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The Institute of Teaching and Learning coordinates and supports a wide range of projects designed to enhance our teaching excellence across the University. On this page you will find details of and updates on ongoing projects, summaries and results from completed projects and information about how you can get involved in future teaching and learning projects.

Institute Fellows

Institute Fellows are colleagues from across the University who are working with the Institute on short term projects that will support the University in achieving its goals in teaching and learning. 

We have now appointed our 2021/2022 Fellows, and are delighted to share details of the projects they will be working on.  

Students as course creators on a new 'independent study' course unit, Dr James Brooks

This project involves the creation of a course unit where students independently research a topic of their choosing and build high quality, inclusive learning material for it. More broadly, my vision is for students to use the independent study unit to forge a path for those that follow. We can use this to guide both the specific topics we teach within disciplines and our more general approach to blended learning. Through this course the student gets the option to explore a topic of their choice, to take ownership of their learning, and to see their learning very directly through the eyes of a teacher. Lecturers get rich feedback from the students and a direct and clear path to integrate the student voice into the curriculum.

Developing a peer support scheme to support the transition of an articulated programme, Dr Li-Chia Chen

Li-Chia’s project aims to develop and pilot a staff-facilitated, peer-support scheme for international students on a newly launched articulated programme, the dual-degree BSc Clinical Pharmacy (2+2+1) programme between the China Pharmaceutical University and the University of Manchester, from September 2021. The project will pilot a co-designed peer mentoring scheme to enhance international students' learning experiences and help them reach their potentials without being disadvantaged by estrangement, cultural backgrounds and learning styles.

Providing effective support to WP students from application through to end of year 1, Dr Emily Cooksey

This project aims to look at the support needs of students joining from Widening Participation backgrounds. By focusing on the bridging support between admissions and joining departments, the aim is to provide transitional support to enable our WP students to hit the ground running with their studies and provide them with an effective welcome to the university. 

Accessible by design: developing inclusive pedagogies, Dr Wendell Kimper

This project will look at how we can change our approach to teaching to remove barriers to access for disabled students, with a particular focus on harnessing the innovations that have taken place during the pandemic to create more inclusive learning environments. 

Come watch with me: blending the synchronous with the asynchronous, Dr Jen McBride

Building on a successful trial of “watch-parties” in online teaching, this project aims to establish the critical – and causal – factors which best promote effective learning, student engagement and community in different flexible and blended learning environments. This project will evaluate the effectiveness of flexible and blended learning in different contexts, and create a broader framework to optimise our flexible and digital learning practices which brings together the very best of online and in-person teaching. 

Student use of webcams during live online synchronous teaching, Dr Craig Morley

This project investigates staff and student perceptions and practice of webcam use and its impact on engagement and learning. It is not about coming to a decision on whether students should or should not use webcams, but on identifying strategies to support students to engage and allow staff to gauge engagement whether webcams are used or not. The project looks to use these findings to produce community-sourced / co-created profiles of recommended best practice on 1) strategies to show / gauge engagement without webcam use; 2) methods to encourage webcam use when and where appropriate. 

Student 'study expenditure' and its alignment to the 'study budget', Dr Neil Morrison

A recurring theme during the recent transition to flexible learning has been students experiencing increased workload and stress (e.g. Greene 2020).  This project will investigate ways to monitor the student workload ("study expenditure") and its relationship with proposed study budgets, aiming to identify and understand good practice. 

Pilot studies for a flexible, competency-based course in Quantitative Biology, Dr Thomas Nühse

In this project, student volunteers join small-scale pilot courses to explore the boundaries of flexibility: for the best learning experience, how should we balance flexibility vs timetabling, structure vs openness and guidance vs independence? What kinds of materials, assessments, feedback and support keep students engaged and motivated in an unconventionally flexible course? 

Developing an education framework for simulated learning, Emma Ormerod

This project aims to provide a flexible framework to support staff in embedding simulation as an effective teaching method, integrating an approach that deepens student learning and confidence building while supporting staff in delivering this as a new teaching method or enhancing their existing approach to simulation. 

Designing smarter assessments, Prof David Schultz

This project will explore aspects of assessments such as design, delivery and supporting effective student engagement, with a focus on creating resources and guidance to support staff in developing inclusive, authentic assessments which are less vulnerable to forms of academic malpractice such as collusion and contract cheating.  

A framework for critical engagement in online and blended learning, Steve Wheeler

It is my belief that when students enter into dialogue about what they are trying to understand, they develop a critical, deeper understanding than they would otherwise achieve. This project aims to develop a framework for course design focused on this dialogic approach to teaching and learning. On this project I will work collaboratively on a PGT level unit on an online and blended programme presented by the Alliance Manchester Business School and University of Manchester Worldwide. 

We will soon be sharing reports and outputs from our Inaugural Fellows who completed their projects in the summer of 2021.  You can find details of their project areas and selected outputs below. 

Effective use of online discussion boards, Dr Ralf Becker

This project explores the potential outcomes and different engagement patterns of student groups with online discussion boards, and will develop a set of resources to help teaching staff and students to make best possible use of online discussion boards.

Evaluating the effectiveness of change in teaching and learning, Jennie Blake

This project evaluates the support and structure needed to achieve and sustain change, and the effect recent changes have had on teaching and academic advising. This project looks to produce guidance and resources that will enable staff and students to take advantage of best practice in teaching.

Developing learning interventions to eliminate unexplained attainment gaps, Steven Broom

Developing, trialling and evaluating learning interventions aimed at eliminating unexplained attainment gaps, with development of the approach taken in the 'Consolidation' course currently taken by first year Maths undergraduates and evaluation of other possible practice.  

Developing virtual labs, Dr Maria Canal

This project explores the potential of virtual labs as a way of expanding and maximising the use of technology to develop more flexible, interactive and personalised learning environments. This project will also develop and evaluate an online virtual science lab practical.  

Transforming assessments, Sally Hickson

This project will explore the academic literacy of staff, identifying gaps in knowledge, exploring innovative practice and encouraging transformation of assessment strategies, working collaboratively to support positive change.  

Understanding and supporting digital literacy in the curriculum, Dr Jane Mooney

A digital literacy project helping students and staff to understand and articulate their digital skills and supporting teaching leaders to embed relevant digital skills provision within programmes.  

Flexible learning opportunities and applied pedagogy, Dr Jennifer O'Brien

Evaluation and development of the flexible learning opportunities enabled by UCIL’s digital learning, exploring the potential of the existing “Creating a Sustainable World:21st Century Challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals” course and building the University Living Lab for Pedagogy to enhance partnership for applied learning. 

Student-staff partnerships in teaching and learning design, John Owen

This project will explore and evaluate the potential of a new methodology to improve working in partnership with students on curriculum design projects, and how this might be applied to other areas such as assessment and feedback, peer support and research and scholarship. 

Enhancing assessment and feedback, Prof Stephen Pettifer

This project aims to improve the way in which information about course units is presented, using intended learning outcomes to highlight the why, when and how of assessment and feedback, and making the structure and content more accessible, meaningful and maintainable. 

Exploring the potential for interdisciplinary undergraduate final year projects, Prof David Schultz

This project aims to build a framework for an interdisciplinary undergraduate final-year dissertation across departments, schools, and faculties. This project will explore how this may be delivered, supervised, and marked.  The pilot will run in conjunction with the Centre for Crisis Studies and Mitigation.

Supporting `Academics in Residence` and commuter students, Dr Nick Weise

This project explores ways in which the role of an ‘Academic in Residence’ can be supported to effectively act as a link between the learning and student experience, and will also explore impact of expanding on campus and residential provision to commuter/live at home students in fostering inclusivity of diverse communities of learners.

Task and finish groups

As well as supporting our Institute Fellows, the Institute is also leading on a number of other teaching and learning projects with colleagues from across the University in task and finish groups. The task and finish groups will support the delivery of teaching and learning enhancements across four themes:

  1. Student outcomes - academic advising, work-integrated employment, co-curricular opportunities, peer support, student engagement and student voice
  2. Assessment and feedback - contract cheating, assessment literacy and inclusive assessment
  3. Curriculum development - curriculum design models, equality, diversity and inclusion, interdisciplinary learning, internationalisation and research-integrated learning
  4. Working environment - progression and promotion, reward and recognition, peer observation and review, effective working cultures, staff development and creating headroom

Theme 1: Academic advising

The Academic Advising Task and Finish Group (AATFG) will oversee an evaluation of the effectiveness of our Academic Advising practices. To help us do this, we are participating in an international project (with OneHE and Peer Review Portal) that aims to help institutions survey their practice and to benchmark their performance against participating HEIs from around the globe. 

  • Chair: Professor Peter Green, Vice-Dean (Teaching, Learning & Students) in the Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Secretary: Emma Sanders, Teaching and Learning Adviser (Academic Development)
  • Group membership and Terms of Reference

The AATFG reports to the Teaching and Learning Engagement Forum (TLEF).

Theme 2: Addressing contract cheating

The Contract Cheating Task and Finish Group (CCTFG) is looking into support required for staff and students about the extent and consequences of ‘Contract Cheating’, in the context of awareness and training on Academic Integrity. 

The CCTFG reports to the Teaching and Learning Engagement Forum (TLEF).

Completed projects

Details of completed projects including findings and outputs will be updated here as they become available.

Differential Attainment Project

The Differential Attainment Project ran from March 2017 to March 2019.

CHERIL Grant Award Projects

The University's former Centre for Higher Education Research, Innovation and Learning (CHERIL) supported developments in teaching and learning by conducting original, rigorous educational research into pedagogy, policy and practice in higher education. The CHERIL Grant Award was a competitive research grant open to University of Manchester staff and enabled colleagues to undertake a research project into aspects of teaching, learning and the student experience. CHERIL awarded up to fourteen grants per academic year of up to £20,000 each from 2014/15 to 2016/17.

The grant facilitated research into aspects of teaching, learning and the student experience in higher education. CHERIL grant award projects contributed to the delivery of the University’s strategic objectives to promote teaching and learning excellence through research and the sharing of best practice, to enhance the student experience by ensuring distinctive graduate attributes and global awareness and to understand and inform sector developments and higher education policy.

Enhancing the student experience

Inclusive Teaching and Learning

Teaching and learning methods

Widening participation and access to HE