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Strategic Alignment of Teaching and Learning Enhancement Funding in Higher Education 2019 Initiative

Developing Disciplinary Excellence in Learning, Teaching and Assessment


The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (National Forum) published a Call for Proposals on the ‘Strategic Alignment of Teaching and Learning Enhancement Funding in Higher Education 2019 – Developing Disciplinary Excellence in Learning, Teaching and Assessment’ in June 2019.  The Call invited Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to apply for funding to address the four key strategic priorities of the National Forum:

  • The Professional Development of All Those Who Teach
  • Teaching and Learning in a Digital World
  • Teaching and Learning Enhancement Within and Across Disciplines
  • Student Success

HEIs were invited to submit proposals under four initiative types as follows:

Teaching and Learning (T&L) Initiative Type 001/19
Focus on supporting and highlighting the value of teaching and learning enhancement within Higher Education Institutions’.

T&L Initiative Type 002/19
‘Focus on Teaching and Learning Enhancement within Disciplines’.

T&L Initiative Type 003/19
‘Focus on Teaching and Learning Enhancements across Disciplines’.

T&L Initiative Type 004/19
‘Focus on Teaching and Learning Enhancement in Collaboration with Professional Bodies and/or Industry Partners’.

For further information please see National Forum Strategic Alignment of Teaching and Learning Enhancement Funding in Higher Education 2019

Trinity is delighted that its application for funding, consisting of two Learning Enhancement Projects (LEPs) under Initiative Type 001, one proposal for Initiative Type 002, three proposals for Initiative Type 003, and one proposal for Initiative Type 004, was successful. 

Trinity is pleased to present a brief description of each proposal below.

Initiative Type 001/19
Focus on Supporting and Highlighting the Value of Teaching and Learning Enhancement within Higher Education Institutions

Enhancing Teaching and Learning at Trinity College Dublin: Students as Partners

Presented by Dr Kevin Mitchell
Dean of Undergraduate Studies

Development of a Consensus Framework for Professional Identity Formation in Healthcare Programmes: Encouraging  Partnership, Reflection and Resilience
Prof. Aileen Patterson, School of Medicine.

Project Description

This project aims to support student transitions in healthcare programmes by establishing a faculty and student engagement initiative to create a consensus framework for the professional formation of healthcare students. The initiative will also inform curricular developments in relevant degree programmes.

Transformation from a layperson into a healthcare professional is a complex process of learning how to practice and “becoming” a professional. Patterning behaviour on respected role models is no longer considered sufficient to support this reconstruction of oneself. Healthcare students can experience challenges such as problems of transfer, uncertainty, preparedness, role identification and stress.

As current research recommends considering transitions from social and developmental perspectives with a focus on building relationships, fostering transferable learning strategies and reflection to support personal and professional development, this project will involve a series of Think Tanks.  The Think Tanks will involve educational and clinical leads, and students as partners in developing a consensus framework on professional identity formation.  The initiative will be supported by international and national experts, through a series of masterclasses for faculty to facilitate production of the framework.

Embedding Group Work and Innovative Assessment in the Private Law Curriculum
Prof. Sarah Hamill, School of Law

Project Description

This project is about embedding group work and innovative assessment into the Private Law Curriculum.  The ability to work in a group is vitally important in terms of future career success and yet, when students arrive at Trinity, they are often less comfortable with group work.  After all, much of their experience and success thus far has been very individual.  The module Private Law Remedies aims to address this issue and convince students that group work is mutually beneficial and that their combined efforts are better than what they could achieve alone.  To this end, and with the help of funding from the National Forum, we are revamping how we deliver our lectures and assess our students to put group-work at the heart of the module.  

From the very first week of the module, students will be placed in groups of four to five students. As the module progresses, students will advance from an individual essay, to a mock appellate trial submission (known as a moot) prepared in pairs, to a group dissenting judgement written in their group of four.  In this way our students will advance from workshopping their individual essays in their groups, to working in pairs, and then writing an essay as a group. Not only do these forms of assessment rely on group work, they also offer experiential learning opportunities for students.  The moot allows students to experience what being a practicing barrister would be like; while the group dissenting judgement requires students to think (and write!) like judges.  

Throughout the module one of the three hours of lectures a week will be devoted to working in their groups and dealing with assigned group tasks.  This way students will have the chance to experience a gradual ratcheting up of the group-work aspects in a supported environment, and we, as lecturers with the help of additional teaching support, will be able to address any issues as they arise.  As such, the students’ experiences of group work should be more positive and, after completing the module, students will have a deeper understanding of how they work in groups and how to manage group work.  

Initiative Type 002/19
Focus on Teaching and Learning Enhancement within Disciplines

BioLabPrep: Maximising Learning in the Laboratory Environment

Prof. Áine Kelly
School of Medicine

Project Description

BioLabPrep is a teaching and learning initiative that will allow students to maximise the learning opportunities afforded by time spent in Biology laboratory classes by helping them to be fully prepared for each class.
Laboratory-based practicals are a cornerstone of high-quality teaching and learning in science. Students cannot develop a full understanding of scientific concepts without insights developed over time spent performing supervised experimental work, which requires significant investment of time from educators and students. Maximising the effectiveness of laboratory time results in better outcomes for students through increasing student engagement and promoting deeper learning.

This project will employ digital technologies to develop a suite of web-based interactive resources to support laboratory teaching and learning including:

  1. videos demonstrating key concepts and techniques for pre-practical preparation;
  2. electronic glossaries of terms/definitions
  3. multiple choice assessment banks for pre-practical assessments that include feedback to students.

Students will work through directed exercises relating to that week’s practical in advance of each class and take an online pre-practical test that will contribute to in-course summative assessment and ensure that students engage with pre-practical preparation.
At the end of this project a full portfolio of pre-practical videos and other online materials to complement each class will be available, along with a bank of MCQs that support formative and summative assessment, and which can be used to test engagement with the online resources. We expect this initiative to benefit all students, but especially students who require additional supports. For these students, having access to a step-by-step visual representation of what they will be doing during the class, that they can view as many times as they like in advance of the class, will reduce the stress and anxiety associated with the laboratory environment.

Initiative Type 003/19
Focus on Teaching and Learning Enhancements across Disciplines

Empowering Student Learning: Using comparison and feedback as drivers of self-directed learning

Prof. Mairead Brady and Prof. Martin Fellenz
Trinity Business School

Project Description

This project applies a comparison-based approach to feedback generation and use, which is transformative in nature and of immense value to student learning and teaching practice. It recognises the student’s role as a partner in assessment practices, and invites them to take more control of their own learning. The project casts the student as a central player in their own self-regulated learning and facilitates them in generating and using feedback. This approach is based on comparison processes of students’ current work products such as written drafts, presentations, or other deliverables, and that of peers and/or lecturer generated comparison products.

Traditionally, input from lecturers has been privileged as the most important form of feedback for student learning.  Considerable work has also investigated peer-generated input as a useful addition or as an alternative to lecturer feedback.  In contrast this project focuses on designing comparison processes that increase and enhance the generation of inner feedback, especially from sources other than the lecturer. Applying cutting edge research from world-wide experts such as Prof. David Nicol the instructional design focuses on comparison processes used in a reflective manner to help students’ self-generate formative feedback in a way that places students at the heart of the central learning process. 

Project Deliverables

A Guide to Deploying Comparison Activities to Support Student Learning (PDF)

Deploying Comparison Based Activities to Support Student Self-Directed Learning Website

Feedback is a critical area in higher education and we recognise that resource constraints and other issues often limit our ability as educators to increase feedback quality, quantity and adequacy to the level we would like to achieve. Within this website we provide some background on feedback and comparison and describe approaches for deploying comparison to support student learning. We showcase how to operationalise the deployment of comparison within a number of practice cases in different disciplines and across a range HE settings to both share experiences from both educators and students and to also provide some best practice examples.

This website provides an introduction to and directions for how to implement and use comparison activities to support student learning through the various pages and a downloaded guide for how to implement this teaching innovation. It reflects the understanding of learning in higher education(HE) as a process in which learners play a central and active role in self-regulating and self-directing their own learning. These comparison techniques, designed by educators are focused on encouraging students to recognise and embrace their agency for learning and provides new and innovative ways for them to actively recast themselves as the provider of much of their own learning.


Structured PhD Module in Research Integrity and Impact in an Open Scholarship Era

Prof. Martine Smith and Niamh Brennan

Project Description

Based upon feedback from Trinity schools and students, ‘Research Integrity and Impact in an Open Scholarship Era’ – an existing a module for incoming doctoral students – will be redesigned from a pedagogical perspective and rebuilt from the ground up, making it applicable across multiple disciplines and contexts. In partnership with students and faculty stakeholders, the new mandatory, wholly-online, 5 ECTS module will be contextually embedded while maximising the value of shared disciplinary good practice. Enhanced with relevant content and inclusive, interactive assessment practices, the module will be designed to radically transform the student user experience. It will be designed at a granular level to facilitate its disciplinary relevance and applicability across Trinity’s Structured PhD Programme – and beyond.

Led by the Dean of Graduate Studies, Professor Martine Smith, and supported by a project board consisting of the Associate Dean of Research, Professor Lorraine Leeson, the President of the Graduate Students Union, Gisèle Scanlon, and the current Course Coordinator and Programme Manager for Research Informatics, Niamh Brennan, this initiative reflects Trinity’s commitment to a fundamental renewal of its postgraduate education. It will strengthen the research-teaching/learning connection and lies at the heart of Trinity’s Research Excellence Strategy and Research Charter. ‘Education and skills’, one of the European Commission’s Eight Pillars of Open Science, is embedded in the League of European Research Universities’ (LERU) ‘Open Science and its Role for Universities Roadmap’ (2018), to which Trinity is committed. Beyond the practical benefits to doctoral candidates that this module will provide, it will, in both substantive and symbolic ways, reinforce Trinity's commitment to postgraduate programme renewal. This ground-breaking teaching and learning initiative will become an embodiment of our commitment to the very best practices in research and scholarship.

Project Deliverables

Research Integrity and Impact in an Open Scholarship Era Module Resources (TARA)


Students as Partners in Assessment: Gateway to Digital Assessment in Trinity

Dr Ciara O Farrell
Academic Practice

Project Description

Digital assessment is assessment made possible through digital technologies (JISC 2010). It requires students to apply different skills than they would in traditional assessments and can lead assessors to rethink how and why they assess. Gateway to Digital Assessment supports digital learning at Trinity by enabling the development of a shared understanding of digital assessment between staff and students.

Aligning with the Trinity Strategic Plan 2020-25: Community and Connection which commits to ‘next-generation teaching and learning practices’ (3.8) and a students as ‘partners in learning’ approach (3.3) , key project outputs include a suite of research-informed programmes, both for-credit and self-directed, and an online multimedia resource hub for staff and students, designed with students. The Gateway to Assessment hub also enables the growth and open dissemination of the project outputs beyond the project’s lifecycle and, we hope, beyond Trinity.

Project Deliverables

Gateway to Digital Assessment Website


Initiative Type 004/19
Focus on Teaching and Learning Enhancement in Collaboration with Professional Bodies and/or Industry Partners

Development of a Blended Learning Careers and Employability (10 ECTS) Module for PhD Students Delivered in Partnership with Industry

Orla Bannon and Fiona Hayes
Careers Service

Project Description

Recent student surveys, such as the Irish Survey of Student Engagement of postgraduate research students and the International Student Barometer, show a clear demand from research students for careers and employability initiatives.  The project, in responding to the findings of these surveys, will develop a blended learning 10 ECTS module on Careers and Employability for PhD students.  The module may be delivered as part of a structured PhD programme or for continuing professional development purposes and is expected to help students become more workplace ready. It will harness the potential of digital technologies for online learning, will be designed and delivered in collaboration with industry partners from a range of relevant sectors, and will provide opportunities for work-based learning experiences (e.g. internships, work-based projects, industry-led skills workshops and networking). The module will support PhD students with career planning, critical reflection and decision making, including the development of an online skills audit tool for use by PhD students.

Trinity is committed to strengthening the employability and transferable skills of our PhD students giving them the opportunity to take responsibility for their own careers. This module will prepare PhD graduates to go on and build careers in academia and/or industry and to support Ireland’s economic growth having an impact at societal level.

Project Deliverables

Open-Access Resources (PDF)

This new interdisciplinary 10 ECTS module for PhD students responds to an identified need for careers and employability support and was developed with industry partners. It supports PhD students with career planning, critical reflection and decision-making, enabling them to establish networks and build readiness for future careers in academia and/or industry. The module is in three streams (Careers, Skills and Work-based Learning) and features many innovative aspects:

  • a blended learning design and 5 ECTS module option to give a flexible learning experience
  • 5 interactive online sessions which build student employability skills
  • 4 face-to-face sessions to enhance collaboration and engagement
  • An online Skills Audit which helps students to critically reflect on, develop and articulate the skillset developed during their PhD and an Interview Practice Exercise to apply their interview skills to a role-play scenario
  • a work-based learning experience that creates real value for industry partners and offers students valuable learning experiences that are not readily available elsewhere

A range of supporting activities enhance the student experience by encouraging shared and self-directed learning: online journaling and discussion boards; podcasts; videos; skills webinars and industry events. A new Industry Mentoring Programme (IMPART) was also designed to complement the module.