Youth Libraries Group Conference 2018

I was recently very lucky to attend the Youth Libraries Group Conference in Manchester. Work paid for me to attend on the Saturday (tiny bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to attend the Enid Blyton midnight pyjama feast though). The conference explored the importance of reading as a key plank in library provision and the impact it can have on children, young people and their life chances.

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The conference programme can be viewed here: https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1059241&group

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I registered and got a fabulous canvas bag to add to my collection.

The welcome session was delivered by Matt Goodfellow, a stockport based poet.

http://www.mattgoodfellow.yolasite.com/

Matt’s high-energy performance made me feel like a child once again. I think Matt’s session may have been the highlight of the day actually. He was so funny! My favourite poem was Chicken on the Roof which required some audience participation… It certainly woke us up and set the tone for the day…

There’s a chicken there’s a chicken there’s a chicken on the roof. So catchy!

Booktrust Reading Segments Research

Jill Coleman presented key findings of recent research into the reading engagement of children aged 0 – 16. The research breaks down the types of families that exist when it comes to engagement with books and reading for pleasure.

Families will start reading to their children when they are around 14 months old and generally the family reading activities start to slow at 7 years and 7 months. The segmentation identifies different types of family and reading engagement. The report is available from the BookTrust website 

Breakout Session: Readers & Rights with Rowena Seabrook (Human Rights Education Manager, Amnesty International UK)

In this session, we explored ways in which literature can be used to explore human rights and to challenge, empower and motivate young people.

Rowena showed us Take Up Space by Vanessa Kisuule which I had not seen – it calls on ALL women to stop shrinking themselves and to TAKE UP SPACE! Vanessa is my new favourite person. Her talent is off the chart!

We explored the human rights issues behind two very different books: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and There’s a bear on my chair by Ross Collins

Despite There’s a bear on my chair being a children’s book, the activity is appropriate for all age groups, including adults. As a group we read the story and put a human rights bookmark in the pages we thought addressed or touched upon an important concept. The bookmarks had basic human rights printed on them: fairness, equality, knowledge, truth, safety and freedom. We then discussed how the book addressed these issues and talked about them in more detail.

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We did a similar activity with The Hate U Give. We were given photocopied extracts to read and discuss. The extracts were thought provoking and led to a very rich group discussion.

Putting human rights at the centre of a book club is something I am now planning on doing after attending this session. I am also going to use, share and build upon the *brilliant* education materials provided by Amnesty International to help our teachers to use literature to explore important issues. Amnesty really have done all of the hard work, check out their resources if you are unfamiliar.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/cilip-carnegie-and-greenaway-medal-shortlisted-books-2018-and-human-rights-story-explorer-resources

Finally, Rowena introduced us to Words That Burn: an international project for young people that explores human rights abuses through poetry. I think we can all agree that there is nothing more powerful than poetry. Amnesty have again provided free teaching resources that I encourage you to check out, use and share https://www.amnesty.org.uk/issues/words-that-burn

I left Rowena’s session feeling empowered and inspired!

Keynote

Frank Cottrell Boyce, acclaimed screenwriter and Carnegie Medal winner gave the keynote speech after eventually arriving in Manchester after some car trouble on the motorway (not what you want before a keynote). He was fabulous though of course. He talked about the joy of reading and shared anecdotes from his childhood; my favourite being the kind librarian that allowed him to borrow a big, expensive reference book.

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Life Online by Andrew Walsh & Nicola Morgan

I LOVE that Andrew refers to himself as a playbrarian – he’s a genius. I must admit, Andrew is a bit of an idol of mine. I love his work promoting information literacy through play – especially escape rooms! I’ve been to several of his workshops and I’ve got 3 of his books. The latest I’ve purchased is The librarians’ book on teaching through games and play (9781911500070). It’s a would recommend!

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Andrew highlighted the new versions of the TeenTech research smarter sheets which are a staple in our library http://www.teentech.com/teentech-awards/supporting-materials/

He also introduced us to the new CILIP information literacy definition https://infolit.org.uk/new-il-definition/

In case you were wondering what info lit is, here’s the new broad definition:

Information literacy is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully with society”

Nicola Morgan, author of over 100 books, then took the stand to talk about life online. I choose this breakout session as we support students via our shelf help collection and I am personally, probably, a little bit addicted to my mobile phone…

Nicola picked some key points from her latest book Teen Guide to Life Online. She did state that the title is misleading as this book certainly is not just for teens. Her website is full of useful information and this page contains links and references to the research and articles which Nicola thinks will help people to understand what’s going on when we use our screens. Nicole likened screen addiction to many of the other addictions that plague modern life. To overcome them:

  1. You have to want to change your habits
  2. You need to know why you should change

Excessive screen time can lead to a variety of problems including mental stress, exhaustion, low self-esteem, distraction, loss of concentration and a reduction in physical activity. Unfortunately, just being around a mobile device is distracting. Having a device near you leads to a 10% reduction in performance! Screens and online content are designed to distract you. It’s not your fault that you cannot resist.

If you want to lower your screen time. Nicola advises you to:

  1. Keep them out of view (out of sight, out of mind)
  2. Distract yourself with other activities (pick up a book perhaps). Don’t sit twiddling your thumbs, dreaming of your mobile device.
  3. Create manageable goals – i.e. I will not use my phone for the next hour
  4. Seek help from those around you – remind them not to send you hilarious memes and cat videos every 5 minutes
  5. Keep reminding yourself why you are doing this – it is good for your mental health and productivity in the long run
  6. Notice the benefits – are you able concentrate better? (intrinsic motivation)

Mobile phones and devices do have their benefits but they also come with their own host of problems. I am not a parent therefore cannot comment on the convenience of giving a mobile device to a child to keep them quiet and entertained… but I am a little uncomfortable with the idea. One of the video diaries from the Family Reading Segment research shows a little girl in her cot. Her mum tells her that it is time to read and the little girl starts crying “but I don’t want to read, I want to play on my iPad”… and this made me a little bit sad.

I came home with so many goodies and books – the publishers were very kind and generous. The best book I came home with was My name is not Refugee.

My name is not refugee

The book asks young children ‘from a safe, comfortable background’ to think about what it must be like to ‘leave your home and make a journey into the unknown’. The illustrations are so beautiful and heart-breaking https://www.independent.co.uk/student/student-life/books/student-s-refugee-crisis-book-for-children-wins-va-illustration-award-a7051776.html

I gave my neighbour who has 3 children most of the books – the look of joy on their faces says it all. Books really are magical and this conference is a must for any librarian.

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Life of a Learning Facilitator

It’s coming to the end of a busy and eventful year. My manager left before the start of this academic year and I have really, really missed her! She interviewed me and hired me back in October 2015 and she was an absolutely fantastic manager, Librarian and mentor. She really helped me to grow into my role at Ashton Sixth Form College and develop my skills as a Librarian. She understood what it was like to be a new professional and most importantly, she understood libraries. She was hands on in the Library and she got stuff done! If I had an issue I could take it to her without a second of hesitation.

I have been a little down at certain points; worrying about how we are going to cope with the extra workload. Working in FE is hard. Teenagers can be quite mean sometimes. Despite the odd down day, I actually love my job. I’ve met some great students this year who were so appreciative of my help. It’s so nice when people ask for my help, take on board the advice I’ve given and succeed! They gave me a card and a bunch of flowers which was just amazing and healed every down day wound that I’ve acquired this year.

 

This week I attended the Higher and Adult Education Celebration and received another special thanks from the department and I definitely nearly cried when I had to go up onto the stage. There was also prosecco and cheese which ain’t bad! I think I need to work on managing my emotions a little better and develop a thicker skin because I’ve now realised that people do actually appreciate and notice my work and it has motivated me to work even harder and to continue the great work we’re doing in the Library. For those that don’t appreciate it, I need to use my skills, positive thinking and knowledge to convince them otherwise.

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It is a little quieter in the Library and we’ve been planning for next year and we have so many ideas for the Library Service. We have a new referral process for teachers to refer their students to the Library for 1-2-1 info literacy interventions which I am SO excited for.

I’ve been buying new comic books and graphic novels and am going to be running the Excelsior Award with students next year.

We are constantly developing our fiction collection and are going to be running #ReadingAhead again after a few years off (we haven’t run it since I started).

We’re having a more integral role in the delivery of the Extended Project Qualification next year and I am building their course on the Canvas VLE. I am an admin and will be delivering training to teaching staff in a few weeks (another great challenge and learning curve).

I have been invited to take part in a leadership course next year after my name was mentioned at SLT. Only 5 people a year get to do it. I am so thankful for the opportunity. It’s going to help me whilst I am in this role, it will in turn help the service and it’s a great addition to my CV.

I am going to the Youth Libraries Group Conference 2018 to explore reading promotion and fiction which I CANNOT wait for. PHILIP PULLMAN WILL BE THERE!!!

Today I shared and explored our art, design and tech collections with students planning their research for next year. A few projects were a little more complex so I’ve been doing a little research myself this afternoon and will be getting back to the students tomorrow.

The College hosted a FE Research Meet today and I was able to nip to one of the sessions which was delivered by an English teacher who’s College has implemented Accelerated Reading. They’ve embedded a culture of books and reading into college life. I came away inspired and hopeful!

Today we came across several problems with our Library Management System and I investigated and fixed them! Best feeling ever! My technical skills and knowledge of the system is improving all the time and it feels great.

I will never know all there is to know in this profession and that’s what keeps it interesting and exciting. Students come up with mind-boggling requests, our systems break down, and new ideas are always waiting to be discovered and implemented. Solving problems, helping people and sharing knowledge is the absolute best way to spend your day.

P.S. If you’re having a down day, talk about it, it helps! 🙂

 

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I am currently reading this book | It’s a would recommend so far 

Escape Rooms for Education

Today I attended a really good workshop held at Heritage Quay, University of Huddersfield and it was all about creating educational escape rooms. Andrew Walsh hosted the workshop and he is a librarian at Hudds and he specialises in using games in education and information literacy instruction.

If you have never been to an escape room you should try it! If you’re unsure what they are they are basically a themed room or set of rooms set with a story e.g a hospital, zombie apocalypse safehouse, library, haunted house etc and you have to solve a series of puzzles to be released, saved etc. I have only ever been to one escape room; Break Out in Manchester and we almost escaped their Crimson Lake Motel room (we had ONE puzzle left to solve arghhh).

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The “I nearly broke out” board of shame!

Educational escape rooms are an amazing concept, especially in Library teaching as some of the topics can be a little…. dry? I’m working on improving my teaching and I’ve recently been on training days and courses including a week long residential course for my level 3 Award in Education and Training – I would really recommend this for any new librarians by the way. I am soon going to be planning next year’s inductions and teaching so I now have so many ideas that I’d like to try with my students. Escape rooms are so much fun and I’m definitely going to be incorporating them into my teaching.

The session was workshop based and we went through all of the different stages of developing an educational escape room. We thought about all of the educational benefits of play and considered its place in HE/FE teaching. Andrew gave us a little comic strip which highlighted many of these reasons and it contained a handy reference list of items that I am interested in reading.

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Important attributes of ‘play’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then had to decide on some SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-limited) learning objectives which were to be the groundwork of our game.

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We decided to run our session on revision as it’s coming up to exam season.

We then had to consider the key constraints. We all considered our own places of work and came up with a variety of things including time limitations, limited student attention span (sorry, students), environment, timetabling, room availability, staffing, equipment, budget 😦 So, in the end, we planned our escape room with no budget but it turns out you can actually do a lot with little or no money which is great but I am going to try and purchase a few padlocks and UV pens. We then had to choose a theme and a narrative which tied in with our learning objectives. Having a good theme and narrative is essential for any successful escape room.

Our escape room idea: Teenager’s bedroom

Narrative: You are a student who has been grounded because you are behind on your revision. If you want to go out with your friends you will have to solve a series of puzzles which relate to 5 revision related themes; study space, note-taking, memorising, model answers, timetabling.

We then spent the rest of the day considering the structure of the puzzles and developing and sharing our prototypes. We came up with some amazing puzzles if I do say so myself – they involved UV pens, maths puzzles, jigsaws and a good old book cipher!

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If we can do this in an afternoon then I think I could definitely plan some epic escape room library inductions for next term! Andrew was fantastic as always. We have all been given an escape rooms workbook which contains the step-by-step development process, tips and puzzle ideas. I believe he will be publishing this at some point so keep your eyes peeled – it’s a must have!

http://innovativelibraries.org.uk/

LISDIS Conference 2016

 

I recently attended the LISDIS Conference which was hosted at University College London. @LISDISConf is a conference where recent graduates can showcase their Library and Information Science dissertation projects.

I was unable to attend the first conference which was held up north last year and was very lucky to have been awarded a travel bursary which was kindly offered by LISDIS and their sponsors (thank you). It is rare that I can afford to get down to London so this was a fantastic opportunity and I appreciate being offered the bursary, especially since I am starting to think about dissertation topics.

I would recommend this conference to all LIS students because it has given me so much to think about and listening to the experiences and advice from graduates is so helpful when you are about to go through the same thing. It seems most people are at either end of the dissertation spectrum: you either have too many dissertation topic ideas or too few. I have been compiling a list over the last year and this list is getting VERY long… On the one hand it feels good to already have ideas but on the other the ideas are way too broad and vague at the moment to be of any use to anyone.

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My ridiculous list of vague and random dissertation ideas inspired by conferences, my uni modules, Twitter, blogs and my reading. I don’t do my dissertation until next academic year… 

Jane Morgan Daniel and Megan Dyson both did their dissertations on topics related to their workplace and this is something that I am now seriously considering because of the easy availability of research data from usage stats, library users and organisation staff etc. I also want to make a real impact in my place of work with research as I feel it will keep me motivated and engaged with my topic. I will definitely take Jane and Megan’s advice on board if I do decide to do my dissertation about my workplace. I will ensure the research question is very narrow and focused, I will attempt to leave plenty of time to traverse the “minefield” that is data collection; especially when looking at usage stats and I will not underestimate the time it takes to conduct the literature review.

As well as gaining many ideas and useful tips from the presenters it was fascinating to hear about all of the fantastic research that has been done.It is so inspiring to hear about the outcomes of the work that people have put so much effort and time into. This is why LISDIS is such an amazing conference concept and it is so much more amazing that it is free! Librarians are awesome!

This is the conference program for the day:

Information and Data
Jane Morgan Daniel: The information needs of Occupational Therapy students

James Atkinson: A Library Love Triangle? An analysis of the relationship between data, information and knowledge in Library and Information Studies

Linking with our users
Helena Byrne: Connecting to the past through the Abbey Ballroom Indoor Football oral history project: Developing a resource guide and the physical exhibition for Drogheda Local Voices
Megan Dyson: The Hybrid Music Library: User format preferences at Leeds College of Music Library
Dilyana Ducheva: RDA implementation: the new cataloguing standard in Europe
Lunch and Library Tour
Parallel session – Emma Coonan on publishing in LIS journals
Challenging Ideas within LIS
Diana Hackett: An elephant in the room: information literacy in the narrative of UK public libraries
Katherine Quinn: Resisting Neoliberalism: the challenge of activist librarianship in the UK HE context

My favourite talk of the day was Diana Hackett’s presentation on information literacy in the narrative of UK public libraries.

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Her talk was especially pertinent as the National Libraries, Museums and Culture demo was taking place in London on the same day as the conference and even though we were all unable to attend, I think it’s fair to say we were all there in spirit with those marching for @5thNovDemo!

Diana found that there is a lack of advocacy for the varied and meaningful ways in which the public library can help people with their information literacy skills. The narrative describes services and concepts such as ‘digital literacy’, ‘getting support’ and ‘signposting’ but does not actually tell people what this entails and paints the library as a passive organisation. There is a failure to communicate the many ways in which information literacy can improve people’s lives.

Diana also identified a gap in the LIS literature; no one seems to be researching info lit in public libraries and this made me wonder why? A few people have told me that I should be looking towards working in the HE library sector rather than public libraries because that’s where the jobs are, public library jobs are low paid, there’s no room for progression etc. If new library professionals are being dissuaded from joining the public library workforce and if people are not researching info lit in public libraries then how can we improve and champion our public libraries?

I am also now considering researching public libraries for my dissertation thanks to Diana and her excellent presentation. The final piece of advice that I have taken away from LISDIS is that I should study something that I love and care about because that’s what makes good research.

Peace.x

 

 

Long time, no blog…

Whooaaah this year is going fast. I don’t even know when I last blogged but it certainly wasn’t in 2016. A very belated happy new year to you! I am now in semester 2 at uni and have been working in my new job for 4 months. Here are some of my thoughts about my career in general at the moment…

  • Going all the way to Sheffield is a pain in the ar*e… literally. It’s SOOOOO far away and the amount of sitting down I have to do on uni days is almost unbearable. 2 hour train journey + 2 hour lecture + 2 hours lunching and studying + 3 hour lecture + 2 hour train journey = so much bum on seat time. I never knew how fidgety I was until this course began
  • I did very well on the technical Information Retrieval module and I don’t quite know how… it was so hard. The one thing I learnt was that IR systems are insane and those people that build them are wizards
  • Currently studying Public & Youth Libraries and Researching Social Media. I am designing a prison library (unlimited budget) at the moment and it’s really fun.
  • I’m a strapped for cash student once again and I have to work two jobs to stay afloat but I love it. Both my jobs are really really great. It’s so nice seeing all of the old regulars at the Polished Knob and it’s good to know that I am going to have something to do over the summer/ will be able to save some money.
  • My library job is very hard and sometimes I feel like I have no idea what I am doing.
  • Working part-time is actually really difficult. My working week starts on a Wednesday so I always have a lot of catching up to do and sometimes feel out of the loop and snowed under by the things that have been happening whilst I was away. I rarely feel like I am on top of things but when I do get on top of things it feels like the greatest achievement ever. Seriously.
  • But I love my library job because it is challenging in a good way. I am learning something new every day and I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to work as a professional librarian so early on in my career. The team I work with are so helpful to me and I think we all work really well together.
  • Managing student’s behaviour is the hardest part. It would be a dream if I could just do all of the book and resource related tasks and not have to tell students to behave every second but alas… teenagers.  There should be some sort of module that deals with this on library courses because this is something that I find very challenging as I’ve never done it before.
  • They’re not all bad and some of them are really sweet and funny. They are the reason I am there and buying books and resources and helping them to access and use them really is the best part.
  • The worst part is when you show them a fantastic resource and when your back is turned, they simply reopen that Wikipedia page they had just been looking at… utterly devastated!
  • I may have lost that battle but I will not lose the infolit war  🙂
  • I won a raffle and I am going to the UKSG Conference in Bournemouth in April and I’m so excited 1) because I am going to a conference 2) because I’ve never been to Bournemouth 3) because it’s a mini holiday yay!

 

Toodles for now.

Thing 19 – The legal side of things

 

 I wanted to put this blog post on hold until I had been to Play, Games and Information Literacy workshop because on the programme for the day was a workshop called the “copyright card game” which I thought might be an interesting thing to blog about.

I have been aware of copyright for a while but only in the last year or so have I really started to pay attention to it. We have also just covered copyright at university so I now feel I understand it all a lot more. However, I would still be cautious and not entirely confident if I was asked to advise a member of staff on what is acceptable for them to use in the classroom.

Copyright can be one of the more complicated and tedious things to learn/ teach and game that can add an element of fun and competition to this *ahem* dry topic is something that I’m very interested in! I love games, who doesn’t!? It is such a clever and sneaky way to teach people; they think they are having fun and are getting out of the learning task but they are learning, just in a more creative and engaging way. I know that I learnt a lot more at the workshop playing that game than I would have done if they had of just talked about copyright.

Here is the link to the copyright card game. It’s available as an open educational game resource and you can download everything you need to play it. http://find.jorum.ac.uk/resources/10949/19369. The game is actually really quite difficult and it just goes to show that even when the room was full of librarians and information professionals; we didn’t know all of the answers. It would be a really great game to play to teach staff about copyright. I will certainly be thinking a lot more about what I am sharing online, especially on Pinterest… I am probably be a full blown copyright criminal because of my Pinterest activity but now I know.

Teachin’

I am pretty sure that I mentioned this briefly several blog posts ago but I am going to give an overview of the experience I’ve had helping Kirsty with her foundation engineering students. It has been by far the best thing I have been involved during my time as the grad trainee (so far anyway).

The foundation engineering course recently reshuffled the course content and the multidisciplinary project was scrapped and had to be replaced. This was replaced with a mini presentation project which was set by the librarian for engineering and the tutor. Kirsty and I ran a session with all of the students where we set them their assignment and gave them advice on how to use the library. We also had a session with the whole group where we advised them about using different types of sources in their work. Together we created the Padlet which I posted on here. It included descriptions of source types e.g. what is an academic journal and why it is important to assess the sources you are using for credibility and usefulness.

It was really good to be involved with setting the project and to see it through to the end. The best part was actually being able to sit in whilst the students delivered their presentations and assess their work. It was only a few years ago that I was in the same position as them; stood in a lecture theatre presenting my work, absolutely terrified. Presentations used to really bother me! It is a daunting task to stand in front of a room full of people and speak to them all, knowing you are being assessed and judged. The majority of the students did it very well but overall they are certain key skills which on the whole need could be improved. 

Quite a few students read from the presentation slides and their notes. This always seems like the best thing to do when you are nervous about presenting. The slides should be there to back up what you are saying and give the audience something interesting to look at/ read. It is very difficult to remain engaged when someone is reading at you. If you do need to remind yourself of the information prompt cards and notes are fine but try to use them as prompts and avoid reading straight off the page. It is the little things that count, say good morning, introduce yourself and look at the audience and talk to us. We really do appreciate it and this will be reflected in the marks!

General feedback regarding the content was that they over complicated it a little. A great thing to do when presenting is to simplify the information and assume the audience doesn’t know what you are talking about (because we didn’t). This shows that you have fully understood your topic and have learnt the information rather than simply repeating what you have read.

Some of the students had a go at referencing and this made Kirsty and me unbelievably happy! We had to control our excitement when we saw a citation because most of them hadn’t fully grasped what we asked them to do. We asked them to find 3 different sources, explain why they had used them and reference them. Most of them simply answered their questions with information more or less copied from a textbook, one of the textbooks being a very out of date 1980 publication. It is easy to forget that this kind of work is new to them and it is easy for them to think that because it is in the library, it must be good. And this is why they need our help!

When I was a student it was assumed that we were skilled in finding and analysing information. Having studied history at A Level I was relatively aware of the importance of source analysis as this was one of the exams on the course. However, once you are at University it seemed that we were expected to understand this and luckily for me I did understand it. It should be a core part of the degree course because it is a skill that is easily overlooked. This is demonstrated by the 3rd year students who come to the counter unable to use the library catalogue. I only used journal articles because I was told to do so and because referencing them meant better marks. No one ever really explained to us why we should have been using them.  

Kirsty and I have both learnt a lot from this project and we have used our experience to revise the Project Outline and the marking criteria (ENG0304L Mini Project Presentations (2)) to focus in equal parts on information literacy, content knowledge and presentation skills. We need to see evidence of source analysis and an appreciation for different source materials. Using 3 different websites neglects all of the other information that is out there. This is a core skill that should be learnt in the foundation/ first year at university and I think librarians are the best people for the job. Compared to the module leader we were assessing the presentations from a completely different angle. He was focusing on the content and subject knowledge whereas we were looking at their ability to find and cite relevant information.

We have put together a project pack which has been given to the tutor and the department. He is retiring soon but was very impressed with the work we did with the students and appreciates the importance of the assignment in teaching them how to use the best sources in their work. He definitely wants this assessment to be on the module next year and so do we. Now we have have revised the project and made it a lot clearer what they need to, they can really learn a lot from it and I believe it will teach them lifelong skills that will put them in good standing should they enroll on the full degree course.