The Student Success in Taught Education Conference 2023 was Tuesday 7 November 2023 at the University of Leeds. Find out about the presentations, discussions and speakers.
Welcome: Louise Banahene (Director of Educational Engagement, University of Leeds)
Keynote speaker: Brightness Mangolothi (Director/CEO at Higher Education Resource Service, South Africa).
Panel discussion: Exploring and critiquing sense of belonging methodologies for measuring student experiences – Dr Emma Heron (Sheffield Hallam University), Helen Parkin (Sheffield Hallam University), Naomi Alormele (Loughborough University), Rachael O’Connor (University of Leeds), David Gilani (Middlesex University).
Belonging and mattering – parallel session 1, theme 1:
- Paper 1: Reflections on the graduate/staff co-creation of a conference paper focusing on intersectional student identities and sense of belonging (Dr Nadine Cavigioli and Anita Collins, University of Leeds)
- Paper 2: A home at University – why somewhere safe to live is fundamental to student success (Helen Arber, Unite Foundation)
- Paper 3: Accommodation and student success (Adele Ruston, University of Nottingham).
Co-Creation and student voice – parallel session 1, theme 2
- Paper 1: Co-creating with Undergraduates - communication of synoptic assessment to Year 1 Students (Charlotte Haigh, University of Leeds)
- Paper 2: Freedom of the Archive! Students’ evaluations of co-created learning (Anna Grimaldi, Lily Else and Grace Nash, University of Leeds)
- Paper 3: Making a manifesto that means more (Clare Campion and Ffion Evans, Manchester Metropolitan University).
Using data to inform change – parallel session 1, theme 3
- Paper 1: Using learning analytics to action change: the University of Surrey’s School of Law approach to monitoring and supporting student engagement (Mark van der enden, Brittany Button and Thekli Anatasiou, University of Surrey)
- Paper 2: Finding and closing awarding gaps in the Faculty of Biological Sciences (Eric Hewitt and Andrew Peel, University of Leeds)
- Paper 3: Commuter student digital engagement and use of campus space: a mixed methods approach using learning analytics data and student views (Em Towler, University of Leeds)
Introduction to the afternoon: facilitating space: participatory cultures and student success (Professor Alice O’Grady, Dean of Student Education, University of Leeds)
- Study skills resource developed in partnership with and aimed at Mature Students (Bryony Brown and Rachel Walls, University of Leeds)
- Artificial intelligence for decolonising the curriculum (Professor Eric Atwell)
- “Engaged and curious minds”: learning from participants’ experiences of the Leeds Excellence in the Arts Programme (Tess Hornsby Smith, University of Leeds)
- “Is this what partnership looks like?” Principles for embedding authentic cultures of partnership (Dr James Forde, University of Leeds)
- Learner attitudes to cultural diversity in higher education (Sofie Wimble and Maria Hussain, University of Leeds)
- Student success and satisfaction in chemical engineering – uncovering trends from the UK National Student Survey data (Dr Manoj Ravi, University of Leeds)
- Identifying at-risk students for early interventions using Learner Analytics and other triggers (Alex Ferguson, University of Leeds)
Belonging and mattering – parallel session 2, theme 1:
- Paper 1: Good practice in creating an online relational learning community (Gillian Proctor, Peter Mbisah and Magda Cygan, University of Leeds)
- Paper 2: Making sense of ‘Sense of Belonging’: the role of community and peer networks in Student Success (Martin Walker and Matthew Pawelski, Lancaster University)
- Paper 3: Connecting curriculum with community as a method of promoting student success and belonging (Sonia Kumar and Danielle Williams, University of Leeds)
Belonging and mattering – parallel session 2, theme 2:
- Paper 1: Finding voice and claiming space – using performance techniques to develop confident communication (Olivia Garvey and Jo Huett, University of Leeds)
- Paper 2: Something to belong to (Rachael O’Connor, University of Leeds)
- Paper 3: On flexibility and engagement: reflections on a mature student summer school (Tolu Adeyeye, University of Warwick and Natalie Watson, University of Nottingham)
Co-creation, progression and student voice – parallel session 2, theme 3:
- Paper 1: Co-constructing research with students: implement of capstone projects in PGT dissertation (Jackie Salter, Siying Shen and Eunica Riquixo, University of Leeds)
- Paper 2: Developing a student-led writing café (Dr Emily Webb and Tharushi Wijesiriwardena, University of Leeds)
- Paper 3: Transition and progression – lessons from the pandemic (Claire Watson and Joanna Blanco-Velo, University of Leeds)
Closing reflections: Louise Banahene (Director of Educational Engagement, University of Leeds)
- Brightness Mangolothi, Director/CEO at Higher Education Resource Service, South Africa: Brightness is a former Head of Department at Nelson Mandela University and Head of Programme at IIE, ADvTECH, with more than a decade of lecturing and postgraduate supervision experience. She has served on various boards and leadership roles outside academia and featured in various South African mainstream media.
- David Gilani, Middlesex University: David works at Middlesex University as their Head of Student Engagement and Advocacy leading on their efforts to engage both current students and alumni. He also co-chairs the CASE Student Communications conference, leads the AUA’s Student Experience and Engagement Network and is undertaking doctoral studies on the topic of student belonging.
Parallel session 1
- Dr Nadine Cavigioli, University of Leeds: Nadine is the Deputy Programme Manager for the Foundation Degree and BA in Learning & Teaching/Learning & Teaching (SEND) Lifelong Learning Centre. Her teaching practice is equity-centered and trauma-informed, with an aim to reduce psychological barriers that a return to study later in life can bring. Nadine’s research interests include: autoethnography, classism, lived experiences, practitioner-research and under-represented student experiences.
- Anita Collins, University of Leeds: Anita Collins M.Ed, Cert Ed, Dip (TESOL), QTLS is Programme Manager for the Learning and Teaching with SEND BA in the Lifelong Learning Centre, University of Leeds. Her main areas of interest are SEND research and practice, particularly in relation to Autistic Spectrum Condition, and in developing appropriate teaching and support strategies to meet the diverse needs of learners, including EAL.
- Helen Arber, Unite Foundation: Helen is Head of Operations of the Unite Foundation, which delivers a unique university accommodation scholarship for care leavers and estranged students. She has an extensive background in the voluntary sector having previously led national programmes within youth homelessness (Centrepoint) and sensory disability fields (Royal National Institute for Deaf People). Helen is a qualified teacher with a keen interest in data use; she has overseen the charity’s scholarship scheme since 2016.
- Adele Ruston, University of Nottingham: Adele has experience of working across a variety of teams completing widening participation projects. Most recently she has been completing research projects at the University of Nottingham exploring how different student groups engage with the types of accommodation and how this goes on to impact on their academic success and sense of belonging.
- Charlotte Haigh, University of Leeds: Charlotte is a Professor of Physiology Education. She is Director of Student Education in the School of Biomedical Sciences. Charlotte is passionate about all students feeling part of the University of Leeds community and that providing support for all our students.
- Lily Else, Hazel Maris and Grace Nash, University of Leeds: Lily is a Laidlaw Scholar currently completing her BSc in Psychology, Hazel is a Laidlaw Scholar currently completing her LLB in Law and Grace is a Laidlaw Scholar currently completing her BA in Sociology.
- Clare Campion, Manchester Metropolitan University. Clare is Project Officer to the PVC for Education at Manchester Metropolitan University. With 18 years’ experience in Higher Education, Clare is passionate about inclusive education and elevating all student voices.
- Ffion Evans, Manchester Metropolitan University. Ffion is a Department Education Lead and Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has a particular interest in inclusive education and student experience and using participatory and engaged pedagogic approaches. Ffion is currently undertaking an institution wide innovation scholarship focusing on belonging and mattering.
- Dr Mark van der Enden, University of Surrey. Mark, an archaeologist and ancient historian by training, has been supporting student success in higher education since 2017. Prior to becoming Student Success advisor at the University of Surrey he has worked as Project Officer for Student Staff Partnership and learning developer at the University of Leicester and Peer Support Coordinator at Loughborough University.
- Thekli Anatasiou, University of Surrey. Thekli joined the Surrey School of Law as a lecturer in September 2019. She is teaching Public Law and European Union Law. She previously studied public international law at the University of Leiden, and she is pursuing her PhD in public international law at the University of Sheffield. She is currently acting as the Director of Student Progression and Senior Personal Tutor at the School.
- Brittany Button, University of Surrey. Brittany joined the University of Surrey in April 2022 as a Student Success Advisor and she is passionate about supporting all students throughout their higher education journey to reach their full potential. She previously studied Sociology at McMaster University and has a background in family support work and supporting children and young people with additional needs in education.
- Dr Eric Hewitt, University of Leeds. Eric is an Associate Professor in Cell Biology and Leeds Institute of Teaching Excellence fellow looking at the role of assessment in awarding gaps in the Faculty of Biological Sciences
- Dr Andrew D Peel, University of Leeds. Andrew is a Lecturer in Animal Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences Student Education Academic Lead (Student Outcomes and Success) and Leeds Institute of Teaching Excellence fellow looking at the role of assessment in awarding gaps in the Faculty of Biological Sciences
- Em Towler, University of Leeds. Em Towler is a Digital Learning Advisor and LITE Fellow at the University of Leeds, focusing on digital capabilities development and related research. Prior to their current role, they were involved with learning analytics and sense of belonging projects, and support for students experiencing structural and material inequality. The paper delivered is based on their research for the MA in Digital Education.
Introduction to the afternoon
- Professor Alice O’Grady, University of Leeds. Alice is one of three Deans for Student Education at the University of Leeds with responsibility for Quality and Standards. She is also a Professor of Applied Performance in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries. Within the broad field of applied theatre Professor O’Grady’s expertise lies in exploring performance as a means of facilitating social agency, engagement and expression. This disciplinary orientation informs her work at a strategic level within student education.
- Bryony Brown, University of Leeds. I am a third-year Diagnostic Radiography student at the University of Leeds and undertake this full-time clinical course while raising my two young children. After finding the transition to university difficult, I have taken up several positions and involved myself in projects to enhance the mature student experience and the help and support provided to this student group. I am currently a part of the Mature Student Advisory Board (MSAB) at the University of Leeds and the Multiprofessional Student Council (MPSC) for Yorkshire and the North East within NHS England.
- Rachel Walls, University of Leeds. I am a Teaching Fellow in Academic Skills Development at the Lifelong Learning Centre and have been for 8 years. During this time I have worked with a range of widening participation students. I have teaching responsibilities on BA Professional Studies and BA Child and Family Studies degrees. I am dedicated to improving the student experience through my work with students and through facilitating the sharing of good practice between staff. I co-lead the University of Leeds Academic Skills Network with colleagues from the University Library Learning Development team and lead the Lifelong Learning Centre’s Learning Forum – a monthly staff development event.
- Professor Eric Atwell, University of Leeds. Eric is a Professor of Artificial Intelligence for Language. In 1984, he joined Leeds University to teach and research in Artificial Intelligence, Data Mining and Text Analytics in the School of Computing, with a research focus on Large Language Models for education. Eric also works two days a week at LITE Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence as a LITE Fellow, on research in AI for Decolonizing Reading Lists. He is also a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence and a member of LIDA Leeds Institute for Data Analytics and LATL Language At Leeds.
- Rawan Bin Shiha, University of Leeds. Rawan is a lecturer at College of Computer and Information Sciences, Al-Imam University, Saudi Arabia, and a second-year PhD student in the School of Computing. She has MSc (Distinction) Advanced Computer Science and Data Analytics (Leeds) and BSc Information Studies (IMSiU). Publications include: Decolonising the reading lists of Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Proc IMAN'2022, Detecting Bias in University News Articles: A Comparative Study using BERT, GPT-3.5, and Google Bard Annotations. Proc AI-2023.
- Tess Hornsby Smith, University of Leeds. Tess is the Student Enhancement Officer for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures. Working for the University for over 26 years, Tess is passionate about improving the student experience, and doing so in consultation with our fantastic students.
- Dr James Forde, University of Leeds. James is Lead Development Consultant (Curriculum Redefined) at the University of Leeds—enabling staff members to adopt design thinking methodologies and student partnership practices in their approaches to curriculum enhancement. Prior to this role James has designed and led student leadership development programmes in the UK and Australia.
- Maria Hussain, University of Leeds. Maria is a Lecturer in Management at Leeds University Business School, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Certified Business and Management Educator. Her expertise lies in; inclusive management education, intercultural communication and organisational culture relating to EDI (race- equity) in complex organisations. Maria was recently recognised in UPSIGN's 2022/23 list of 75 notable British Pakistani academics, trainers and teachers to mark Pakistan’s 75th anniversary of Independence. In 2022, she was also appointed as a national Race Equality Charter institutional application reviewer at Advance HE. Institutionally, Maria Co-Chairs the Muslim Staff Network, the first faith-based staff network in the sector.
- Dr Manoj Ravi, University of Leeds. Manoj is a Lecturer in the School of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Leeds. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and a part of the University-wide ‘Curriculum Redefined’ project aiming to make student education at Leeds transformative, inclusive and flexible.
- Alex Ferguson, University of Leeds. Alex is a Plus Programme Lead Officer at the University of Leeds and has worked in on-course support for Widening Participation students since 2018.
Parallel sessions 2
- Dr Gillian Proctor, University of Leeds. Gillian is a lecturer in the school of healthcare on the Masters in counselling and psychotherapy and a research fellow with Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence. Her educational interests are in relational and emancipatory pedagogical and research approaches and reducing inequalities in education.
- Peter W. Mbisah, University of Leeds. Peter is a passionate Geographic Information Science (GIS) specialist. With a background in town planning and an immense interest in geospatial technologies, Peter has dedicated his career to promoting the utilization of opensource GIS tools for the portable water sector in Malawi mainly to reduce non-revenue water and support network planning within utility companies for a period of over 8 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Planning from the University of Malawi in 2015 and is expected to complete an ODL Master of Science degree in Geographic Information Science in July 2024 from the University of Leeds. Cumulatively, Peter has 8 years of experience with GIS having worked with 3 utility companies and other organisations in sectors other than water in his capacity as GIS specialist.
- Magdalena Cygan, University of Leeds. Magda is a wildlife biologist and conservationist, recently graduated from the University of Leeds in MSc Biodiversity and Conservation. She spent a placement year as Park Ranger for the National Trust, and worked part-time roles in Ecological Consultancy, Biological Data Analysis, and A-level Biology Tutoring alongside her studies. Since graduating, she has been working with academics to publish papers on Madagascar Plover breeding dispersal and African elephant movement patterns. Magdalena’s vocation to drive research-informed conservation led her to her current position as a Species Recovery Assessor for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which she started last month.
- Dr Martin P. Walker, Lancaster University. Martin is the Student Success Manager at Lancaster University and is operational lead for the Lancaster Success Programme – a coaching-led support programme for students from underrepresented backgrounds. He has a huge interest in making sure that students from underrepresented backgrounds have every opportunity possible to get the very best out of their university experience. Prior to his current role, Martin spent five years on the pre-entry side of the student lifecycle at Lancaster University, working in partnership academic departments to develop faculty-level access programmes for post-16 students.
- Dr Matthew Pawelski, Lancaster University. Matthew is the Evaluation and Impact Manager at Lancaster University. He leads on the development and implementation of an evaluation framework across widening access, success and progression initiatives at Lancaster. His team provides capacity building, delivers evaluation projects, supports with data monitoring and analysis, and the synthesis and analysis of this information into reports.
- Danielle Williams, University of Leeds. Dr Williams is a Lecturer in Enhancing Employability and DDSE in the School of English. Her research examines digital literacies and community engagement, and she is interested in the ways that multimodal texts composed for - and with communities - help prepare students for professional and workplace contexts.
- Sonia Kumar, University of Leeds. Professor Kumar has spent over two decades working as a clinician and educationalist. She has extensive experience in embedding community engaged learning within the medical curriculum whilst at Imperial College London, where she still is a Visiting Professor. She has published and presented widely on community engagement.
- Olivia Garvey, University of Leeds. Working in partnership with community organisations and local colleges, Olivia coordinates a range of outreach and engagement activities which support educational progression for adults from groups under-represented in higher education. This work is informed by principles of asset-based community development and radical adult education and draws on her community theatre background to incorporate creative and participatory approaches.
- Jo Huett, University of Leeds. Jo is a third year BA Professional Studies student. As a Learning Champion for the Lifelong Learning Centre, she shares her experiences as an older mature student returning to study with adults from areas of low participation in higher education. She has represented LLC students as course and school rep and is a member of the LLC Mature Student Advisory Board.
- Rachael O’Connor (she/her), University of Leeds. Rachael is an Associate Professor in Legal Education, University Academic Lead for Personal Tutoring and a LITE Fellow at the University of Leeds. She comes from a working-class background and was first generation in her family to go to University. This contributes towards Rachael’s passion for improving University experiences for under-represented students and amplifying voices of under-representation. The focus of Rachael’s scholarship is developing authentic relationships through reverse mentoring.
- Tolu Adeyeye, University of Nottingham. Tolu is a Project Officer (Student Success) in the University of Warwick’s Inclusive Education Team. Her work focuses on the Access and Participation Plan targets, alongside broader inclusion and belonging work. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Education Research, theorising equity in relation to the Black-White Awarding Gap.
- Natalie Wilson, University of Nottingham. Natalie is a Support and Wellbeing Manager for Mature Undergraduate Students and a trained Sexual Violence Liaison Officer at the University of Nottingham. Natalie's role is aligned with the University's Access and Participation Plan target to reduce the non-continuation gap for mature undergraduate students through wellbeing support and interventions.
- Dr Jackie Salter, University of Leeds. Jackie is a lecturer in Inclusive and Deaf Education, and she has recently taken on the role of Pro Dean of Student Education in FSS. She trained as a teacher over 40 years ago and has worked in various educational settings before joining the University of Leeds in 2008.
- Eunica Beatriz, University of Leeds. Eunica is a Master’s Student in Global Development at the University of Leeds. She is passionate about participatory research, storytelling, and quality education. Her professional experience includes involvement in non-formal education initiatives in rural areas of Mozambique.
- Siying Shen, University of Leeds. Siying is currently a third-year PhD student at the School of Education at Leeds. Her research interests include language learning motivation, student engagement, and inclusion. Her doctoral project centers on students’ long-term language learning motivation and engagement in the UK higher education context.
- Emily Webb, University of Leeds. Dr Emily is an academic learning advisor in the Learning Development Team (Library), and co-ordinator of the Writing Space (née Café). She oversaw the opening of the Writing Space in 2022 and continues to oversee its running and development. Her current scholarship interests include students as partners, sense of belonging, and student research dissemination.
- Tharushi Wijesiriwardena, University of Leeds. Tharushi is a student in her final year of an integrated masters in Medical Sciences at the University of Leeds. She is an active member of the Writing Space’s academic writing mentor team and is also currently serving as an undergraduate faculty officer for FBS. She is particularly passionate about enhancing understanding of and engagement with academic literacy in STEM.
- Dr Joanna Blanco-Velo, University of Leeds. Joanna has experience in devising strategies for teaching, learning and assessment in both the Post 92 University and the Russel Group setting. Grounded in experience of the Widening Participation agenda, she brings careful consideration of a diverse student audience to the planning of transition into and through the higher education setting.
- Claire Watson, University of Leeds. Claire is a design educator with specific expertise in fashion studies. As a former design practitioner, she brings design thinking and an understanding of external contexts to her teaching and to enhance the student lived experience. Claire is currently Deputy Pro Dean for the Faculty of Arts Humanities and Culture.
Abstracts – parallel sessions 1, theme 1 – belonging and mattering
Paper 1: Reflections on the graduate/staff co-creation of a conference paper focusing on intersectional student identities and sense of belonging (Dr Nadine Cavigioli and Anita Collins, University of Leeds)
Students’ sense of belonging within HE elite institutions is at risk when multiple intersections of under-represented, marginalized and minoritized student identities are at play. With this in mind, we set out to better understand our students’ experiences and perspectives through collaborative ethnographic research with two of our recently graduated students. This presentation will share some of the key findings of this collaborative research as well as reflections on the processes involved in preparing and co-presenting this paper at a Cambridge University conference.
Data was collected on Teams in two stages through providing opportunities for courageous conversations. Firstly, two separate one-hour recordings took place in our separate pairs. Following this, we had a 90-minute collaborative discussion on points raised during stage one.
Key findings include (1) faith as being core to the students’ experience, which is not reflected on our programme (2) the challenges of being a Muslim woman due to a clash of culture and faith and the positive impact of representation (3) the presence of alcohol at student socials as a barrier to belonging. The conference planning and presentation itself brought some of the issues raised in the research into sharp relief.
Paper 2: A home at university - why somewhere safe to live is fundamental to student success (Helen Arber, Unite Foundation)
Having a safe and stable home at university is something many students take for granted. For care experienced and estranged students this isn't the case. Many don't feel like they belong at University or have the support to complete their studies.
At the Unite Foundation we want to change this. We are seeing first-hand the impact that somewhere to call home can provide for care experienced and estranged students. With a safe and secure home taken care of students are able to access and make the most of everything university has to offer. Independent analysis from Jisc/HESA found that 87% care experienced students with an accommodation scholarship progressed from year 1-2, the same rate as non-care experienced students, compared to just 76% of other care experienced students without accommodation support.
This session will share key data and insight from care experienced and estranged students about the impact a home at university has on progression and completion rates and share ideas about how those within institutions can make small, and big, changes to improve the experience, engagement and retention of care experienced and estranged students.
Paper 3: Accommodation and student success (Adele Ruston, University of Nottingham)
Where students choose to live during their time at university can influence students overall experience and their ability to be academically successful. This session examines the demographic make-up of accommodation at the University of Nottingham, it explores how different student groups have created their own communities at the University, why this is happening and how this has impacted on their overall attainment.
Abstracts – parallel sessions 1, theme 2 – co-creation and student voice
Paper 1: Co-creating with Undergraduates - communication of synoptic assessment to Year 1 Students (Charlotte Haigh, University of Leeds)
In September 2023 the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Leeds are embarking on delivering a new curriculum in year one aimed at enhancing a sense of belonging and increasing students' ability to integrate topics from across their programme. The distinctive element is assessing synoptically 60 credits of the programme via integrated programme assessment. The challenge we face, is that this is very novel to all incoming students, and different to their peers across campus and the sector.
Clearly communicating the process and the benefits was a clear outcome of a 2-day design sprint which was hosted in March 2023, with 12 academic staff and 2 UG students. A resulting action was to co-create the communication of this type of assessment with current UG students.
In May 2023, 2 student interns were employed to co-create with 7 year 1 UG students and produce an output to communicate the integrated programme assessment to incoming year 1 students in September. The output will be shared in the presentation and full evaluation of the success of this output will be conducted.
Paper 2: Freedom of the Archive! Students’ evaluations of co-created learning (Anna Grimaldi, Lily Else and Grace Nash, University of Leeds)
This presentation will present insights into the student-led project: ‘Thinking Inside the Box’ (TITB). Between June and July 2023, three Laidlaw Scholars conducted eight interviews with the students involved in TITB, nine with the staff involved in the project, and several with stakeholders and members of the public. 'Friendship as method' (Tillman-Healy, 2003) was adopted for the student interviews, creating a more conversational and informal setting and encouraging experiential narrative learning (Clark & Rossiter, 2008). Through these interviews, we found that TITB's approach, involving primary archival research and community engagement, supported students to maximise their content-learning and apply their learning contextually and with real-world impact. Through the inclusive co-creation of learning aims and objectives, the pedagogical approach also allowed students to practice ownership and autonomy in designing their own authentic learning experiences and skills-development. We discuss these findings in dialogue with more mainstream, institutionalised and hegemonic practices.
Paper 3: Making a manifesto that means more (Clare Campion and Ffion Evans, Manchester Metropolitan University)
In this paper, jointly presented by academics, Professional Services colleagues, and the SU education officer, we will show how together we drew on the UPP Student Futures commission’s work and successfully co-created the University’s Student Futures Commitment (SFC) as a team. The SFC team included the Student Union, and academic and professional services colleagues, along with representatives from our diverse student body. We worked collaboratively to co-construct our SFC through a series of carefully structured interactive workshops.
These workshops resulted in a series of 6 impactful commitments for the whole University to work with, alongside an emotive launch event; an empowering experience for all. We are now working with our 26 departments to support them in co-creating their own bespoke Student Futures Commitments and are in discussions across the University about introducing a co-created international SFC.
Abstracts – parallel sessions 1, theme 3 – using data to inform change
Paper 1: Using learning analytics to action change: the University of Surrey’s School of Law approach to monitoring and supporting student engagement (Mark van der enden and Thekli Anatasiou, University of Surrey)
Learning Analytics was rolled out at Surrey at the start of this academic year. The New MySurrey Engagement platform assigns every student an engagement score which is calculated based on their use of learning resources, captured content, and logging-in to university platforms. In the near future assessment and attendance will be added. MySurrey Engagement, therefore, enables staff at the University of Surrey to monitor student engagement and proactively reach out to those students whose engagement is calculated as low or non-existent.
At our institution MySurrey engagement is operated by the Student Success team and personal tutors. The Student Success team reach out to non-engaged students and closely collaborate with schools and departments to provide targeted and bespoke support. Our presentation will present a case study of one such initiative discussing a bespoke and contextualised event designed specifically to help school of Law undergraduate students to re-engage with their studies. Informed by learner analytics data and working closely with the director for student progression in the school, Student Success reached out to those students whose engagement was flagged up as low or none. Our presentation will outline the approach taken, how learner analytics was utilised to identify at risk students, and how those students are supported to connect back with their studies and access appropriate support. We will also outline the impact of the initiative on the students engagement scores over time. We will approach the topic from both a support (professional) services and academic perspective.
Paper 2: Finding and closing awarding gaps in the Faculty of Biological Sciences (Eric Hewitt and Andrew Peel, University of Leeds)
Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students are awarded a lower proportion of good degrees (2.1 and 1st) than white students. An awarding gap is also found with mature versus young students. The University of Leeds aims to eliminate these awarding gaps by 2030, but to achieve this we need to understand how awarding gaps arise. Whilst multiple factors may contribute to awarding gaps, these will converge on assessment. A landmark study at UCL found that for cell biology students the awarding gap was associated with examinations not coursework. Our project builds on the UCL study by analysing the performance of different groups of students in the Faculty of Biological Sciences to identify whether assessment type contributes to awarding gaps. Our data demonstrate that awarding gaps for BAME students are programme specific and that for essays the move to open book online assessments may help close these gaps.
Paper 3: Commuter student digital engagement and use of campus space: a mixed methods approach using learning analytics data and student views (Em Towler, University of Leeds)
Learning analytics research is a relatively new field in higher education, where data gathered on student interactions with their institution, such as access to digital resources, are measured to identify trends and behaviour patterns for individuals and across populations. This research on commuter student engagement with digital resources and use of on campus space at the University of Leeds was conducted during the 2022/23 academic year.
It utilises a mixed methods approach combining institutional learning analytics data and student self-reported data on study behaviour, interactions with study resources, and perceptions of engagement, digital competence, and digital informal learning.
It finds there are key differences in digital and on campus engagement between commuter and non-commuter students, particularly around their use of libraries, that appear to contribute to a bias in perceptions of overall engagement in learning analytics data.
It also finds associations between student self-reported academic engagement and learning analytics academic engagement, digital competence, and digital informal learning, showing awareness amongst students of their engagement and the importance of digital study practices.
Survey and interview data expand the discourse on how commuter students curate their learning experiences and illuminate the tools and techniques they use to mitigate against distance from campus and travel difficulties.
Abstracts – SNAP sessions
Study skills resource developed in partnership with and aimed at mature students (Bryony Brown and Rachel Walls, University of Leeds)
After a discussion about the provision of study skills support at a Mature Student Advisory Board (MSAB) meeting, the idea of a resource aimed at mature students that could sit alongside traditional skills support began. The aims were to address problems more frequently encountered by mature students, resources that could be used at any time, making them more accessible for students with outside responsibilities and for the resource to be located in the skills@library resource area as this is where all university programmes direct students for academic support. MSAB put forward key study problem themes, and the resources were developed by the Lifelong Learning center and the University Library Learning Development team with support from the Digital Education Service. Current mature students contributed experiences, solutions, reviewed content and featured in the video footage making the student voice the heart of the content.
Artificial intelligence for decolonising the curriculum (Professor Eric Atwell)
We will present findings from five Computing student research projects, researching Artificial Intelligence for decolonising the curriculum. We applied Data Mining and Text Analytics to university education text data, to identify and categorize aspects or features of Decolonization relevant to teaching at the University of Leeds:
- Mia Dafe, “Decolonising the Curriculum with Machine Learning Techniques”: Mia analysed library classification systems, to find evidence of colonial bias in the book categories.
- Elizabeth Garland, “Using Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to Identify Decolonisation in Module Reading Lists”: Lizzy collected and analysed a novel data-set of taught module reading lists, to identify decolonisation features.
- Simranpreet Kaur, “Decolonising the Curriculum Using Binary Classification with Reading Lists”: Simranpreet explored decolonising reading lists applying data science to a reading list dataset.
- Gemma Heber Percy, “A Software Engineering approach to developing a Classifier to identify Geographic and Racial Bias when inspecting Reading Lists”: Gemma applied Machine Learning classifiers to authors in taught module reading lists.
- Rawan Bin Shiha, “Detecting Bias in University Education Texts”: Rawan is investigating Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing techniques and tools to analyse bias in text within three essential sources of university text: taught module reading lists, University news articles, and taught module lecture transcripts.
These five female Artificial Intelligence for Language students are also role models for women in science and engineering research.
“Engaged and curious minds”: learning from participants’ experiences of the Leeds Excellence in the Arts Programme (Tess Hornsby Smith, University of Leeds)
Since 2017/18, the Leeds Excellence in the Arts Programme (LEAP) has provided the opportunity to stretch high-performing students who may face barriers in Higher Education, be it due to race, economic background, disability or age.
We have always had a “sense” that LEAP has had a positive impact on our participants and have consistently received good feedback from questionnaires and feedback sessions. In our sixth year, we wanted to find out whether this feeling is justified.
Drawing on a series of focus groups conducted with LEAP participants, PhD mentors, and written reflections of the 2022–23 cohort, this presentation examines the different ways which this co-curricular intervention offers a space for intellectual curiosity and academic ambition among minoritised, high-performing students, underpinning and embedding their belonging in a vibrant research culture at Leeds.
“Is this what partnership looks like?” Principles for embedding authentic cultures of partnership (Dr James Forde, University of Leeds)
Over the last ten years, student-staff partnerships as a concept has taken root in HEIs all over the world. More and more universities are providing resources to promote and support these partnerships, and both academic and professional staff members are increasingly embracing this approach as a way to ensure their work meets students’ needs and considers their varied lived experiences.
But what do these partnerships actually look like? How do we ensure they are authentic? And what do staff and students need to be prepared for when stepping into these spaces? Drawing on lessons learned from the delivery of a large-scale whole-of-institution programme, this talk addresses some key principles that institutions, staff and students alike should embrace to embed authentic cultures of student-staff partnership within faculties, schools and departments. Launched in 2018, the University of Queensland’s Student-Staff Partnerships programme quickly became the largest known students as partners programme in the world, with over 1000 students and 300 staff members engaging in partnership projects and initiatives in the first 18 months. Through the development of three sub-programmes— Student Voices, Student Representation and Partnership Projects—the university aimed to embed partnership practices as part of its way of doing things across the institution. This talk addresses the programme’s successes and challenges to provide insight to other institutions adopting a similar approach.
Learner attitudes to cultural diversity in higher education (Sofie Wimble and Maria Hussain, University of Leeds)
Recent research has revealed the importance of inclusivity and a feeling of belonging in higher education. However, little has been researched about impacts of cultural diversity in relation to learner attitudes and students. Cultural diversity throughout educational institutions is rising via increasing international students and UK home student demographics. The lack of awareness and understanding of this in education is alarming. Learner attitudes to cultural diversity are explored within this paper, presented as a literature review investigating the need for greater cultural inclusivity and understanding on an institutional level and between peers. This feeds into a larger LITE project, ‘Enhancing the value placed on diversity: from classroom to workplace’. This research reveals how students from different cultures and ethnicities may feel, learn and interact.
Student success and satisfaction in chemical engineering – uncovering trends from the UK National Student Survey data (Dr Manoj Ravi, University of Leeds)
The National Student Survey (NSS) captures student opinion on different aspects of their university experience. A quantitative analysis of the 2022 NSS data of chemical engineering programmes offered at UK Universities helps identify important pointers for student satisfaction and success. Looking beyond the headline figure of ‘overall satisfaction’, correlational analysis across the full list of NSS questions uncovers the inter-related pain points that are detrimental to student success. The analysis reveals that graduate satisfaction is a strong function of staff-student partnership – survey responses to questions probing aspects of staff-student partnership go a long way in explaining the variance in student satisfaction reported for chemical engineering programmes offered at different UK Universities. This nuanced analysis of student voice can directly feed into curriculum development and delivery to eventually improve the student experience. In a next step, these trends from NSS data can be coupled with graduate outcomes survey data and longitudinal education outcomes (LEO) data to enable a more advanced understanding of the coupling between student success and satisfaction.
Identifying at-risk students for early interventions using Learner Analytics and other triggers (Alex Ferguson, University of Leeds)
The Student Contact and Engagement Caller project is a new initiative designed to proactively contact students who are exhibiting early signs of disengagement or potential risk factors that may lead to more severe issues if not addressed. Primarily utilising data from the University of Leeds’ Learner Analytics system (StREAM), students are identified and telephoned by an Engagement Caller, offering an informal and supportive chat to see if anything deeper is going on and whether the student would appreciate further support. Feedback from the 22/23 pilot year was very encouraging, with students appreciating being reached out and feeling valued by the University. For 23/24, the project is rolling out to more academic schools and utilising a wider range of call triggers in order to protect fewer students from falling through the net.
Abstracts – parallel sessions 2, theme 1 – belonging and mattering (community)
Paper 1: Good practice in creating an online relational learning community (Gillian Proctor, Peter Mbisah and Magda Cygan, University of Leeds)
We will describe the outcomes of research we conducted through LITE (Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence) on the psychology of synchronous online learning.
Two action research groups met on six occasions each, one of educators and one of students. Paradoxes of online relating were presented at each group and participants discussed their experience of these paradoxes in learning. Factors such as telepresence (Turkle 2004), self-consciousness (of own image), unnatural frontality, bonding and body visibility, implications of no videos on trust and engagement, the online disinhibition effect, abrupt transitions, the blurring of public and private space and digital inequalities are crucial to navigate in ways which promote inclusion and belonging for all students and staff.
From these discussions arose themes and recommendations which were further refined within the groups. Results have been presented as recommendations for best practice for educators and an online learning protocol for educators for educators and students.
Best practice recommendations covered issues of training and support for educators, facilitating student engagement and belonging online and digital inequalities. Resourcing and support issues for educators and students to enable best practice and reduce digital inequalities will also be emphasised.
Paper 2: Making sense of ‘Sense of Belonging’: the role of community and peer networks in Student Success (Martin Walker and Matthew Pawelski, Lancaster University)
The Lancaster Success Programme (LSP) is an award-winning social mobility and student success initiative - a targeted coaching-led programme for students from widening participation backgrounds. The first part of this session will briefly outline the LSP’s portfolio of support and how this range of activity provides a platform for LSP students to build connections with their peers. Its overarching aim is the development of a stronger sense of belonging and community across the LSP. The second part will seek to explore what we mean by notions of ‘feeling part of a community’ and ‘sense of belonging’ – how do we measure them, what should we be measuring, can we use the terms interchangeably, and what impact do they have on key student outcomes. There are questions around different types of belonging: what it means to belong to a community, and its impact on student outcomes. This paper will explore these challenges in the context of student success and use evidence from evaluation generated by the LSP which captures students’ perceptions of belonging and community.
Paper 3: Connecting curriculum with community as a method of promoting student success and belonging (Sonia Kumar and Danielle Williams, University of Leeds)
Community engaged learning (CEL) offers a myriad of opportunities for faculty, students, and importantly local community. Students sense of belonging to their local 'place' can offer them a deep and meaningful connection to the communities they live within. Through carefully designed educational innovations and research projects, students learn their knowledge, skills and values through serving local communities on priorities that matter to both students and local people. They learn their discipline specific and higher-level graduate attributes and employability skills in 'real-world' settings and through these experiences develop a greater understanding of themselves, their identity and what it means to belong.
In this session, we will explore some of the principles and pedagogy underpinning CEL and student identity formation, evidence of the benefits that CEL can offer and a few case examples. There will also be an update of the new University wide CENTRE (community engagement network in research education and civic engagement) and how it is striving to embed impactful community engagement across the University of Leeds.
Abstracts – parallel sessions 2, theme 2 – belonging and mattering
Paper 1: Finding voice and claiming space – using performance techniques to develop confident communication (Olivia Garvey and Jo Huett, University of Leeds)
How can we level the playing field when it comes to student voice? Educational background, age and class can influence how confident students feel when navigating the HE experience. This can affect communication at all stages of the journey and the extent to which students from marginalised groups feel able to self-advocate for what they need to thrive at university.
This session will explore how techniques from theatre and performance can be adapted to develop public speaking skills and confident communication. Incorporating the voice of mature students, it will share their experience and examine the potential of practical sessions using creative pedagogies to enhance student voice. The workshop will discuss the use of these techniques as a tool to boost a sense of belonging and mattering for groups who are under-represented in higher education.
This practice has involved working with mature students at pre-entry and undergraduate levels and we will discuss how these approaches can contribute to addressing structural inequalities as participants feel empowered to claim their space and ensure that their voices are heard. The process of self-actualisation continues as students progress to postgraduate study and professional roles.
Paper 2: Something to belong to (Rachael O’Connor, University of Leeds)
Building on my essay in the 2023 World Changers series, this presentation explores the connections between under-representation, belonging and mattering, reflecting on various reverse mentoring and co-design projects I have undertaken at Leeds over the last four years. It is designed to be a thought provoking presentation which will encourage colleagues to consider their own role in supporting and empowering under-represented students. Through analysing the impact of reverse mentoring projects which have involved students from across our campus mentoring staff at all levels from senior executive group to student support officers, as well as external partners, my presentation will explore how we can create impactful and revolutionary micro-communities through student voices work and give students and staff across campus the power and most importantly, the belief, that they can be agents of change through anchoring their belonging to a shared central site of struggle and empowerment: being and feeling under-represented.
Paper 3: On flexibility and engagement: reflections on a mature student summer school (Tolu Adeyeye and Natalie Wilson, University of Nottingham)
Research demonstrates that the non-continuation rates associated with mature students are partly due to low confidence in their academic ability (Busher et al., 2015; Canning, 2010), a lack of belonging amongst the younger student population (Jones and McConnell, 2022; O’Boyle, 2015), and a lack of awareness of available support on campus (Tones et al., 2009). As a result of this, most Access and Participation Plans include a target to increase retention.
This paper will present the Mature Student Summer School run at the University of Nottingham, aimed at post-entry undergraduate mature students. It was devised in response to the university’s target to decrease the mature student non-continuation rate, and it was a collaboration between Libraries’ Learning Development Team (Academic Skills) and the Support & Wellbeing Team. Its central objectives were to enhance mature student belonging; increase the students’ socialisation; develop their academic skills; and (re)introduce them to various student services. The Summer School was run over three weeks after the exam period and involved academic skills sessions, wellbeing and social activities, off-campus trips, and talks from a variety of services across the institution.
This paper will detail the scope of the Summer School, including target audience, timing, structure, and content. It will then reflect on student engagement, feedback, and initial outcomes. Lastly, long-term impact and reiteration will be discussed.
Abstracts – parallel sessions 2, theme 3 – co-creation, progression and student voice
Paper 1: Co-constructing research with students: implement of capstone projects in PGT dissertation (Jackie Salter, Siying Shen and Eunica Riquixo, University of Leeds)
This session will introduce a student-driven project that explores creative possibilities of Post Graduate Taught students (PGTs) dissertation formats in the School of Education. The project has adopted a participatory approach to generate PGTs' perspectives from different courses across the School, as well as insights from relevant stakeholders and decision-makers. Through this approach, we have effectively empowered participants to use their voices and allowed space for the co-creation of new knowledge between researchers and participants.
In the session, we will begin by discussing how the research team has drawn on both the project leader’s and two student researchers’ perspectives and transformed the project into a student-led initiative. We will then delve into how we utilised a photovoice workshop to empower PGTs, enabling them to express their unique voices. Finally, we will discuss how we bridged diverse perspectives to gain a more holistic understanding of PGT dissertation experiences.
Paper 2: Developing a student-led writing café (Dr Emily Webb and Tharushi Wijesiriwardena, University of Leeds)
During summer 2022, the Learning Development Team at the University of Leeds opened the Skills@Library Writing Café. The aims of the café were to support all UG and PGT student develop their confidence and proficiency in academic writing through peer-support and learning; build a sense of belonging at the University; and demonstrate the value of peer-supported initiatives. The café runs weekly within the Laidlaw library and is staffed by five academic writing mentors, all current UG and PGT students at the University. These mentors provide guidance, manage the café space, create and disseminate resources, and advise the learning development team in other aspects of our provision. In collaboration with an academic writing mentor, this paper will discuss the progress we have made this year as well as plans for further student collaboration as we move into 2023/24.
Paper 3: Transition and progression – lessons from the pandemic (Claire Watson and Joanna Blanco-Velo, University of Leeds)
In the academic year 2019-20, the pandemic drove the rapid review of how best to support student transition into the university setting as well as preparation for the next year of study. Driven by the necessity of supporting students in the online space, the School of Design adopted the digital platforms of PebblePad and Stream to help students prepare for progression and to engender a sense of programme and school level community.
This presentation will share staff and student insights into the value of structured, considerate, timely communications and the part they play in building a sense of belonging. We will discuss how we have further developed our approach to WIT post-pandemic, lessons learnt and future opportunities. Furthermore, in light of the recent JISC survey data, which indicates that student voice is lacking in the development digital learning spaces, we will review the potential for collaborating and co-creating community with student partners.