The annual prize-giving for MEd, PG Diploma & Certificate students took place on 20 November, showcasing the College's increasing teaching expertise.

Students of the programme are all part of the College teaching community. The MEd is the third of a three-stage approach to the study of teaching and learning in a university setting. It follows on from the PG Certificate and Diploma and provides academic support in producing education research and encourages participants to investigate and inform their practice.

Evolving our understanding of education

Dr Janet De Wilde, Head of Postgraduate Professional Development in the Graduate School presented her research, 'From Islands to Mountains: The Experiences of Final Year STEMM Doctoral Students at a Thesis Writing Retreat'.

Dr De Wilde said: "Your thesis is a highly public statement of your thinking as a doctoral student. How you convey yourself has never been more important. Yet many of our students have not had any formal writing training since their early years of secondary school."

Dr De Wilde used the College's annual writing retreat at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor as a case study and an opportunity for interviewing students outside of the hustle and bustle of a central London setting.

"I sensed that students push for ever increasing amounts of data, feeling driven to write up their research at the very last moment at the end of their programme. Surrounding these students with nature and a community of like-minded peers resulted in definite benefits, and allowed for improved skill sharing"

Dr Peter Fitch, Senior Teaching Fellow in the Department of Earth Science & Engineering, continued the theme of students benefiting from nontraditional learning environments. His research paper, 'What’s up with WhatsApp? Student perceptions of their use of informal digital communities of learning in a taught postgraduate degree', reflected advances in digital options in the classroom.

Dr Fitch said: "My postgraduate taught students are 21st century learners. Some have little habit of checking emails, yet their 'normal' online life exists on messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

"By introducing study-related groups into the mix they were often afforded immediate responses from peers on the same course. By not being a member of the group myself, participants felt more comfortably fact-checking my comments and querying appropriate study skills."

Dr Ravi Parekh, from the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, also presented his research, "A bit of a doctor factory" - exploring medical students' sense of belonging through longitudinal integrated clerkships'.

Dr Parekh has been a key figure in developing and delivering pilot clerkships offered to a group of 24 Year 5 students on the MBBS programme in the Faculty of Medicine. The clerkships are based around a more holistic approach to medicine where students spend more time with individual patients learning about their conditions, their needs and how they can be helped. For one year, they spend a day a week in General Practice with a case load of patients. For example, a student might work with a pregnant woman, attending antenatal appointments and ultrasound scans, then continuing to visit her following birth and as her baby grow.

Dr Parekh said: "We face significant challenges within medicine. The world needs more of our graduates, and while more resource is always welcome, it's not the only aspect that sometimes limits our ambition.

"Without reconsidering how we teach, putting the student and their patients at the heart of all we do, we will perpetuate rising mental health issues and the disconnect between some of what our students learn, and what they actually face in general practice and hospitals."

Dr Parekh plans to roll out the pilot to a full year of MBBS students in the near future.

Imperial's Centre for Higher Education Research & Scholarship

The Centre for Higher Education Research & Scholarship (CHERS) joins the pre-existing Educational Development Unit (EDU) as a joint group of education specialists. Made up of a number of different levels of practitioner, the new team work closely with the EDU to support innovative learning and teaching and conducting education research.

Those interested in educational research, whether already conducting it or thinking of starting out, are encouraged to join CHERSNet to meet and share ideas within Imperial’s educational community.

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