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An empirical evaluation of innovation in higher education bioscience teaching

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Chris Hassall
    Dr D I Lewis
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Universities are undergoing a period of extensive change: the introduction of tuition fees, Brexit, new evaluations of teaching quality (Teaching Excellence Framework), the introduction of new technologies (e.g. automated lecture capture), disruption through the development of online courses (e.g. massive open online courses, MOOCs), and unbundling of the higher education offering to appeal to a diverse body of would-be students. The rate of this change has greatly out-paced universities’ capacity to marshal evidence in support of key policy decisions, meaning that institutions that pride themselves on delivering research to solve key societal challenges lack the empirical support needed to make informed decisions within their own walls.

This PhD project will take on the challenge of providing an evidence-based evaluation of key pedagogical innovations around bioscience education at one of the UK’s leading universities: the University of Leeds. Working alongside academics, the student will take responsibility for designing, developing, and evaluating innovation within the university. Through academic networks maintained by colleagues at the university, the student will have access to a pedagogical landscape that spans the UK and also includes a number of overseas partners. The particular pedagogical innovations that the student will design will focus around a combination of the following ideas:
• Research-led teaching: While the incorporation of research (particularly that of the staff who are teaching) is recognised to be an important goal for course design, the impacts on student engagement and attainment are unclear.
• Feedback and assessment: A major challenge for universities is managing the expectations and requirements of an undergraduate body that has had a very different experience in school to that which they encounter at university. How can university staff meet the needs of students in terms of feedback?
• Blended learning: Many different models exist for the blending of technological and in-person teaching modes. However, when applied incorrectly or inconsistently the result can be a negative experience for students at a great time cost for teaching staff.
• Course co-design: Student-centred teaching requires the involvement of students in the design of their own programmes of study. The student could examine the potential for co-design of content, methods, and assessment with groups of students.
• Equality and inclusion: Attempts at widening participation within universities to traditionally underrepresented groups have led to an increase in the diversity of students. However, tracing the progress of the diverse students from first contact with the university through to graduation and employment could yield important lessons about how to better support those individuals.

The project will be inherently interdisciplinary, drawing on expertise from the social sciences, educational theory, and biological practice, and making use of both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection / analysis. You would be working within the University of Leeds Bioscience Education Research Group – a diverse group of researchers with active pedagogical research alongside their biological research. We would be interested in recruiting students from a variety of different backgrounds, whether that is educational, computational, mathematical, biological or sociological.

Funding Notes

Project is eligible for funding under the FBS Faculty Studentships scheme. Successful candidates will receive a PhD studentship for 4 years, covering fees at UK/EU level and stipend at research council level (£14,777 for 2018-19).
Candidates should have, or be expecting, a 2.1 or above at undergraduate level in a relevant field. If English is not your first language, you will also be required to meet our language entry requirements. The PhD is to start in Oct 2018.
Please apply online here Include project title and supervisor name, and upload a CV and transcripts.

How good is research at University of Leeds in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 60.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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