Event History

How can we use games and play to encourage students to become active participants in creative learning?

Pen Holland and Katie Smith (workshop organisers)

The most important thing in developing life-long learners is not how they learn, but that they learn because they want to. This workshop discusses how we can harness the desire to play via games and gamification - the embedding of game mechanics or motivational techniques in a non-game environment - and use games as a platform on which to practice research skills, to offer students an opportunity to learn in an uninhibited, independent and personalised way without fear of failure. Delegates have the opportunity to play with some case study games and activities, primarily in the Biosciences but with general applications. The workshop finishes with audience discussion around the pros, cons and potential applications of this approach for students and educators in HE education.

Workshops on this topic have been now been presented to a variety of audience members via a HUBS workshop in July 2017 (for a workshop report, see below), at the 2018 University of York Learning and Teaching Conference and as part of the Forum lunchtime seminar series in October 2018. Details of the conference workshop and a Panopto recording of the presentation (University of York log-in required) can be found on the York Forum webpage. In addition

Transition to Higher Education

Thursday 28th June 2018

RSB Biosciences Learning and Teaching Workshop, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester

Set Chong and Pen Holland (speakers)

Ada Lovelace Day and Biology Week events

Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths which aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and create new role models for both girls and women studying or working in STEM. BTLE runs independently organised Ada Lovelace Day events each year as part of a global celebration of women in STEM, in early October. To find out more about other events around the world, and more about Ada Lovelace Day itself, please visit findingada.com or follow @findingada on Twitter.

Biology Week coincides with Ada Lovelace Day - this is an annual celebration of the amazing world of biosciences, for everyone from children to professional scientists. Visit the Royal Society of Biology Biology Week to find other events, or follow @RoyalSocBio on Twitter.

#ALD2017 #ALD2018 #BiologyWeek #bakeyourscience #BioBakes #craftyourscience #cakeandcraft #womeninSTEM

In 2017, like-minded individuals applied their STEM talents to the art of baking and crafts, brought science themed cupcakes and mathematical meringues to share, and spent an hour knitting a numbat, painting a peptostreptococcus, quilting a quaternary arch, or borrowing a crochet hook to start their own amigurumi STEM role model library or coral reef.

In 2018, people were invited to come to the Biology Pi Lab to try their hand at coding, crafting, or both, to use some of our electronic gadgets to light up LEDs in every colour under the sun, hook them up with conductive thread so that home-knitted socks twinkle as you walk, to express the Keeling Curve by the sample rate of your favourite sample in Sonic Pi, #tweetmytheremin to make beautiful (terrible) music, see how you could automate your houseplant watering, capture photos using a motion sensor, and more...

HUBS workshop: Learning through games and play

Wednesday 19th July 2017

Pen Holland and Katie Smith (workshop organisers)

Department of Biology, University of York

This workshop on learning through games and play was hosted by Dr Pen Holland and Dr Katie Smith at the University of York. Staff from York (Biology, Health Sciences and the Hull York Medical School) were joined by delegates from academia and scientific education travelling the length of the UK and from overseas.

The keynote speaker was Dr Louise Robinson from the University of Derby, who engaged the audience on the convergent evolution of games and education. She introduced ideas of flow (complete immersion) and gamification, and gave numerous examples of how to incorporate games and game mechanics into teaching in higher education, to change student behaviour and improve engagement and learning.

Micro sessions were led by Dr Pen Holland (York: using Lego to learn sampling and analysis for ecology), Dr John L. Morton (South Wales: using jigsaws to interest biology students in biochemistry), Sam Butcher (Labster: enhancing bioscience courses through gamified laboratory simulations), Dr Mel Lacey (Sheffield Hallam: gamification in the first year, and creating an app), and Dr Louise Robinson (Derby: Park Life, a board game for conservation). Although these represented a wide range of angles from which to approach games and play, a number of common topics became apparent. Key among these were the promotion of teamwork among students, improved attendance and engagement with the course, and the opportunity and freedom to fail safely.

Plenty of time was built into the schedule for conversation, and this was kick-started by a riotous game of delegate Top Trumps, using information about areas of bioscience interest, favourite games, etc. One way to get started with games in teaching is to use a game that you like and know well, and think about how it can be adapted to be a teaching tool. To this end, a range of card and board games were available for delegates to play with and talk about over lunch and coffee. The day finished with group discussions about the use of games for teaching and scholarship in the biosciences on an individual and an institutional level. The mix of listening and doing in an informal atmosphere made the day a great success, and everyone went home with new friends and new ideas.

Department of Biology Teaching and Learning Seminar Series

Thursday 5 July 2018, 11.00 AM

Professor Paul Wakeling, Department of Education, University of York

Survey Design in Higher Education

This talk will provide an overview of important considerations for those planning to undertake a social survey, with special emphasis on surveys of HE students. Among other things, this will include whether a survey is the best instrument for the research question at hand; sampling; question design; mode of administration; incentives; response rates and bias; reliability and validity. The aim will be to draw on survey methodology research, example surveys and first-hand practical experience.

Tuesday 11 September 2018, 12.00 noon

Dr. Maggy Fostier, Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences, at The University of Manchester.

PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) as a versatile and adaptable peer support scheme that helps 1st year students settle down at University

PASS is a peer support scheme whereby experienced higher year students (‘Leaders’) volunteer to support and facilitate the learning of 1st year students (‘participants’). During an hour long timetabled weekly session, participants are invited by their Leaders to discuss and solve as a group the academic problems which they have identified that week, thus promoting self-directed learning practices and helping them develop as independent learners.

In 2005, we launched PASS for our 480 Biosciences first year undergraduates in association with two of our most challenging lecture units with the aims to:

  • To provide participants with a supportive environment to assist the transition to HE.
  • To support participants with their understanding of course material.
  • To support participants with the development of their study skills.
  • To increase peer interaction and install a sense of community within our large cohorts.

The initiative was deemed a great success, so the following year, PASS became generic to the whole 1st year course (instead of being linked to a specific unit). Our mentoring and PASS schemes also merged and our Leaders are now present during Welcome Week activities too. PASS is now one of our main tool to assist transition to HE.

This presentation will introduce our peer support scheme and its benefits to our students established through a 5 year evaluation. It will also aim to demonstrate what happens in a typical PASS session.