Tag Archives: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Writing@Liverpool: Rolling out the pilot

Writing@Liverpool (funded by the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Faculty Improvement Fund) started as a small academic writing development project in History is now fully rolled out across the Faculty of HSS. The Faculty has generously funded 20 new Writing Tutors who are supported and mentored by last year’s Tutors – our four Super Tutors.

Here’s the stories from two of them:

Sophie’s Story:

Upon the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year, I was selected as part of a small team of PhD students to take part in a pilot initiative launched by the History department. The purpose of this project was for PhD students to support undergraduate students in improving their writing skills. As a pilot scheme, there were no frameworks or processes in place as to how we would proceed with the project; this provided a great opportunity for our small team to create a programme which we felt would be the most effective, but occasionally also raised its own challenges. Predominantly, our role consisted of meeting with students on an individual basis to discuss completed and marked essays with them; we would talk through the issues raised within their tutor’s feedback, provide guidance on how they might approach the essay differently next time, and suggest strategies to help them with their future assignments. We also led writing workshops, aimed to improve students’ understanding of the research and writing process from the stage they are given the essay title until the moment they submit their completed work.

While our students have been keen to tell us how they have benefited from our support. They told us:

“I found it helpful and appreciate the advice… I am sure I will find the group session useful as well.”

“Thank you very much for today’s session, I found it really useful and can definitely see places where I can improve in future essays.”

“Yesterday’s session was really helpful, I’ve been back over my other essays from my last semester and I think with the advice you gave me my essays should be better this semester!”

I have also certainly benefited from being a writing tutor. Being involved from the initial planning and implementation stages of such a unique project has aided my professional development immensely, while sharing best practice techniques with my fellow tutors has had the unexpected benefit of encouraging me to continue to re-evaluate and improve my own writing style. Being a writing tutor and working with a wide range of students from first to final year, international students and mature students, has also greatly increased my confidence when it comes to teaching. It has also made me more sensitive to the concerns of our undergraduates; I have been surprised by how easily we take for granted subject-specific terminology and ways of approaching assignments which many of us were not familiar with when we first began our own journeys as undergraduates.

I was proud to hear that our small pilot had been expanded to support students from across the Faculty, and the employment of a larger group of writing tutors. It will be exciting to see how the project continues to develop over the current academic year, and I am pleased that even more students will be able to benefit from the advice and support of the next generation of Writing@Liverpool.

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Critical Pedagogy Against the Mass Market?

Last year, a small group of researchers at Liverpool set out to understand how principles of ‘critical pedagogy’ – the approach to teaching that insists students must play an active and leading role in their own learning strategies – are being implemented in the University of Liverpool.

The research focused upon a small number of modules that apply principles of critical pedagogy in that way students are assessed. It drew upon in-depth interviews with a sample of the staff members that co-ordinate eight modules in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences to explore how successfully those principles are applied in the assessment of those modules.

In our research we found a range of innovative and sometimes challenging ways that module leaders sought apply the core aims of critical pedagogy. We found a range of forms of assessment that:

  • allow the structure of learning to be defined by student learners’ lived reality, rather than a predetermined or designed structure.
  • encourage students to be ‘free learners’, able to challenge the physical and ideological structure of their pedagogical environment and relationships.
  • move students to action and involvement in the world in ways that promote and further the causes of social justice and democracy.

The module leaders we spoke to were committed to allowing students to challenge the dominant ways of reading the world, and to do so in a more open ways. The key motivation for others was to introduce to students an understanding of the social and political dimensions of their subject. There is evidence that such approaches to assessment are important for ensuring the engagement of a more diverse range of participants in education. Critical pedagogy approaches can be important to a widening participation agenda.

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Guild Awards 2015

On Wednesday night I attended the annual Guild Awards. A glittering affair well attended by senior university staff, but most importantly by students representing societies that had been nominated by a record number of students for an award.

Table at the Guild Awards

This event always leaves me in awe of the fantastic things our students do to represent their fellow students to the university, to participate and lead in volunteering, in the arts, in the university community and the wider Liverpool community.* The sheer number and variety of societies and activities students engage in shows the Guild going from strength to strength now that its back in Mountford Hall.

I want to pick out the Guild’s Student Led Teaching Awards.  This is new for 2015. Apparently lots of staff were nominated  for the ‘highest standard of teaching support’ which shows how much students appreciate the extra mile that so many of their tutors go.

The three nominees from each faculty were:

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Nikolas Gjogkas; Dr Amel Alghrani; Dr Mike Rowe

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Dr Laura Soulsby; Prof. Stuart Carter; Alison Reid

Faculty of Science and Engineering
Dr Jonathan Green; Dr Gita Sedghi; Dr Paul Williamson

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Sir Alastair Pilkington Teaching Prizes

The EdDev team (Patrick, Stuart, Sarra, and Ian) have been working with colleagues from across the University to help select this years recipients of the Sir Alastair Pilkington Awards. These coveted awards are in recognition for University of Liverpool staff who have made an outstanding contribution to pedagogy and the enhancement of the student experience.

This year, the selection process was undertaken in two stages. Firstly, Teaching Awards were made to staff in who had made an important contribution to learning and teaching in their Faculty. These winners were then invited to present and answer questions about their practice to their peers and a judging panel. From this the recipients of the Alastair Pilkington prizes for each faculty were chosen. It was pleasing to see that many of the award winners had undertaken Educational Development programmes and had been supported by the e-Learning Unit with their teaching innovations, many of which are now used as examples of good practice on iTeach. The award winners for each of the Faculties were as follows:

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