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It is always lovely to be invited to present our work within The Scholarship Project, and the opportunity afforded at the University of Wales Trinity St David’s annual collaborative partner conference was no exception.
The relationship between a college and its awarding body is something I know the project finds interesting and I would argue that value must be placed on a genuinely collaborative approach which places learners at the heart of organisational planning. Pragmatics are also important, and one of the reasons we were invited to the conference was to learn about important new regulations surrounding Consumer Protection in HE.
Huge thanks to Gaynor Hart for involving us in a workshop session which demonstrated that everyone working in HE must be aware of this new legislation which provides a legal framework to ensure a fair learner experience. We considered the various wordings of prospectus and documentation and how equivocal some can be. It is now against the Consumer Protection requirements to make vague equivocal statements and general disclaimers and any information given to students, be that through written outputs or verbally on Open Days must be clear, fair and accurate.
During the workshop we had a lively discussion considering how wordings can be misleading even if they were issued with the best intentions. It was also lovely to meet with the diverse range of UWTSD’s partners, which work on a local (like us) and international level, with collaborative partners as far away as China.
The afternoon session was co-presented by Caroline Usei, the Head of UWTSD’s Enhancement Unit and myself in the capacity of Scholarship Development Manager at Hereford College of Arts. Enhancement themes revolve around our shared aim of supporting learner engagement and attainment and all partners are invited to put forward projects.
Our project theme is part of our ongoing ‘trial and test’ which looks at how we might create scholarly spaces in College Based Higher Education. Part of this looks at research, and how we might try to use research methodologies that support the busy lecturer in researching their practice whilst not taking up all of their precious admin time.
The project I shared with the college-based partner audience was a collaborative research opportunity based on a reading strategy devised by Fenella Lloyd, head of specialist support at HCA.
In a nutshell (although there is much specialist knowledge in the design of the strategy) the reading strategy breaks down the process of a skilled academic reader and provides a physical scaffold to support the less-traditional student with genuinely engaging in academic texts. This includes helping them to challenge the ideas in such texts and selecting texts for use value.
Fenella began using the reading strategy within learning support and its use organically spread through college, with much anecdotal evidence of success. Therefore, she undertook a small action research project, which again showed evidence of the value of the strategy. Hence our work to broaden the use of the strategy, which both disseminates what could be a useful tool for learners, and (in asking users to send us back a 200-word vignette of how useful the strategy was) helps us broaden our evidence with a view to undertaking more rigorous research in future iterations.
It was lovely to have such a positive reaction both to our college (I presented a very lo-fi video tour taken on my phone the previous morning) and the reading strategy, plus interest in The Scholarship Project and its work in the sector.
On a final note, Cardiff looks very Christmassy, with its arcades and Christmas Market. Thanks again for your invitation, UWTSD.