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School of Health Sciences rewards educational excellence

Health Has Got Talent event demonstrates excellence and innovation in teaching
by George

The School of Health Sciences held its second 'Health Has Got Talent' event last week to promote excellence in education within the School.

Staff were asked to submit a project or innovation that they thought was worthy of recognition. Presenting their idea to an audience of their peers from across the School at an event in the Northampton Suite, a panel of three judges - including Dr Pam Parker (Learning Enhancement and Development - LEaD), Professor Stan Newman (School of Health Sciences), and Professor Nigel Duncan (School of Law) - chose the most innovative project with the winner receiving funding to further support its development. 

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In an extremely high-quality field the winning project came from a collaboration between Peter Bentley (School of Health Sciences) and Neil Goldwasser (LEaD) for their drug calculation tool for nurses and midwifes (see above picture), a large number of whom often have specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyscalculia.

Speaking about the award, Neil Goldwasser said: "When designing this resource we very much wanted to put the learner in control and let them use it wherever and whenever they wanted. This could either be on their computer at 3am during a night shift, or printed out and filled in during a coffee break. From my perspective as a specialist tutor, students with learning differences such as dyslexia and dyscalculia often need 'overlearning' (an increased level of repetition), and an e-learning resource that generates an infinite number of questions is an effective way of facilitating that. This gives the project sustainability as well as encouraging independence and autonomy."

Mr Bentley said: "The use of real-life worked examples from clinical placements will really help students, but ultimately this tool is there for anyone who wants help with calculations - dyslexic or otherwise. Collaborative working has also brought about this e-learning resource and together we are working with the current students to utilise the tool with a pilot study to ensure it is right for our students prior to it being fully implemented."

The second placed initiative was a tie, with 'What do you see? Dementia: Everybody's business' by Janet Hunter and Tracy Lindsay and 'Service users as an integral part of teaching and learning within Language and Communication Science (LCS)' by Abigail Levin and Celia Harding both jointly awarded the silver prize.

The dementia project aimed to challenge student attitudes and values by getting them to visualise being an older person and thinking about the issues that faced them. Having reflected on these themes, students' opinions changed dramatically with many of them praising the insight it provided. The LCS project also helped student engagement and prepared them for working with clients. It also improved links between theory and practice.

Third place was also tied, this time between three projects, with Alison Harris and Gill Harrison's presentation on the benefits of 'flipped' learning in ultrasound tied with a project by Janet Hunter and Karen Rawlings Anderson which used bariatric and geriatric suits - which simulated obesity and old age respectively - to help students better understand and prepare for the challenges of caring for such people and therefore improve the quality of life and care.  The final project concerned enhancements to student module selection. Presented by Tony Copeland and Carrie O'Halloran, the changes will dramatically improve the process once implemented.

Speaking about the awards, Julie Attenborough, Associate Dean for Education Technology and Innovation and organiser of the event, said: "Health Has Got Talent 2014 really demonstrated what a fantastic range of talent we have in the School of Health Sciences. All entrants demonstrated innovative, exciting and worthwhile projects with enormous impact on our students and courses. This event showcases healthcare education at its very best with staff using the most up-to-date and imaginative methods in education. We are very proud of them all.

"The winning entry was a collaboration between the School and LEaD and demonstrated a student-facing tool. This was a great example of academic staff from the School working with LEaD to maximise resources to address an established need in our students at SHS."

The other highly commended projects included: 'Research methods teaching - from 'yikes' to 'yeah'!' by Katerina Hilari, Nicki Botting and Shashi Hirani; 'Who cares? Using group work to support the development  of compassion and resilience in mental health nursing students' by Sarah Campbell, Caroline Howard, Tracy Lindsay, Madeline O'Carroll and Sheila Grandison; 'Public Health Walking: A methodology that takes students into their Communities of Practice' by Jacqueline Davis and Mark Haddad; and 'Video making in Partnership:  the story behind creating a personalised resource for clinical skills students in Optometry' by Sandra Partington, Stef Smith and Penny D'Ath.

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