (2011) “It’s a lonely walk”: Supporting postgraduate researchers through writing. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 23(2):239-245.

Rudestam, K.E. and Newton, R.R. (2015) Surviving your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process, 4th edn. London: Sage.


A United Front: evaluating the benefits of a collaborative approach to planning and delivering academic practices within the curriculum.

Clare Foster; Angela Rhead; Jane Shaw, Keele University

We would like to share the findings of our current ALDinHE-funded research project, which evaluates the impact of a collaboration between a lecturer, learning developer and liaison librarian to embed academic practice development in a Level 5 Marketing module. The module attempts to increase student engagement with academic journals specifically, and confidence in academic enquiry generally. A series of tutorials, delivering the underpinning practices of literature selection, critical reading and literature review, are embedded in the subject concepts and co-taught.

Academic reading is a significant but under-investigated academic practice in HE (McAlpine, 2012) even though it is an almost universally troublesome concept (MacMillan, 2014). A focus on this aspect of academic literacy should, therefore, be interesting to a wide range of colleagues working in learning development. Reflecting on immediate and sustained changes in students’ academic confidence and practices, we will share our materials and our analysis of factors that may have nurtured those changes, which delegates may use to inform practice.

We will discuss the place and ownership of ‘study skills’ in HE (Wingate, 2006), offering an opportunity to evaluate how collaborative partnerships between academics, learning developers and other academic literacies professionals can deliver learning development. This engages with two current debates: firstly, the relationship between learning development and subject learning, including arguments around extra-curricular, embedded, generic and contextualised models. Secondly, the relationship between academics inside the curriculum and ‘outsiders’ such as learning developers and liaison librarians, in designing and delivering learning development (Clughen & Connell, 2012; Smart, 2018).


Clughen, L., & Connell, M. (2012). Writing and resistance: Reflections on the practice of embedding writing in the curriculum. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 11(4), 333-345.

Macmillan, M. (2014). Student connections with academic texts: a phenomenographic study of reading. Teaching in Higher Education, 19(8): 943-954

McAlpine, L. (2012). Shining a light on doctoral reading: Implications for doctoral identities and pedagogies. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 49(4), 351-361.

Smart, J. (2018, April) ‘At your service’? Can collaboration between UK EAP and subject teachers obviate Raimes’ so-called ‘butler stance’? Paper presented at BAEALP-TEAP workshops. Durham/Bristol, UK

Wingate, U. (2006). Doing away with study skills. Teaching in Higher Education, Vol 11 (4):457-469

  Option 3 – Two 30-minute papers


Can ‘big data’ tools create efficient, insightful qualitative research on a Learning Development service?

Alison Loddick & Sam King, University of Northampton

Understanding the impact of the Learning Development service on students and staff is crucial in determining whether we make a difference. Quantitative surveys give an overview of staff and student opinion, but they may not give us the full picture. In-depth qualitative interviews give the opportunity to hear student and staff points of view on the service we provide.

At the University of Northampton, in-depth interviews were conducted with students and staff to explore their usage of and opinions on Learning Development to help develop our understanding and improve and grow our service. The students included users and non-users of Learning Development.

A problem with in-depth interviews is that they take considerable time to analyse due to the manual process of reading through transcripts and are based on the researcher self-determining the thematic review. Therefore, it was decided to perform a computer analysis using text analytic software, enabling the qualitative analysis to be undertaken in a time-efficient and objective manner. In theory, this software, with its automated analytical process, should provide insights by finding positive and negative associations within text, key phrases, language, themes and patterns.

The paper will compare the analyses of the qualitative research data completed using three different methods with varying degrees of automation: the more traditional method of NVivo which is researcher-led tool; WMatrix a semi-automated computer-based text mining method; and Leximancer, a wholly automated text mining software package. The analytical approaches and ease of use will be considered alongside whether they produce results that are consistent; interpretable by the researcher by producing key themes; and useful in understanding the Learning Development service. This research will inform future qualitative analysis practice, which will be directly relevant to other delegates.



Developing student writing in higher education: digital third-party products in distributed learning environments

Rowena Harper, University of South Australia

Academic language and learning development (ALLD) has engaged with a wide range of theoretical approaches to student writing development, from study skills and socialization to academic literacies and EAP/genre. Each of these approaches provides a different lens with which to understand and influence the development of student writing in academic disciplines. To some extent the ALLD field has been ambivalent about its location within a student ‘support’ space, and at times struggled to remain relevant. Recently, expansion of digital technologies in higher education has enabled new comers into this space – external, commercial providers of ‘third-party products’. These products are now sprinkled throughout the university student learning experience. They may be part of the learning in a course or provided alongside ALLD learning resources, but in most cases they are separate from the delivery of course content. Tools claiming to ‘fix’ grammar, publisher provided online modules, and writing tutor services available 24/7; students are presented with many options to help them develop the writing and academic skills they need for success. This paper explores and classifies these third-party products as a step towards analysing their potential role in student writing development. It assesses their claims and assumptions about learning, and locates them within theories of academic writing, discussing implications for student writing development in ‘distributed’ university learning environments.

* Versions of this paper have been presented in NZ and Australia, and a full paper is in press with Teaching in Higher Education.

  Option 4 – A 60-minute workshop


From assessment of learning to assessment for learning; Leading assessment policy change supported by an Assessment & Feedback Toolkit.

Anne Quinney; Ann Luce; Debbie Holley, Bournemouth University.

Informed by the conclusion of Ball et al (2012 p8) that assessment practice in most universities has not kept pace with other far-reaching changes in HE and that “a radical rethink of assessment practices and regulations” and a “holistic and proactive approach” is required, the Centre for Excellence in Learning at BU bravely took up this large-scale challenge.

Implementing this evidence-based vision involved radical change to institution-wide assessment policy using a collaborative and partnership approach and the development of key resources in the form of an Assessment & Feedback Toolkit. The principles-based and evidence-based strategy focused on a rebalancing of summative and formative assessment tasks; a broader menu of assessment types; and the promotion of technology-enhanced learning strategies facilitated by a new VLE. The CEL team drew on leadership strategies set out in Quinney et al (2017) and invited large-scale engagement through Faculty Fiestas and external events (Quinney et al 2018) to critically inform the process.

Building on the success of the TEL Toolkit (Biggins et al 2017) an online Assessment & Feedback Toolkit was developed to support the changes. We will share critical reflections on our approach to enable others to undertake a similar institution-wide approach to bring about clear benefits for staff and students. The Toolkit will be demonstrated, and participants will try out and review a sample of resources including formative assessment activities and assessment literacy strategies and discuss the considerations for toolkit design and construction.

  Option 5 – A 60-minute workshop


Teaching Creative Thinking in HE

Ben Martin, Swansea University

As AI and automation enter the workforce, large numbers of traditional jobs will become redundant. Our ability to think creatively will be one of our sole advantages over our robot colleagues in this new world of work. Indeed, a survey by the World Economic Forum (2016) suggested that creativity will be the 3rd most sought after skill by employers in 2020.

This comes at a time when the education system is arguably leaving less room for the development of creative thinking than ever before. In a results-based system students are increasingly forced to learn the ‘right’ answer. Outcome has become more important than process, but process is where creative thinking is nurtured. HE can redress the balance.

As part of a course focused on developing skills that overlap the worlds of academia and work, Swansea University’s Centre for Academic Success developed and trialed a workshop aimed specifically at helping students develop the habits of creative thinkers.

This session will share the key learnings following the first year of teaching this workshop. As well as outlining some of the principles of creative thinking and the methods we have used to teach them, the session will aim to explore how these principles can be applied in a broader context across the lectures and seminars we teach.

Learning is, at its core, an act of creativity. Helping students to understand and engage with their own creative process is therefore doubly beneficial; not only will they become better learners while in HE, but they will be more equipped for the new world of work which they are about to enter.

  Option 6 – A 60-minute workshop


Undergraduate research as a space for co-creation

Kirsty Hemsworth, Sheffield Hallam University

For the ever-pragmatic students of Sheffield Hallam University, research is often seen as the bookish sibling of work placements, graduate attributes and hands-on learning. Confidence in research skills is generally low amongst our students, and the opportunity for collaboration, co-creation and innovation through undergraduate research can be overlooked. Learning developers are uniquely positioned to work with the newest members of the academic community and facilitate opportunities for genuine collaboration and reciprocity through research. This workshop will explore the messiness of co-creation in undergraduate research. Delegates will work together on a research treasure-hunt task and vision-setting activity, using the workshop as a space for creativity, collaboration and goal-setting that has the potential to extend beyond the session. How can we encourage and facilitate a research approach built on collaboration and equal ownership, rather than performing the role of academic gatekeepers? And how might we adopt these core principles of co-creation and empathy into our practice as learning developers? Rather than answering these questions, this workshop hopes to provide a forum for discussion and creative thinking, and to leave delegates with the curiosity and (slight) trepidation of an undergraduate researcher.

This workshop is for:

  • Delegates involved in, or interested in, facilitating undergraduate research.
  • Delegates hoping to introduce student-led research or co-created content into their
  • Anyone interested in an hour of creative thinking and collaboration.


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