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Incubator Projects 2018/19

Incubator Projects 2018/19

Education Incubator 2018/19

The Incubator ran 16 main projects under four themes in 2018/19, as well as five Research-Inspired Inquiry-Led Learning projects. These projects included a host of interactive e-learning, VLE, and digital tools, as well as online modules, and initiatives relating to: Peer Learning, the Hidden Curriculum, Project-Based Learning, Academic Skills Development, and a series of MOOCs. The project summaries for these projects are available in the Incubator Catalogue at the bottom of the page, as well as a series of project blogs available here.

Engaging students with conservation-based research: using sensory ecology for coral reef restoration

Tim Gordon, Dr Lucille Chapuis and Professor Steve Simpson (Biosciences)

This project educated students on the processes and challenges of conducting scientific experiments in the field and offered them the unique opportunity to directly collaborate with scientists working on a marine conservation project overseas. In the summer of 2019, the research group took two students to Indonesia, to conduct field research on bioacoustics at the largest coral reef restoration project in the world.

The students learned about:

  • Marine science field research by helping to design experiments, carry out daily fieldwork, analyse data and write up findings for publication.
  • Applied conservation, by working alongside conservation practitioners, gaining experience in logistic, financial, and sociological considerations of applied conservation work in a developing country.
  • Science communication, the students communicated their research by generating content for the #ExeterMarine social media channels, and engaged with an in-production National Geographic documentary.

Global Girlhoods: Opening up international dialogues about girlhood through cinema

Dr Danielle Hipkins (Modern Foreign Languages) and Professor Fiona Handyside (English/Film)

This project employed a group of students, who had completed the final year undergraduate module on Girlhood and Cinema, to develop a suite of resources for use in future modules, and to make suggestions about how to embed elements of international exchange into the module, and those of international partner universities.

The work was carried out in June 2019, immediately after exams. Four students were supported to prepare for and engage in dialogue with students at foreign universities in order to compare their understanding of girlhood on film, and to create in partnership, via skype and email, comparative accounts of their experience. Building on close contacts with colleagues teaching film and gender at UCLA, La Sapienza, Unitre, and Le Mans, we matched them up with partner students according to their language expertise and interests.

Using student-developed media-rich content to produce inclusive learning materials for teaching research methods on ELE

Riadh Ghemmour (CSSIS), Melissa Oram (HUMS), Tian Qui Shen (CLES), Robert Moffat (CEMPS), Qi Yang (CSSIS), Jim Munday (HUMS) and Helen Knowler (CSSIS)

This project explored the impact of the inclusion of student-led media-rich content to teach research methods in the Social Sciences. Working as a team made up of the module lead, undergraduate and postgraduate students from across the university, the team worked together on the development of research methods teaching resources that are engaging, innovative and inclusive.

The underpinning theory of partnership and participation in this project was that of students as co-producers (Healy, Flint and Harrington, 2016). The focus was on the generation of teaching materials that were developed together in collaboration with a module tutor. Students were seen as active participants in their own learning and the learning of others. In taking part in this project they gained further understandings of the benefits to students in learning-by-doing.

T3 Offstage: A Student Journal for Term 3

Professor Cathy Turner and Dr Katie Beswick (Drama, HUMS)

This project created a student journal, mirroring academic processes of peer review, containing edited student essays, reviews, reflections on the creative process and creative pages which included essays and other creative writing. The project sat alongside the festival of student performances in term 3 (T3), to promote the depth and range of student writing as complementary to their practical performance work, strengthening a sense of practice-as-research, and the significance of written research to an understanding of performance in general.

T3 runs annually as an opportunity for students in the Drama department to apply their learning in a festival of non-assessed performance works. In 2019, staff were more closely involved than ever before, mentoring individual student projects. This journal mirrored the process of the practical project in a written output; this was important in order to solidify the department’s commitment to combining practise as research with scholarly research and writing. This project not only gave students an insight into the process of creating written work for publication, but also the editorial and peer-review process. Three workshops with professional editors, agents and writers were offered to the editorial board, peer reviewers and, practicalities allowing, other interested students. There was also a staff-led workshop on the 'creative critic'.

The Finished journal is a fascinating and informative publication, highlighting the high quality of student writing at the university.

HealthTech Hackathon 

Dr Genevieve Williams (SHAS)

The HealthTech Hackathon ran between 29th-31st March 2019 and was based in the Innovation Centre. Supported by skilled representatives from IBM and Geant, 18 UG and PG students from computer science, sport and health science, physics, psychology, arts and humanities, business, geography, and mathematics formed three teams to design tech solutions for better healthcare.

After a lot of hard work, teams created the following tech prototypes: a ‘smart scooter’ using computer vision to make driving a mobility scooter safer; a ‘smart events calendar’ which mined data from the web to automatically update a low-tech interface to facilitate social interaction for isolated individuals, and a ‘student support chatbot’ using voice recognition to provide the tailored support to students having mental health problems. Through collaboratively developing a solution to a real-world health problem with a multidisciplinary team, the HealthTech Hackathon provided a platform for an enhanced learning, scientific, cultural and applied student experience.

Katharine Earnshaw, Leif Isaksen, Graham Fereday (HUMS). Locating Imagined Spaces 

The project will trial and evaluate a range of digital tools and platforms (Minecraft Educational, Unity 3D [with InVEnTA software], 360 cameras and Snapchat glasses) for how it might help to enhance a critical engagement with ancient didactic poetry, and what the pedagogical implications and possibilities are for teaching texts more generally.

Lisa Harris, Beverley Hawkins, Alison Truelove, Stephen Hickman (UEBS). Sharing a Social Learning Pedagogy across the Institutions

Our multi-disciplinary online module will be based on a social learning pedagogy and open to undergraduates from all Exeter campuses. The online model offers the flexibility of student participation, study time and tutor involvement without the usual timetable constraints of face to face sessions. It will equip students to develop the knowledge, transferable skills and graduate attributes necessary for a new age of work shaped by digital innovations that require flexibility, adaptability and continual learning. For example, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and crypto-currencies will restructure entire industries and transform the nature and location of employment.

Steven Palmer, Damien Mansell, Anne Le Brocq (CLES). Reimagining InVEnTA: Interactive Virtual Environments for Teaching and Assessment

Following the successful first year (2017-2018) of the InVEnTA incubator project, this follow-on proposal seeks to develop and reinforce the preliminary outputs. InVEnTA is a tool that enables students and/or educators to quickly and efficiently produce ‘free-roaming’ immersive Interactive Virtual Environments (IVEs). During 2018-2019 we will continue to develop this tool as well as assess the pedagogic benefits of using IVEs in teaching and learning contexts. The improved version of InVEnTA will be able to incorporate 3D models beyond digital terrain datasets, to widen the applicability of the tool to other disciplines, for example, for understanding complex microscopic models such as protein structures or neural networks. Following a successful ‘early adopters’ workshop in June 2018, we aim to expand the functionality of the tool to enhance the immersive capabilities. We will also be running focus-group style sessions with both students and academic staff to evaluate different methods of embedding interactive learning content.

InVEnTA shortlisting 2018

George Koutsouris, Anna Mountford-Zimdars (GSE). Understanding the barriers posed by the hidden curriculum that HE students from diverse cultural and social backgrounds experience in their studies

The project attempts to better understand the barriers that students from diverse cultural/social backgrounds experience in their studies and will use the theoretical lens of the ‘Hidden Curriculum’ (HC). The HC includes norms, behaviours, perspectives and attitudes that reflect the current but also previous educational and cultural experiences of students and, therefore, can vary significantly between students from diverse backgrounds. The study will focus particularly on students’ perceptions of and attitudes towards the HC and will involve a number of UG/PGT students as co-researchers. The aim is to develop material and resources for personal academic tutors to enable them to make the HC explicit to students.

Claire Lavers (UEBS), Piklu Gupta (FabLab Neckar-Alb). Accessible in-class teaching: a training resource for academic staff

I aim to create an online training resource to inform teaching staff how to make their in-class teaching accessible for a variety of the most commonly presented disabilities in the student body. As well as acting as a good practice guide to accessible in-class teaching, highlighting the simple changes staff can make - as a matter of course - to their teaching, it will also contain animation, videos and student testimony, illustrating the barriers to learning students with disabilities face by demonstrating how disabled students experience a range of learning environments.

David MacDonald (UEMS), Phoebe Greenwold (HUMS), Jonny Gurr (COMS), Gihan Marasingha (CEMPS), Amanda Pocklington (ESS), Sophie Jones, Andrew Pye (CLES), Mariann Sarquis-Sepulveda (CSSIS). Evaluating the impact of peer programmes on students' learning gain and academic attainment - a cross-discpline approach.

Peer programmes have become increasingly popular over recent years with Exeter now boasting approx 30 schemes. Whilst there is much qualitative evidence to underpin these activities there is a paucity of quantitative research pertaining to the optimal design for maximising the impact on students learning gain and attainment. This project will address the lack of empirical evidence by designing a robust study that will evaluate independently the impact of selected peer programmes on learning gain and academic attainment in first-year student cohorts. The level of learning gain will be assessed via short tests to be delivered within peer sessions or at the start/end of lectures according to group allocation. These tests will be designed by the module leads within the academic programmes involved with each test centred around the content of a lecture. The peer mentors involved in this project will receive study-specific training in addition to the standard peer mentor training. This will enable them to lead the scheduled peer sessions addressing the lecture content through facilitated discussion confidently & competently. They will not teach but guide the discussion to support understanding of the lecture topics. The aim is to disseminate initial project results towards the end of term 1 via a workshop/seminar, using these results and the suggestions of workshop participants to inform changes for term 2. Final projects results will be disseminated at educational conferences and further workshops/seminars. 

Joseph Francis (UEMS). Utilising Playful Learning and Gamification to Enhance Engagement and Learning within Medical Education

In order to align more closely with aim 5 of the University’s Education Strategy, ‘first-class face-to-face educational experiences enhanced with a variety of technologies’ the University of Exeter Medical School (UEMS) have identified a need to enhance their engagement with innovative digital learning tools.

This project will review the University’s existing Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) with a view to identifying areas which would benefit from the implementation of innovative pedagogies. This review will then inform the establishment of a topic-based Faculty Learning Community (FLC) who will discuss possible innovations to the VLE, aiding the procurement of the new VLE whilst assisting in the co-development of the digital medical curricula.

In addition, the project will trial the development and incorporation of an innovative learning platform within an identified area of the medical school curriculum utilising immersive learning strategies which may include playful learning/ gamification, interactive novels/podcasting and incorporation of socially engaging learning programmes.

Finally, the project will consider the development of a student and tutor dashboard to centralise and streamline learning which may be developed into a mobile application for enhanced accessibility.

Katherine Natanel (CSSIS), Kerry Chappell (GSE). Digital Innovation in Project-Based Learning 

This project explores how ‘project-based learning’ (PBL) can be enhanced through digital technologies and creative pedagogies in HE classrooms, which work through face-to-face interaction and virtual learning environments (VLEs). PBL engages students in solving real-world problems and provides a deeper, more contextualised learning experience that results in active engagement and higher attainment, but little is known about its creative integration with technology.

Our primary aim is, therefore, to understand and share how digital technologies can be creatively integrated into project-based learning in a way that compliments, and ideally enhances, their capacity for deep, creative knowledge production. We will build on Natanel’s ongoing use of PBL on her course ‘Gender, Sexuality and Violence in Palestine/Israel’, combining it with Chappell’s educational research into creativity and creative pedagogy, and both academics’ experience to date of working with digital environments. As part of Curriculum 2021, we aim to assess how combined VLEs and face-to-face interaction can best support creative project-based learning in the interest of maximising impact and enriching ethical communities of practice.

Nicky King (CLES). E-resources for new ways of teaching and assessing in the laboratory 

Laboratory-based learning is a core part of all the Natural Sciences and Biological Sciences programmes, with first-year students typically spending 6 hours per week in the laboratory. Good preparation for laboratory work and excellent and timely feedback are key to effective learning in this environment. Students starting these courses come from a variety of educational backgrounds and many have not had the opportunity for much lab-based learning, nor been exposed to an environment like our teaching labs.

Smart Worksheets are a flexible tool developed by Learning Science to offer bespoke post-lab feedback to students using their own data and their own analysis. This project will develop new worksheets for our lab classes and integrate existing Learning Science resources into Bioscience and Natural Sciences practicals, improving preparedness for lab work, improving feedback and streamlining marking time. The project hopes also to transform the way students interact with the VLE, from often being a passive medium to one which is more interactive where students learn through experience, practice and instant feedback.

These resources provide a step towards mobile learning, virtual degrees, improving access to lab learning for WP groups and offer novel pedagogic approaches, in particular for better, faster and more streamlined assessment and feedback. 

Richard Ward, Helen Birkett, Sarah Jones (HUMS). Humanities in a Digital World: Integrating Digital Skills Training and the Digital Humanities into Undergraduate Teaching

This project will assess what digital skills training would be most valuable for UG students and how we can provide them in an effective and sustainable way, particularly through the use of Virtual Learning Environments. This initiative is led by staff from History, but it is intended to produce a College-wide solution. In doing so, the project will contribute towards Aims 2 and 3 of the Education Strategy and place Exeter at the forefront of Digital Humanities teaching in the UK.

Layal Hakim (CEMPS). CSD-Continuing Student Development

The principal aim of this project is to personalise student support in mathematics using on-going online assessments and launching the Maths Café. Many students not only have difficulties with keeping on track with the content of the modules but also with their own development. This leads to a lack of understanding of what they understood and what they need help with. Due to the synoptic nature of mathematics, the topics taught at undergraduate level depend highly on prior knowledge and almost every undergraduate module requires a firm understanding of one or more other modules. Regular computer-based formative assessments will accelerate students’ progress by keeping them on track with the material being taught, and will allow us to identify students’ skills, strengths, and weaknesses. We will address the students’ struggles and weaknesses by offering on-going support in the form of one-to-one help. The Maths Café will provide free exam preparation drop-in sessions and will run during the main revision periods. The effectiveness of these online assessments, and the maths café, will be studied using statistical analysis. This project will improve student support while meeting the students’ demand and need for new technologies.

Cris Burgess, Hazel Mycroft (CLES). Academic skills development and authentic assessment

Over 80% of Psychology graduates pursue careers not currently recognised as professional Psychology pathways (QAA, 2015), competing with graduates from other disciplines. Psychology programmes provide opportunities to develop a vast array of graduate attributes that make our students competitive, but our students find these attributes hard to define and distinguish from those of other disciplines. ‘Authentic assessments’ require students, “to apply the skills and knowledge they have mastered." (Stiggins, 1987, p.34) and provide opportunities to self-assess valued attributes, offering concrete examples for future employers. However, students are risk-averse in their appreciation of assessment types not already encountered in their educational experience and the introduction of such assessments impacts negatively on student satisfaction and psychological wellbeing. Providing additional support does little to improve satisfaction, instead increasing expectations surrounding support for all forms of academic endeavour. The development of academic skills is a priority across our programmes and a new core skills curriculum will be introduced in 2018/19. We wish to track its impact on our students’ academic skills development, and their confidence in completing a variety of assessment types.

James Wakefield and Sam Stevens (CLES). Labster VR Sims

Visual or practical based laboratory sessions are vital for increasing student understanding of the relationship between science and technology, routine methodology and visualisation of complex concepts. However, laboratory experiments can be time-consuming, expensive and limited by safety regulations. Laboratories may be limited by the lack of expensive equipment or new innovative technologies, stimulation platforms such as Labster can, therefore, complement lecture-based or laboratory-based learning. Labster is a virtual learning platform for higher education science students. The platform offers a number of laboratory stimulations educating students in a range of subjects from laboratory safety to molecular cloning. These visual simulations can engage students and better understanding using visualisation of sub-microscopic molecules and difficult concepts.

The project aims to incorporate Labster into the syllabus of natural science students. Students will engage in the topics: experimental design, molecular cloning, confocal microscopy and gene regulation. The project then aims to report on the effectiveness of the Labster platform as an educational tool for a wider scope within Exeter University.

Emma Jeans (UEBS). Gender Equality MOOC

Gender inequality is a global, pervasive and enduring challenge facing our societies. Tackling gender inequality requires fundamental changes at multiple levels, including enhancing understanding of the nature and effects of gender inequality alongside policy-led activity. It has received increasing attention recently through campaigns such as HeforShe, #MeToo and policy developments such as the UK’s Gender Pay Gap reporting making it timely to harness this interest and contribute to activities addressing this challenge. This project will involve working with students, colleagues, and organisations (employers and NGOs) with an interest in gender equality in co-developing a gender equality MOOC focused on broader understandings of gender inequality as they affect the home/family, workplace, governance/politics, and society more broadly (e.g. media).

Dan Bebber, Natalia Lawrence (CLES). Future Food MOOC

How can we create a sustainable food system for the 21st Century? 

This MOOC addresses the complex network of environmental, economic, social and cultural interactions comprising the global food system, providing a holistic overview of the challenges and opportunities on our road to a truly sustainable means of feeding humanity. Food production has transformed our planet, with 40 per cent of the land surface exploited for agriculture. Fresh water and soils are under threat, and many fisheries overexploited. While 800 million remain malnourished, 2.2 billion are overweight. Millions of smallholders face economic uncertainty, while just four transnationals control global grain supply. Solutions for social, economic and environmental sustainability require an interdisciplinary analysis based on the state-of-the-art research - Exeter University has the expertise, spanning climate change impacts and crop modelling to the psychology and economics of consumers dietary choices. We envisage three audiences: First, external students who may wish to pursue study at the University. Second, current undergraduates who wish to take part in the Food For Thought Grand Challenge (lead by Bebber and Lawrence). Third, students starting the MSc in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture who require a quick-start in food system thinking. This MOOC will showcase Exeter’s expertise, open minds to interdisciplinary thinking, and prepare our students for further study. 

Martin Robson, David Blagden, Peter Cox (CSSIS), Anka Djordjevic (TQAE). Strategy and Security Institute Global Security MOOC

The aim is to turn a very successful existing physical interdisciplinary SSI Grand Challenge (over 200 Undergraduates per year, 94% satisfaction, GC part of TEF Gold AWARD) into a MOOC. The intent for the Global Security MOOC is to have both potential internal and external audiences. The project would utilise the existing MOOCification of other Grand Challenges as a template for success using the FutureLearn platform. The MOOC itself will consist of the delivery of core skills and knowledge via content followed by users selecting to deploy those skills to a subject speciality selected five key contemporary challenges: the future of nuclear weapons; the future of European security defence; the causes of war; terror and terrorism; the relationship between the citizen and the state. The option to make this credit-bearing will be enabled by both formative and summative assessment. Content will take the form of videos of SSI academics and external speakers, online reading and discussion forums. Formative assessment will take the form of interactive quizzes and student uploads of their presentations. Summative assessment will be in the form of a piece of applied writing, such as a Ministerial Submission.