#Becomingeducational Call for Papers: Examples of creative and inspirational collaborative practice in HE

This year is proving very interesting – not only are we switching all our staff-development work online (and we will be covering this over the coming weeks) – we are also Guest Editors for the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice (JUTLP) Special Issue 2021Collaboration in Higher Education: Working in Partnership with Students, Academic Colleagues and Others’. This is a CfP – with proposals due 15th December. We are building in some time and space for this because we know how pressurised is the work context right now. We do hope that we here from you.


The special issue focuses on the opportunities (and challenges) created by engaging in collaboration and partnership in higher education. As higher education institutions become ever more competitive to sustain their place in a global, neoliberal education market, students and staff are increasingly confronted with alienating practices. Such practices create an audit and surveillance culture that is exacerbated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic and the wholesale ‘pivot’ to online teaching. In this individualistic and competitive climate we are looking for papers that advocate a more inclusive and empowering education. One that sees learning and teaching as a practice that enables personal, collective and societal growth rather than a means to an end. The human element of education is therefore at the core of this special issue: focusing on what we can do and achieve together, both students and (academic) staff.

Contributions of desire

We are interested in theoretical and practical explorations of how students and staff can take control of where and how they work together; finding their academic identities in ways that are recognised by the academy, but which they negotiate more on their own terms, and in collaboration.

We want to showcase innovative approaches, fresh applications of theory and/or creative responses to policy that “reframe” ideas of partnership and collaboration in the university context. Emphasis is on collaborative endeavours that can improve the experience of students and staff. In particular, we are seeking contributions that creatively address the areas below (noting all proposals related to the special issue theme will be considered):

  • Staff and students working in partnership
  • “Re-framing” group projects and teamwork for co-learning
  • Collaborative educational research, joint writing and joint authorship
  • Co-creation of learning/learning spaces and ‘being with’ (staff with students, but also staff with staff including cross-disciplinary partnerships)
  • Collaborations with ‘other’ stakeholders
  • Partnership for social justice
  • Virtually connecting

The vision for this special edition is to seed the development of an ecology of collaborative practice and advocate for joint learning and teaching approaches in higher education.

Developing a high-quality proposal

We recommend the creation of a single document (Word document preferably) that contains the following: 

  • Proposed article title 
  • Proposed authors names and affiliations 
  • A clear evidence-based rationale for the line of inquiry proposed/covered
  • Research question(s) – case study focus
  • Proposed method (for both theoretical and empirical manuscripts)
  • Practice-based implications of the proposed research/case study.

The word limit for the proposal is 250 words (not including references) and is designed to give the Editorial Team a sense of the rigour of the manuscript proposed and the possible implications of such research. The Editorial Team may return with an invitation to combine similar manuscripts. Acceptance of proposals does not guarantee acceptance of final manuscripts.

Final papers should be between 5,000 – 7,000 words, including references, or approximately 15 pages with an upper limit of 20 pages. Papers should include:

  • A clear rationale and theoretical underpinnings
  • Context of work
  • Case study examples
  • Evaluation and impacts
  • Implications and recommendations


  • Call for papers open: 25 September 2020
  • Proposals due: 15 December 2020
  • Acceptance notifications: 15 January 2021
  • Full papers due: 1 June 2021
  • Final revised papers due: 1 October 2021
  • Target publication date: 30 November 2021

For further information, or to submit an abstract (due 15 December 2020), please email us: Sandra Abegglen sandra.abegglen@ucalgary.ca: Tom Burns t.burns@londonmet.ac.uk; and  Sandra Sinfield s.sinfield@londonmet.ac.uk 

#Becomingeducational Welcome to 2020-2021!!

Welcome to the strangest beginning of a new academic year that we can remember! This year, definitely for the whole of the first semester, we will deliver all of our PGCert teaching online. For us – this will mean re-thinking how to make our creative and interactive face-to-face Facilitating Student Learning module work in a wholly online space – and where none of the participants will have met F2F before the class starts…

We are definitely going to journal our reflections on the experience as we go – and possibly blog about it here.

In the meantime – we found this #Patter post by Jon Rainford via Pat Thomson and thought we’d share it with you. Not only are there really useful tips for managing your PhD – there is a link to Jon’s PhD which is a fascinating exploration and analysis of Widening Participation in the UK right now.

Hope you enjoy it, and this brave new academic world.


Sandra & Tom

Starting a part-time doctorate? Three top tips

Posted on September 14, 2020by pat thomson

This is a guest post by Dr @jonrainford. Jon works on the margins between academic and professional services. He is currently a freelance researcher and part-time lecturer, working with academics to develop their use of digital pedagogy

Doing a doctorate later in life is more likely to be a part-time affair. In the UK, the majority of the part-time postgraduate research students are over the age of 30. Despite 27,000 people undertaking this mode of study in the UK alone, it is less commonly addressed in guides to success in doctoral research. In this post I will share three things that ultimately had the greatest impact upon my timely completion.

I completed my part-time PhD, which examined widening participation policy and practices in England, in 2019. Over those five years I moved jobs twice (once as a result of redundancy) and a few months following completion lost my dad at the end of a three-year battle with Lung Cancer. Balancing employment and life challenges over a period that exceeds most full-time students creates the conditions for more of these life events to happen.  Therefore, despite every experience being different, it is likely that for most part-time PhD students, the doctoral journey will be paved with varied life challenges both personal and professional;  my own journey is not an exceptional one. 

For full blog: https://patthomson.net/2020/09/14/starting-a-part-time-doctorate-three-top-tips/

For she’s a Senior Fellow…

#Becomingeducational    Well you wait for months for a #Becoming blog – then two come along together! This is on making an SFHEA Application – and this time it’s personal

We have many colleagues who are preparing FHEA and SFHEA applications right now.

In our institution, LondonMet, our PGCert is mapped against the HEA Fellowship scheme and the University has an accredited system of validating FHEA and SFHEA applications ourselves – either written or via a Viva.

Whether you are writing an in-depth application or preparing a Viva, the pressure to de-code the task – and to make the time and space to reflect positively on your own experience and gather just the right evidence – can be exhausting and debilitating for many.

So it is with great pleasure we share Jane Secker’s blogpost on just that topic.

Thank you for writing and sharing this Jane!!

And to the rest of you – well – read this and get writing!

All the best,
Sandra & Tom

Libraries, Information Literacy and E-learning

My SFHEA Certificate

I’ve not written a blog post for quite some time and not because I’ve not had much to say, rather because there has been far too much going on. However, the occasion of being appointed a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy has prompted me to write a short blog post about this. Also because I have offered to mentor and support others and to share my fellowship claim.

Writing my SFHEA was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve written. I won’t lie, I had moments when I wanted to give up and go and lie in a darkened room. I write all the time, and I support others applying for Fellowship so I am not quite sure why I found this so challenging. I think it might be because I am not very good at reflecting on why I do things. I know…

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Social Constructivism and Learning Development – should we scaffold?

#Becomingeducational     Taking Learning Developers to the Scaffold?

We wanted to share this excellent blogpost from our colleague Dr Helen Webster. Helen’s posts on Learning Development are always fascinating, well-theorised and thought provoking. This one is no exception.

Helen poses the seemingly innocent question: As LDers is our role one of scaffolding or not?

At first look it seems obvious that we are scaffolding by function – literally supporting people as they build the foundations to their own knowledge.

And yet she points to Hybrid Pedagogy’s Jesse Stommel who argues that some scaffolding is almost colonial in nature. There is the danger, he says, of the pedagogue completely controlling the knowledge to be aimed at – and how it should be gained. We take away student agency when we devise courses in patronising bite-sized chunks, leaving these like breadcrumbs taking the students off to the gingerbread house – to be consumed.

Take this trip with Helen – see what scaffold you might like to build so that your students too become the architects of their own rhizomatic learning.

All the best,
Sandra & Tom

rattus scholasticus

A while ago now (oops) I was looking at Cognitive Constructivism in my series reviewing educational theories and their application to Learning Development. I ended noting that this school of thought sees learning as an individual activity, but that later, social constructivist theories would position learners not as ‘lone scientists’, but as interacting with others in a social setting in order to learn.

What is it?

Vygotsky saw learning as deriving from social interaction. This ‘dialogue’ could be with people (often more knowledgable or capable people, but potentially also peers) or with mediating cultural artefacts such as books or other learning materials. This interaction prompts and supports learners from their current level of understanding, where they are independently competent, to a level which represents their potential but is beyond their ability to reach by themselves. The place in between Can Do and Can’t Do, where the learning happens, he referred…

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Training Peer Study Mentors

#Becomingeducational Passing on the know-how to our PASS mentors?

Here at LondonMet with have staff Academic Mentors – basically Learning Developers by another name – and we have our own PASS scheme – student Success Coaches who mentor other students. HENCE we are oh so happily re-posting this wonderful blog on training PASS people from our Helen Webster…

Being involved in student support has been so valuable in so many ways…

This has led to us being involved in ALDinHE (the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education) and RAISE…

Indeed, we are hosting a RAISE event in May: The Engaging Assessment and Research & Evaluation Special Interest Groups from RAISE would like to invite you all to a joint SIG meeting taking place on Friday 5th June 2020 (10:30am – 3:30pm) at London Metropolitan University.

The purpose of the meeting is to profile the work of early-career researchers/ academics and practitioners in the area of student engagement and assessment. As such we would further like to invite PhD students and or university staff members who have completed or are undertaking professional development courses (e.g. PGCert in HE) to present their work relating to development in assessment practice in Higher Education.

If interested in presenting, please can you submit a short proposal (maximum 500 words) outlining your work. Please also include a 50-100 word biography including your current role at your institution, what PhD/ professional development course and/or practical need has influenced your approach.

Deadline to submit the proposal: Friday 7th February 2020, 12pm to Kiu Sum (k.sum@my.westminster.ac.uk)

Deadline to register your interest to attend the free SIG meeting: Tuesday 5th May 2020 https://bit.ly/2Pf69JK

We hope to see many of you there and please share this with your colleagues!

Kind Regards,

Kiu (On behalf of Co-Convenors from Engaging Assessment and Research & Evaluation SIGs)

rattus scholasticus

Like many institutions, Newcastle University has various peer mentoring schemes for first year undergraduates, some of which focus on academic skills as well as the social and practical aspects of being a new student. For the last few years, I’ve been asked to run part of the initial training for the peer mentors for our excellent Combined Honours Peer Assisted Study Support (PASS). The University is now planning to roll out an element of academic skills support into the other Schools’ peer mentoring schemes, to enhance transition and the student experience across the institution. I’ve been tasked with developing adapting the PASS training, with the stated aim that it should be ‘like PASS, only lighter touch’.

Each year I’ve run the training for Combined Honours PASS, I’ve made fairly major changes to it, as I’m never quite sure of it. My approach to it has been complicated by the fact…

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#LTHEchat 163: The Role of Curriculum Frameworks in Higher Education with Adam Longcroft @AdamL50 and Iain Cross @iain_d_cross

#Becomingeducational Curriculum Frameworks – Scaffolding Discussion on What, Why and How we teach…

You wait for months for a #becomingeducational blogpost – then two come along together!

But we just had to re-blog this excellent #LTHEChat blog now – not only because this is in advance of Wednesday night’s twitter chat on this topic (20.00-21.00 GMT, 15th Jan, 2020) – but because it throws up so many excellent questions about what we are trying to do in HE – and why…

Hope to see you in the tweetchat (internet permitting).

All the best,
Sandra & Tom


The changing UK higher education landscape

The last decade has seen rapid and dramatic changes in the higher education landscape in the UK. The lifting of the ‘cap’ on student numbers led to increased competition between higher education institutions (HEIs) and the influence of new market forces, whilst the introduction of the OfS has seen the replacement of a relatively benign funding body, with a new sector regulator.

Student numbers have increased rapidly resulting in the ‘massification’ of the HE sector, and fundamental changes in the make-up of the student body in most HEIs. Despite this there is intense competition to recruit students, and HEIs are opening their programmes to more diverse and non-traditional cohorts than ever before. Student support services and resources have had to be reconfigured, and academic programme teams have had to adapt their pedagogies accordingly. Previous quality audits of research have evolved into the now familiar…

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The Case for One to One – Turner Revisited

#Becomingeducational It’s a new year – and a new case for keeping the one-to-one

Recently in a #LTHEChat we argued against the view of Learning Development that ‘rationally’ argued that limited resources should be targeted at those ‘most in need’.

When you write it like that – it seems so sensible – logical – right…

And it has reversed years (decades?) of good work that we have undertaken to de-stigmatise Learning Development…

So it is with great pleasure that we re-blog Helen Webster’s posting arguing again for the one-to-one…

Happy New Year indeed!!

Sandra & Tom

rattus scholasticus

Back in 2011, the book Learning Development in Higher Educationwas published. Over five sections and nineteen chapters, it explored various facets of the newly emerging field of Learning Development – what it was, how it was practised, the benefits it could bring. In one of these chapters, Judy Turner made the case for one to one provision, a core part of practice from the beginning of this field, emerging as it did from student services contexts. In the context of increasing economic constraints and the belief that students can improve their study skills through independently accessing digital resources, Turner argued that this move towards online information and generic workshops was not appropriate for all. She outlined four cases, a mature student, a PhD student with little previous experience of extended writing, a newly diagnosed dyslexic student and an international student. In each of these, expert one to one provision…

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Another genre for doctoral writers: Eight things you should know about email

#Becomingeducational Some email writing tips

Are you mentoring PhD students?

This simple and accessible blogposts gives some great tips to students on how to best maximise their communication with their Supervisors

– with a special focus on the oft-overlooked email!

Go on – pass it on!

Sandra & Tom

DoctoralWriting SIG

My guest co-blogger this week is Hannah James, a doctoral candidate in the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University where she traces ancient human and animal migrations using oxygen and strontium isotopes. She also works in the Research Skills and Training Unit and in Research Management admin where she spends a lot of time reading and writing emails to and from doctoral writers.

By Hannah James and Cally Guerin

One writing genre that is often overlooked in research communication is the humble email. In many universities, email is still the main communication channel for correspondence between supervisors and their PhD candidates. As we know from other contexts, email can be a complex communication where misunderstandings can result from rushed or simply ill-conceived messages. The following offers some advice that we think is useful for supervisors and doctoral support people to pass onto doctoral writers.

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#Becomingeducational Week 3: Time to think about a pedagogy of learning development?

This week we are sharing a post from our colleague – and newly appointed National Teaching Fellow, Helen Webster – as she asks us to consider whether there is actually a distinct pedagogy for learning development.

Helen starts like this:

Towards a Signature Pedagogy of Learning Development


The notion of signature pedagogies was developed by Shulman (2006) when looking at education in the professions. “These are types of teaching that organise the fundamental ways in which future practitioners are educated for their new professions. In these signature pedagogies, the novices are instructed in critical aspects of the three fundamental dimensions of professional work – to think, to perform and to act with integrity.” Each profession has its own characteristic way of doing this, reflecting the differing emphasis it places on each of the three dimensions. Think of the medics in their OSCEs and dissections or the lawyers with their case problems and debates.

And the complete post can be found here:


Do go to Helen’s original post – and join in the conversation!!

Happy new academic year!

All the best,

Sandra & Tom

#5MinuteReflection 7: Escape rooms for professional development

#Becomingeducational As the summer looms – our thoughts turn to escape… rooms!

This excellent post from #1MinuteCPD explores how they used the Escape Room at a Manchester Metropolitan University creative practice festival…

There are some lovely tips and tricks for helping us to think through using escape rooms… and a discussion of the pros and cons.

Have you built them into your *teaching* practice yet?


Last week some of the @1minuteCPD Colin, Kate and I delivered an immersive escape room style professional development workshop as part of the Manchester Metropolitan University’s Festival of Learning. It aimed to enable participants to experience using the technology we advocate, as they would be used by students. Participants worked in small teams to complete a series of challenges that highlighted both good and bad practice in their use.

The session went well and we would highly recommend this style of TEL workshop. We would like to share with you some of the things we learnt along the way:

1.  Trying new things is a double edge sword

We are always looking for ways in which we can make the professional development sessions that we run better. Whether that be by looking at the material that is presented or the method of delivery. We had a really good feeling about…

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