Education Development Projects
Every year the Bristol Institute of Learning and Teaching (BILT) provides staff with the opportunity to access funding and expert support to deliver an innovative teaching and learning project.
The projects are aligned with our annual themes and at the end of the year the outcomes are disseminated across the University and beyond.
Projects should aim to support evidence-informed innovation at Bristol, developing excellence in learning, teaching and assessment, and improving the student experience. We particularly encourage the use of funds to engage students as paid partners in research.
Applications should illustrate the potential to embed and sustain projects, activities and initiatives should the outcomes prove to be of significant Programme, School, Departmental, Faculty or University benefit. Projects which have the potential for cross-disciplinary application are of particular interest.
Application cycle and process
Please note that applications for 2023-24 are now closed. Details about the application process for 2024-25 will be launched in Summer 2024.
PROJECT SUMMARIES 2023-24
Designing for all - embedding inclusivity
Investigating how we can support the University's principle of embedding inclusivity through how we design assessment across a programme.
Assessing whether regular in-person testing is inclusive for students with disabilities
Team lead: Anca Dobrescu (Psychological Science)
Team members: Peter Allen (Psychological Science), Jessica Fielding (Psychological Science), Katy Burgess (Psychological Science) andClaudia Berrington (Cardiff University)
Project summary: Research has demonstrated that testing is more beneficial for learning than other strategies. Despite robust evidence on the effects of testing, there are concerns about the inclusivity of these assessments. Evidence suggests that regular testing is better for those with low working memory capacity (Yang et al., 2020), and that there is no difference in online quiz performance between students with and without additional learning needs (Playfoot et al., 2022). However, it is unclear if these results would replicate for in-person testing. The study aims to further the study by Playfoot and colleagues (2022) by assessing the inclusivity of in-person weekly Multiple-ChoiceQuizzes (MCQs).
Neuro-inclusive teaching, learning and assessment
Team lead: Bronwen Burton (CMM) and Caroline McKinnon (IRC)
Project summary: This project aims to understand how to make our teaching and assessment more neuro-inclusive. The project team will work with neurodiverse student partners to review assessments, as well as teaching and learning materials. Students will produce a report of their findings for dissemination. This project is timely: recent changes to the criteria for a neurodiverse diagnosis has resulted in an increase in the number of diagnosed students. The project will enable the use of student voice to highlight key areas for development, making teaching and assessments more inclusive for neurodiverse students, as well as the wider student body.
Building confidence: student-generated resources for developing oral presentation skills in Biomedical Sciences
Team lead: Chris Williams (CMM)
Team members: Daniel Morse (CMM)
Project summary: The School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (CMM) uses individual and group oral presentations for continuous and summative assessment throughout the CMM programme. For many first-year undergraduate students, oral presentations in Year 1 are the first time they have encountered this form of assessment. Consequently, there can be substantial stress and anxiety associated with presentations, particularly for some groups, e.g. international students or those with specific learning, or mental health challenges. This project aims to employ second-year students as partners to develop inclusive, student-targeted resources for creating and delivering effective scientific presentations, and staff-targeted resources for delivering effective feedback.
School of Biological Sciences Student Disability Partners 2023-2024
Team lead: Dave Lawson (Biological Sciences) and Sheila Amici-Dargan (Biological Sciences)
Team members: Celine Petitjean (Biological Sciences) and Anna McQuillan (Biological Sciences)
Project summary: In previous years, the School of Biological Sciences has undertaken three student-led projects to audit teaching material andidentify opportunities for improvement related to decolonisation (representation, diversity and contextualising BioSciences). However, thus far the experience of students with disabilities has not been addressed in our school. This project will seek to engage two undergraduate student disability partners, supervised by a postgraduate disability partner (Anna McQuillan), modelled on previous decolonisation work, to develop the school’s support of students with disabilities through teaching and assessment audits, self-directed research and liaising between staff and students.
Understanding medical students’ perception of and engagement with a Team Assessment of Behaviour
Team lead: Jane Williams (Health Sciences)
Team members: Jo Howarth (Bristol Medical School), Sarah Allsop (Bristol Medical School), James Lepoittevin (Health Sciences)
Project summary: Team Assessment of Behaviour (TAB) is an authentic and valid tool used for trainee doctors to receive feedback on how they are working, contributing, and performing as part of a multi-professional team. We have embedded TAB across all years of the undergraduate medical programme, and whilst most students complete satisfactorily, some students continually struggle.
Primary and secondary research will explore the following questions: Does an understanding of TAB concept and process influence student engagement and outcomes? How do medical students engage with TAB? What improves engagement and completion? Do particular student groups struggle more? How can we ensure TAB is truly inclusive?
Beyond content warnings: trauma-informed teaching and assessment in the School for Policy Studies
Team lead: Jessica Roy (Policy Studies)
Team members: Beth Stone (Policy Studies), Rachel Lart (Policy Studies) and Jenny Thwaites (Student Wellbeing)
Project summary: Teaching programmes across the School for Policy Studies engage students with content which may be sensitive and traumatic. How such content is delivered can act to include or exclude students from teaching, learning, and assessment. To enhance student inclusivity and engagement, this project aims to develop School wide guidance for staff on meaningful ways to prepare students for such content. The project will do this by conducting a series of focus groups and questionnaires with students and staff about their views and experiences. The project’s findings, as well as the guidance developed, will have relevance to programmes across the University.
View our brochure of the Education Development Projects for 2023-24.
Designing for all - group assessment
Discovering how group assessment, including projects and dissertations, can be designed to help develop team skills in an inclusive way.
Group work for assessments: insights from students
Team lead: Alicia Gonzalez Buelga (EEM)
Team members: Sheila Trahar (Education), Irina Lazar (EEM), Mike Wharton (Mechanical Engineering)
Project summary: Group assessment is widely used at all levels in the Mechanical Engineering programme. There is strong research supporting its benefits but, although there is a significant literature on group dynamic theories, there are few studies about what occurs in groups during their work and the factors contributing to successful groupwork in engineering. The main objective of this research is to better understand the ingredients for successful group work from a student perspective: learn about their positive and negative experiences and how they evaluate their own and other’s contributions when working in groups. With this better understanding, we aim to co-create, alongside students, guidelines for both academics and students setting and undertaking group work.
Successful group presentations: what can we learn from Gateway Students to develop inclusive and authentic assessment?
Team lead: Allison Fulford (Anatomy)
Project summary: This qualitative study will evaluate group assessments of the combined Gateway to Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science. It will explore current Gateway student views, preferences and reflections on Group Presentation Assessment tasks (poster and oral) within the 20 cp, Foundations in Bioscience 1 and 2 Units taking place in TB1 and TB2. This mixed methods study will employ survey and facilitator-lead focus groups to capture Gateway student preferences, views and experiences of group presentation assessments. This will include investigation into the challenges and advantagesof collaborative work by Widening Participation students and successful transition skills for university. This project contributes to the evaluation of the Gateway.
My partner made me do it: Student views of challenges and benefits of working in pairs
Team lead: Daniela Dietrich (Biological Sciences)
Team members: Sheila Amici-Dargan (Biological Sciences)
Project summary: There are two main aims of this project, the first is to understand the benefits and challenges of large cohort group assessments conducted in pairs. A preliminary survey has identified key issues such as coordinating teamwork or choice of partner. We will use focus groups to explore these themes in more depth to evaluate the efficacy of this assessment and guide future improvements. The second aim is towork with student partners to co-create improved assessment guidance to integrate student perspectives into thedevelopment and enhancement of assessment practices.
Approaches to Group Assessment in the Faculty of Engineering
Team lead: Jude Bramton (EEME)
Team members: Becky Selwyn (EEME)
Project summary: This project aims to assess the current practices of group assessment in undergraduate engineering programs across the Faculty of Engineering. The primary goals are to gather information about the existing approaches used in various units and the associated assessments, investigate the experiences of both staff and students with these practices, and provide evidence-based comparisons of different approaches to group work and associated assessment. Additionally, the project aims to identify context-dependent pros and cons of each approach and offer practical tips to consider when designing group work tasks. The project will share best practice and support colleagues within Engineering and throughout the University in designing effective group assessment activities.
Designing for all - engaging with the AI revolution
Understanding the risks and opportunities presented by AI to maintain fairness and offer ways of improving learning and assessment for all.
Active feedback using ChatGPT: investigating approaches to using generative AI for as a student active feedback tool in
Team lead: Samantha Bell (Business School)
Project summary: As part of a wider project led by Jenni Rose (University of Manchester) this project aims to derive principles of how ChatGPT (or similar models) can be used actively in the classroom based on the inner feedback theoretical framework developed by Nichol (2021). The project aims to use a preliminary model developed by Jenni Rose to investigate whether generative AI such as ChatGPT can be used as an effective tool for student feedback in coursework assignments, which may be particularly effective as a mechanism to deliver feedback for students on units with large cohorts.
International students' experience
Exploring how we can ensure international students thrive in their learning through curriculum design and content, and approaches to teaching and assessment.
Equality and inequality in Biomedical Science workshop
Team lead: Alice Robson (Biochemistry)
Team members: Bronwen Burton (CMM), Zafar Bashir (PPN) and Ames Mosley (PPN)
Project summary: The three Biomedical Sciences Schools have been working for 2 years to decolonise and diversify the curriculum. Curriculum reviews and research revealed that students would like more opportunities to explore complex issues around the epistemic legacy of colonialism within their discipline. A BILT-funded pilot version of a workshop on decolonising and diversifying the biomedical sciences was very positively received in 2022/23. The project team now plans to incorporate this workshop into a compulsory unit (cohort ~500 students) aiming to make biomedical science more relevant and accessible to all, allowing international and home students to thrive in their learning.
Python and progress: Data skills through highly social learning environments
Team lead: Anastasia Papadopoulou (Economics)
Team members: Annika Johnson (Economics) and Stefania Simion (Economics)
Project summary: In 2022/23 a pilot 5-day data visualisation workshop was delivered, teaching students Python through a novel combination of pair programming and specially designed cheat sheets to create a highly social learning environment. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and the event was extremely popular with international students (62% of the participants were international). Following its success, this year the project aims to: (i) Scale the event and offer it to a larger number of students (100+) providing them with the opportunity to participate in an authentic activity and develop extremely valuable hard and soft employability skills. (ii) Investigate the effect of teaching innovations (cheat sheets and pair programming) versus traditional means of teaching on student performance and group dynamics when bringing together students from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences.
International postgraduate student journeys
Team lead: Claire Spencer (Business School)
Team members: Sotiris Lalaounis (Business School)
Project summary: Using student reflections on their first semester and interviews at the end of the term to delve deeper into themes, this project aims to reveal the depth of experience felt by a sample of international students with the Business School. Starting in September 2023, the project will implement a research and experience led programme of practical events to help build community, improve language confidence, and develop our students’ academic and personal skills. By asking student participants to reflect on their journey through the semester, the aim is to assess the programme’s success, make improvements, and share findings within and beyond the University.
Student Decolonisation partners 2023-2024: Global representation in the BioSciences
Team lead: Dave Lawson (Biological Sciences) and Celine Petitjean (Biological Sciences)
Project summary: This project seeks to continue the School’s efforts in decolonising the Biology curriculum, whereby two student partners, will collaborate to improve student experience, in particular international student experience, though the following actions:
- Exploring opportunities to incorporate international/non-Global-North role models, researching groups and practices to be highlighted in the Biology undergraduate course to improve representation, diversity, and therefore, the student experience.
- Bringing attention and awareness of decolonisation within the School and provide a space for students to discuss and raise concerns.
- Participating in the global effort to decolonise curricula at different levels (School, Faculty, University).
Together from the start – assessing the impacts of community following an undergraduate residential field course
Team lead: Emily Bell (Biological Sciences)
Project summary: This project is a continuation of a four-year longitudinal study to investigate student experiences following a residential field course at the start of a degree programme and their sense of belonging to both their degree cohort and the wider university.
Promoting inclusivity in the international classroom
Team lead: Fiona Hartley (BILT)
Project summary: International students have to overcome many barriers when they come to study in the UK, not only in terms of culture but also language and academics or ‘pedagogical shock’ (Ryan, 2011). With the number of international students increasing and Bristol aiming to attract more students across all its programmes, the aim of this project will be to provide a toolkit to give students an opportunity to adapt more easily and create a ‘third space’ (McKinley et al, 2019) where learning can take place more effectively.
Investigating international student experience during psychological research methods laboratory classes
Team lead: Polly Barr (Psychological Science)
Team members: Kristopher Magee (Psychological Science) and Peter Allen (Psychological Science)
Project summary: Research shows there are differences in home and international students’ engagement in group work. As a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited degree, a core part of University of Bristol’s Psychology’s curriculum includes group work. This is currently achieved through laboratory classes in Psychological Research Methods (Y1 and Y2/Y3) and the dissertation (Y3/Y4). In groups of 5 or 6, students engage in complex decision making and teamwork and need to be able to communicate and collaborate effectively with each other both in and outside of class. It is imperative that we understand international students’ experience of this key requirement (and significant proportion) of their degree. This project will run focus groups and anonymous surveys with international students to gain their views on working in groups with home students. The focus group questions will ask what they believe is advantageous about being an international student in group work as well as things they feel they need help with. Activities and tasks that could encourage integration and engagement from all group members will be brainstormed and feedback will be collected. Focus groups will be run three times throughout the year to monitor any change as the students’ progress through projects. Thematic analysis will be used to interpret the qualitative data and statistical analysis for the quantitative data. Results of both will be interpreted through meta inferences. The results of this study will be used to inform future teaching practices.