The quest for teaching excellence and learning gain: issues, resolutions and possibilities

11 May 2017 - 12 May 2017
Location: Marriott Victoria and Albert Hotel, Manchester

SEDA Spring Conference 2017 Handbook SEDA Spring Conference 2017 Feedback FormSEDA Spring Conference 2017 PresentationsIntroduction

Higher and Further Education are under pressure to both deliver and demonstrate teaching excellence. This pressure has probably never been as intense as it is today, and is likely to increase as we experience new quality regimes such as the TEF and our students become more demanding in terms of ‘value for money’. As well as these increasing pressures from different stakeholders, there has been the growing critique that post-16 education is not having sufficient impact on students’ broader intellectual development – as in the studies and initiatives inspired by the publication of ‘Academically Adrift’ in the USA which questioned whether many students “are actually developing the capacity for critical thinking and complex reasoning at college.” (1)

The publication of Academically Adrift in 2010 raised concerns about the nature and extent of learning gain which students can expect to experience over their college and university careers. These concerns have since crossed the Atlantic. In 2015, the English funding body, HEFCE, held the first UK conference on learning gain and announced that ‘A total of 12 collaborative projects, including over 70 universities and colleges, will receive £4 million over three years to run pilot projects that will test and evaluate measures of learning gain in English higher education.’ (2)

Alongside this increasing pressures and concerns, we have seen the emergence of a wide variety of new approaches and techniques, ranging from initiatives to engage students as ‘producers’ or ‘co-creators’ through to interventions based on learning analytics. Given this range of initiatives, which are the most effective strategies in terms of impact on student learning?

This conference will examine how HE and FE can respond to this new environment and offer both conceptual/theoretical analysis and practical techniques to help us move forward.

The conference will be valuable and relevant to a wide range of staff in HE and FE who need to be familiar with the most recent evidence on initiatives to develop/improve teaching excellence and learning gain. This includes educational developers, heads of learning and teaching, course leaders, and staff involved in quality assurance/enhancement. We also welcome students involved in these activities to come and share their experience.


  • Definitions and measurement of teaching excellence and learning gain: issues and implications.
  • Institutional and departmental initiatives to achieve teaching excellence: outcomes and evaluation.
  • Factors underpinning and influencing excellence: learning environments, learning technologies, and institutional context.
  • Staff and student perspectives on teaching excellence and learning gain.
  • The role of assessment and feedback in learning gain.


1. Arum, R. and Roksa, J. (2010) Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. University of Chicago Press.



SEDA invites proposals from students In UK HE or FE to deliver short papers (15 minutes) to this conference. Papers should provide an answer to the question – ‘What is teaching excellence from the student point of view?’ – and relate to the general conference themes

Support from SEDA

SEDA has agreed to provide financial support for three student papers from three different UK institutions under the following conditions:

  • Each student presenter will have all conference fees waived and be provided with subsistence/accommodation for the whole conference.
  • Each student’s home institution must agree to cover the student’s travel costs.
  • Each student’s home institution must agree to fund at least one full conference delegate to support the student presenter and act as ‘sponsor’. The staff delegate will be expected to advise and support the student in preparing his/her presentations but will not have any role in delivery at the conference.

Dr Camille B. Kandiko Howson, Academic Head of Student Engagement, King’s College London @cbkandikoIn a cross-institutional capacity Camille works on student engagement and experience enhancement initiatives at KCL. She provides leadership in terms of engaging students and staff with areas of educational development policy and student engagement with educational enhancement.She is involved in national higher education policy research on students and the student experience, currently working with HEFCE on evaluating Learning Gains research.Professor Sue Rigby, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student Development), University of Lincoln

Sue is Deputy Vice Chancellor for Student Development at the University of Lincoln.  She is responsible for the student journey from application to alumni activities, and has oversight of the Colleges of Science and Arts.


Sue is a palaeontologist by background.  After being an academic at the Cambridge, Leicester and Edinburgh she moved into senior management, first as Assistant Principal and then Vice Principal at the University of Edinburgh.  She is an HEA Principal Fellow.


She is Chair of the HEFCE Learning Gain project and a member of the Scottish Funding Council QA review group.  She is chairing work on the design of a PGT national survey and is a member of the TEF Panel.  Internationally, she has contributed to the development of reward and recognition processes for staff in learning and teaching through the U21 network, and developed the first MOOC to be shared by students in the U21 Universities.


Sue has set up a variety of large-scale and multi-University projects, including the THES prize-winning ‘Making the Most of Masters’. She is an honorary professor at the University of Edinburgh and works in their Institute of Academic Development.


Sue was elected co-convenor of the HEA PVC network in 2016.

Dr Helen King, Senior Higher Education Policy Adviser, Higher Education Funding Council for England

Dr Helen King joined HEFCE in October 2016 as a Senior Higher Education Policy Adviser working in the Learning & Teaching Policy team. Her work encompasses a range of activities including supporting the 67 small-scale ‘Catalyst’ innovation projects, providing an academic development perspective on various policy initiatives, and informing HEFCE’s ongoing strategy for learning & teaching development as it moves into the Office for Students. Her background is in the geosciences and from 1996 to 2007 she led national initiatives in discipline-specific academic development (the Earth Science Staff Development project and the Higher Education Academy [HEA] Subject Centre for Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences). From 2007 to 2010, she worked as an independent consultant for learning & teaching projects in the UK, USA and Australia, and in 2010 had 10 months as Senior Adviser at the HEA before taking up the role of Head of Academic Staff Development at the University of Bath. She is a Visiting Fellow at the University of the West of England and her current research interest is focused around the characteristics of expertise in academic practice. She holds a Senior Fellowship of the Staff & Educational Development Association, a National Teaching Fellowship and has recently applied for Principal Fellow of the HEA.

A vibrant Manchester city centre hotel, located on the banks of the River Irwell, theManchester Marriott Victoria & Albert Hotel exudes a historical charm that appeals tobusiness and leisure travellers.Located across from the Coronation Street set tour; adjacent to Spinningfields and apleasant walk to the Opera House and Palace Theatre, this four-star hotel in Manchesterwas first built as a warehouse in 1844. The charming building displays the old architecturaldetail with contemporary flair, comfort and services.The luxurious guest rooms at the hotel are graced by original oak beams andexposed brick and feature plush new bedding and high-speed Internet access. For dining,the brasserie-style V&A Restaurant offers international fare and river views, while the V&ALounge Bar has become a local favourite.

Conference Package

Early bird price (prior to 5pm Thurs 13 April 2017)

Standard price(after 5pm Thurs 13 April 2017)

Full residential conference delegate (includes one nights accommodation and all meals, including the conference dinner)



Student Concessionary Full residential conference delegate (includes one nights accommodation and all meals, including the conference dinner) Available to Full Time Students Only £380 £440

Non-residential day delegate Thursday 11th May and Friday 12th May (includes lunch and refreshments)



Non-residential day delegate Thursday 11th May (includes lunch and refreshments)



Student Concessionary Non-residential day delegate Thursday 11th May (includes lunch and refreshments) Available to Full Time Students Only £145 £165

Non-residential day delegate Friday 12th May (includes lunch and refreshments)



Student Concessionary Non-residential day delegate Friday 12th May (includes lunch and refreshments) Available to Full Time Students Only £145 £165

Bed and breakfast accommodation for the night of Wednesday 10th May



Conference dinner Thursday 11th May



Day One09.15 – 09.45 Registration and tea & coffee – GLASS ROOF FOYER09.45 – 09.50 Welcome and Introductions – JOHN LOGGIE BAIRD (JLB) SUITE 2 AND 309.50 – 10.00 View from SEDA – JOHN LOGGIE BAIRD (JLB) SUITE 2 AND 310.00 – 11.00 Opening Keynote Address – Measuring Learning Gain: Implications for development, enhancement and evaluation  – JOHN LOGGIE BAIRD (JLB) SUITE 2 AND 3Dr Camille Kandiko Howson, Academic Head of Student Engagement, King’s College London11.00 – 11.30 Break – FOYER AREAS

11.00 – 11.30 New to SEDA? Come and find out more Yaz El Hakim and Jo Peat (SEDA Co-Chairs) – IRWELL ROOM

11.30 – 12.15 Parallel Session 1

  1. Capturing Learning Gain from Work Placements  Lorraine Anderson, Eric Monaghan – BOARD ROOM
  2. Learning Gain and Confidence Gain as Metrics for Pedagogical Effectiveness  Fabio R. Aricò – JLB SUITE 1
  3. The Labyrinth: A reflective space in which to explore peer perspectives on learning gain  Ruth Bavin, Kelly McAteer – JOHN LOGGIE BAIRD (JLB) SUITE 2 AND 3
  4. Does engagement with the UK-PSF via an institutional HEA accredited recognition scheme impact on the participant’s Quality of Academic Practice?  Kath Botham – IRWELL ROOM
  5. Enhancing teaching excellence through Team Based Learning: institutional challenges and lessons learnt when implementing a major change to curriculum delivery and assessment  Judy Cohen, Catherine Robinson -VICTORIA ROOM
  6. Teaching and learning in less formal digital spaces: how far can the use of less-formal learning environments support student learning and evidence teaching excellence for the TEF?  Sarah Crowson and Patrick Leonard – 1844 ROOM


12.20 – 13.05 Parallel Session 2

  1. Becoming Being and Belonging : Learning gain through transition support for articulation students Tom Cunningham, Lorraine Anderson & Michael Allardice – JLB SUITE 2 & 3
  2. MOAR: Making Our Aspirations Reality Sandie Dann, Samantha Davis, Pooja Panchmatia – BOARD ROOM
  3. Managing the intangibles: prestige and the role of programme leader  Sam Ellis – VICTORIA ROOM
  4. Peer learning in the age of excellence: how cross disciplinary collaboration can help develop excellence  Dario Faniglione, Samuel Geary – JLB SUIT 1
  5. Content, context and meta(cognition)  Peter Gossman, Stephen Powell, Charles Neame – 1844 ROOM


13.10 – 14.00 Lunch – RESTAURANT14.05 – 15.35 Parallel Session 3

  1. Using the D4 Curriculum Development to addresses TEF metrics  Liz Bennett, Sue Folley – VICTORIA ROOM
  2. Ethographic Futures Research as an approach for learning needs analysis  Florence Dujardin –  BOARD ROOM
  3. A cut and stick approach to teaching excellence  Anna Hunter – IRWELL ROOM
  4. Strategies for enhancing learning and teaching focused continuing professional development Rachael-Anne Knight, Thomas Hanley – JLB SUITE 1
  5. SCALE-UP an alternative way of engineering pedagogy Presentation Anne Nortcliffe – ALBERT ROOM
  6. Teaching Excellence: Concepts and Behaviours  Pam Parker, Rachael-Anne Knight – JLB SUITE 2 & 3
  7. Can student’s knowledge, skills and experiences of research methods serve as a proxy for learning gain?  Rebecca Turner, Claire Gray, Carole Sutton, Reema Muneer, Julie Swain & Mark Stone – 1844 ROOM


15.35 – 15.45 Break – FOYER AREAS15.45 – 16.45 Panel Discussion – What is the future for learning gain and teaching excellence in UK higher education? – JLB SUITE 2 & 3Jo Peat (SEDA), Sally Brown (National Association of Teaching Fellows), Mandy Asghar (HEDG), Will Carey (University of Manchester Students’ Union)17.00 – 17.45 NetworkingGetting Published with SEDA James Wisdom (Chair, SEDA Educational Developments Magazine Editorial Committee) – ALBERT ROOMSEDA-PDF Jenny Eland, Ruth Pilkington (Members, SEDA-PDF Committee) – IRWELL ROOM18.00 – 18.45 SEDA AGM – 1844 ROOM18.50 Drinks Reception – GLASS ROOF FOYER/TERRACE19.30 Dinner – JOHN LOGGIE BAIRD SUITEDay Two09.00 – 09.25 Registration, tea and coffee – GLASS ROOF FOYER09.25 – 09.30 Welcome to day 2 – JLB SUITE 2 & 309.30 – 10.30 Student presentations – JLB SUITE 2 & 3Rachel Arland – Edge Hill University Student-led Staff Awards: Beyond a Popularity ContestLeanne Hunt – The Importance of Rapport in Teaching Excellence and Learning GainHollie Shaw – A widening participation student’s perspective of teaching excellence in college based higher education10.30 – 10.45 Break – FOYER AREAS10.45 – 11.30 Parallel Session 4

  1. Student evaluation of teaching and the use of mid-module review  Karen Fraser – JLB SUITE 2 & 3
  2. No pain, no learning gain  Lisa Hayes – BOARD ROOM
  3. Breadth and depth: Understanding and identifying evidence that effectively substantiates claims of ‘excellence’  Peter Hill – JLB SUITE 1
  4. Teaching excellence to maximise learning gain among diverse students Presentation David Killick – VICTORIA ROOM
  5. How the quality of our human interactions can contribute to ‘learning gain’ and the fulfilment of ‘co-production’ roles for students  Katie Brute, Susan Liggett, Keith Lindley – IRWELL ROOM
  6. Student partnership, teaching excellence and learning gain: evaluating the impact of ‘students as partners’  Leoarna Mathias, John Peters – 1844 ROOM

11.35 – 12.20 Parallel Session 5

  1. Research as Ongoing Professional Learning in College Based HE: A new approach to achieving excellent teaching?  Philip Miller – BOARD ROOM
  2. Working with students to create authentic and timely course evaluation of teaching excellence – a case study using a structured qualitative approach  Dawn Morley – 1844 ROOM
  3. The Holy Grail for HE – how do we achieve transformational learning (gain) through excellent teaching?  Louise Naylor – JLB SUITE 1
  4. Striving for teaching excellence beyond the UK: what can we learn from middle and northern Europe?  Diane Nutt, Jayne Tidd – VICTORIA ROOM
  5. Celebrating learning gain and teaching excellence through social media and digital narratives Sue Beckingham – IRWELL ROOM
  6. Capturing learning  Paul Orsmond, Rachel Forsyth – JLB SUITE 2 & 3

12.25 – 13.20 Lunch – RESTAURANT13.20 – 14.10 Keynote 4 – Learning gain, teaching excellence and the changing terrain of Higher Education – JLB SUITE 2 & 3Professor Sue Rigby, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student Development), University of Lincoln14.15 – 15.00 Parallel Session 6

  1. Promoting teaching excellence through the development of digital capabilities: can it be done? Sue Pears, Charlie Davis – VICTORIA ROOM
  2. Observing the UK Professional Standards (UKPS) in HEA accredited provision: a tool towards defining teaching excellence and effective teaching environments for refining the Teaching Excellence Framework metrics  Clare Power – JLB SUITE 2 & 3
  3. When pedagogy collides with physical reality: the (re) design of teaching rooms to enable teaching excellence  Gunter Saunders, Federica Oradini, Peter Hartley – JLB SUITE 1
  4. Exploring ePortfolio-ness  Shane Sutherland (PebblePad), Lisa Hayes – BOARD ROOM
  5. My course has challenged me?? …student interpretation of the revised NSS questions  Penny Sweasey – 1844 ROOM
  6. Developing the Teaching Recognition Project (TRP) at Queen Mary University of London and it’s challenges to HSS  Maren Thom – IRWELL ROOM

15.05 – 15.50 Plenary – Surpassing others or surpassing ourselves? Exploring the concept of expertise in higher education – JLB SUITE 2 & 3Helen King, HEFCE15.50 – 16.00 Summing up and close – JLB SUITE 2 & 3