The project was a Shakespeare Institute enrichment weekend that was intended to act as a pilot project for the student enrichment weeks that will come into being with the New Academic Teaching Year (NATY). Postgraduate students were given a range of enrichment activities designed to enhance their MA studies from Academic study skill sessions to a workshop with Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) director Iqbal Khan. The impact of the weekend was assessed through evaluation forms, with student feedback suggesting that opportunities to share experiences and ideas with their Distance Learning (DL) peers was particularly welcome.
The project was delivered in February 2019 to 28 MA students at the Shakespeare Institute.
Theme/focus: New Academic Teaching Year developments
The project looked at ways that an enrichment week could be used to broaden the student experience, give more students the opportunity to benefit from the UoB/RSC collaboration at The Other Place, provide some intensive study skills to MA students and give them a chance to hear from current PhD students. It aimed to appeal to the DL cohort, as well as on-site students, giving them the opportunity to come onsite for an intensive period, to engage in workshop activities, meet other students and feel more integrated into the learning and teaching community.
The enrichment weekend ran from 22nd-24th February and attracted 28 students, 15 of which were Distance learners. All sessions were also Panopto recorded for those who could not attend in person, ensuring that the whole of the student body could participate.
What we did
We set up a team to coordinate and deliver the programme of enrichment activities, which included a session on preparing for the MA dissertation; a session on library resources for dissertation work; a workshop with RSC director Iqbal Khan; a DL drop in session led by Dr Erin Sullivan, 2 study skills sessions with Academic skills; 2 lectures from PhD students sharing their current research; a guided tour of Stratford; a performance by ‘The School of Night’ (comedy Shakespeare improv. Company); a trip to the RSC to see ‘As You Like It’; a Q and A session with leading actor from ‘As You Like It’; a workshop with the Birmingham Creative Fellow and a writing workshop run by 2 PhD students.
What we achieved
The range of enrichment activities that we provided were received enthusiastically by students. MA students appreciated in particular the activities that had direct application to their studies, but found that ‘everything was helpful in one way or another’. For example, DL students valued the opportunity to come on site for a concentrated period and engage with the kinds of activities that they felt they typically missed out on as DL students. The input from PhD students during the weekend, which included sharing their research with others, was particularly popular with the MA students who found encouragement in their own writing and exploring the possibilities of pursuing a PhD themselves. PhD students also benefited in terms of their own experiences of teaching and lecturing.
What we learnt
The project has demonstrated that MA students really appreciate enrichment activities and in particular, activities that have a direct application to their studies. MA students also really benefit from receiving sessions run by PhD students, which is good for future PhD recruitment as well as their own experiences of teaching and lecturing.
Programmes with a significant distance learning cohort need to consider how weekend sessions can be built into the enrichment weeks as part of the NATY. Distance learning students value the opportunity to come on site for a concentrated period and engage in the different activities that they miss out on as a DL student. Some students would come onsite for enrichment weeks as part of NATY, but realistically most would benefit from the opportunity to participate in weekend activities. For all sessions, it was felt that Panopto recordings were also important for distance learners.
Further links, resources, and communities of practice
https://canvas.bham.ac.uk/courses/30498/pages/Enrichment%20Weekend%202019?titleize=0 (accessible by Birmingham staff/students only)
Panopto recordings of all sessions:
https://canvas.bham.ac.uk/courses/30498/external_tools/1777 (accessible by Birmingham staff/students only)
Watch The Shakespeare Institute's Abigail Rokison-Woodall sharing lessons learnt from a pilot project for enrichment weeks in the New Academic Teaching Year (NATY).
For more information, contact the projects office on email@example.com, quoting reference CSLP221.