Reading theses to write a thesis

#Becomingeducational Nearing the end of the academic year…

… and what if your thoughts are turning to:

a) Writing your own thesis

b) Helping your students polish off their theses/dissertations?

Some simple tips and tricks from ‘Doctoral Writing’, May 2018

DoctoralWriting SIG

By Cally Guerin

One of the major challenges of writing a doctoral thesis is that the document submitted for examination doesn’t usually look much like the texts that PhD candidates read. For many students, the first six months or so is spent reading masses of articles, chapters and books, and the focus is on the content of those texts. Then they turn their attention to writing a markedly different genre. Even for those writing a thesis by publication, the document submitted for examination includes sections that do not resemble much of what they have been reading during candidature.

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#Becomingeducational Creativity and Innovation Week

#creativeHE #ImaginEd #BritishLibrary #FreeEvent #22ndApril
The Library of Ideas: Creative Use of The British Library
Discover how the British Library can help you create and develop your own artistic projects. #Becomingeducational is passing on this invitation…
Are you an early-career artist or student looking for inspiration?
Undercurrent Theatre is hosting this chance to meet curators, get up close to some of the collections and discover how you can use the Library to develop your own artistic projects.
The British Library holds a wealth of materials which are increasingly being used as inspiration for artists and creatives alike. Use this opportunity to find out more about the Library, how to access the Library’s collections, how to research and develop your own artistic projects using the collections as sites of inspiration and to begin an exchange of ideas.
The afternoon will be hosted by Undercurrent Theatre, the first Associate Theatre Company of the British Library, funded by Arts Council England.
In 2016 Undercurrent partnered with the British Library for their sell-out theatre production Calculating Kindness which was inspired by material from the Library’s contemporary scientific archives.
The event is FREE however advance booking is required:
As you may know, the British Library has a collection of over 150 million items ranging from manuscripts and magazines to a sound archive and drawings.
All of this is available to the public however accessing the library is not easy… This event is designed to break down barriers and give early-career artists the tools and confidence to access the materials in the British Library.
The British Library would be very grateful for any support *you* could give in helping to get the word out; could you include this event on a newsletter, or post on your intranet, or simply share this event with people you know?
The link to book free tickets is: – and also here is the link to our facebook event:
POSTSCRIPT: It is still not too late to join in with #creativeHE’s thoughtful challenges – this week led by Gillian Judson and Norman Jackson – join here:

My Conceptual Model for Learning Development

#Becomingeducational First, Second and Third space: conceptualising learning development

We’re re-blogging this fascinating blogpost from Helen (Rattus Scholasticus) Webster on her ways of conceptualising learning development (academic mentoring etc) – and expanding the notion in within or outwith the curriculum.

How do you conceptualise or theorise your role?

Best wishes,
Sandra & Tom

rattus scholasticus

I was at ALDinHE’s annual conference last week, and have been digesting all the rich, fascinating papers and conversations I encountered- material enough for several blog posts!

One session in particular jumped out at me as something I wanted to work through more in a blog post. Rosie MacLachlan, from St George’s, University of London, ran a workshop asking us to develop a conceptual model of Learning Development, unpicking all the forms it takes and trying to position them in a model. She’s run sessions like this at ALDinHE regionals, and it was a fascinating exercise not just in scoping the various ways we practice, but also in how we understand and articulate them.

Many models positioned the different forms of provision along some kind of continuum or axis associated with the curriculum, one to ones and generic sessions being outside the curriculum, and sessions embedded as part of the module, or…

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#Take5: 18: The best way to tackle plagiarism?

#Becomingeducational To plagiarise or not to plagiarise – that is the question

A recent discussion on the ALT jiscmail (the discussion group for those applying learning technologies in education) – the talk was of Turnitin and plagiarism.

It so often is…

So we rummaged around and found again this excellent blogpost by Liam Greenslade that we originally published on our sister blog: #Take5 last year.

This is an excellent post that explores why students might be tempted to plagiarise… and developmental steps that we can take to raise awareness of academic conventions whilst developing student understanding and learning.

We hope you enjoy it!

And – if you have an approach or strategy for developing rich student learning – why not think about producing a #Take5 blog post of your own?

Best wishes,
Sandra & Tom

Take 5

Turn-it-off:  Making use of ubiquitous plagiarism to facilitate academic skills

Liam Greenslade

 While asking why writers plagiarize might seem to be a fool’s quest, it can actually be very helpful in preventing future plagiarisms. After all, if we assume it isn’t just the “evil” that plagiarize, it makes sense to take a moment and figure out what would make a “good” person commit such a deed.

Bailey (2017)

In our cut and paste culture, even if it is not actually the case, it sometimes seems that we are being overwhelmed by a plague of plagiarism, not just in academia but in all walks of life (e.g. Scroth, 2012). The current popularity of tools like Turnitin in higher education suggests that what started out as a solution in search of a problem may have opened a Pandora’s box in which our notions of academic honesty and integrity are…

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The significance of the field of practice ‘Learning Development’ in UK higher education (my doctoral thesis)

#Becomingeducational Celebrate Easter and its tales of re-birth and hope…

By engaging with this inspiring PhD thesis from Dr John Hilsdon, co-founder of the LearnHigher CETL, the LDHEN jiscmail list and the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education.

We in #Becomingeducational are proud to re-blog his Abstract – and John invites people to email him if they want the longer read.

We will be doing just that…

May be you will also?

Happy Easter, 2018,

Sandra & Tom

John Hilsdon's Blog

This post includes the abstract of my thesis and information about how to access the full text. It was written for my Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD), Plymouth Institute of Education, University of Plymouth, UK, awarded in January 2018.


The significance of the field of practice ‘Learning Development’ in UK higher education

This thesis analyses Learning Development (LD), a field of practice designed to support students’ learning, and explores what this relatively new field can tell us about certain aspects of higher education in the UK. Theoretical work deriving from Foucault underpins the research. The empirical data is constructed from interviews, observation and reflexive autoethnographic sources, and the analytical thrust employs sociolinguistic tools from critical discourse analysis. The result is a case study of identity, offering unique insights into the field of LD itself and, through the ‘lens’ of LD, an original focus upon the production of relationships…

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Learning Development and the Hidden Curriculum

#Becomingeducational What has the Hidden Curriculum got to do with me?

In this powerful blogpost, Helen Webster discusses the power of the Hidden Curriculum: the ‘rules’, mores, tropes of university ; of our disciplines; and of the way we teach, learn and assess.

Helen is not discussing issues of ontology or epistemology – but the underlying assumptions of what students are expected to know and do as university students: be punctual, attend, be this way, write that way… know the rules and don’t ask questions!

Critical pedagogues like Freire speak of colonising student minds with the way that we practice and the way that the narratives and discourses of teaching and learning are not made explicit – and thus are not open to negotiation and challenge.

But what, you might ask, has this to do with me as a learning developer or academic skills tutor?

Well – one thing that we can do is reveal these often hidden narratives and sets of expectations… We can meet our students where they actually *are* – welcome them for the human beings they are with the the talents that they do have… We can devise ways to help them showcase their strengths and develop their emergent academic identities without losing who and what they are already.

Moreover – we can work to defuse negative labels – especially those attached to ‘non-traditional’ students – who tend to be treated as deficit if they do not already know what our rules are…

Anyway – don’t just take it from us – check out Helen’s post for yourself…

Sandra & Tom

rattus scholasticus

I learned about the hidden curriculum during my PGCE. It was an eye opener.

What is it?

The hidden curriculum is the incidental, unintended, internalised, informal, unacknowledged, unofficial lessons that are embedded – ingrained – in the curriculum so deeply that we’re hardly aware we’re passing them on with the learning outcomes that we openly state. This is good behaviour, this is the correct way to communicate, this is the appropriate thing to do, this is the right sort of person to be. The hidden curriculum is the result of our own social norms, values, beliefs etc, that creep in alongside what we intend to teach. Education is after all a form of socialisation.

These implicit lessons may help to create a positive learning environment, but they may also take the form of prejudice; invisible lessons about gender, class, ability or race, as we socialise students into what we feel is ‘their place’ in academia and in doing so…

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Behaviourism and Learning Development

#Becomingeducational What is an Academic Mentor? What should an Academic Mentor do?

AT LondonMet we have developed an innovative Academic Mentor Scheme – with learning developers embedded within every School, working closely with staff and students to improve student success…

This week we had an excellent session with Janette Myers and Rosie MacLachlan of St Georges – looking at the embedding of learning development in the curriculum via small, repeated drips of practice that teach, model, rehearse and reinforce successful learning practices…

As a timely follow up, we are re-blogging this post from Helen Webster exploring behaviourism and what it might teach us about how we can help students study successfully.

This post is the beginning of a short series on HOW STUDENTS LEARN… and how we can help them…

rattus scholasticus

I’m currently thinking again about what training for Learning Developers might look like. The day on One to One work focussed on the professional skills we need for this context, but bits kept creeping in from what I called the What of LD, rather than the How.

One of the elements I suggested might form the What of LD was an understanding of How Students Learn. To support the development of learning, a learning developer probably should understand what learning is and how it comes about! I’ve been looking back and reviewing things I learned during my PGCE, and in this and future posts, wanted to re-examine the theories I learned then, and reflect on how they might come into my work as a Learning Developer rather than a teacher. Theory is often derided as abstract and irrelevant, but to me, it’s a very practical tool to understand what…

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