Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Tune in to the TuneIN Calendar: Academic, professional and personal development opportuntities for all, Dr Chris Little

The Tune In calendar (Available via ( is a central calendar of developmental workshops and opportunities which all students and staff can attend at Keele University. This calendar is part of the Development Strand, which in turn is part of the Distinctive Keele Curriculum (Keele University, 2016a). Workshops are offered by colleagues from Student Learning, the Library, Health Library, Careers and Employability Services and Counselling and Mental Health Support Services. The live TuneIN calendar can be seen below
Many students and staff are unaware of these opportunities and this short piece will detail the provision which the Student Learning (SL) team contribute to the Tune In calendar.

Allen and Clarke (2007) note importance of such metacognitive and generic skills, like those featured on the Tune In calendar, as crucial to success both in HE and in the careers of our learners. While they do note that it is beneficial to have these types of skills developed within academic programmes, providing our students, and staff, with additional opportunities to develop further. These opportunities promote a reflective mindset and afford more opportunities to work towards Keele’s graduate attributes.

Student Learning Tune In workshops
The Student Learning team offers several academic, personal and professional skills workshops each week which run from October to May each academic year. These are advertised to students via two means: firstly, the workshops are advertised via the Tune In calendar website; secondly, all undergraduate and postgraduate students also receive a weekly email, named the ‘Study Skill Digest’, detailing our workshops.
These free workshops, designed to complement Keele’s academic programmes, are open to all staff and students at Keele. This presents a number of challenges for us as lecturers. Firstly, we have some idea, through our electronic booking forms, how many students will attend, but this does not always hold true so requires a degree of flexibility on group tasks and other teaching methodologies within the session. Secondly, it is not uncommon for us to need to cater for a significant range in academic levels. Any one session could have 1st year undergraduates through to final year PhD students within and our materials and delivery need to be flexible enough to handle this variety.
In the 2013/14 academic year the number of students attending these optional workshops rose to 350, a significant leap from the 50 that attended in 2012/13. The following data, gathered from student evaluative questionnaires (SEQ) at the end of each workshop, indicates a positive experience for learners at our sessions. SEQ’s have a contested worth in evaluating teaching practices, with some feeling they can ‘dumb-down’ discussions about and data surrounding teaching and learning (Johnson, 2000). However, for services such as ours which can, in some areas, have little long-term contact with students, they represent a valid and useful method of gaining feedback about the sessions themselves (Parlett & Hamilton, 1972), if not their longer term impact. Table 1, however, demonstrates a comparison across the last two academic years from SEQs:

Number of students attended workshops
Average feedback score (1-5 scale)
% of students that would attend another workshop
% of students that would like to see these sessions embedded in their programmes
Table 1: Comparative data across 2013/14 and 2014/15
The data for 2015/16 has continued to echo the above, although we have changed the SEQ questions this year to further enact Kirkpatrick’s (2006) evaluative framework. In 2015/16, we have achieved an average feedback rating of 4.6/5 and 100% of students who attended the Student Learning workshops from the Tune In calendar felt it would have a positive impact on their studies and would recommend the workshops to students wanting to further develop their skills. We are currently working on a means of evaluating the longer term impact of the studies and hope to disseminate these findings at a later date.
While we have seen a decrease in attendance at freestanding workshops, this could be explained by the significantly larger number of students accessing our embedding study skills workshops, detailed in Issue 5 of the Journal of Academic Development and Education (JADE) (Little, 2016). One could infer from this that more students are getting this explicit learning development in their programmes thus not needing to perhaps visit freestanding, extra-curricular workshops.
We have also seen a dramatic increase in the number of students attending our Write Direction Study Skills service (Keele University, 2016b). The Write Direction is a confidential one-to-one tutoring service which allows students to work on any area of their academic, personal and professional skills on an individual basis. We predominantly focus on academic practices such as essay planning and academic writing but do also focus on other skills such as presentation skills and time management to name a few. If you feel a student may benefit from seeing us advise them to contact the team on Alternatively they can come to our drop in service which runs every Wednesday afternoon 2-4pm in the Tawney building.

Conclusions: What next?
The Tune In calendar is a valuable addition to Keele’s academic programmes and to many student’s surprise, attendance at any of the workshops is completely and utterly free of charge! If colleagues would like more information please do visit to view the Tune In offering. Alternatively, feel free to contact the Student Learning team on to learn more.

Reference List
Allan, J. and Clarke, K. (2007) 'Nurturing Supportive Learning Environments in Higher Education through the Teaching of Study Skills: To Embed or Not to Embed?', International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 19 (1): 64-76.
Johnson, R. (2000) 'The Authority of the Student Questionnaire', Teaching in Higher Education. 5 (4): 419-434.
Keele University. (2016a). Distinctive Keele Curriculum. [Online]. [Accessed 29th February 2016]. Available from:
Keele University. (2016a). Tune In Calendar. [Online]. [Accessed 29th February 2016]. Available from:
Keele University. (2016b). Write Direction: Study Skills Advice. [Online]. [Accessed 29th February 2016]. Available from:, D. L. (2006). Evaluating training programs: The four levels. 3rd edn. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
Little, C. (2016). The DKC People? The Student Learning team and the growth of embedding learning development in academic programmes. [Online] Journal of Academic Development and Education. 5: 58-63. [Accessed 29th February 2016]. Available from:
Parlett, M. and Hamilton, D. (1972) Evaluation as Illumination: A New Approach to the Study of Innovatory Programs. Occasional Paper, London: Nuffield Foundation.

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Tune in to the TuneIN Calendar: Academic, professional and personal development opportuntities for all, by Dr Chris Little, Keele university is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.