Teaching & Learning


UCL Teaching & Learning Conference 2013 abstracts

These abstracts appear as they were submitted. They are grouped by the parallel session they appear in. 

Please click on the relevant title and it will bring you to the abstract below.


Session One - parallel sessions A

Session One - parallel sessions B

Session One - parallel sessions C

Session Two - parallel sessions A

Session Two - session B panel discussion 45 minutes

Session Two - parallel sessions C


  • Understanding Inter-cultural aspects of teaching and learning is crucial

Caroline Selai

Dr. Caroline Selai UCL Institute of Neurology Dr. Sushrut Jadhav UCL Unit of Mental Health Sciences Mr. Marco Federighi, Vice-Dean (Education) of Engineering Sciences UCL; Dr. Alasdair Gibb, Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, Faculty of Life Sciences UCL; Dr. Lee Grieveson, Director of the Graduate Programme in Film Studies and Chair of the Centre for Intercultural Studies,UCL Dr. Christine Hoffmann, Director, UCL Language Centre; Prof. Alexi Marmot, Professor of Facility and Environment Management, Vice-Dean Teaching and Learning, Head of School, Bartlett School of Graduate Studies UCL; Dr. Mark Roberts, Department of Mathematics UCL. Dr. Katherine Woolf, Academic Centre for Medical Education (ACME), UCL Medical School Background: An understanding of the challenges to teaching and learning experienced by staff and students from different cultural and social backgrounds is important both for improving the experience of our students and staff and to help us to equip our students for employment in the global workplace. Aim of study: to explore, in depth, the nature of the strengths and challenges experienced by staff and students. Methods: Phase 1 of this project has been establishment of a unique collaboration between the lead applicant and eight collaborators, all senior members of academic staff based in a wide range of UCL departments, spanning a number of faculties. Phase 2 has been to conduct some exploratory interview with international students and with staff. Phase 3: the collaborators will conduct semi-structured interviews and focus groups with students and with academic and administrative staff in their (respective) departments / faculties. Staff to be interviewed will be selected to ensure there is a spread of gender, ethnicity and seniority. Students (n=8 / 10 per focus group) will be recruited to ensure a mix of gender, ethnicity, UG + PG status in each faculty. Data analysis: Using established methods of qualitative data collection and data analysis, we will identify key themes and categories that are crucial to learning and teaching. Preliminary results: Some key themes have already emerged from our exploratory interviews. We will present our preliminary results at the CALT conference. 

(Top of page)

Session One - parallel sessions A


  • Assessment for employability

Carol Sachett 

Assessment practices in health professions training need to reflect the changing demands of the workplace.  In addition to placement assessments, UCL speech and language therapy students undertake a range of college-based practical assessments which directly target skills and knowledge required by employers.  Practice placement partners are involved in the development of these assessments, and take part in the actual assessment process. This ensures currency and credibility of the assessments.  Two assessments will be presented: a) Video Viva, which assesses students’ observational and clinical management skills and, importantly, their ability to “think on their feet” when faced with novel clinical or service delivery situations; b) Service Presentation, which assesses students’ understanding of service delivery and evaluation and their ability to “sell” the service to potential commissioners.  This is particularly relevant in the current climate, where employers are looking for evidence of a wider understanding of service provision and outcome measurement.  An evaluation of the assessments will be provided, including feedback from students, external examiners, practice placement educators and employers. Students report that these assessments provide excellent preparation for job interviews and their future professional role.  Employers report that these assessments target skills and knowledge that are directly transferable to the demands of the workplace. (Top of page)


  • Facilitating skills development and enhancing student employability through museum-university partnerships

Theano Moussouri 

Facilitating skills development and enhancing student employability through museum-university partnerships Museum-university partnerships hold great promise for the training of new museum professionals as well as delivering long term and sustainable benefits for the museum. This session will describe how the combination of traditional academic mentoring and experience-based learning can support professional development and enhance the employability of our students. The Geffrye Museum and UCL Institute of Archaeology partnership provides on-the-job training in integrated exhibition development (which includes everything from evaluation, content research, designing and producing events, web resources, and an exhibition) to an average of 25 graduate students each year. The presenter will discuss the role museum-university partnerships can play in the personal and professional development of the next generation of museum professionals. In particular, participants will come away with an understanding of the following: How can students are prepared to undertake a project that needs to be developed and delivered in a short period of time (4 months), but at a high professional level? How can a project that is jointly developed and run by institutions with different agendas be managed by staff and students? What type of mentoring and support is needed for training large groups of students? (Top of page)

  • Teaching skills for life as an economist: a case study

Cloda Jenkins

In this presentation (Powerpoint slides) I will set out what skills economic students are expected to need to pursue a career as a professional economist, using a range of different sources. I will then discuss a case study course I taught in autumn 2012 (Econ 7006 – Economics of Regulation) to provide insight on how small changes to course curriculum design can help to ensure students have an opportunity to develop a good mix of these skills. I will explain how the course content and the teaching methods in lectures and tutorials were adapted and I will discuss student feedback on the experience. I will also explain the constraints that I came across when designing and implementing the curriculum and consider next steps for my courses and the economics department curriculum more generally. This presentation will be a condensed version of a presentation provided in an Economics Department seminar on ‘Teaching Economics.’ (Top of page)


Session One - parallel sessions B


  • Case of the Month - using the virtual learning environment to consolidate learning in the final year of medical school

  • Link to slide presentation
Sarah Bennett 

Case of the Month – using the virtual learning environment to consolidate learning in the final year of medical school Background

In the final year of Medical School, students complete a number of placements outside the main UCL site. The virtual learning environment (Moodle) provides an excellent way for students to complete work remotely and allows the Medical School to make revision material available, which will encourage synthesis and integration of their clinical and professional skills.


Case of the Month is a multimedia, interactive learning resource on Moodle, which was started in 2009. Each module is based around real cases, which highlight important learning areas on the journey toward medical practice such as communicating with patients in difficult circumstances to safe prescribing: areas in which they will be examined and in which students often struggle once they qualify.

Each student completes 6 separate cases in the final year, which are then marked by tutors. The students provide feedback to each case and about their overall experience of Case of the Month.


Overall, the students have found participating in Case of the Month, a positive experience commenting that it has encouraged them to think like doctors, think through topics that are not necessarily covered in other areas of the course, and prepare for exams and life beyond.

“Overall, I think that this has been the best learning task at medical school.” (Final year medical student, 2010)


The introduction of Case of the Month into the final year course at UCL Medical School has been a very positive experience. (Top of page)

  • A practical approach to teaching about chronic illness

Melissa Gardner

Background Newly qualified junior doctors have traditionally reported they do not feel prepared for the practice of medicine when starting foundation year jobs after graduation. UCL Medical School addresses this throughout the curriculum, for all years of study. There is increased focus on developing practical ward-based skills and competencies, and this is reflected in current assessments.

Teaching session

We developed a teaching day for fourth-year medical students which highlights aspects of patient care pathways that students may come across, but not focus on, in more traditional bedside and lecture teaching. By following the story of one patient, the sessions teach theory and practical skills useful for managing patients with chronic illnesses. These include making referrals, writing discharge summaries and having thoughtful patient-centred consultations. The importance of multi-disciplinary working is emphasised throughout and modelled with teaching by physiotherapists.

Student feedback

The day has been well-received by students, both in terms of content and delivery. All five sessions are rated at least 4 out of 5, and scores have improved as sessions have been amended in response to written feedback. Not only do students enjoy the teaching, they recognise the relevance of understanding healthcare in practice for their future careers.


This Chronic Illness teaching day is an effective, worthwhile way of teaching students about less obvious, more abstract issues in modern NHS healthcare. Importantly this teaching day encourages students to develop skills they will need in the demanding workplace of a junior doctor from a relatively early stage in their training. (Top of page)

  • Learning from First Year doctors: clinical shadowing and preparation for practice

Kazuya Iwata (Presenter) - authors also include Sarah Bennett, Deborah Gill, Alison Sturrock

BACKGROUND: Early clinical contact (ECC) is a key feature of undergraduate programmes, yet they are usually limited to intermittent contacts with patients in the community. An opportunity for medical students to experience their future workplace early in their training was felt to be beneficial for their career development.

AIMS: To explore the potential of an ECC activity focussing on the clinical environment and the working lives of a junior doctor for first year medical students.

METHODS: For two academic years, all first year medical students at UCL Medical School shadowed a Foundation Year (FY) doctor for a four-hour shift to experience and understand the work of junior doctors. Feedback from students and FY doctors was gathered and analysed.

RESULTS: The students found the FY doctors to be good near-peer tutors and enjoyed exploring the clinical environment, but felt that the unstructured learning environment was difficult to cope. The FY doctors felt that learning in and about the clinical environment was an important learning outcome for the students, although they found supervising junior medical students in a shadowing context difficult.

CONCLUSIONS: Shadowing FY doctors early in the curriculum provided medical students an opportunity to effectively explore and integrate, albeit briefly, with the medical culture. FY doctors, as their immediate role models, was an effective and under-utilised resource in introducing novices to the role of a medical professional in the clinical environment. (Top of page)

Session One - parallel sessions C

Personal Tutoring, PPD and promoting employability

Paul Walker, Jenny Marie

We have been interviewing personal tutors and students in a range of departments, exploring the ways in which personal tutorials are used to promote employability and development of appropriate skills and attributes, as well as overseeing student welfare. UCL provides a quite extensive range of learning resources for students to use in their personal and professional development (PPD) and it is intended that this process is supported via personal tutorials. The paper will survey the resources and support available, looking at how the needs of students are being met by personal tutoring in departments in the 'SLASH' and 'BEAMS' Schools. The paper will offer some indicative suggestions for further developing the resources and practices that will enhance the employability of students in these departments and others. (Top of page)

  • A well-kept secret? Employability with intercultural skills and less-widely taught languages

Ulrich Tidau

A well-kept secret? Employability with intercultural skills and less-widely taught languages: In the UK and the Anglophone world in general, Dutch is undoubtedly a minority subject, although it is the language of two neighbouring countries that also belong to the largest trading partners of Britain. In fact it ranks fifth in the list of most frequently requested languages in UK job adverts (after French, German, Spanish and Italian but ahead of Russian and even Chinese!), a demand that cannot be filled by UK graduates of Dutch, as a recent labour market report by the University Council of Modern Languages points out (Mulkerne and Graham, 2011: 15). What is more, the report states that the Dutch case ‘is particularly interesting, as it emphasises the need to speak the language of your trading partners, even if they already have a good working knowledge of English’ (ibid. 49). While this imbalance in offer and demand for graduates with Dutch and other less-widely taught languages makes for a little-known vibrant job market in itself, what really boosts the employability of students is the combination of less-widely taught languages with intercultural skills, as taught by the UCL Department of Dutch that, together with other UK departments of Dutch, has also pioneered the development of Open Educational Resources (OER) to embed these skills into the curriculum. This talk will present an overview of the results of research into employability of graduates with less-widely taught languages and intercultural skills, investigate the reasons for the common misperception of less-widely taught languages as ‘niche subjects’, and give a live presentation of UCL Dutch’s use of OER to embed intercultural skills into the curriculum. (Top of page)


  • Museums, Collections, and Student Employability at UCL

Leonie Hannan

UCL’s Museums & Public Engagement department aims to support student employability at UCL by offering a range of opportunities. The most obvious example of this is the opportunity offered by our public museums for students to volunteer and gain hands-on experience of work in the museum sector. As a department, we are also keen to demonstrate the scope for undergraduate and postgraduate research projects focused on our diverse and unique collections. As research projects often represent the culmination of a student’s academic achievement, gaining access to unusual source material can help a student stand out from the crowd in a recruitment scenario. However, museums and their collections can also support the employability agenda in more embedded ways – through collections-based teaching and learning. A recent survey revealed that students themselves could identify important transferrable skills, such as communication and team working skills, from a minimum of one taught session using museum objects. From evidence such as this we can see that the integration of skills acquisition into the learning of subject-specific knowledge is both an efficient and an effective method of helping our students develop as highly employable individuals. This paper will explore a range of ways that museums and their collections can help deliver enhanced employability for UCL’s students with particular reference to the use of museum object-based learning in this process. (Top of page)

Session Two - parallel sessions A


  • Portfolios, Professionalism and Pedagogy: using an authentic ePortfolio in Undergraduate Medical Education

Laura-Jane Smith (presenter) Dr Rosie Belcher, Dr Deborah Gill
  • Link to slide presentation

UCL Medical School is a pioneer in the use of an authentic professional ePortfolio for undergraduate medical students, part of a collaborative project with three other medical schools. From year four onwards students develop specific skills in using an ePortfolio resource that they will be required to use on graduation and entry into postgraduate medical training. Not only this, they develop generic skills in personal objective setting, professional development and evidence collation for appraisal purposes; skills they will need for their entire careers. We will present an insight into: the collaborative development process of the ePortfolio; the contents of the ePortfolio including workplace-based assessments in use in postgraduate medicine; future plans, including the use of m-learning devices to facilitate contemporaneous and valid feedback; and the student perspective on the value of the ePortfolio and it's role in professional identify formation. Participants will leave with an understanding of; the use of ePortfolios in the health professions; the value of using an authentic tool and how this has been achieved in undergraduate medicine; the skills that using an ePortfolio can support and develop; and how e- and m-learning tools have wider and sometimes unexpected effects on students in their journey towards participating and practicing in a profession. (Top of page)


  • SysMIC.ac.uk: A nationwide interdisciplinary postgraduate eLearning course

Philip Lewis

The SysMIC course provides continuing professional development to researchers funded by the BBSRC. It teaches the mathematics and computer programming skills necessary for applying systems biology approaches to biological research. The course consists of three six month modules. It is taught entirely online with a workload of 5 hours a week. Each cohort contains up to 150 students and we are funded to provide places for 1250 students in total over 4 years.

In the paper we will describe the customised learning environment we developed to meet the needs of the course. In particular will discuss the innovations we have implemented (or are working on) such as:

- an automatic translation of a textbook in Tex format into a rich html website including Mathematical equations;

- applets which let students explore mathematical concepts;

- a novel commenting system, so students can make notes and add queries and get answers from within the textbook pages;

- an online portfolio of work which collates students work into a book which they can export;

- an online professional development planner and tracker. (Top of page)

  • Focusing on Employability: A Post-Exam Key Skills Module

Charmian Dawson

The post-exam Key Skills for Molecular Biosciences course is designed to develop a range of employability skills, including CV writing, data retrieval, critical thinking, presentation and laboratory skills, as well as introduce opportunities available to students to further enhance their employability. The existence of this course serves to highlight the importance of transferable skills and employability. This is a compulsory zero-rated module that does not affect degree classification.

The course comprises compulsory lectures and activities that must be completed in order to pass the module. Although the course is zero-rated, students can be successfully engaged by designing tasks that are clearly relevant to their degree and possible career path. Novel assessments have also been found to increase enthusiasm among the students, by drawing on non-academic motivations. Finally, linking different aspects of the course to culminate in a final presentation, has given significance to previously disparate components.

The introduction of interviews with staff members about their career paths has been particularly successful, as students have found these inspiring, and were driven to work harder on related activities.

Further changes are planned to build on the successful adjustments made so far, with the aim of encouraging students to enthusiastically develop key employability skills, by drawing on non-traditional motivators.

(Top of page)

Session Two - panel discussion

  • Panel discussion of the 2013 Horizon Report

Dr Fiona Strawbridge, Dr Helen Chaterjee, and Dr Nick Grindle
Chair: Professor Carmel McNaught

The 2013 Horizon Report identifies six of the most influential emerging technologies and discusses their 'potential impact on teaching, learning, and creative inquiry within the higher education environment'. Case studies help to show how the technologies are currently being used, and in what contexts.  It also identifies the key trends and significant challenges for teaching and learning in the next five years. The panel discussion will look at Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Games & Gamification, as two of the most interesting technologies discussed in the Report.  It will review what the implications of these developments might be for student learning in UCL, as well as responding to the Report's sketch of current trends in, and obstacles for, higher education. 

Session two - parallel sessions C

  • Making & Writing History: Employability & Humanities

Margot Finn, Adam Smith, Mira Voge, Paul Walker

Studying history at university develops capabilities that graduates can and do apply in a wide range of careers. The UCL History department is redeveloping its undergraduate curriculum with this in mind and is engaging students in active learning within new 'Making History' and 'Writing History' core courses in the first year. Making History is designed to encourage creative, lateral thinking about the past and to be equally creative in the way students' findings are presented in the digital era. Students will work in reflective and collaborative group activity to produce multimedia accounts of their findings about selected objects, sites and events, using primary sources available in the rich historical resources around London. One of the reasons why History graduates are highly employable is that they are great communicators, able to to combine clarity with complexity. The world is a complicated place, evidence is rarely clear cut, narratives are never one dimensional, motivations impossible to discern with certainty. The Writing History course is intended to focus on these communication skills and give students the tools to become even better communicators than they already are.

Alongside the intrinsic merits of studying history for its own sake, the skills developed in this new programme are intended to provide students with the agility they will undoubtedly need for success in their careers in a rapidly evolving and complex real world. (Top of page)


Essays and Employability: Supporting Student Writing in Arts and Humanities

Geraldine Brodie

Dr Geraldine Brodie, Supervisor of the SELCS Writing Lab and former Manager in Graduate and Professional Recruitment at KPMG, discusses transferable skills in essay writing, and how they are supported by the SELCS Writing Lab.  'My aim is to discuss what employers are looking for, based on my experience in the recruitment of large numbers of graduates across a wide range of disciplines. I will relate this to the workshops and tutorials provided by the Lab to show how we focus on project management; planning; concision and precision; writing in registers; interpreting instructions; transparent structures in writing; following style guides and house/discipline conventions; application of research and source material; incorporating feedback; and, most importantly, critical and analytical thought'. (Top of page)

  • Embedding Careers

Saiyada Smith

Higher Education Institutions (HEI) such as University College London (UCL) promote postgraduate taught masters courses as offering a return on investment for the student who will benefit from the opportunity to specialise in a particular subject and will gain technical skills that are relevant to their industry of choice. Employability skills, while high on the Undergraduate agenda (due to pressure from Employers, Professional Bodies and Sector Skill Councils) are being embedded in the curriculum, partly because there is an assumption that the undergraduate learner is uninformed about their career choices. There tends to be an assumption that the postgraduate learner has attained a significant understanding of self, the career and industry they wish to pursue and as such there is less emphasis on employability in the postgraduate curricula. In practice the opposite evidence was found amongst the Masters in Management (MiM) Students from the Management Science and Innovation (MS&I) department. Following this feedback, the department introduced a credit bearing careers and employability module. This paper will compare the employment rates of two groups of students: those who benefitted from embedded employability skills in the curriculum and those that didn’t. The programme of employability skills workshops and employer engagement activities will be presented along with feedback from students and employers. (Top of page)

For editorial corrections please email: Moira Wright