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STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts

Session 1.1: Students as partners: Extracurricular opportunities to enhance student learning and employability
Biological Sciences
Dr Dave Lewis, University of Leeds

Students can gain substantial benefit from working in partnership with staff or fellow students to create knowledge and enhance both their own and their peers' learning experiences. The aim was therefore to develop three novel extracurricular knowledge-creation partnership opportunities: an educational research internships scheme where students work in partnership with academic staff on on-going curriculum development or pedagogical research projects; Pop-up Science, a student-led public engagement volunteer scheme where students create and deliver interactive science activities at community events; a student-led ethics discussion group were students discuss and debate topical ethical issues in the Biosciences. These interventions will be described with evidence presented as to their success how they enable students to contribute to academic communities where they are co-producers of knowledge provide opportunities for them develop key skills and gain valuable work experience. Colleagues will be invited to consider how they can develop similar partnership opportunities for their students.

Session 1.2: Developing graduate attributes through short term international study visits
Built Environment
Dr Bob Gilmour, Glasgow Caledonian University

Spending part of their study time abroad can present students with a range of opportunities and experience leading to the development of numerous skills attributes and experiences sought by employers. Students do not always see these potential benefits or do not take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. A project which is part of a wider improving employability agenda has been devised to provide a “taster” of various learning experiences in a different EU country. It includes examination and self reflection of the types of attributes sought by employers as well as exposure to students currently studying or undertaking a placement abroad.

The objectives of this session are to:

  • present some of the key findings of a project aimed at developing engineers as global citizens;
  • demonstrate that short term international study projects can have significant benefits in facilitating the development of a range of employability skills or attributes.

Session 1.3: Games and Game Jams: An employability-first approach to educating programmers
Dr Michael James Scott, Falmouth University

Teamwork and problem solving skills are highly desired within the software development industry. It would be prudent then to position these employability skills alongside more traditional technical skills in introductory programming courses. To achieve this lessons can be drawn from the games development community which need to prepare students for large-scale interdisciplinary collaboration. Two of which include: the use of games where students solve puzzles together; and the use of game jams where students create games together over a short period of time. This session presents two case studies: optimising algorithms in SpaceChem; and making minigames using the Unity game development engine. Prior research is explored and analyses are supported by qualitative and quantitative data drawn from the 2015-16 undergraduate computing cohort at the Falmouth University Games Academy (N=45). The findings illustrate improved employability skills but challenges including the intensive use of lab resources and inconsistent participation are also highlighted.

Session 1.4: Enhancing employability skills of Engineering students by using peer-mentoring in group projects aiming to solve real-world problems
Engineering and Materials
Dr Crinela Pislaru, University of Huddersfield

Traditionally, higher education has seen its role more in terms of knowledge generation than satisfying employment needs. However the government and employers require higher education to prepare self-motivated innovative graduates that can demonstrate good communication and leadership skills.  This session aims to describe an excellent example of innovation in action where emerging technologies have been actively integrated with professional best practice into research teaching and learning experiences. The post-graduate students have been peer-mentors for the undergraduate students working on a final year group project. Also the employability skills of all students have been enhanced through this problem-based approach in solving real-world problems.

Therefore the dichotomy between subject domain knowledge in STEM subjects and employability skills can be minimised by enabling the students to solve real-life problems so the knowledge (content) technical skills (context) and learning / employability skills (process) can be developed in an integrated manner.

Session 1.5: Undergraduates as co-researchers: benefits for research students for the wider cohort - and for me
Dr Rachel Stubbington, 
Nottingham Trent University

Nottingham Trent University undergraduates can apply to do a 'Scholarship Project for Undergraduate Researchers' (SPUR) position after their second year of study. These positions are funded last for ≤10 weeks during summer and involve conducting original research supervised by an academic staff member. In summer 2014 I supervised one SPUR student and a second department-funded student on a project comparing methods for sampling invertebrates from river ecosystems. The project students gained an advanced technical skill set and improved their transferable skills notably the capacity to work independently and solve novel problems. There were benefits for the wider student cohort who used project results during a formative data-analysis workshop and attended a seminar highlighting students as active participants in knowledge generation. I gained data worthy of publication with international collaborations. Working with undergraduates on original research can be an experience that benefits a whole cohort as well as those directly involved.

Session 1.6: Module industrial mentors – enhancing porosity between industry and academia to enhance student engagement on STEM courses
Mr Roy Priest, Birmingham City University

This presentation aims to offer an overview of the Module Industrial Mentors initiative.

The Module Industrial Mentors (‘MIMs’) scheme was devised within the Faculty of Computing Engineering and the Built Environment at Birmingham City University where Roy Priest is a Programme Leader for two STEM courses: BSc Sound Engineering & Production and BSc Music Technology.

Data gathered from a range of case studies highlighted the importance of greater porosity between industry and academia and the MIMs initiative was borne out of trying to facilitate richer mutually beneficial ongoing relationships with a range of industrial partners.

Overall MIMs offers a bridge between academic study and its industrial context and as such has the potential to enhance student engagement.

Session 1.7: Student perceptions of embedded employability skills
Dr Sarah Gretton and Professor Derek Raine University of Leicester

The talk will discuss the variety of authentic or real world assessments through the Natural Sciences programme at the University of Leicester and how they are supported. We will present the results of an undergraduate pedagogic research project soliciting the views of our students and recent graduates on their professional development through the programme. We will report on the skills that undergraduate students rate as important and their perceived confidence in these skills. Interviews with graduates offer further insight into the competencies developed during the programme and how they relate to employment. We will also discuss how in some cases these graduate views contrast with those of the undergraduates.

Session 1.8: Enhancing psychological literacy through entrepreneurial learning
Ms Alecia Dunn and Dr Patrick Rosenkranz Newcastle University

Developing entrepreneurial skills can support students in enhancing their psychological literacy. We created a teaching and learning model called an ‘Enterprise Challenge’ in collaboration with a mental health charity and embedded this in an introductory psychology course. The challenge asks students to pitch an idea in support of the needs of a specific client group. In this paper we aim to present; the capacity of the Enterprise Challenge model to enhance psychological learning and employability the process of embedding this challenge within the curriculum its distinguishable innovative teaching and learning features and its benefits to students as learners and future graduates.

STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.1 Dr Dave Lewis
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.1 Dr Dave Lewis View Document
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.3 Dr Michael James Scott
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.3 Dr Michael James Scott View Document
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.4 Dr Crinela Pislaru
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.4 Dr Crinela Pislaru View Document
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.5 - Dr Rachel Stubbington
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.5 - Dr Rachel Stubbington View Document
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.6 Roy Priest
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.6 Roy Priest View Document
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.7 Dr Sarah Gretton and Professor Derek Raine
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.7 Dr Sarah Gretton and Professor Derek Raine View Document
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.8 Ms Alecia Dunn and Dr Patrick Rosenkranz
STEM Conference 2016: session one abstracts 1.8 Ms Alecia Dunn and Dr Patrick Rosenkranz View Document

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