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Risky Classrooms

This workshop is about how first-year undergraduates perceive and manage risk and failure, and how we as tutors might manage this in order to develop supportive learning environments. First-year undergraduates from the UK have emerged from a (perceived) high-stakes learning environment, the pressure of which – I propose – has played no small part in the palpable rise in mental health concerns among HE students. The transition from secondary education, which is often hierarchical and very structured, into HE where critical and independent thinking is vital, requires some holistic consideration. Therefore, this workshop will help participants anticipate their students’ relationship to risk and failure, and propose some practical classroom tactics to combat this and utilise risk in a way which is conducive to learning and critical thinking at the HE level. This workshop is for anyone who works with undergraduates (at any level), though may prove helpful to those from a non-UK background as we will cover what happens in UK secondary education.

Date: Monday 15th October 2018

Time: 10:00 - 12:00

Venue: Teaching Grid (Collaboration Area)

Alignment with the UKPSF

This workshop addresses:

A1: Design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study

A4: Develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance

K2: Appropriate methods for teaching, learning and assessing in the subject area and at the level of academic programme

K3: How students learn, both generally and within their subject/disciplinary area(s)

V1: Respect individual learners and diverse learning communities

V2: Promote participation in higher education and equality of opportunity for learners

V3: Use evidence-informed approaches and the outcomes from research, scholarship and continuing professional development

V4: Acknowledge the wider context in which higher education operates recognising the implications for professional practice

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Roxanne Douglas


I am currently PhD candidate with the English and Comparative Literature Department. My research project, Fear and Anger: A Wave of Arab Feminist Writing focuses on Arab women’s writing from the 1980s onward, in translation. My first teaching role was as a private tutor teaching English as a second language, and then I worked as a sessional cover teacher in a special educational needs college. In 2016/17 I taught on EN123 Modern World Literature, in 2017/18 year I taught across faculties on the Academic Writing Program, EN122: Modes of Reading, IL005: Applied Imagination with IATL, and on IP103: Art and Revolution with Liberal Arts. I am passionate about students’ mental health, as well as just introducing a bit of fun into HE!