THESIS Pedagogic Research Seminars

THESIS Pedagogic Research Seminars

This section of THESIS is co-ordinated by Dr. Sam Fairlamb. 


The Psychology Department has started a new research seminar group dedicated to all things teaching-related named THESIS: Pedagogic Research. The seminar series aims to offer talks that examine how psychological-based research may inform teaching-related issues. This group is for all staff involved in teaching to ensure we can disseminate best practice in teaching. This seminar series is convened by Dr. Sam Fairlamb. If you would like to know more about this group, or would like to provide suggestions for potential topics or speakers, then please contact him: samuel.fairlamb@rhul.ac.uk.


Current scheduled talks

8th June 2022 (1-2.30pm) – Symposium – ‘Insights from Early Career Teachers: What Have We Learnt from COVID-19’.

Register your attendance here

Time Presenters
1:00-1:10pm Welcome and opening remarks

 

Elise Gear (Psychology Department – PhD student)

1:10 – 1:35pm Talk 1 – The Use of Emojis and Gifs in Online Teaching to Foster Student Engagement

 

Online teaching presents new challenges in satisfying students’ needs. For example, when successful, online teaching can be effective in minimising procrastination (Kang & Zhang, 2020) and reaching students in complex environments (e.g., students with childcare responsibilities; Redmond et al., 2018). When unsuccessful, online teaching can deter attendance (Nieuwoudt, 2020) and lower motivation (Xu et al., 2020). Emojis (static pictograms depicting emotion or sentiment) and gifs (graphic images depicting pop culture references) are popularly used within online communication (Tang & Hew, 2019) and are being increasingly used within online teaching (Darby, 2020). Drawing upon my own experiences of online and blended teaching since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as two quantitative studies I have conducted, the use of emojis and gifs within online teaching and whether these foster student engagement will be discussed.

 

Dr. Beatrice Hayes (Psychology Department)

1:35 – 2:00pm Talk 2 – Student Engagement in Language Classes

 

The pandemic has significantly impacted and changed student engagement. This paper will study the different types of engagement with language classes showed by students in 1st year, second and final year from 2020 to 2022, when studying fully online (2021 term 2) or fully in person (2021-2022). Age and level will be taken into consideration in order to understand attendance data. While highlighting what could be maintained from online teaching, this talk will put the emphasis on the benefits of in person teaching: its impact on student well-being in particular, and on student improvement in the target language.

 

Dr. Marion Joassin (Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures)

2:00 – 2.25pm Talk 3 – The Wellbeing of Staff Whilst Teaching During the Pandemic: The Challenges and Assets

 

Teaching in higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic required prompt adaptation and familiarisation to hybrid teaching. Leading to an increase in workload and a constant need to adapt teaching style to governmental guidelines and online platforms. For many members of staff (and students), working from home blurred the boundaries that were once set to separate home and work life. Whilst this provided great joy (from showing off pets on camera and the occasional cat filter), for some the end of the workday didn’t necessarily mean the end of work. This talk will expand on the both challenges and positive assets of teaching during COVID-19 and the impacts this has had on our mental health

 

Dr. Vanita Chamdal (Psychology Department)


Previous Talks & Symposiums

Wednesday 23rd February 2022 (1-2pm) – Lectures and lecture capture in the new normal’

Dr Emily Nordmann, University of Glasgow (online talk)

In this talk I will summarise my work on lecture capture and discuss how my view on the purpose and place of lecture capture has evolved. I will argue that live lectures with lecture recordings still have a place in the new normal, if it ever arrives, that students learn more from lectures than what the lecturer is teaching, and that at lecture capture is vital for an inclusive ​approach. As part of these arguments, I will touch on issues of attendance, lecture capture policy, and widening participation.


Monday 31st January 2022 (1-2pm) – The 4 Ws of test anxiety: What is it; Why is it important; Where does it come from; What can be done about it?’

Prof David Putwain, Liverpool John Moores (online talk)

Anecdotal evidence would indicate that in the past five years or so, a greater number of adolescent secondary school students are seeking support to deal with the anxiety and pressure associated with preparing for, and taking, high-stakes exams. This has prompted questions such as why more students are requesting help, how many are experiencing high levels of anxiety and whether this figure is increasing, what the effects of exam anxiety might be, and what can schools do about it. In this webinar, Professor Putwain will be sharing findings from research into the prevalence of exam anxiety, relations with achievement and mental health, and interventions designed to reduce exam anxiety.


Monday 17th January 2022 (1-2pm) – Good feedback: strategies and practices that enhance student learning from and satisfaction with assessment feedback.’

Professor Berry O’Donovan, Oxford Brookes University (online talk)

This session will draw from recent research studies into assessment feedback in Higher Education that critique current practice and suggest some contemporary approaches to improving student learning from, and satisfaction with, feedback that go beyond technical concerns such as timing and quantity.  Such approaches emphasise the particular challenges inherent in feedback on assessment activities that move beyond accurate memorisation of established facts and demonstrable theories.  Based on empirical research it is posited that in this situation the effectiveness of feedback rests not only on the nature and content of the feedback artefact, but also on the assessment context in which it is received and recipients’ capacity to understand and engage with it.  It may only be those students who view knowledge as relative and mutable who will ever be truly ‘satisfied’ with feedback on complex, open-ended tasks. The presentation will conclude that focusing on the epistemological development and feedback literacy of students is important to enhance both their learning from, and satisfaction with, feedback.


Wednesday 17th November 2021 (2-3pm) – ‘Using social psychology to tackle educational inequalities: Identities, contexts, and interventions’. Dr. Matthew Easterbrook, University of Sussex (online talk).

Abstract: Some groups of students—such as some ethnic minorities or those from lower class backgrounds—on average achieve much lower academic grades and are much less likely to progress within the education system than other groups. Social psychological or “wise” interventions can be incredibly effective at improving outcomes for these groups of students; however their effectiveness, and the groups that benefit from them, vary considerably across contexts and they can even—in some circumstances—be harmful.  In this talk, I present the Identities in Context model of educational inequalities, which emphasises the importance of gaining a deep understanding of the extent to which features of the local educational context are creating social psychological barriers to success for some groups of students.  I then suggest a research protocol for researchers and practitioners to follow in order to a) identify which, if any, social psychological barriers are disrupting the educational performance of which groups of students in their local context and b) if such barriers exist, to choose, tailor, implement, and evaluate a psychological intervention that is likely to be effective at reducing those barriers and so improve outcomes for those groups.  Finally, I will present some preliminary, unpublished findings from my lab that show the how this protocol has been used to reduce sanctions for poor behaviour and improve attendance in schools in a locality in England.


Wednesday 10th November 2021 (2-3pm) – ‘Why don’t they just listen to feedback?’ Dr. Rob Nash, Aston University (online talk)

Abstract: Most people prefer to perform well than to perform badly. And one of the primary aims of giving feedback is to help people to enhance their performance. So why do our students so often ignore, resist, and reject the feedback we give them? Over the past 8 years, I’ve carried out a variety of pedagogical and psychological research centred around this question, exploring perceived and actual barriers that limit students’ effective engagement with feedback. In this talk, I will discuss some insights from my own research, and from several other domains of psychology. I will also share my own mixed experiences of trying to implement what I’ve learned into my own teaching practice. One of the most important take-home messages is this: we need to understand resistance to feedback not as a student problem, but as a people problem!


Wednesday 20th October 2021 (2-3pm) – ‘Transitions and belonging in higher education: duck to water, or fish out of water?’ Dr Julie Hulme, Keele University (online talk).

Abstract: The transition to university is often described as a challenging or difficult time, with the literature focusing on the transitional experience as a single episode. In this talk, I will draw upon three separate research projects to reflect on the diversity of transitional experiences, and explore whether it is helpful to ‘problematise’ transitions, or to consider them as a normal part of the student (and human) life experience. We will explore some practical implications of the findings to reflect on ways in which we can help students to successfully navigate transitions, and to develop a sense of belonging and social support at university.


9th June 2021 (1-2.35pm) – Symposium – ‘Insights from Early Career Teachers: A Teaching Survival Kit’

Time Presenters
1:00-1:05pm Welcome and opening remarks

 

Elise Gear

1:05 – 1:35pm Talk 1 – Tips and tricks for effective teaching delivery

 

Within higher education, teaching spans a broad range of learning environments from small scale seminars to large scale lectures. Dependent upon numerous factors, teaching delivery varies across these environments and pitching level of delivery is vital for fostering a positive learning environment. With a PGCE and experience teaching within primary, secondary and higher education, I will draw upon my own training and teaching experiences to present tips and tricks for teaching delivery within a higher education setting.

 

Dr. Beatrice Hayes

1:35 – 2:05pm Talk 2 – Developing student-teacher relationships and the use of humour in teaching

 

Positive student-teacher relationships can support engagement in higher education. This talk will outline evidence-based methods to foster productive student-teacher relationships, drawing on the experiences of PGR teaching staff. These methods will be considered in context of online teaching delivery methods necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and how teaching staff can build relationships with students using online tools. Finally, the role of humour will be explored in the context of developing rapport between teaching staff and students. The importance of student-teacher relationships will be considered in context of educational and wellbeing outcomes.

 

Alex Lloyd

2:05 – 2.35pm Talk 3 – Being an autistic teacher in higher education 

 Searching for sources about autism in education reveals a lot of information about teaching autistic people, and little about what it is like to teach when you are autistic. Teaching involves an understanding of the needs of students, and presenting information in a way that students can understand. This might lead people to wonder how it’s possible for an autistic person to teach effectively. In this talk, I (a late-diagnosed autistic woman) discuss the benefits and barriers of being autistic, and teaching in higher education. Evidence regarding improving diversity and representation in the classroom will be discussed, along with personal examples from myself, and other autistic teachers.

 Louisa Thomas


3rd March 2021 (1-2pm) – Talk – ‘Reducing inequality in educational outcomes’

Compared to their traditional counterparts, students from underrepresented backgrounds generally have lower levels of achievement (known as attainment gaps), and are less likely to progress from one year to the next (known as continuation gaps). Causes of these differential outcomes may be related to a range of factors, such as: curriculum practices; student-staff relationships; social, cultural and economic capital; and psychosocial and identity factors. In this talk, I will summarise recent literature on differential outcomes and interventions taken to reduce inequalities, with a particular focus on inclusive approaches to assessment and feedback practices.

 Kieran Balloo is a Research Fellow in the Surrey Institute of Education, University of Surrey. His disciplinary background is in psychology and his current research broadly explores the impact of students’ backgrounds and the university environment on their experiences of higher education.


10th February 2021 (1-2.30pm) – Symposium – ‘Psychological Core Skills in Academia’

Time Presenters
1:00-1:05pm Welcome and opening remarks

 

Dr. Danijela Serbic

1:05 – 1:35pm Talk 1 – We need to talk about self-esteem

 

Education can be an ego-threatening process. This talk will examine academic contingent self-worth and its role in higher education. Evidence regarding academic contingent self-worth will be reviewed, with the main outcomes being that it can produce deficits to one’s learning, success, and well-being. This therefore goes against popular wisdom that investing in one’s academic work can produce positive outcomes. It is therefore of importance to consider how we manage issues of self-esteem in higher education. Some strategies to tackling contingent self-worth will be considered.

 

Dr. Sam Fairlamb

1:35 – 2:05pm Talk 2 – Resilience: Why it matters more now than ever

 

Resilience predicts a number of positive outcomes during university life in terms of mental health, retention, academic performance and life satisfaction. Furthermore, it is valued by future employers as one of the top ranked attributes that they look for during the recruitment process, given its perceived importance in the work environment. Developing resilient students is particularly salient in the current time, given a host of statistics and reports that indicate a crisis of mental health problems in students as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which presents additional and new challenges. In this talk, I will present why now, more than ever, is a crucial time to develop our resilience.

 

Dr. Illham Sebah

2:05 – 2.35pm Talk 3 – The role of self-compassion in protecting students from mental health difficulties

 

Mental health difficulties have been significantly increasing in the last decades in the UK (Higher Education Statistics Agency [HESA], 2020). Due to the difficulty in addressing the needs of students presenting complex cases, it is crucial to consider a preventive approach. There has been a growing body of research supporting the relevance of emotional resilience in higher education (Brewer et al., 2019; Slavin, Schindler, & Chibnall, 2014), which would promote students’ ability to face adversity and challenges. Self-compassion has been empirically supported as a resilience factor that protects against the development and maintenance of mental health difficulties (MacBeth & Gumley, 2012; Trompetter, et al., 2017). Being self-compassionate involves being kind, understanding and supportive towards oneself in moments of distress and pain. In this talk I will discuss the role of self-compassion in protecting university students from mental health difficulties. I will also present different avenues to enhance wellbeing skills and support students’ mental health.

 

Dr. Ines Mendes