“Showcasing Excellence and Innovation in Teaching and Criminology and Criminal Justice” Wednesday 16th January Centre for Research and Innovation in Legal Education (University of Leeds) by Tanya Miles- Berry; Kate Strudwick and Suzanne Young (LTN)

Welcome from Andrew Francis – Director: Centre for Research and Innovation in Legal Education @cirle_leeds

Welcome to the day from Dr Suzanne Young:

The main aim of the day was to celebrate the innovative teaching and learning approaches and focus on the pedagogy that prize winners of the National Teaching Award for Teaching Excellence have achieved, and how those initiative’s have developed over the years.

The audience was reminded that the with the advent of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) the quality of the student offer will be under scrutiny and our subject areas will be judged on a range of metrics as well as a narrative which explores the environment created for students. This makes it more necessary than ever to reflect on why students do or do not engage, why students do or do not succeed, and what they particularly enjoy about the learning experience. This is perhaps more important for staff who teach on modules which include Criminology because of the huge rise in student numbers and courses – from 700 listed on UCAS last year to over 1000 this year, across 156 institutions – because although this means there are plenty of jobs around for those who can teach the discipline, it is also the case that most can agree it is far easier to provide an excellent learning experience for small groups of students. We therefore need to focus on providing a good experience for large numbers of students. 

It was noted that there is far more focus and accolades involved with producing 4* REF papers than there is in providing an excellent student experience, which in turn means that groups such as the BSC Learning and Teaching Network is more important than ever before, precisely because it does recognise the challenges. With so few opportunities to focus or publish on learning and teaching this forum provides an opportunity to recognise and encourage those who are interested in enhancing the student experience and improving pedagogical approaches to ensure that is achievable. The LTN is about providing opportunities for greater communication, provide a vehicle for the sharing of good practice and disseminate resources and literature on pedagogy.

Panel 1: Excellence and innovation on campus 

“Partnering Academics and Criminal Justice Practitioners as Teachers: The Criminal Justice Process Comes to the Classroom” Professor Chris Birkbeck and Dr Muzammil Quraishi, University of Salford 

The development process started 10 years ago when there was a recognition that although they had developed numerous partnerships with practitioners and researchers, they could perhaps develop a module which could harness that practical experience with the academic knowledge of the academics in order to produce a stimulating and exciting module which would allow students to contextualise how criminal justice ‘works’.

The focus is on decision making and based on the models of criminal justice which are mapped onto policy to highlight the thematic tensions inherent within the system. They use 2 hypothetical cases, one of which is ‘serious’ – in this case Kidnap and Rape of a Minor, and one ‘volume’ crime – in this case Burglary and ATWOC.

Each session is scheduled to take 3 hours which is broken into 3 sections:

  1. overview delivered by the practitioner partners
  2. group work involving specific tasks and reflections
  3. thematic academic elements lecture linked to the assessment

The module is assessed with a 2500 word essay which involves students choosing 1 of 5 themes on which to base their work. They are expected to cite the practitioners and refer to the academic literature as they connect their points to the case specifically in relation to the practical elements such as how to manage incidents and the media.

What was clear was that much of the discussion that took place was not referred to or recognised in the essays, so the teaching team added an additional piece of assessment – a 3000 word reflective diary which encourages students to give their opinions about the cases and tensions involved with the processes discussed. The diary is completed each week so is complete by the end of the module and the suggested focus – what models of criminal justice are evident? What conflicts? Does the topic resonate with other aspects of criminological knowledge? How has our knowledge of CJP been advanced?

The module consistently receives excellent feedback from all involved, not least because this type of learning environment also results in the practitioners acquiring new knowledge whilst the academics and students are kept fully up to date with the latest practical knowledge.

The module is challenging to run because of the coordination needed to ensure effective delivery. This coordination is more demanding because of the amount of administration required to ensure, for example, parking passes are ordered and payment is made on time.

It also has to be recognised that this type of module is more expensive than more traditional modules and some in the audience commented that they have had similar modules removed from the syllabus due to this. Furthermore, a recurrent theme from all of the presenters in this Panel was that they do go above and beyond to ensure

success precisely because they recognise the benefits – and if they didn’t, the modules would not succeed.

“The Lincoln Effect’: Student as Producer, Innovative Assessments and Good Practice” Kate Strudwick and Jill Jameson, University of Lincoln 

Lincoln won the award in 2013 and were one of the first criminology courses to embed employability at every level. They achieved this by focusing on the student centered learning and scaffolding as they tried to develop the ability for students to think critically and independently. They offered a range of alternative pedagogical approaches at all levels, offered students the opportunity to get involved in research with academics from the very start of their course and based all of this on ‘Student as Producer’ (Neary & Winn, 2009) which has since been embedded across not only the School but the University as a whole. In order to achieve this they were granted funding both internally and externally and they aimed their work and focus towards several principles:

* encourage research as a form of discovery

* using technology in teaching

* teaching spaces and spatiality more generally

* assessment

* research and evaluations

* student voice – developing student responsibility for learning and teaching for future generations

* support for research based teaching through expert engagement

* information resources

* creating for the future

The speakers used 3 modules to contextualise what they have achieved:

‘Criminology in the Professions’

* a platform for enhancing the Student as Producer through the criminology curriculum

* designed to identify the links between academic knowledge/ theory and professional practice/ employability skills

* teaching and learning embraces partnerships and collaboration with joint practitioner/ academic lectures and students teaching their peers

Ultimately they were trying to encourage students to look more broadly at the professions – what skills do they have and what do they need to be able to do to get where they want to be.

The module includes a discourse analysis of the practitioner lectures and 10% of the final mark is based on participation events – such as career workshops, an alumni evening and peer reflections – and attendance at teaching sessions.

They have also established links to the ‘Lincoln Award’ – which is an employability framework to support, enhance and recognise extra-curricular activities.

Further developments include:

  • A Lincoln Police Lincoln Award – specifically for students to get an award based on tier extra-curricular activities work with the Police such as voluntary PCSOs, university Helpdesk to the police, youth justice awards.
  • Further modules developed in collaboration with external partnerships (Youth Justice; Police Studies)
  • Teaching innovation funded projects (student reps; enhancing engagement; Crime stoppers; Get SAVI (gender based violence))
  • intention to work further with HMP Lincoln and the Lincoln Action Trust

‘Youth Justice Live’

Developed in collaboration with Lincolnshire YOS – developed by students in collaboration with those practitioners, and used a ‘community of practice’ model. A live Twitter feed and blog are used to invite students to react ‘live’ to changes in policy and practice.

The assessment is based on YOS files which are used during the module, enabling the staff to provide anecdotes and updates.

Further opportunities are in development, but will include initiatives around volunteering, researching and placements/ shadowing/ mentoring

‘Police Studies’

This involves collaboration with the police from the PCC right through to front line officers in an attempt to bring practice and theory together.

The assessment is based on one of the practitioner lectures. They have to complete a essay with a poster being presented at a policing conference at Police Headquarters. The event is attended by the Chief Constable, Police and Crime Commissioner and other policing practitioners. The work has been recognised as encouraging students to address ‘real world’ perspectives. As part of the module marks are also awarded for attendance and participation at the event.

Some of the challenges involved with this type of work include:

* the tensions around the fact that students are not paid for their work for ‘Students as Producers’ although they are offered the opportunity to deliver at conferences, vouchers may be offered and they might also co-author papers with staff

* managing expectations can be difficult

* NSS and student evaluation making staff risk averse?

* there tends to be a hard core of students who take part in as many activities as possible – how to engage the less engaged is an ongoing issue

* it can be hard to keep things going and there are resource tensions

The speakers underlined the need for us to be able to provide evidence about the impact of what we do because student engagement is so important to the TEF narrative, and there will be Learning and Teaching strand at the BSC conference this year in Lincoln.

“Innovation, Empowerment and Real-World Application: Making Desistance and Recovery a Reality” Dr Alexandria Bradley, Leeds Beckett University and Dr Sarah Goodwin, Sheffield Hallam University 

This module involved collaboration with a range of key stakeholders and focused on raising confidence, self esteem and aspirations of the student group. The module encouraged students to get out volunteering and build their C.V’s to prepare for work and they received plenty of advice and ideas about what to expect at interviews, the form they may take and the questions that may be asked. In order to provide accurate information in that regard, the teaching team liaised with a number of local charities and asked what questions they would ask potential employees which in turn ensured that students knew what the current direction and issues in the filed were.

To encourage student engagement a Twitter # was used along with the theory – policy – practice triangle and staff would highlight issues and news and ask students to participate in discussion and debate.

The assessment was a 4000 word portfolio:

  1. Community engagement plan (500 words) – to design a press release about a service – students were expected to look at what was out there and apply their ideas as to what was needed.
  2. Service Evaluation Bid (1500 words) – theory and practice based evidence to inform an evaluation
  3. Business case for a new desistance and recovery initiative (2500 words) – students had to pick a specific marginalised group, then apply theory, policy and practice to develop an initiative, thinking critically about the hurdles and barriers to succeeding.

The staff used their own professional networks including PhD students and alumni, and asked on Twitter for professionals who might be interested in taking part. Many of those involved recorded lectures or screencasts and video debates were also incorporated in order that challenges around coordinating attendance and associated admin was hugely cut back.

They used national policy developers to give brief overviews of what is actually happening out ‘in the real world’ and filmed walk-throughs of services to enhance the students ‘lived experience’.

By collaborating with professionals in this way students could begin to develop their own professional networks, and be privy to volunteering opportunities. This also helped to demystify the profession which in turn enhanced student confidence.

One further belief was that by enhancing student criticality and understanding, they would become not only more employable but also more compassionate which in turn would enhance their future practice. Several students reported using examples for the module at successful job interviews.

Panel 2: Excellence and innovation beyond the campus

“Learning Together Across the Ages” Dr Helen Nichols, University of Lincoln and Dr Serena Wright , Royal Holloway University of London 

This paper explored experiences, impact and transformations of providing ‘Learning Together’ Programmes at different institutions with the Prison Education Trust. The issues related to age with the relevance of study skills being seen as important in both of the schemes- embedding subject specific skills.

Age in YMYOI Feltham was discussed as being ‘omni present’ with the narratives and engagement having some relevance to both setting and context. Gender was also identified as being omnipresent. The importance pedagogically about engaging with cohorts was explored through discussions of the setting of the classroom, which was seen by some of the cohort as providing an ‘escape’ from a chaotic environment. The ‘Learning Together’ programme was seen to offer a tool to resist prison paths. With reference to Alice Goffman (2015) Dr Wright noted the commitment to higher education and learning with the importance of student identity being  urther seen as an ability to explore academic abilities. The presentation continued with a reflection from Dr Nichols on the ‘Learning Together’ Programme with Full Sutton. As a different ‘Learning Together ‘Programme the paper reflected on experiences learnt. The aim was described to replicate modules in high security prisons through a team taught module. Motivations to do the module were also discussed as being different, which could be related to a number of factors which resulted in an increase of confidence, and had an open-minded humanising effect. The impact for Full Sutton student’s appetite for Higher Education was also noted with the programme further seen to enhance the skills of Leeds Beckett Students.

Experiences and outcomes were explored in this paper – it was about learning from each other! Questions were raised about whether Prison Learning Together prisoners’ experiences mirror those of students within Higher Education with evaluations  addressing  factors of risk, age and correlation with ‘non-learner’ identity. The diverse nature of the student cohorts resulted in the development of a culture which broke down social barriers.

The paper was a reflection on what to do with Learning Together and how these Programmes empower from the beginning. The paper ended on a thought-provoking note for the LTN – how can these programmes be developed and delivered – this may be a topic for further discussion by the LTN- a natural place to conclude.

“Building Bridges Across Diversity: Utilising the Inside – out Prison Exchange Programme to promote an Egalitarian Higher Education Community within Three English Prisons” Dr Hannah King, Professor Fiona Measham, Dr Kate O’Brian, University of Durham 

The paper started with a quote from Lori Pompa- the Inside Out founder (2013). Addressing key elements and reasons for its development in the US the adoption of the programme in the UK was explained. Core terminology such as Think Tank and the training processes were explored to set the context for understanding the programme. The importance of breaking down barriers through circle seating in the classroom enabled a dialogue approach placed within a critical pedagogical module. The relevance of the programme was its ability to provide a context for a sharing community not an ‘othering’ one. This was eplored through the work of Freire “directive of the process” (1996:46) which emphasised the importance of the recruitment process and also the logistics of being Inside out to the UK. The paper discussed examples of classroom sessions and how surfacing ideas and the ways in which ideas were developed addressed relevant factors, fables were provided as an example.

There was a noted  importance about  the way in which the module was constructed, to address power, privilege and identity. Reflections for the Inside and outside students made reference sto the programme being ‘transformative’. Recent plans to involve alumni from Inside out seek  to invite them to co-deliver the programme.

Keynote “Future directions and challenges for teaching Criminology and Criminal Justice” by Professor Stephen Case, Loughborough University 

The paper was to present thoughts, experiences and challenges – effectively his journey while also addressing what he was trying to achieve and what the barriers might be. The paper started by identifying the dearth of learning and teaching in Criminology through his career journey. The importance of pedagogical literature on course design, Student as Partners assessment sand the impact of aligning this with benchmarks. Starting  the dialogue about Learning and teaching was reflected back to the HEA Conference in 2007 when the BSC Teaching Excellence prize was developed and the Special issue of the journal was also announced. The mindset of this era was discussed, the role of the HEA and the introduction of teaching qualifications which  started to make LT a  priority at institutions.

The 3 E’s- Effective, Engaging and Employability set out the next phase of the discussion.  ‘Effective’  made  references to cutting edge texts, how there is a need to maximise experiences for students in recognising  ‘how to’ encourage students to be motivated, show critical thought and  encourage creativity and reflective students. ‘Engaged’ referred to maximising student engagement and the engaging nature of the programme – this was seen as being fundamental. ‘Employable’ was aligned to developing skills to enhance employability and to work together to underpin this,  not just in the final year but throughout the programme.

The 3 C’s recognised challenges which were  identified as being part of the competitive nature of the discipline, the need to innovate and how to make your institution distinctive. Such values were seen as value for money, contact hours, work experience and the subjects we teach. The importance of quality assurance was also raised as integral to how students rate our teaching- this needs to be ensured through regular communication with colleagues and though materials on course and facilities. SSR’s were discussed in the context of recruitment and cohort size- questioning how we engage with a large cohort? This was presented as one of the very real challenges facing us. Issues to address were student satisfaction and expectations- they were both presented as challenges which can be understood through dialogue and managing expectations and transparency. The priorities of institutions were raised as being pedagogically involved teaching and to become ‘thought leaders.

In the final section ‘what next’ the TEF was identified  as an opportunity to focus our mindset on teaching and learning- shown by the LTN at such events! Ending on positive notes the importance for he LTN to host events was seen to encourage and share best practices,  but there was a reminder that this needs to be done outside of these events too!  In order to keep Learning and teaching on the agenda making sure it is ‘live’t he message was that we need to communicate on a disciplinary level and really get behind the LT agenda.

Summary notes from LTN Chair Kate Strudwick

The paper by Professor Case summed up the aims and ethos of this LTN symposium on ‘Showcasing Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Criminology and Criminal Justice’. This event has provided  opportunities to reflect with like minded peers on ‘what we do well’ pedagogically, enabling greater learning about the journeys of others and understand experiences which can provide valuable means to develop innovative teaching and learning approaches within Higher Education.

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