Radiotherapy student researcher Katie Winfield observation cycle 1 reflection

As part of my role as a student researcher for the learning and teaching project, I observed the teaching, lecturers and student response in two of my lectures. The first lecture was an anatomy recap and practical activities based on what we learnt in the previous lecture. The second lecture was a ‘hands on’ session on the Virtual Environment Radiotherapy Treatment (VERT) computer where we were working on our personal presentations for our end of module assessment. I observed 40 minutes of the anatomy lecture and 20 minutes of the VERT session whilst my partnered student researcher observed the other half of the lectures to ensure we did not jeopardise our own learning.

Prior to my observation of these lecturers; myself, my fellow student research and my two lecturers had a meeting where we discussed the aims of the lecturers and to receive an insight to reasons why certain techniques are implemented. Both lecturers’ main intentions in their lectures are to link the information provided with clinical practise in order to contextualise our knowledge and to prepare us for clinical placements. The majority of our Radiotherapy University course is spent on clinical placement meaning it is just as important as academic exams; my lecturers made it clear that they do not teach with the objective to get us as students to pass our exams.

The anatomy lecture was a very relaxed, relatively informal few hours which worked positively as students became more engaged and were full of laughter; this builds a more personal relationship with the lecturer and is more enjoyable for all. We were split into groups of approximately 4 people per table, with a different task at each table; these tasks include a wide variety of practical or theory based activities, using print-outs, models, laptops or scales. By using these props, students maintained stimulated and it also accommodated to different students strengths giving students the opportunity to learn from each other on things they’re not as confident in. The small groups per task also encourages course mates to talk to those who they wouldn’t normally talk to, and increases confidence levels as they’re not having to share their knowledge or ask questions in front of a whole class. Teamwork is also a principle factor in the radiotherapy profession, so mixing between ourselves and bouncing off of one another’s abilities is teaching us some people skills that we also need to enhance in clinical practise. The lecturer was extremely consistent in circling around each group to encourage, challenge and check everyone understands the task. Any queries were answered in depth and made very question seem important. The lecturer would try to judge the responses of the students and would sometimes sit down and go through the tasks in more depth at a slow pace to ensure they understand the tasks; this also showed the knowledge the lecturer has which further enhances the trust from the students to listen to what they’re saying. The tasks were all relevant to the previous lecture, and extremely relevant to our clinical practise; for example one task was to identify the organs or structures on a CT scan slideshow on the laptops which we are expected to be capable of doing in clinical practise every day. Therefore in terms of the content of the lecture, the lecturer was successful in aligning our knowledge to clinical practise.

The VERT session was extremely interesting to observe as it is a very non-traditional lecture. We were in groups of 4 which we were able to book on the Moodle website to allocate our own timed sessions and also who we will be in the sessions with. This worked extremely well as we were able to tactically choose who we want to work with based on who we would be comfortable with, who’s strengths we may learn off of and also see each other’s ideas that makes us think outside the box to make our presentations more interesting. Within the hour session we had 15 minutes each to work independently but voice our ideas if we wished to, due to the presentation being part of our final module assessment the lecturer was not able to share knowledge based on content, however he was extremely insightful on how to make the most of the VERT technology. The lecturer would also challenge students to make hints and guide as much as he could; for example by asking what we see while on our clinical placements and to bring that routine and knowledge in to our academic studies as part of our presentation. The lecturer also gave hand-outs of a breakdown of the marking criteria providing further support on what sort of things we should be including in our presentation but also what we should be thinking about when planning a treatment which we will be required to do in our profession. Some students were clearly more confident in their ideas and contextualising their knowledge, however those who were not so confident the lecturer could recognise and would accommodate for this by working at a slower pace and breaking down ideas into ‘bite-sized’ pieces. Again, the session as a whole was very relaxed and informal with jokes and laughter throughout, relieving stress of the upcoming assessment but had a good balance of the importance of the work.

The student observer process so far has been extremely insightful and made me think in more depth why lecturers do things in the techniques they do. It has made me understand that one technique is not suitable for all aspects of my course; for example being taught anatomy purely through powerpoints and books would be extremely difficult to absorb and would not put the knowledge in to context however the human models and practical tasks gave a more natural way of learning. Observing my peers has also made me appreciate the different ways students learn and how group work can benefit education in the sense that a student may understand a task better if a peer explains it to them rather than a lecturer. I am looking forward to see how the second academic year differs in the way lecturers may present a lecture or how students may obtain information; I believe dynamics may change due to second year being more in depth and a step-up from the first academic year as we are now in full swing of university.

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Child Nursing staff: Ilana Pressick

Ilana Pressick Profile PhotoAs a Teaching Fellow within the Department for Children and Young People’s Health, I am passionate about the student learning experience.  I feel privileged to have joined this amazing team at Birmingham City University in 2016.  Working at BCU feels like ‘coming home’ due to the fact that I graduated here in 2009.   Having worked in different intensive care settings over the years has resulted in me being a competent nurse, able to plan and prioritise care and demonstrate advanced clinical skills.  Since qualifying I have never stopped learning.  I have done numerous post graduate courses ranging from the SLAIP course, to the Neonatal Intensive Course and most recently the Post-Graduate Certification in Higher Education.

Historically as a student I was that student, the one whom fell asleep in the back of the classroom.  I would attend a session or two and if I found the lecturer indifferent, reading from the PowerPoint and not inspiring me I would resort to auto-didacticism.  The traditional model of teaching whereby the teacher deposits knowledge into the minds of students was not a model I ever aspired to.  My inspiration is a result of those lecturers who spoke to me and not at me, the ones who adopted a student-centred approach.  Their sessions did not solely rely on PowerPoint but they took an alternative approach, challenging me and engaging me, coaching me through my higher education.

I believe in a teaching approach that turns students into active participants rather than passive listeners.  I favour certain pedagogical philosophies but I think as educators we switch between philosophies in order to deliver the required educational session depending on the student dynamics and needs.  I strive to ensure that students feel in control of their learning and confident within my classroom.  I seize every opportunity to add variety to teaching and learning methods and I am not affair to try new things.  After all life is about taking chances, trying new things, having fun, making mistakes and learning from them.  It is a privilege to be with students as they begin their journey to join our challenging, exciting and varied nursing profession.

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Early Childhood Studies student researcher: Roxana Anton

Roxana Anton Profile PhotoBeing a learner was for me a life style since I have actually started to learn. I have always considered myself more like an individual learner, I have always enjoyed learning on my own due to the fact that I was the only child and I have focused my attention on my education by my own. During my time in primary school I have learned to be responsible and independent due to the fact that I was doing my homework alone. This skills have strengthen during secondary school and high-school where I have asked for help only when I felt I could not do it alone.

Day by day I have realised that you learn from every experience you are put through. For instance, you learn without realising when you are reading a book, and there were many times that I have learned life concepts from books.

My actual academic learning journey has started when I have decided to do my studies in England, that was the moment I had realised my English will improve and my communication skills need to be developed in order to be used effectively in the future. Past experiences such as being volunteer in a children centre in Romania has improved my skills in working with children and in communicating effectively with them. But it was more than that that needed improvements, it was my confidence in communicating in another language than Romanian. In order to achieve that kind of performance I had to form relationships with my peers, the kind of relationships that strengthen trust and self-confidence. During university until now I created a strong idea about the fact that I am an independent learner. I like to do my work alone, to read alone. But the truth is that sometimes I feel the need of having a company.

Roxana Anton - 'Building an independent learner'

Roxana Anton – ‘Building an independent learner’

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Early Childhood Studies student researcher: Burhana Khanum

Seeking knowledge and learning was always a key aspect in my life. It will always remain this way, because one can never have enough knowledge. Whether it is learning a basic skill or even working towards a degree level, education and learning is taking place at all times. This is something which I find exciting because it keeps me thinking and makes me realise the power of education and the huge potentials one can reach from it. For me, learning is something which is very valuable because it unlocks doors and inspires individuals to try new things and do what they enjoy most.

It is immensely overwhelming looking back from the level I have reached so far, in my education and I will always be grateful for this opportunity. I will continue to work hard. However, to get to this stage I have been through good and bad experiences, both from which I have learnt from. These experiences are always reflected upon, as sometimes it is necessary to think about in order for me to make certain decisions today. Throughout this journey my family played a significant role in helping me get to this point in life.

My family members have always shown love and supported every choice I made, which motivated me to reach my goals and aspirations even more. Whether it was stressful or frightening my family always gave advices, taking my interests into consideration at all times. During college I found it very hard and stressful to choose a subject to study at university. My family visited open days with me and showed a lot of support which made me confident and reassured me with the decisions I made. I chose the subject in confidence and now I am very glad and thankful. One key aspect which stands out was the amount of love which was visible from my parents, it was astonishing. It is something which has grown within me making me more appreciative towards education, learning and people. Love is essential in every individual’s life because it opens minds and more can be achieved. This shows that learning does not always have to start off with academic education. It can be simple, essential skills and characteristics within a household/family.

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Primary Education student researcher: Emily Gay

Emily Gay what learning means to me

Image 1: What learning means to me

The diagram above illustrates my continuing passion to succeed and the influence education has had at various stages of my life.

During my childhood, my learning experience was nothing but positive and I can honestly say I enjoyed school. My happiness at school led me to enjoying learning new skills and knowledge, and sparked a great interest into teaching being a potential career path. Ever since then, I have strived to maximise my learning in order to achieve the best possible results.

Education has also helped shape the person I am today. For example, school council taught me how to handle responsibilities, how to communicate effectively to have your opinions heard and most importantly, how everyone can make a difference.

Overall, education has played a key role in my life and will continue to do so as I believe life is a constant learning environment. Hence, I joined this project team to proudly be involved in research that will teach me and hopefully others more about the field of education.

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Radiotherapy student researcher: Katie Winfield

I am a first year Radiotherapy student at Birmingham City University. I always knew I wanted to study health care of some kind, so when it came to looking for university courses, Radiotherapy really stood out to me. Building a relationship with patients, working in a team and making a difference to people’s lives are the main points that stood out to me, as well as learning the technicality of modern machinery and the continuous learning nature of the career. I like to challenge myself and throw myself in the deep end.

Before I started university in September, I took a gap year and went to Australia on my own. Besides the gorgeous weather, beautiful country and great opportunity, the purpose of this was to make myself more independent and build up my confidence. My uncle lives in Australia so I had him as a secure base, however I met a few people and we built up a good relationship so we went travelling together. Being away from my family and friends for so long was the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced but I would do it all over again if I could as it grew me as a person.

I love to play sports such as netball and football. In 2009 I went to Spain with my school netball team as we were entered into an international netball tournament. I also used to watch my two brothers play football and rugby every weekend when I was younger which I loved. I am very much a team player and love to be active. My friends and I are very social; we are always looking for things to do together whether it is going to concerts, festivals, holidays or just out for dinner.

Taking part in the student researcher learning project is really interesting for me. It is making me thoroughly reflect on my course and the way I am learning as well as observe and reflect on the way the course is delivered. I am acquiring new skills to be more open minded and look at situations through different ‘lenses’ which I believe will extend in to my day to day life and career. Being able to work alongside my lecturers is beneficial to build a better relationship with them and to gain a full understanding of the preparation and aims of their teaching.

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Radiography staff: Mark Holland

Mark Holland Profile PhotoMark Holland. MEd PgDip (Radiotherapy) Diploma of the College of Radiographers (Therapeutic Radiography) FHEA

Mark Holland is a Senior Lecturer and Radiotherapy Clinical Placement Co-ordinator within the Department of Radiography at Birmingham City University, in addition to being the personal tutor to students placed within the Radiotherapy Department at Gloucester Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Mark has worked in radiography education for eighteen years, teaching primarily on the undergraduate programmes in radiography and other health professions, as well as delivering radiography focussed content on some FE science programmes.

Mark specialises in workshop based theoretical delivery, utilising the University’s dedicated clinical skills rooms including the Virtual Environment for Radiotherapy Training (VERT), and the radiotherapy planning suite. Mark’s focus is very much on creating a seamless fusion between the academic and clinical content inherent within the radiotherapy programme, encouraging students to draw upon their own clinical placement experiences to underpin and embellish their academic work.

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Radiography staff: Nick White

Nick White profile photoNick White.  MSc BSc (Hons) BA SFHEA

Nick White is a Senior Lecturer within the Department of Radiography at Birmingham City University and also a clinical tutor within the Radiotherapy Department at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.  Nick has worked in radiography education for 17 years, teaching on undergraduate and postgraduate courses in radiography and the health professions.  He is an experienced lecturer in advanced practice and leadership and is module leader for post-registration radiographers studying leadership within programmes which support development as advanced and consultant practitioners.  He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, this award being received in recognition of his innovative approach to healthcare education, including use of skills simulation and involvement of students as academic partners. Nick is also an experienced course assessor for the College of Radiographers. Nick’s current research includes the development and delivery of approaches to the teaching of palliative and end of life care within healthcare programmes, and how this is implemented within clinical practice.

Nick’s teaching and learning expertise and interests align with his aim to prepare healthcare students with an aim to make them ‘practice competent and practice ready’. In particular Nick’s teaching aims to better align core academic knowledge and understanding with the real world of radiotherapy practice- this is done by using real world examples of patient care and treatment delivery, whilst deploying active learning through activities that include practical workshops and virtual simulation technologies.

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