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Personal Integration case studies

Creating a Sense of Belonging

Nehal Mahtab Leeds Business School

One of my main objectives is to provide the students with the feeling that they are an integral part of the course they are studying.


In order to achieve that, my team (comprising of Level Leaders, Pathway Leads and Personal tutors) all use SEMS. Whenever there is a student meeting / query etc., I have a quick look in advance at the SEMS data just to have an idea about the student, their engagement information, previous grades. I can also check whether any referrals from any meeting they might have had with their relevant Level Leader/ Personal Tutor have been made. SEMS is a very helpful tool for me because it also helps me to put a name to a face. When I am dealing with international students SEMS works as a great tool - I try to greet them in their native language and in the way they would say “Hello”. The international students really appreciate this. All my team members use the tool extensively. The students feel a sense of belonging and also get the feeling “yes, we care”.

Paulo Friere to Derren Brown: Practical Strategies for Facilitating Dialogue in Large Group Teaching

Tom Muskett School of Social Sciences

When working with level 4 students, integration into both a community of learners and into the discipline of study itself feels key. Therefore, in large group teaching, I am interested in developing practical approaches to facilitate both integration and dialogue with students. 

I consider that there are two routes to achieving this: first, by changing what happens in the lecture theatre, and second, by considering what students are supported to do between teaching sessions. 

During lectures, I use a variety of real-time methods (use of text messaging; frequent syndicate activities; providing students with control over aspects of delivery) to build a learning environment that provides as much of a community learning experience as is possible – aiming for the feel of a collegiate and supportive relationship rather than a hierarchical, didactic interaction. 

Between teaching, I provide frequent formative activities using e.g. message-boards on MyBeckett. These public and “social” formative tasks aim to build dialogue between myself and/or students, with individual homework tasks (provided in the notes view under some slides on the handout) then used to model dialogic thinking and empower students to question even when by themselves. 

Finally, in all interactions with students, I try to be sensitive to their subjective experience of university life and how this likely differs from mine

Design Charrette for the Whole of the School of Architecture

Simon Warren School of Art, Architecture and Design

At the beginning of every academic year architecture lecturers organise a design charrette, a weeklong design project where students on both undergraduate (including freshers) and postgraduate architecture courses come together. This year working in mixed teams, students have developed proposals for the Amsterdam Children's Playgroup International Ideas Competition.


A judging session was held at the end of the week and tutors voted for a winning project. The School of Art, Architecture and Design (sometimes required by the competition rules) paid for the winning team of the charrette to enter their work into the competition. As usual, participation in this year’s charrette event was excellent and its continuing value remains to establish the studio culture at the beginning of the academic year.

Career Aspirations at the Centre of the Learning Experience

Che Guevara John School of Computing, Creative Technologies & Engineering

These are two initiatives from the Games Design course with which we are looking to improve Level 4 retention, to  foster individual creativity and to develop a sense of ownership and belonging: 

1. A 48hr design project during welcome week where students were organised into teams and provided with randomly generated game themes and titles to challenge their lateral thinking and creative abilities. The activity is a proactive way for students to make new friends, seek common interests and feel part of their new course during a key transitional period in their social life, studies and professional practice.

2.There is a need to improve the diversity and engagement of under-represented groups, especially within the games industries. We sent Games Design students to the XX Games Jam at King's College London where female games developers, artists and creatives gather from across the UK and internationally. The event is a great opportunity for students to network and make contacts to support their development and professional practice. Martha Grundy, one of our L4 students who attended had this to say of the experience: 
Games Design Image

“Phoenix Perry was a judge at the XX Games Jam in London King's College and if there is anyone who is a role model for the aspiring females in the games industry, it's this lady. 
She founded Code Liberation Foundation, an organization that teaches women to program games for free.”

Student Resilience Following Residentials

John Allan School of Sport

My area of research has evaluated the impact of induction outdoor adventure (OA) residential programmes upon HE inductees' resilience and capacity to adapt to HE (5 years of data, some 2,500 School of Sport students). Some of this data has been published and is being written up for review at present. In my PhD, recommendations for pedagogy / support practices are based around following up the immediate significant changes to resilience which underpins the academic performance of students following residentials compared to students not attending. Data also identifies which induction practices are best placed to improve resilience.

Residential First-timers The Experience of Events Management Students and Lecturers After their First Ever Residential

Julia Calver and Dan Lomax School of Events, Tourism, Hospitality and Languages

One of the great advantages of doing something for the first time is the ability to compare and reflect on what went before and the difference change makes. In October 2016, the L4 Events Management cohort of over 160 went on their first week-long residential. There are schools in this University that probably do the residential experience much better than we did and whose students benefitted from the years of experience that both their course teams and CGO have, but what they cannot tell you is what life was like before residential.

Much of the data built up by John Allan (see above), among others, shows the value of residential statistically and I do not pretend to support or challenge that. Rather I seek to explore the qualitative side, exploring the value of relationship building within class groups, across  the course group and maybe most importantly of all between students and tutors.

Residential Image

This can be compared to the outcomes from previous years in which the course team have tried numerous relationship building events, activities and other approaches which, despite fantastic and passionate staff engagement,  have come nowhere near the results achieved as a result of the residential experience. Almost by definition paradigm shifts are very rare but in my teaching journey this was certainly one.

The Performing Arts Team at Light Night

Performing Arts Team  School of Film, Music and the Performing Arts

'Light Night' is an annual arts festival that takes places the first weekend in October. 

Students on the performing arts courses BA (Hons) Performance and BA (Hons) Dance are quickly immersed, within induction week, into an intensive performance project, which requires them to create a public performance for 'Light Night'. The performance takes place within the first two weeks of the semester. 

This might at first sound daunting for new students, but they are mixed together with existing 2nd year students and supported by the staff and alumni who volunteer their time to welcome the new students and share their experiences as professional performance practitioners. As a result, the students quickly form friendships and professional bonds, which help them to settle into university life, the city, and their degree programme. The experience of performing together in front of 1,000+ members of the public always cements these relationships. 

This innovative induction activity enables students across levels to come together and involves them in a professional activity that can inspire them for the rest of their course. They also get a real taster of what the rest of the course is like, so should the course not be right for them, we can then help them with their next step.

Innovative Assessment: Boardroom Role Play Discussion

Julia Claxton & Helen Rodgers Leadership, Governance and People Management; Leeds Business School

Initially this assessment was designed for a Level 6 module. This kind of assessment is now used as Levels 4, 6 and 7 as a hybrid. 

Students are assessed on their contribution to a Boardroom discussion. They are allocated by the staff to a group of no more than six and given a role. Students analyse the case study and are presented with a set of questions they have to address at the Board. They have access to a range of data and can take notes in with them. Most students have the opportunity of a dry run - a practice session where they gain feedback from peers and tutors. The discussion is filmed and this helps students to reflect and improve on their performance individually or as a group. After this formative assessment point, students can develop their work further before they conduct the assessed Boardroom discussion. 

This example demonstrates three ways in which an inclusive approach to learning can allow all students (including BME and disabled students) the opportunity to perform at their best: 

i) The focus on using support notes reduces anxiety and actually reflects real world practice. 

ii) the extended time for reflection after the formative feedback (not just from staff but from peers too and a copy of the film when available) gives all students the same opportunity to work to their own best standard. 

iii) the intervention of staff in the allocation of the students to groups means students mix and share different cultural views and behaviours in more diverse groupings.

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