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Events and Conferences

EPC 2017: New Models in Higher Education

Industry want work-ready graduates, the conference explored what this means for Engineering degrees.One proposed definition was of resiliance: learning by failure. Previously graduates have been "functionally ready" with knowledge but not skills. These skills have to be taught rather than picked up and the outcome is a product of the type of activity rather than of the knowledge gained. Professional practice maps well to the taxonomy of learning and should be incorporated into learning outcomes with the same vocabulary of synthesis, critical evaluation etc. The streams of 'Professional Practice' and 'Technical' come together for the final year project where students evidence their competencies in both.

Stephen Marshall (Strathcylde) presented work done on vertically integrated projects which students work on for all four years of their degree. In uear 3 they may be leading a sub-group and by Year 4 they will have a significant project role. These projects are cross-faculty and are linked to global challenges.

At UCL, Emmanuela Tilley described how art has been put back into the course with new books such as 'Citizen Engineer' and 'How to Solve a Problem'. Students have professional as well as technical objectives during the degree and assessment tasks are authentic with professional skills required to finish. Some of these skills were identified (for example; data visualisation).

At Royal Holloway, the new Engineering degree will have no exams in years 3 and 4 focussing instead of professional portfolios.

At Olin, Richard Miller presented the ethos that Engineering is about feasiblity (maths and analysis of Engineering principles), viability (business and economy) and desirability (psychology and art) which are all integrated into the degree. Cynisism must be driven out of students in order to suceed in the innovation economy.

Inside Government: Delivering Degree Apprenticeships

A. The apprenticeship standards

1. The Standards are half-way to be completed. At the moment there is great interest for the development of apprenticeship degrees in Business Management, Construction, Health and Social Care.

2. When introducing a degree the following must be considered:

  • Entry criteria and prior knowledge/skills
  • Regulatory and Statutory requirements
  • Occupational competencies; Core skills needed in the sector in a range of employment contexts.
B. How the degree is delivered

1. There is a range of delivery models:

  • Full end-to-end delivery by HEI
  • Co-delivery between Provider (i.e. a College registered as a Provider) and HEI
  • Co-delivery between Employer and HEI
  • Co-delivery between Employer, Provider and HEI

2. Co-delivery seems to be a good model in all forms. For example, a Provider can undertake the delivery of degree content and the HEI the accreditation of the degree(s). Attention should be given in the details of participation and support provided by each party.

3. Employers do not think at the moment that the service model in education (delivery and content) is value for money.

C. Structure of apprenticeship degrees

1. The structure of the degree should be ‘Employer-led’ and not ‘Employer-focused’.

2. There must be full understanding and flexibility for Employer needs. Working with (specific) existing industrial partners is much recommended.

3. Employers want a flexible set of start points, up to 5 throughout the year. The timetable for the delivery of content should be flexible to accommodate the workload of the apprentices.

4. Shared delivery on campus and the workplace, with part-time provision should be considered. 5. Completion with non-attendance can be considered as an option for strong students.

6. Developing and delivering an apprenticeship degree requires lots of university level relationship management (finance, legal etc.) since departments sometimes do not have such expertise.

7. The £9000 fees are not the same as UG, not currently linked to inflation or TEF.

8. Labour may get in and eliminate tuition fees; politically unstable.

D. Curriculum

1. The content should be defined by the HEI and be contextualised in the workplace. May face difficulty with employers having a narrow view of what curriculum they want (e.g. no thermodynamics).

2. For defining the content of the degree, you need to map the ‘journey’. Who are the stakeholders (employers, apprentices, parents, schools, professional bodies) and who wants what.

3. Employers must be convinced that they need to establish high skilled workforce and ‘sell’ it to the students. 4. Modules need to be discrete so they don’t depend on other content and can be taken in any order when apprentices are available.

5. Cannot just start an apprenticeship degree with a current degree; need a few options for employers to choose from.

6. There may be issues of confidentiality since the learning is work-based (non-disclosure and confidentiality assurance are important).

7. Bespoke modules for the different companies (have some cores modules and other optional for the different companies).

E. Assessments

1. Due to the diversity of the cohort, diagnostic tests must run at the start. Provision of self-managed routes through content can be considered. Non-attendance route for strong students is possible.

2. Employers may ask tailored assessments with flexible deadlines.

3. Assessments related to work environment are a challenge, work may have non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and have to be assessed in the company.

4. End point assessment to satisfy Employers, Professional Bodies and the Institute of Apprenticeships.

F. What to consider if you wish to start a degree

1. Some steps to follow if you wish to start an apprenticeship degree:

  • Define a working group in the HEI
  • Identify the group of industrial partners
  • Organise a ‘Scoping’ workshop with Industry
  • Define a working group from the part of the Employer
  • The HEI and Employer working groups to prepare a draft curriculum
  • Run workshops to discuss, finalise and sign-off the curriculum

2. A one-year pilot approach can be very useful.

3. In that one-year define a steering group and run audits to see how the degree is running.

4. The process is resource-intensive (lots of time is required from the employers) and the engagement of industrial partners at all phases is critical.

5. Employers want to start the degrees next month not next year; they have high expectations of outputs!

G. Risks to existing offering and Challenges

1. Competing with ‘world is your oyster’ flexible career options for current undergraduates, beware of risk to employment and placements; need to embed employability in all degrees rather than create bespoke programmes for employers.

2. CPD and Executive courses might be affected.

3. A new strategy and culture needs to be introduced considering genuine partnerships with Industry, employability, internationalisation, and business facing student experience.

4. Internal quality issues must be able to be resolved fast whenever they appear.

ISEE 2016: Interdisciplinary Engineering Breaking Boundaries

On 14th and 15th July the DDLs (Christos, Georgia, Richard and Claire) attended the International Symposium of Engineering Education in Sheffield. There were a wide variety of talks and presentations with some very interesting ideas for implementation. All took place in the impressive new teaching facilitiy in Sheffield called 'the Diamond' which hosts their new MEng General Engineering. In the Sheffield model, the lectures support the labs rather than the other way around. Laboratories and projects are run outside of modules by specific teaching staff. Projects are run in full-weeks.

Claire attended a workshop on active learning/flipped classroom. The US model is fundamentally different in that students take finals straight after the course and must therefore be prepared without revision. The workshop highlighted the differences between learning styles of undergraduates and academics. Undergraduates prefer 'sensing' whereas academics are more intutivie. Neither learn by attending lectures yet this is the prevailing method. Undergraduates are entirely deductive whereas academics are inductive. Academics also prefer reflective rather than active learning. The flipped model essentially involves a quiz which permits entry to the class and is for credit. Students work in groups during the lecture to solve problems.

The opening talk was from Colin Jones who talked about students creating their own opportunities for satisfaction. Students need to diagnose where they are comparatively to their potential and what resources and action they need to get to where they should be.

David Shallcross described an app he developed for rapid feedback including a set of standard statements.

There was much discusison of Peer Assesment and the pitfalls and advantages. The use of WebPA and a specific marking scheme which rewarded those good at research as well as those good at making things was encouraged. Peer review highlights the disconnect between perception of self and performance. There are quantitative measures such as attendance at meetings and production of minutes and reports which are taken into account along with being creative, having ideas, coorporation, contribution etc.

We heard from Eva Sorensen (UCL) on their connected curriculum. This incoporated project weeks which were dispersed throughout the degree. They were scenario based initiailly culminating in a large 'change the world' project. Some projects were over-specified and others did not contain enough information. Students created videos, resources, learning guides and products as outcomes. They attended board-rooms and client-meetings daily and were trained in quick decision making. The time required to run projects was taken from having to teach lab skills, team work, motivation and project management since students learned by doing.

Inside Government: Teaching Excellence Framework

On 6th July, the DDLs went to London to hear more about the Teaching Excellence Framework. Much of the information we knew already: Next year there will be institution awards for TEF before a 2018 department pilot followed by the full-implementation of department TEF in 2019.

One interesting statistic was that the average UK student spends 900 hours/year studying (whether contact or self-study). This is compared to 1200 hours of expected time and 1500 hours per year in Europe.

There was confirmation that students do not realise that increased fees have not increased income to universities since the teaching grant awarded to universities by government has been reduced by the same amount. This alters their expectations.

Prof. Ale Armellini (Northampton) described the three approaches to quality: Data Driven (responsive), Step by Step (practice-based) and Risk/Innovation (pilot). He described the fruitless search for a definition of pedagogical innovation citing many which concentrated on 'new' methods which were just reworked existing techniques.

Phil Rachards (JISC) presented their tools for Learning Analytics; linking exam results, library utilisation and VLE views. He aimed to spot students at risk (via sudden disengagement) and create differentiated/personalised learning based on a diagnosis of student's existing abilities. JISC are able to provide a predictive metric for 'borderline' students which has been shown to motivate them.

There was also a discussion about Quality management and the effectiveness of TEF as a verification rather than the Revised Operating Model as a validation of teaching. Whereas ROM concentrates on auditing the processes and control, TEF reviews teaching with no handle on the processes.

The NUS gave a student perspective of TEF which highlighted their objection to TEF on the grounds of not driving excellence and instead widening gaps between sucessful and unsucessful institutions. Students are expected to change their expectations and behaviour to meet the challenge of TEF but they are in-turn worried about how universities adapt to score well at the expense of driving quality. Students welcome risk and innovation in teaching where they are collaborators rather than being driven to safe and measurable methods.