SEDA Workshop - Academic Engagement: Engaging who and to what end?

23 September 2011

Location: University of Bedfordshire

The inherent complexity of studying and working within contemporary HE has been well documented and is challenging pedagogues and developers to place peoples’ experiences of HE at the centre of their analyses. This shift toward an experiential focus has seen student engagement emerge as a core consideration linked to theories of retention and persistence. Changing patterns of student engagement have necessitated changes in approaches to and conceptualisations of teaching and learning at a time when learning itself is increasingly regarded as a process of change; not only in relation to intellectual re-conceptualisation, but also personal, social and practical transformation. Whilst conventional pedagogic standards (learning outcomes, assessment criteria) provide useful guidance as to core knowledge that learners need to know, they provide little guidance on how educators and academic developers should best design and support engaging learning opportunities for people, staff and students, who are coming-to-know – a fresh conceptualisation of engagement is required, one that takes in staff, as well as, student engagement with and progression through educational programmes. 

Through a series of workshops and interactive sessions, it is the dual aim of this one-day event to explore and understand the nature of staff and student engagement within what is becoming an increasingly complex, changing higher education environment and to identify the inherent challenges and potentialities for educators and academic developers in their practice.

With its practical focus, the event will be of interest to those responsible for curriculum design and facilitating learning opportunities at all levels of HE. The programme offers significant scope for small group discussions and interaction, with both experienced practitioners and other delegates. Participants will be encouraged to learn from one another, reflect on, and share their experiences and their practice, as well as be guided to explore the emerging challenges and potentialities of encouraging authentic academic engagement.  

The workshops, like the research, case studies and the practice they present, are purposely positioned within the wider context of contemporary issues which are at the centre of educational developers’ and teaching staffs’ work and practice, more specifically the workshops explore issues around : The changing nature of student engagement in learning; The challenges of engaging staff to engage students; Academic engagement in staff development; Engaging the diverse range of student and staff transitions in higher education. 

It is anticipated that workshops will generate significant insights and practical ideas around the nature and range of challenges and potentialities facing educators and academic developers in their practice that will be documented and shared with delegates post-event.

The facilitators for the one-day event are:

Sam Elkington [lead facilitator] is a Senior Lecturer in Sport Management and Teaching Fellow at the University of Bedfordshire where he takes an active interest in pedagogic development in relation to integrated approaches to the academic engagement of students and staff. 

Lesley Lawrence [facilitator] is Head of Academic Professional Development at the University of Bedfordshire.  Based in the Centre for Learning Excellence, her current research interests lie primarily in how we effectively support staff transitions.

Helen Corkill [facilitator] is Co-ordinator for Part-time Provision at the University of Bedfordshire.  Based in the Communities and Partnerships Office, she has undertaken extensive research on student transitions, particularly the student experience of transition from foundation to bachelor degree. 


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