Staff from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences have been awarded a £7,000 grant, from the Higher Education Academy, to evaluate the transfer of skills developed in outdoor settings into academia and employment. Dr Jennifer Cumming and Dr Vikki Burns will be examining the development of team work skills at the Raymond Priestley Centre, the University-owned outdoor pursuits centre in the Lake District. 

Raymond Priestly Centre

“Students are often required to complete assignments in groups, and most employers list “team work skills” among their crucial requirements,” explains Dr Cumming. “Although there is substantial anecdotal evidence that outdoor team skill courses can be effective, systematic evaluations of their impact are rare. This project will use quantitative and innovative qualitative methods to assess skill development and transfer from an outdoor team skills course back to a higher education setting”, she said. 

“We are interested in not only how successful the initiatives are, but also why they are successful”, says Dr Burns.   “As virtually all training courses rely on developing skills in one setting and transferring them to another, we believe our research will have wide reaching implications, in both higher education and employment domains”, she added.

The research will be the product of a cross-University collaboration, including Norman Beech and his staff from the Raymond Priestley Centre, Zena Wooldridge at University Sport Birmingham (USB), Dr Nikos Ntoumanis from Sportex, and Professor Kathy Armour from the School of Education. It builds on pilot work conducted this year with funding from USB and the Centre for Learning and Academic Development.

Canoes on the lake at the Raymond Priestley Centre

Sam Cooley, one of our recent graduates, will be involved in the day-to-day running of this study.   Sam, who recently won the School Munrow Prize and the University Science Faculty Prize, has been awarded Scholarship funded by USB and the College of Life and Environmental Sciences to complete a PhD in the School under the supervision of Dr Cumming and Dr Burns. 

This grant was one of 51 selected from over 780 submissions, and is intended to stimulate evidence-based research and encourage innovations in learning and teaching that have the potential for sector-wide impact.  Professor Craig Mahoney, Chief Executive of the HEA, said: “As higher education institutions across the UK face the many challenges in our rapidly-changing sector, I am in no doubt that the student learning experience will be greatly enhanced by our teaching development grants scheme. Employability and internationalisation are themes that are, quite rightly, high on the HE priority list. I’ll certainly be taking a keen interest in the research as it develops, and the outcomes of the work by colleagues can be disseminated across the sector.”