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Strategic Alignment of Teaching and Learning Enhancement Funding in Higher Education 2020 Initiative

Transforming Teaching and Learning for Student Success


Trinity has received Strategic Alignment of Teaching and Learning Enhancement (SATLE) Funding 2020 to support the strategic focus of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (National Forum) of “Transforming Teaching and Learning for Student Success” and to support Trinity’s strategic focus on teaching and learning.

Proposals were invited for funding for projects that support the enhancement of Digital Teaching and Learning at Trinity College Dublin.

Proposals were required to focus on (i) "Transforming Teaching and Learning for Student Success" especially through the shift to “online/remote learning” under the following headings:

  1. Enabling Policies and Practices
  2. Engagement and Student Partnership
  3. Professional Development of those who Teach
  4. Evidence-based Decision-Making
  5. Supporting Transitions and Cultivating Belonging
  6. Assessment and Feedback


(ii) Trinity’s Strategic Plan 2020-25: Goal 3: “Practice Next Generation Teaching and Learning for Student Success”: specifically:

    a. Academic continuing professional development: pedagogy and digital skills investing to provide staff with the right skills and capabilities, and supporting staff to develop digital learning experiences and promoting their ideas and innovations across the College

    b. Create opportunities for digital pedagogy innovation at school/discipline level (Digital Advocates: seed funding for research/application of innovative practices) and incentive academic staff to reflect on their teaching practice

    c. Invest in research and evaluation to develop new evidence-based pedagogical insights and digital technologies to transform how we will communicate and transmit information

    d. Initiatives to support the learning development of students to become independent digital learners and to engage students as partners in digital development

Following a review by an internal selection panel, seven proposals were selected for funding. 
Trinity is pleased to present a brief description of each proposal below.


Digital by Design: Building Capacity for Digital Education

Dr Pauline Rooney
Academic Practice
Trinity Teaching and Learning

Trinity’s Strategic Plan 2020-25: Community and Connection focuses on embedding ‘next-generation teaching and learning practices’ by committing to, among other priorities, the implementation of a ‘full spectrum digital learning strategy by 2022’ (3.8). Digital by Design supports the mainstreaming of evidence-based digital education practices, where digital teaching, learning an assessment (TLA) activities are purposefully designed and underpinned by robust pedagogical principles.

Digital by Design recognizes the need to move beyond generic competences in digital education to enhance pedagogical capacities of third level educators tasked with teaching in a digital world. It considers the needs of differentiated disciplinary contexts, responding to sectoral strategic priorities around capacity planning for digital education, as defined in the EU ‘Digital Action Plan 2021-27' which states that teachers ‘should have access to ongoing opportunities for professional learning and development tailored to their needs and their discipline’ (p.7).

Recognising the relationship between teaching and student success this project commits to:

  1. A systematic institutional mapping of digital education practices and international benchmarking to establish digital pedagogic requirements across the disciplines at Trinity.
  2. A comprehensive, evidence-based professional development framework for digital education that addresses differentiated disciplinary requirements and provides guidance to support digital TLA at Trinity.
  3. Two online modules/microcredentials targeted at teaching staff and Graduate Teaching Assistants, focusing on enhancing core pedagogic competences in digital TLA.

The project is led by Academic Practice in partnership with student interns and research assistants, thus strengthening Trinity’s commitment to a partners-in-learning approach identified in the Trinity Strategic Plan 2020-25.


Enhancing Resilience in Undergraduate Dental Training

Sviatlana Anishchuk and Yvonne Howell
School of Dental Science

Resilience is complex and multifaceted, involving numerous domains. It is an important competence for dental health professionals, as their professions are highly demanding and can lead to exhaustion and burnout. Burnout can limit effectiveness by reducing caring interactions and increasing medical errors. These significant challenges cause concerns over the mental and general health issues experienced by professionals.

The rationale for this initiative is to enhance emotional resilience in the educational curriculum to prepare all dental cohorts - Dental Science, Dental Hygiene, Dental Technology, Dental Nursing and Orthodontic Therapy students for the transition to the workplace.

The project addresses the educational objectives set out by the National Oral Health Policy (NOHP) Smile agus Sláinte to reform dental education training and Goals 2 and 3 of the Trinity Strategic plan (2020-2025) ‘We will support a transformative student experience’ and ‘Practice next generation teaching and learning’.

The core module will be developed as an online module through digital learning and will be aligned with the clinical practice modules across all dental undergraduate curriculums. The module will consist of five ECTS comprising of six stand-alone units. Each unit will be supported by online discussion and experiential learning through case studies, reflective writing, rubric peer assessment, quizzes, and self-evaluation. The module will utilize an online discussion forum where students can further reflect on the module content, recommended readings and engage with peers. It will embrace reflective and resilience practices to ensure that final year students are ready for the transition from student to dental professionals.


Enhancing Blended Learning in Anatomy Education

Dr Denis Barry
Discipline of Anatomy
School of Medicine

This initiative addresses Goal 3 of the Trinity Strategic Plan, 2020-25 ‘practicing next generation teaching and learning’. It aims to enhance the Department of Anatomy’s blended offerings through the digitisation of historic and radiographic teaching resources. These will complement existing teaching practices, including cadaveric practical labs and didactic lectures. The following content will be digitised to promote engaging and interactive student learning experiences.

  • Historical gross anatomy teaching materials, including preserved cadaveric specimen, posters, bones and models originally prepared and labelled by anatomists and doctors, dating back to the late twentieth century and which display unique perspectives of the human body and anatomical insight.

  • Radiological resources that support the teaching of anatomy modules: ‘Thorax, Abdomen and Pelvis’, and ‘Head and Neck’. Hospital radiological partners will be engaged to source and interpret radiographs.

The student experience will be enhanced as the digitisation of this content will increase the disciplines blended learning capacity promoting student engagement and understanding of the body’s core systems.

Radiology will signpost the medical significance of anatomy learning as the interpretation of radiology is reliant on anatomical knowledge and represents a key component of modern clinical diagnosis.

The introduction of rare and underused historic teaching tools in digital format will also support the current lecture and practical curriculum as they reveal key insights into the human body and still retain significant pedagogical value. Students will have the opportunity to engage with this e-learning content in their own time and pace suiting individual learning styles.


Assessing Languages: Digital Development and Innovation

Prof. Lorna Carson
School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences
Centre for Language and Communication Studies

The ALADDIN (Assessing Languages: Digital Development and Innovation) project will develop a suite of innovative digital language testing tools within Trinity’s institution-wide language programmes which are offered to all students in the university. Located within a framework of digital pedagogy innovation, ALADDIN will support the learning development of undergraduate and postgraduate students to become independent digital language learners, and promote next-generation teaching and learning.

Whilst there have been important recent advances in educational technology, the language assessment remains grounded in an older pedagogical model. Developments in online language testing allow for valid and reliable assessment, foster learner engagement, connect with pedagogical activities in online and blended classes, and allow students to take control of the pace, sequence and direction of their language learning. This process can be motivating for learners, as examples of ‘gamification’ in language testing demonstrate. Developing online language assessment also re-conceptualizes the purpose of assessment, shifting away from the instructor-led model, towards lifelong, learner-led language learning.

ALADDIN will develop a suite of multilingual online language assessment tools. Digital placement, diagnostic and proficiency tests will be developed for 10 languages. The assessment languages include English for Academic Purposes, Irish, Irish Sign Language, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese. ALADDIN will use an open access approach to lead digital innovation in language testing, to create accessible language assessment tools that are fit for purpose and meet the changing needs of students and instructors.


Digitally Enhanced Practical Teaching in Health science

Prof. Cuisle Forde
School of Medicine

Teaching and learning practical skills is an area which many would not traditionally consider to be suited to online or distance learning methods. Restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic required those who teach and those who learn to adapt and to demonstrate innovation in methods of practical skill acquisition. This project aims to consolidate some positive disturbances that occurred in relation to practical teaching during 2020 in partnership with students. Specific aims are to;

  • examine opportunities and barriers to digitally enhanced practical teaching

  • analyse student, academic, clinical professional and patient perspectives on digitally enhanced practical teaching

  • examine the feasibility and efficacy of digitally enhanced practical teaching (in skill acquisition and assessment) in partnership with students

  • develop an open educational resource informed by results of this research to include

    • resources outlining opportunities, barriers and considerations related to the acquisition of practical skills using technology
    • an analysis of the attributes of practical skills and their suitability to being taught and assessed using technology
    • recommendations on digitally enhanced practical teaching and assessment for both those who teach and those who learn
    • case studies on the acquisition of practical skills using technology

This study will be conducted in the School of Medicine, however results and methods undertaken will be applicable to many other areas. This project aligns with Trinity’s Strategic plan by conducting research in partnership with students to ensure evidence-based pedagogical insights are applied to innovative digital teaching methods.


Co-Designing a Blended Model of Practice Education

Dr Yvonne Lynch
Department of Clinical Speech and Language Studies
School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences

Student speech-language therapists develop clinical and professional skills on placement. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many healthcare settings were unable to offer placements, which meant students were at risk of not being able to graduate. Trinity responded to this challenge by turning to digital technologies as another way to develop clinical skills. Students learned through telehealth, simulation and virtual workshops and reported these tools enhanced their learning. This project will identify how best to integrate digital clinical learning with traditional face-to-face placement for an enhanced educational experience.

Students, educators and service users will come together in workshops to design a model that blends traditional placements with digitally delivered learning experiences while maintaining academic integrity. Working together, we will evaluate which clinical skills can be developed through digital methods and which require face-to-face learning. We will develop appropriate resources to optimise the digital clinical learning experience and identify how we can ensure student success.

Key deliverables of the project are:

  1. A blended practice education model with a roadmap linking digital learning directly to the national student assessment framework. This roadmap will signpost the most appropriate tool based on stage and target skills across all years of the undergraduate programme.

  2. A practical online toolkit with a suite of resources for each digital learning experience (telehealth, simulation, virtual clinical learning) and for each audience (students, educators). These resources can be accessed at particular points of the clinical journey depending on the learning objectives. Each suite will have self-paced interactive learning content and downloadable resources.


Supporting Student Success Through Clinical Teacher Training

Clare Whelan
School of Medicine

This collaborative Teaching and Learning initiative is aligned with the Trinity Strategic Plan Goal 3 “We Will Practice Next Generation Teaching and Learning” aiming to promote student success through the development of an open access digital teaching and learning module which will be available to support clinical teachers who supervise students in the clinical environment.

The standard of a placement and learning potential realized for students often pivots on the supervision the student receives from the clinical teacher. Clinical teachers are expected to teach and prepare students to competently meet the demands of clinical practice, but being a clinical teacher requires additional skill development beyond their practitioner skills.

This project specifically aims to

  • Explore clinical students and clinical teachers’ perspectives on effective teaching and learning in the clinical environment.

  • Identify barriers and enablers for effective teaching and learning in the clinical environment

  • Develop an open access teaching and learning module for clinical teachers consisting of five interactive units of learning, each requiring four hours to complete, that include,

    • relevant educational theories related to clinical teaching and learning
    • strategies for effective teaching and learning in the clinical learning environment
    • tools to enhance student engagement and promoting a culture of belonging in the clinical learning environment
    • tools to enhance clinical educators' supervisory and management skills to support students through diverse and complex clinical practice

Continuing Professional Development accreditation will be sought from the relevant professional registration bodies thereby incentivising clinical teachers to engage with the module.