Grant Holder(s)Title and Project AbstractStatus
Emma ElvidgeFIRE PROJECT: Facing Failure In Research and Higher Education

Failure is a key part of the research process, without failure there would be no academic progress. But it can be a socially and emotionally difficult topic to deal with. The FIRE Project aims to address the ability of academics and researchers to openly discuss failures and the lessons learnt through them via educational podcasts. Each podcast episode models thoughtful, academically- and reflectively-driven conversations around failure in the form of short interviews. These provide not only a learning opportunity for students and early career researchers, but also a scaffolding for other staff to improve the conversations they have with those they supervise and manage around failure. As well as the production of these podcasts, this proposal aims to look at the efficacy of the latter point, the use of the podcasts to help staff develop their conversational skills during “everyday” learning moments. The use of podcasts to disseminate good practice in this way is novel and ideally suited to the current remote working situation, but also creates a diverse and inclusive learning environment.
Ongoing
Gemma Mansi, Simon Leggatt, Sharon Perera, Emma Kennedy, Bruce CroninPromoting student belonging through online learning communities; development in partnership with staff and students

Higher Education has undergone significant transformative change in the last ten months due to Covid-19. Consequently, teaching staff have experienced rapid change in how they deliver their curriculum to students, most notably through digital platforms. However, there is a significant concern related to student wellbeing related to feelings of isolation and disconnection because of students’ ability to form a sense of community online (Maddix, 2013). This subsequently impacts students’ self-motivation to engage in teaching and learning. Furthermore, research remains inconclusive about how learners develop a sense of community in a virtual space and what effect this may have on interaction and learning (Peeters and Pretorius, 2020).
This project aims to address this research gap by investigating and understanding how staff can develop an online social experience through blended learning. This will be addressed through participatory action research and social network analysis. This analysis, as outlined by Peeters and Pretorius, (2020), will determine how the student-interaction process in online environments can unfold and develop through online learning, and, by determining how different students relate to each other and how learners give rise to an online ‘community,’ or in what circumstances fails to do so. Online engagement will be facilitated by teaching staff who will purposefully set teaching activities, which aim to encourage online community building capacity. From the data, this participatory action research project will develop a toolkit for teaching staff to reflect upon student group dynamics and implement activities, which encourage virtual communities amongst their students.
Ongoing
Orlagh McCabe, Stephanie Aldred,
Peter Gossman, Stephen Powell
Evaluating the role of dialogue in virtual teaching observations

This small-scale study aims to explore the role of the professional dialogue in the virtual observation of teaching and examine the experience of participants from multiple disciplines across two institutions: Manchester Metropolitan University and Worcester University. Within the staff development community there is growing awareness of the uses and benefits of the professional dialogue for HE staff development. This project aims to illuminate the specifics of this process associated with developmental observation in the emerging context of online and blended learning, where observations of practice may relate to a range of synchronous and asynchronous learning and teaching activities.
Increase in staff confidence is one of the many beneficial outcomes of teaching observation schemes which anecdotal experience testifies to. However, there is a persistent belief that the process is ultimately driven by quality metrics attached to certain teaching practices and that evaluation of the ‘performance’ is the key observer role. To contest this view we seek to highlight the value of observation and dialogue as a relational experience that empowers individual agency, facilitates efficient sharing of innovative ideas, and most importantly, supports the development of the professional ‘self’.
The opportunity to engage in ‘professional dialogue’ provides the space to take time to listen, reflect and discuss moments of practice, as a crucial aspect of professional learning (Elinor &Gerard, 1998., Pilkington, 2014). It can support academics in identifying new approaches to further enhance or develop their professional practice with authentically transformative potential.
With these aims in mind, we aim to evaluate the role and key features of the professional dialogue in the context of virtual observations of practice followed by an online professional dialogue, enabling the production of a co-constructed dialogic framework for use in blended and remote observation scenarios.
Ongoing
Selma Omer, Pirashanthie Vivekananda-Schmidt,
Fran Oldale
Centring the voices of our BAME students towards creating a more inclusive learning environment

Recently there has been discussions at the national level about the continuing pervasive systemic racism and its impact on BAME communities in Universities. In response, staff and students at the University of Sheffield Medical School formed a collaboration to explore student experiences within their learning environments. Although the literature indicates the importance of belongingness with the learning environment for student learning, students in our working group told us that they do not always feel a sense of belonging. Furthermore, they feel that staff do not always have the skills to make them feel included. We propose to conduct a mixed method study to gather qualitative and quantitative data (through surveys and focus groups) on the student experiences with racial equality to derive recommendations that will help develop staff capabilities to create a more inclusive learning environment.
Students and staff (Project partners) will work together to develop data collection tools, collect and analyse data and develop an interactive online resource (tool kit) for staff development. The partnership with students is imperative in providing authenticity and enhancing the validity of project outcomes through co-creation. The funding will support progressing the work towards outputs of a data-driven online resource, case studies and dissemination events to publicise project findings. The outcomes of the collaborative work will help to develop staff skills within our University and hospitals across South Yorkshire in becoming more inclusive in their practice in an increasingly diverse student culture.
Ongoing
Tracy Galvin, Barry Quinn, Mairead Corrigan,
Carole Parsons, Dimitrios Lamprou, Louise Carson,
Blánaid Hicks
Building a Community of Practice in ‘Designing Inclusive Curriculum to improve Equality and Diversity’ (DICED)

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are becoming more diverse with increasing numbers of staff and students from different ethnic backgrounds. This has led to positive changes within HEIs with the development of policies and procedures that aim to promote a sense of belonging among our diverse learners, that celebrates diversity and is respectful of difference. The appointment of Equality, Diversity and
Inclusion (EDI) Academic Leads has been one response to integrating diversity into the curricula. However, EDI Leads often find themselves working in isolation, resulting in a duplication of effort and, lack of shared responsibility among other staff for EDI.
The DICED project will adopt a Community of Practice (CoP) approach to counteract these challenges. It aims to: (1) build an EDI CoP among an education developer and six EDI academic leads in the Faculty of MHLS; (2) increase faculty professional development around EDI by developing an EDI Toolkit, workshops, resources, courses and collaborations; and (3) apply an evidence informed approach to the project through a pre- and post-EDI Health Check survey, workshop feedback forms, course evaluations and student voice. The outputs of the project are a SEDA paper; presentation at the SEDA conference; three faculty workshops; the development of resources on cultural competency; an EDI Health Check; EDI Toolkit; an accredited SEDA EDI course. The project will be of interest to academics responsible for EDI, wider academic and support staff and the wider faculty within the institution, to proactively adapt and embed EDI in their own context.
Ongoing