Students Staff

17 November 2015

Teaching and Learning Conference, Thursday 7th and 8th January 2016

University of Essex is holding its annual Teaching and Learning Conference on 7th and 8th January 2016

All welcome!Grandmother teaches granddaughter to sew


Our two-day teaching and learning event is always a great opportunity for all members of Essex’s community who deliver and support our education  to get together and share good practice, listen to insights from invited external speakers and find inspiration for their continued work.

This year’s conference takes for its theme ‘Embedding Equality and Diversity in Essex Education‘.

This year we are delighted to have Professor Penny Jane Burke as our keynote speaker. Penny is Professor of Education at the University of Roehampton, London; Global Innovation Chair of Equity & Co-Director of the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia; and Director of the Paulo Freire Institute-UK (PFI-UK) . She will take ‘Teaching inclusively’ as the topic for her keynote lecture. She will then lead a seminar on ‘Creating inclusive curricula’. Day 1 will continue with a session focusing on enhancing the student experience and close with a roundtable discussion focusing on the opportunities and challenges that face us as we seek to embed values and practices aligned with equality and diversity into our teaching and learning support.

Day 2 will feature sessions on teaching first year students and reviewing our first-year curricula in the morning, and the afternoon will form an induction for this year’s cohort of participants for our Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice (PG CHEP).

If you would like to attend any part of the conference, please visit HR Organiser to book. If you have any questions or would like to get involved in this event, then please contact Learning and Development.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

13 November 2015

UCS Annual Learning and Teaching Day: programme and registration details

Filed under: Links — Tags: , , , — rcwind @ 9.58 am

University College Suffolk colleagues are holding their annual Learning and Teaching Day in Ipswich on Wednesday 16 December.

If you’re interested in developments in HE, we’d recommend trying to go along. Essex staff are always made very welcome!

Keynote speakers are Sir Anthony Seldon and Professor Christine Hockings.

Learning, Teaching and Assessment

360° Learning

UCS’ Annual Learning and Teaching Day 2015 

360° Learning will be held on 16 December 2015 from 12.00pm – 5.00pm

All staff and students at UCS Ipswich and across the Learning Network Centres are warmly invited to attend what we can promise will be a lively and thought-provoking event on learning and teaching.

360° Learning marks the full-scale launch of UCS’ new Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy. The event will consist in two keynote presentations by internationally recognised speakers: Sir Anthony Seldon and Professor Christine Hockings. Sir Anthony is Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University and will be speaking on The 4th Revolution in Education: Digitalisation. Chris Hockings is at Wolverhampton University and will present key findings from the national NUS-HEA funded project on Independent Learning in HE.

You will also be able to join highly interactive workshops, run collaboratively by students and staff in which we’ll share and discuss experiences, ideas and aspirations around:

  • Inclusive Learning and Teaching
  • Assessment and Feedback for Learning
  • Towards Graduate Employability
  • Scholarly and Research-Oriented Teaching

There will also be demonstration and poster displays as well as lots of opportunities for discussion and exchange of ideas with colleagues both across and beyond UCS. We have invited all UCS’ Visiting Professor and Senior Fellows to join this event. Also, Heads of Schools, FE Colleges and Sixth Form Colleges from across the region have been invited to attend parts of the 360° Learning event.

Reserve your place at 360° Learning by completing the online registration form. More details of the event will follow shortly. But please, don’t forget to put this date in your calendar now!

360° Learning – UCS Annual Learning and Teaching Day
16 December 2015, 12.00pm – 5.00pm

Proposed Programme:





Registration and Lunch

Posters and Demonstrations



360° Learning: Welcome and Introduction

Professor Penny Cavenagh and/or Richard Lister



Programme Overview

Dr Christine Smith



Introduction to Sir Anthony Seldon

Professor Penny Cavenagh



The 4th Revolution in Education: Digitalisation

Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor University of Buckingham



Workshops Sessions:

 Inclusive Learning and Teaching

 Assessment and Feedback for Learning

 Towards Graduate Employability

 Scholarly and Research-Oriented Teaching

Facilitated by Heads of Department, Learning and Teaching ‘Champions’ and Student Reps

WAD1, W210, W212, W217


Interval: Refreshments

WAD1 Foyer


Introduction to Professor Christine Hockings

Dr Christine Smith



The Independent Learning Project (NUS/HEA)

Professor Christine Hockings, University of Wolverhampton



Workshops sessions:

 Inclusive Learning and Teaching

 Assessment and Feedback for Learning

 Towards Graduate Employability

 Scholarly and Research-Oriented Teaching

Facilitated by Heads of Department, Learning and Teaching ‘Champions’ and Student Reps

WAD1, W210, W212, W217


Feedback from Workshops

Heads of Department/Learning and Teaching ‘Champions’/Student Reps



Where next with 360° Learning?

Dr Christine Smith




Mulled wine and mince pies

WAD1 Foyer

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

12 November 2015

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

5 November 2015

Teaching first-year students

Teaching first years

Teaching first-year students: a much discussed topic…

There is a mountain of material published — in print and on the web — advising both new and experienced teachers how both they and their students can prepare for and get the most out of their teaching and learning at first-year level. Negotiating one’s way through this abundance of collected wisdom can be as intimidating as facing a class of students whom we do not yet know well and who, individually, bring a wide a range of experiences of education and expectations of it that challenge our assumptions and our expectations.

The value of diversity

Recently, I was lucky enough to spend several hours with some Essex colleagues exploring the opportunities and challenges in our teaching and support of first-year students. Lucky because they were all very engaged but also because they themselves represented some of the incredible diversity which characterizes our university. Colleagues represented all our academic faculties – Science and Health, Humanities and Social Sciences; our academic and professional services staff; our Graduate Teachers; and our UK partner institutions. They all brought different perspectives and priorities to our discussions.

First-year teaching: challenging our assumptions

As usual I’d prepared some activities and resources to facilitate discussions but talking with and hearing the present challenges of my colleagues reminded me more than ever of the importance of remaining alert to — and feeling the value of — what makes us different as well as what unites us as a community.

Everyone there cared deeply about how they might, as individuals and as representatives of a particular discipline, department or section, enhance the educational experiences of our new first-year students. However, I wasn’t long into my presentation before I came face to face with how my own academic background — as a teacher of history at HE level — was influencing the advice I was giving.

The centrality of criticality?

I talked a lot about how we might develop strategies for developing critical thinking (referencing William Perry and his numerous successors); effectively tackle those occasions when students’ progress stalls because they’re not sure how to assimilate or argue against ‘troublesome’ new knowledge (Ray Land and Jan Meyer’s work on ‘Threshold Concepts’) or when their confidence fails because they think they simply ‘can’t’ do something new (Carol Dweck’s ‘growth’ versus ‘fixed’ mindset).

Whilst some colleagues in the room shared my experiences of committing time and energy to helping new practitioners in what we might call ‘writing subjects’: crafting argument, finding appropriate ways to take up and defend an intellectual position, battling with referencing requirements and so forth, others did not associate these things as centrally with their experience of first-year teaching and support work quite so much. On discussing this issue a little more, it became apparent that this difference in practice and in experience had implications for what we understood by feedback and — especially — what we thought high-quality feedback looked and sounded like.

What is high-quality feedback?

What is for me the familiar and oft-repeated task of assessing and commenting on essays has very much shaped my understanding of what constitutes ‘high-quality feedback’. For other colleagues, however, the latter means very different things: it does not often involve lengthy, text-based summative appraisals of things done well and aspects to be improved until postgraduate level! Instead, high-quality feedback might involve deploying one’s observational skills in a lab and making a short but transformational observation to a student struggling to manipulate their apparatus or code to progress through an experiment.

For students too, studies have shown that relevant and well-timed feedback is accorded much greater value than the opposite, however formal or extensive it is (see, for example, Weaver 2006).

Appreciating and valuing the potential of such variety in feedback can keep us alert and flexible in the classroom and in our assessment practice. For whilst we might value widely accepted ‘principles’ of good feedback (Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick 2004, 2006;, Gibbs 1999, for instance), and use these to guide our curriculum review work, for example,  sometimes there is no substitute for reflecting on how others do things differently and whether there is anything missing from our own habitual practices.

Gibbs, G. (1999) ‘Using assessment strategically to change the way students learn’. In: Brown, S. & Glasner, A. (eds) Assessment Matters in Higher Education. Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.

Nicol, D.J. & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2004). Rethinking formative assessment in HE: a theoretical model and seven principles of good feedback practice. In, C. Juwah, D. Macfarlane-Dick, B. Matthew, D. Nicol, D. & Smith, B. (2004) Enhancing student learning though effective formative feedback, York, The Higher Education Academy.

Nicol, D, J. & Macfarlane-Dick (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education 31(2), 199-216.

Weaver, M., 2006. Do students value feedback? Student perceptions of tutors’ written responses. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 31 (3), pp. 379-394

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

8 July 2014

From Pilot to Practice: Embedding peer- and self-assessment into an undergraduate module in Computer Science

In this article, Keith Primrose, CSEE, and Kate Dunton, Learning & Development, evaluate the introduction of a formative self- and peer-assessment exercise into a first-year module in an attempt to improve students’ engagement with the assignment task.  They consider what has been learned and how this has informed further iterations.

PDF version


The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.