Newcastle University’s Postgraduate Certificate in Research Training provides research masters and doctoral students with a grounding in research epistemologies, qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and methods and information literacy.
In Spring 2017, Professor Robin Humphrey (programme director at the time) enlisted Rosalind Beaumont, overall project manager and academic developer, and Nuala Davis, Learning Technologist, to join him to shape the vision for the programme. Dr Adam Potts, the new module leader of ‘The Nature of Explanation and Enquiry’ was also recruited, bringing expert knowledge of Philosophy and an openness to developing new modes of teaching. Feedback and learning from the initial work then informed the collaboration with Library Liaison colleagues Lucy Keating, Karen Crinnion and Lorna Smith, who were responsible for the radical redesign of ‘Information Skills’. The collaboration expanded again to successfully incorporate a wider academic team contributing to the introductory Qualitative and Quantitative methods modules. Following Robin’s retirement, Dr Jen Tarr took up the baton to lead the flipped Postgraduate Certificate, in time to see the value of designed flexible delivery during the Covid-19 disruptions.
Throughout the project Dr Laura Leonardo contributed her vast experience of supporting early career researchers. The team had excellent administrative support from Leigh Whitlie and Amanda Chambers, whose work underpinned the activities and smoothed the student experience. The revised flexible and digitally-enhanced approach to learning has been well received by students who value the ability to personalise their learning experience. This team-based approach was effective in working with students and staff across disciplines/work areas and two campuses to redevelop and iterate provision during the project. Additional project outcomes, such as the library’s online information skills checker, have been incorporated into undergraduate and postgraduate provision across the institution and have received recognition in the wider higher education sector. Postgraduate Certificate contributors have reported transformative changes in their understanding of digital pedagogies and tools following involvement in the collaboration, influencing their teaching and research practices outside the Postgraduate Certificate. The professional learning gained on the project positively influenced their responses to Covid-19 and this learning was shared to assist other colleagues who were adapting to online teaching.