A Collaborative and Virtual Writing Group for Students and Academic Teaching Staff


When did you first introduce the innovation?

Between 12 and 24 months ago

Please describe the innovation you have developed

I have implemented a collaborative writing group. This is aimed at improvement of the teaching-research nexus, and dissemination of research via peer-review publication.

What prompted you to develop this innovation?

Academic teaching staff in the main are from vocational backgrounds and their identity as researchers can be underdeveloped. Yet they supervise healthcare students to produce high quality dissertation work, that if disseminated makes a difference to patient care.

In your view, what is it about this innovation that makes it different/important?

Student and alumni participants have a direct relationship with local, national and international healthcare organisations as they are either employed by these services or aspire to on completion of their programme. It is authentic practice-based issues that learners engage with, and influences their academic research writing. Although writing groups are evident within the literature, this is generally focused upon staff only or doctoral students. The fact that this writing group offers opportunities for taught post graduate and undergraduate writing collaboratively with staff is unique.

To what extent does your innovation make use of existing approaches, resources or technologies?

The writing group draws upon effective approaches to support the writing process. In order to make the writing group accessible to part-time, distance learning or students on placement, the use of a real-time online classroom for writing group retreats and meetings has been included.

To what degree has this innovation led to changes in education or clinical practice?

Health care delivery

Participants of the writing group specifically determine an audience for their writing. Based upon the topic of the student dissertation, which specifically addresses a gap in healthcare evidence, writers target journals that are accessed by practitioners working at the frontline of healthcare delivery. Published topics include:

  • Barriers to successful implementation of prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programmes in Malawi and Nigeria
  • Medicines management in the community: An Heart Failure specialist nurse prescriber’s experience
  • Sensory interventions for dementia
  • Reliance on technology and the future of dialysis
  • The impact on nursing care of austerity measures in Spain

Healthcare curricula:

A value nurtured within the writing group is ‘student as producer’. Alumni and learners are supported to write about significant student experiences. For example, a successful publication on educational preparation of male student nurses for touch interventions has influenced the redesign of the pre-registration nurse curriculum at Oxford Brookes University. The Nursing and Midwifery Council will validate this in 2016. Other published topics include:

  • The experience of a postgraduate teaching assistant pilot project
  • Supervisory relationships: the experiences of international master’s students

Evaluation of the writing group intervention suggests that activities undertaken would be beneficial at an earlier stage of dissertation writing. Therefore, I have implemented a further intervention, dissertation writing workshops in order to support development of academic research writing and introduce the notion of dissemination at an early stage.

What evidence do you have of the impact of the innovation?

Beneficial impact is being achieved for individuals and organisations in academia and healthcare through three main mechanisms. Firstly given the importance of dissemination of research-based evidence to improve the delivery of healthcare and the healthcare curriculum. Secondly, engagement of learners and alumni to work collaboratively with academic teaching staff on developments beyond the normal curriculum. Finally individuals are working towards reward and recognition for their publication achievements.

Opportunities beyond the curriculum. Participation within formative writing interventions has enabled learners to form collegial relationships with academic staff and pursue further and ongoing collaborations such as a group presentation at the Oxford Research Network Conference in October 2015. The research has also strengthened alumni relationships with Oxford Brookes University.

Reward and recognition. Participation in the collaborative writing group has strengthened personal profiles for all parties and provided an ongoing pathway into research, further study and employment opportunities.

Further emerging impact:

A broader range of disciplines (psychology & management) is beginning to access the writing interventions. I am integrating technology with the interventions to enhance further learning by developing a mobile application to support academic research writing,

In addition I have been awarded a Brookes Teaching Fellowship.

To what degree has the innovation been disseminated in your organisation or elsewhere?

Authors from the writing group presented at the Oxford Research Network, Conference University of Oxford in 2014 and I presented at the Writing Development in Higher Education (WDHE) conference in 2014.

Specific Links to published outputs from the group are as below:
Alyzood, M. Lansdown, G. Okoli, J & Waite, M. (2014). Supervisory Relationships. The Experiences of International Masters Students. The Brookes eJournal of Learning and Teaching. 6. (2) http://bejlt.brookes.ac.uk/paper/supervisory-relationships-the-experiences-of-international-masters-students

Blakey, E. (2014). A View from Valencia. British Journal of Nursing. 24;1

Blakey, E. (2015). Reliance on Technology and the Future of Technology. British Journal of Nursing. 24;7

Foley, A. Gibbs, C. Waite, M & Davison-Fischer, J. (2015). Students as Producers: The Postgraduate Teaching Assistant Pilot. Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership & Change. 1 (1). https://journals.gre.ac.uk/index.php/studentchangeagents/article/view/183

Godden, J. Waite, M. (2014). Medicines management in the community. A HF specialist nurse prescriber’s experience. British Journal of Cardiac Nursing. http://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/bjca.2014.9.9.444

Haigh, J. Mytton, C. (In Press). Sensory Interventions for Dementia: A Critical Literature Review. British Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Okoli, J. Lansdown, G. (2014) Barriers to successful implementation of prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programmes in Malawi and Nigeria: a critical literature review study. PanAfrican Medical Journal. 19;154 http://www.panafrican-med-journal.com/content/article/19/154/full/

Whiteside, J. Butcher, D. (2015). ‘Not a Job for a Man’:factors in the touch by male nursing staff. British Journal of Nursing. 24;6

Please provide details of any plans you have to disseminate the innovation in the future.

The innovation has influenced a University wide improvement strategy, Every student published, which will disseminate the work within the University and ensure sustainability.

An Abstract has been submitted for the Society for Research into Higher Education Conference, 2015 and a doctoral thesis study is researching transformation of learning and agency within the writing group.