The Project

Our project is part of the wider HEFCE programme – “Addressing barriers to student success”, funded through the Catalyst Fund. It runs from March 2017 to February 2019.

The project is focused on scaling up Active Collaborative Learning for Student Success across three institutions: Nottingham Trent University, University of Bradford and Anglia Ruskin University.


Our Proposal

To increase the use of two active learning pedagogies: SCALE-UP (Student-Centred Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies) and TBL (Team-Based learning) at the three institutions, as a strategy to address attainment disparities. This will benefit not only students from low socio-economic backgrounds and certain black and minority ethnic students, but also all students for whom there are unexplained disparities in attainment at our institutions.

Background

Previous experience, evaluation results, as well as anecdotal and literary evidence indicates that active, collaborative pedagogies can be used to address attainment disparities. Additionally, a focus on inclusive curriculum design moves the focus from ‘add on’ support for specific groups of students to a core, structural change that removes unintended barriers to student success. The three universities collaborating on this project have experience of using SCALE-UP and TBL, but at a relatively small scale. It has proven challenging for HE institutions to spread the adoption of these pedagogies beyond the early adopters, even though the value of the approaches is widely recognised. This project therefore, will focus on addressing institutional barriers to widespread adoption and test whether the benefits of the pedagogies continue to work at scale.

What we aim to achieve

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Reduce attainment disparities within certain groups by expanding implementation of active learning in the classroom across institution:

The project will expand the use of SCALE-UP and TBL to address attainment disparities for students from low socio-economic backgrounds and certain black and minority ethnicities.

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Roll out these approaches across institution:

To date approaches have been applied on a relatively small scale and often at the individual module level. ‘Scaling up / delivery at scale’ does not merely mean ‘more modules’ across a wider range of disciplines or subjects, but widespread use of considered whole course approaches which will fundamentally shift the core teaching and delivery paradigms of a course.

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Address institutional barriers that have hitherto prevented wide scale adoption, by creating a blueprint for implementation at scale:

Barriers can relate to teaching practice and the full complexity of implementing change; they can also be ‘structural’ such as institution policy, timetable restrictions, and the manner in which learning analytics record data.

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Expected Benefits

This project will benefit not only students from low socio-economic backgrounds and certain black and minority ethnic students, but also students for whom there are unexplained disparities in attainment at our institutions.

The blueprint produced will detail an approach that can be adopted at scale at various universities and in a range of institutional contexts. It will be widely shared and accessible via e.g. web-based training videos supported through a range of sector engagement activities including webinars, professional development activities, and conferences, via social media to facilitate a champion’s network that stretches across HEIs. We intend to build a community of practitioners with whom we can share good practice across our partner institutions, nationally and internationally, as well as establish links to other allied communities.

Wider impact and implications

Outcomes from the three institutions will be evaluated to strengthen the evidence base as well as demonstrate how these approaches can be effectively implemented at scale and within a wide range of discipline areas and settings.

What type of active learning are you interested in?

Learn more about Active Collaborative Learning by getting in touch today.