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LT Conference

Learning & Teaching Conference 2021- Reducing distance through interactive teaching and assessment – student collaboration on the MSc Psychiatry programme during the Covid-19 pandemic

29 June 2021
Group Of University Students Collaborating On Project

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed particular challenges to higher education systems around the world where programmes had to come up with virtual solutions to learning and teaching rapidly. With students and teaching staff often confined to their homes these days and not sharing a common space, it can be challenging to feel connected and part of a community.

The MSc Psychiatry programme at Cardiff University is a long-established distance learning programme with a diverse international student cohort. Although our students are based in different places across the world, they are well-connected and collaborate with each other across a range of projects.

In this session, we, the MSc Psychiatry programme team and one representative of our student cohort, would like to share with you how we have connected with each other in the context of interactive teaching and assessment forms as well as informally. We will talk about assignments we have specifically designed to foster student collaboration and engagement like preparing small group presentations, introducing research projects on conferences posters and designing public health leaflets. To maximise the potential in learning from each other, we typically allocate students to multidisciplinary teams and provide a virtual learning environment where they can communicate with each other. In addition to assignments where students collaborate directly with each other on a project, we have also introduced an interactive assignment where they comment on each other’s contributions and topics. Also, in response to student feedback, we have recently started regular virtual coffee sessions as a more informal communication opportunity for students and staff. These initiatives help with reducing distance between students and staff who are physically apart as do interactive teaching sessions like discussion groups, virtual conferences and regular drop-in days.

Based on feedback from our students, the measures have been well received, have helped students to connect to their peers across the world and to support each other in their learning. One of our third year part-time students who is also student representative for her cohort has kindly agreed to contribute to our presentation by talking about the student perspective and experience.

We hope that our approach to reducing distance amongst students in a 100% online learning and teaching context will be inspirational to some and that we can have a discussion about these and other measures that have been used to achieve this goal. Initiatives aimed at reducing distance and encouraging interaction in a virtual learning context will be beneficial for both educational and mental health outcomes in our socially distanced student body.

Written by Katja Umla-Runge

This work will be presented during the Learning and Teaching Conference at 10:20m on Fri 2 July. Register for the conference