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Brain Sciences Faculty Tutor discusses educational priorities

19 February 2013

Dr Julie Evans, Faculty Tutor for Brain Sciences since September 2012, discusses what she was doing before she started at UCL, the areas she plans to prioritise now she’s here, and the importance of a nice hot bath.

Dr Julie Evans, Faculty Tutor for UCL Brain Sciences

She may be new to UCL but Julie Evans has jumped into her role head-first. Using the Faculty of Brain Sciences’ National Student Survey (NSS) results as a starting point, Julie has identified a number of areas she wants to focus on – assessment and feedback and employability for starters.

Keen to engage academic teaching staff in embracing e-learning, Julie conducted a survey last year of how it is currently used across the Faculty. As a result of the survey a series of teaching and learning-based afternoon workshops have been planned over the next year, with suggested topics including employability and enhanced Moodle use as well as assessment and feedback. Julie has also been involved in several of the recent bids to the SLMS teaching innovation fund and says, “Of the 10 bids we submitted, I am delighted to say that six were successful to a total of £66,612. This shows how many staff are actively engaged in blended learning and researching new ways to improve the student learning experience across the Faculty.”

Julie talks time off

“After a long day at work I love having a warm, scented bath with candlelight, essential oils and a glass of white wine! I also enjoy walking on beaches in the sun, travelling (India and the Caribbean are top destinations) and reading crime novels. My guilty pleasure is Keeping Up With The Kardashians – purely as a psychological study, of course...”

“In terms of employability, I’d like to look at how enterprise is embedded in educational provision on taught programmes,” continues Julie. She believes that context is key: for example, sending students tailored communications based on what they’re actually doing in relation to transferable skills for employability will be far more effective than bombarding them with emails intended for every student at UCL. Faculty-specific activities might include enterprise events featuring ‘role model’ speakers – inspiring alumni or students in the faculty who have won enterprise awards, for example – or offering volunteering opportunities which, because of their subject relevance, could also be viewed as internships.

Julie is also keen to open up links between postgraduate students in different parts of the Faculty, so in January she organised a poster symposium to allow students to find out more about what others in the Faculty are doing. “I think it’s important that students understand their work in its wider context,” she explains. “It was a very successful event with a high standard of posters submitted.”

Before joining UCL in 2012, Julie was at London Metropolitan University, splitting her time between her academic work as a psychologist and additional responsibilities including recruitment, marketing, admissions and course development. During her 20 years there, she acted as an international representative for the university, developing expertise in the student experience and helping foreign students understand the British education system.

When it comes to internationalisation at UCL, Julie says, “I’m keen to develop our strategy in this area, especially in terms of distance learning provision. At postgraduate level, much of what this faculty does is clinical and we want to become leaders in providing distance learning in this field, as well as offering CPD opportunities.”

Another area close to Julie’s heart is widening participation. “Whatever the institution, we need to attract the best students, no matter where they come from,” she says. She is working on a range of outreach activities to try and encourage this mentality. Julie is also passionate about embracing the technology that students are using in order to enrich their learning experience. She believes that technology should be used to complement the teaching already going on, rather than replacing it.

“I’m very fortunate that Alan Thompson, the Dean, is as keen as I am to make the Faculty of Brain Sciences’ education provision as world-renowned as its research,” says Julie. “I hope that working in a supportive environment such as this will enable me to put my ideas into practice in as effective a manner as possible.”

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By Ele Cooper 

Page last modified on 19 feb 13 14:20

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