Executive Summary

Should this project be approved by the committee, it will enhance students’ understanding of themselves as imaginative and creative practitioners, whatever discipline in which they work. It will seek to put students at the heart of the assessment process, supporting them in designing their own assessment methods for the module ‘Applied Imagination’ upon which this project is partly based. It will involve students in the development and sustainability of the module, as they take a key role in training tutors to contribute to future years. It will support tutors in developing teaching based on their own creative and imaginative practices as producers of knowledge. It will pilot a way of sustaining modules which different tutors contribute to every year, and will ensure that students are at the centre of that process. It will produce and share practice and research that has developed as a result of the project both within the university and outside it and it will strengthen the relationship between the Writing Centre and IATL, two organisations with an interest in sharing innovative pedagogical practice with students and tutors.

The idea for this project has grown from a number of sources. The IATL Pedagogy and Play day was influential in helping to crystallise and develop ideas around the use of imagination and creativity in the classroom, both in terms of the approach to teaching and as a subject with which there is value in engaging directly. The Writing Programme for Schools MA in Writing module, which grew out of an IATL Pedagogical Intervention grant, has also shown the importance for students of developing an understanding of their own imaginative and creative practices, particularly in relation to other people’s, and using that as a basis for supporting other people (seven and eight year olds in this case) to thinking about their own ways of being creative. That project has emphasised the well established theory that teaching and communicating is one of the best ways to embed understanding and practice for students.

This project will involve collaboration between the Writing Centre and IATL, enabling the sharing of pedagogic practice and theory, and resulting in IATL’s aims being embodied through the work of a new partner centre.

The Writing Centre is not only concerned with teaching academic writing for the sake of achieving strong student assessment scores, it is also a means of establishing and sharing creative and effective pedagogic practice across a wide range of departments and centres. With the development of digital academic writing resources freeing up time previously used for lectures, it is vital to use face-to-face teaching time as creatively as possible, encouraging students to engage with the principles of academic writing on an individual level regardless of their own learning style or previous educational experience. By contributing to the ‘Applied Imagination’ module and the student/tutor training sessions, the Writing Centre can share its previous experience of student-led teaching and active learning strategies, encouraging both students and tutors alike to expand their definitions of ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’.

The Writing Centre’s involvement with this project will allow for the outcomes and practices established by the ‘Applied Imagination’ module to be incorporated into the training of tutors in two key academic writing modules, CS133 and PX376. The first, CS133, is a core module for first year Computer Science undergraduates (usually 80-90 students per year) and the second is a Physics module for finalists (usually c.90 students per year). Both modules are well established and successful examples of interdisciplinary teaching, but this project would allow us to pilot schemes of student involvement in tutor training and pedagogic approaches. This will allow students to feel more invested in the modules (of particular importance for skills-based learning) and to contribute to the overall design of the material and its delivery.

Additionally, this project will provide research material to support the Writing Centre’s aim of incorporating student feedback into creative pedagogic practice across our entire range of academic writing provision (involving seven university departments, including WMS, WBS and WMG, in 2013/14). By feeding the student experience of a module back into its construction and the training of its tutors, the Writing Centre will be encouraging Warwick students to actively participate in the design of a more democratic, open and responsive pedagogic strategy. This approach will also ensure that academic writing skills are taught effectively and creatively, increasing the likelihood of individual student success and firmly establishing student feedback as an essential component of any academic writing module.