New software to help students with referencing

Over the summer, the Learning & Teaching Librarians reviewed the referencing software available at UCA. We are pleased to announce that we are now able to support students and staff to use Paperpile and Zotero. Both feature an up to date version of our UCA Harvard citation style, so will produce bibliographies and citations that conform to our referencing guide.


Paperpile is easy to use and web based. It works on any computer that has the Chrome browser installed. It integrates with Google products, the Cite as you write functionality works with Google Docs and the articles you find and save will be stored in Google Docs.


Zotero is an open source program that uses a piece of software to communicate with your Internet browser. The software is compatible with Macs or PCs and works with most browsers. It is useful for those who are generally working on their own laptop or computer. You can install it yourself on a UCA staff PC using the Software Center or if you have the latest Mac image using the self-service area, it has been added to the student Mac and PC image. The Cite as you write functionality works with Microsoft Word.

For further information about Paperpile and Zotero, including information and videos on how to use the software visit the UCA Referencing Software webpages.

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Keep your students active


Photo courtesy of Julochka on Flickr

We are fortunate in art and design. The nature of teaching and learning in the creative arts lends itself to active learning, in which students have the opportunity to participate actively in the classroom. While we do give the odd lecture, this tends to be only one of a range of teaching and learning approaches at our disposal.

But As Dr. Adam Longcroft points out in this SEDA blog post, it’s all too easy to retreat to the safety of the lecture. In particular, he argues, when we are pushed for time sometimes the least challenging option is to just lecture at our students.

But by focusing on active learning strategies, rather than active teaching strategies, our students will have a better learning experience. By focusing on what and how students want to learn, rather than on what we want to teach, our role shifts from teacher to facilitator and we enable students to become active participants in their learning.

Read the full article on the SEDA blog. And you might also like the following:

Sharon Cox’s HEA guide to Active Learning

Posted in Action Learning, Student Centred Learning | Leave a comment

Undergraduate Retention and Engagement at UCA: The First Year Experience

This learning and teaching research project was initiated earlier this year with the aim of looking at the ways in which the institutional characteristics and disciplinary cultures within UCA affect retention and engagement among first year undergraduates

The research, now in its last stage, has been extended in order to ensure that the most apposite information can be gathered regarding the cohort of students who have just enrolled on their second year of undergraduate study. 
This is part of the third phase of the research; a close study of four BA(Hons) courses across UCA, which focuses on gathering narratives that can be set against the more widely available background of metrics. This phase of the research has already yielded some valuable insights from the four Course Leaders who have generously contributed to the research, and this final component will add to that rich mix of insights. Continue reading

Posted in First Year Experience, Retention | 1 Comment

HEA successes for UCA staff


As some of you may be aware, UCA has its own HEA-accredited Professional Recognition scheme.  This enables UCA staff to achieve professional recognition either through an academic route of study via the PGCert or MA Creative Arts Education courses, or by attending one of our dedicated units for professional recognition covering Descriptors 1-3 of the UKPSF.  We are pleased that interest has grown in the scheme, from 32 successful applications in our first year, to 56 in the second year.  Here is a list of the staff who achieved HEA recognition this year…if this is something you have been thinking about, why not get in contact with them to read about their experiences, or read this post on their experiences: Continue reading

Posted in Art & Design Education, Creative Education, HEA Fellowship, Professional Development | 2 Comments

Day in the life of…Learning Support Co-ordinator

It’s a chilly but bright Friday morning in October. Since starting our newly-created roles as ‘Learning Support Coordinators’ here at Farnham, my small team and I have been busy getting our teeth stuck into all manner of projects with our central (and sometimes daunting) aim being to promote and increase inclusive practices at UCA.

In the light of recent DSA changes, it would seem that a cultural shift is occurring in Learning Support. As a result of government cuts to funding we are moving from the traditional ‘deficit model’ of support which involved much one-to-one in-class support, to a new way of supporting students which we hope, ultimately, will improve the experience of teaching and learning for ALL students. How? By embedding good inclusive practices more firmly into our learning environments.

However, it’s early days! Our initial research has covered areas such as peer-buddy/mentoring schemes, improving mental health resources, support for new students during transition periods and much more, which has included looking at successful schemes running in other universities. Continue reading

Posted in Creative Education, How Students Learn, Learning Support | 3 Comments

BME students’ experiences of UCA teaching and learning

A Learning and Teaching project, which engaged student co-researchers in capturing student experience for BME students across campuses, has recently produced its findings and recommendations. These are to be considered over the coming months with a view to developing inclusive practices in this area. Please click here for the Full Report

The study has found that on the whole BME UCA students are positive about the way they experience the institution from the perspective of their ethnicity. One key theme to emerge from the data was that participants considered the institution to be welcoming and non-racist, and noted the emergence of an increasingly ethnically diverse student body.

However, the findings also demonstrate that the institution is not immune from the interplay of a range of macro, meso and micro level factors that can often position BME students as outsiders in Art and Design Higher Education. It is clear that any attempt to address the issues at the level of learning and teaching needs to take account of this complex interplay. Continue reading

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Some UCA experiences of HEA recognition

 I was surprised at how much achievement I felt on gaining my qualification!

It was a challenging journey which opened my eyes to a more reflective practice and allowed me to meet staff from different campuses and roles. I gained the opportunity to develop new ideas to move my practice forward by working towards  the UKSPF.

Yes, it was hard work but the experience really made me look closely at what I do and question my practice. I was able to identify and modify some of the bad habits I had slipped into without realising, and improve other parts of my delivery. It also reinvigorated my attitude to teaching in general through being able to discuss common problems and share good practice across disciplines and campuses because we all had a common agenda.

The supported portfolio route was a really good way to undertake this qualification. It helped to unpick and clarify the approaches and requirements I needed to consider; and build a portfolio of evidence I would not have otherwise included. Annamarie was invaluable with her knowledge and in structuring the sessions to do this; and the timing was really helpful with her introductory sessions early in the year and a focussed look at the actual building of the portfolio in the early summer (although I did not make as much use of the early time as I had intended at the beginning). 

I have already been polishing the skills in my teaching practice and intend to continue to develop.

Continue reading

Posted in Art & Design Education, Creative Education, HEA Fellowship, Professional Development | 1 Comment