Is doctoral writing doing you harm?

DoctoralWriting SIG

By Claire Aitchison

Writing is a physical activity that subjects the body to specific routines and impositions – it wears on the body in particular ways. I recall the deformed fingers of my grandfather: he had callouses from holding a pen, the physical manifestation of a lifetime of writing. Writers these days wear different traces of their labouring.

It seems particularly pertinent to raise this question during AcWriMo – a month when all around the world doctoral students are busy pushing themselves to write, write, write. Writing is the business of doctoral scholarship, but not all doctoral students realise

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Teaching animal nutrition through product development and design

Abstract to be presented at #SEBCST16

Students enrolled on Veterinary Physiotherapy, Animal Therapy or HE Equine courses at Writtle University College share an introductory animal nutrition module in the second semester of their first year. In order to encourage development of both subject-related and transferable skills in their curriculum, this module includes coursework which asks the students to analyse a new animal feed in the laboratory, after which they are required to design a package and a commercial video for this product. This was a group exercise.

The assessment was supported by lectures on nutrition for various life-stages in dogs and horses and legal requirements for packaging, lab practical sessions to help understand the nutritional values, and workshops to support the design process and use of various software packages involved in video editing.  At the end of the semester, student groups were asked to present their commercial video, submit a hard copy of their package and were questioned on various nutritional aspects of their product. They received peer feedback and staff feedback on their work, covering both product design and subject-specific matter.

Student feedback on this assignment was positive. They enjoyed the opportunity to be creative and demonstrate their understanding through product design. Some students went as far as to role-play their commercial video or create a 3D model a feed package. There was a good spread of marks, and staff feedback was very positive.


EdD – workshop weekend 1

This weekend I took part in the first workshops of the Doctorate in Education (EdD) which I have started at the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Anglia Ruskin University. Friday night was predominantly an education to the programme, and today (Saturday) was the first ‘proper’ workshop. As it is a professional doctorate, the programme starts with a cohort phase. My 2016 cohort consist of a group of 7 including me, with a wide variety of backgrounds and previous qualifications.

The first session revolved around the concept of educational research: What is is? Who does it? Why is it done? and What are some of the issues around it? Due to the wide range of backgrounds in the group, this led to an interesting discussion on what the goal of educational research is, and we came up with a fairly lengthy definition with some extra features.

Outcome of the discussion of what educational research is. Copyright ARU EdD cohort of 2016.

The second session addressed what it means to be (a) professional. This was a difficult concept, mainly because the term professional, and the associated term professionalism, had different meanings for people in the group. However, we all came to a consensus that professionalism is the more encompassing set of behaviours, values and actions which one needs to display in order to be a professional. On the other hand, what makes a professional was not as easily defined. In order to investigate this further we were asked to produce a short autobiographical piece on how we have developed as professionals to date, followed by more discussion. This made me realise I have come quite far in a fairly short period, and that I have made some unconscious decisions which led to where I am now.

Today has been an intense, but enjoyable day, and I feel I have made the right decision enrolling on the EdD. I look forward to the next workshop weekend, and have some good ideas for the first formative report in preparation of that weekend.Lots to think about, and a massive chunk of reading to do, but I look forward to exploring my own professional practice more over the next few weeks.

My WUC colleague Isobel Gowers on university libraries

#LTHEchat 63: The University Library in the 21st Century. With Isobel Gowers @Isobel_Gowers –

Jeremy Fox seeking grad students for Fall 2017 — Dynamic Ecology

I’m currently seeking 2-3 graduate students (M.Sc. or Ph.D.) to start in Fall 2017! My work addresses fundamental questions in ecology and evolution, ranging from population ecology to macroevolution and using different approaches depending on the question (theory, experiments, comparative analyses). I’m open to inquiries from students with a broad range of interests, but I’m […]

via Jeremy Fox seeking grad students for Fall 2017 — Dynamic Ecology

Amazon CreateSpace publishing

book_coverI have had a play around with Amazon CreateSpace self-publishing platform, using my MSc dissertation as a manuscript, and am now the proud author of a self-published book. It is available on Kindle and in hard copy in a few days. The process was pretty straight forward, so I am definitely keeping this in mind for future projects. I am not sure how much value it carries towards my academic career, but I feel self-publishing is a way of sharing information which would otherwise just gather dust.

A good post on the topic of academic self-publishing can be found here. It is worth a read, whether you agree with the concept or not. I kind of enjoyed the process of creating something new, and am happy my early research is now available to the whole world, rather than just the student who happens to come across it in the Writtle University College library.

Excellent article on research productivity at teaching institutions

By Terry McGlynn, Small Pond Science: What limits productivity at teaching institutions –