- Database of practice
- PGR e-skills modules from the Exeter, Bath and Bristol ‘Researcher Development Online’ project.
PGR e-skills modules from the Exeter, Bath and Bristol ‘Researcher Development Online’ project.
- University of Exeter
- South West and Wales
- Date first submitted:
- 11 Nov 2009
- Date last modified:
- 27 Nov 2009
- Personal effectiveness
- Research project skills
- Academic practice
- Researcher development strategy/management
- Doctoral researchers
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
Around a third of the PhD researcher cohorts at the Universities of Exeter, Bath and Bristol are either distance based or study part-time (PT). It is often not possible for these students to physically attend skills training workshops in situ. Other provisions for skills training need to be made available to them. Whilst it is possible to arrange dedicated workshops for PT or distance learners, attendance is usually low as they never really meet the time or location requirements of the very diverse range of PhD researchers for which they are intended.
As such we decided to develop online, readily accessible e-learning resources to meet their requirements.
The aim of the Exeter, Bath and Bristol ‘Researcher Development Online’ project is to deliver a range of 10 online skills modules which cover the entire JSS remit within a three year period.
Here we report on the successful production of the first modules ‘Starting Your Doctorate’ and ‘Preparing for Your Viva’. The modules will be complimented by a further 8 being developed over the next two years.
The 'Starting Your Doctorate' module is designed for students who are about to embark upon a research degree. It provides an overview of the key aspects of the doctorate.
The 'Preparing for Your Viva' module is designed to demystify the purpose and process of the viva examination. It offers practical advice on how to prepare for a viva and gives an insight into what happens during the viva examination itself.
Both modules feature exciting, interactive content that is complimented by video documentation from both leading academics and PhD researchers from the three institutes.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
Currently the only pre-requisites are that the students are registered on PhD porgrammes at Exeter, Bath or Bristol University.
The benefit of this resource is that there is really no limit on numbers.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
The collaboration has several distinct advantages for all three institutes involved: (i) national congruence and the Great Western Reasearch alliance - collaborating across three peer institutions is congruent with national policy and practice, through RCUK and concordat. Moreover the link between the three host institutes is a perfect complement to the GWR (ii) Strong Foundations, Critical Mass and Economies of Scale - the existing e-learning and skills development teams already within Education Enhancement at the University of Exeter would provide a strong structure and framework, as both wider skills and e-learning expertise could be readily accessed and capitalised upon. Working alongside 4+ e-learning / learning technologists and 2+ e-module developers, together with over 7+ skills advisors and lead personnel from all three institutes provides a strong framework and locus of expertise. (iii) Cost Effectiveness and Sustainability: it is cheaper to produce these materials ‘in-house’ between the three institutes than purchase a yearly license to provide commercially available materials . Moreover, once developed the materials are then owned and remain resident in each institute.
One of the major challenges is maintaining a successful collaboration; ensuring that all institutes have an opportunity to equally contribute to content and also that the content is 'fit for purpose' at each institute.
The latter point has required some careful consultation and construction of content as institutional regulations can vary quite considerably.
The project will continue to develop e-materials for part-time and distance based PhD researchers at the three institutes with an aim to deliver a further 8 modules over the next two academic years.