Research-based learning module


When did you first introduce the innovation?

More than 24 months ago

Please describe the innovation you have developed

A 30 credit level M research-based learning module for professional skills development of postgraduate researchers that is delivered in a non-linear manner with fully interactive remote access. The module integrates professional skills development into PG research in a highly accessible and flexible manner, and breaks down the barriers between PG research and professional skills development. In contrast to many credited PGR activities in the UK that focus on disciplinary concerns (methodologies, etc.) it takes a wider, deeper view of fundamental PGR skills.

What prompted you to develop this innovation?

Professional development activities for postgraduate researchers are generally perceived as something outside PGR’s primary activity (doing their research). The gap between the two activities was, we felt, very unhelpful and helped to foster feelings against PGRs engaging in the development activities that they need to. From the Roberts funding onwards, supplementary activities for PGRs were meant to focus on their general professional skills but we felt that this frequently did not happen in the delivery, with activities focusing primarily on disciplinary and methodological concerns. We felt that this trend has been exacerbated by Doctoral Training Centres.

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

It is ‘research-based learning’ inspired by the successful practice of work-based learning. It integrates professional skills development with research skills development to mutual benefit and does so in a manner that makes the module entirely accessible to remote and PT PGRs. We believe it is the first module of its type in the UK. The module is not linear, so PGRs can engage with the different parts of it when it is of benefit to them and their research project. It is delivered via Visimeet conferencing software that also enables multi-channel recording, so PGRs can attend remotely but also watch multi-channel recordings of all the workshop interactions at any time. In Visimeet we have virtual breakout rooms that are used in workshops.

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

It draws on the experience of delivering work-based learning at UWE. It uses existing video conferencing facilities. Overall, it draws upon existing approaches and resources but extends them.

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

It has led to PGRs timing their professional development activities to suit their research, and positive reinforcement between the two. It has led to PGRs engaging in professional skills development alongside a more diverse range of PGRs than is usually the case, enhancing their skills development.

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

We were invited to give a workshop about the innovation at the Vitae International Conference for Researchers at Manchester 2013.

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

We have delivered the module to PGRs from all the Faculties of the university. We have presented a workshop about the module at an international conference.

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

None at present.