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LLS Everyone a Researcher Conference 2023: Mini Keynotes

Information and booking for LLS Conference 2023

Supporting International Students through an Intercultural Approach

Nadia Hards

Educational Linguistics

(Short Paper – 30 mins)

In this talk, I will present the results of a pilot study examining how international students could be better supported from the three shocks, which can be described as culture, language, and academic shock (Carroll and Ryan, 2005).   It is evident that international students now form the majority of some cohorts on degree courses in the UK and are important financial assets for higher education institutions. There is also an increasing (and alarmingly high) number of students suffering from mental health issues due to the stress of being unable to construe unfamiliar academic practices, language use and cultural differences, with a large number of these reportedly suffering for prolonged periods (Atack, 2018). This is generally a result of international students not being given the time and support needed to transition comfortably into their new environment, before facing the challenges that come with trying to pass high-stakes courses.  This talk would benefit anyone who works with our international students and may provide insight into what learners may be experiencing and how they could be supported. I will highlight the importance of using an intercultural approach to mitigate the impact of said shocks and promote a positive washback effect. I will then introduce the results of a pilot study carried out, which is the first stage of a much larger project that is currently underway at UoN. Pedagogic interventions around pre-sessional courses are used to incorporate interculturalism (such as making comparisons between teaching methods) with the aim of providing a ‘safe space’ for sojourners upon arrival and potentially influencing their ability to cope on such intensive EAP courses and their potential degree programmes that would follow. Attendees will also have the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences on how this initiative could be augmented further.  


Atack, P. (2018) Mental health concerns for international students. The Pie News. Retrieved from: Accessed on: 12th April 2023.  

Carroll, J. and Ryan, J. Eds. (2005) Teaching International Students: Improving Learning for All. Oxford: Routledge.

Presentation slides

Reducing our Environmental Impact; Greening our Library Services

The library team at the University of Northampton (UON) have been researching what actions we can take to reduce our carbon emissions and reduce our negative environmental impact, in line with the IFLA Green Library definition. However, Library and Learning Services at the University of Northampton is based in the Learning Hub and there is no ‘library’ building.  This means the direct actions the UON library team can take need to focus on our library supply and procurement chains (print and digital) and our work practices and behaviours, including green data management. We would like to exchange with colleagues our findings and ideas for greening library activities.

Heads together: supporting postgrads.

Amy West and Gillian Siddall

Learning Development & Academic Services

Like many colleagues in and beyond LLS, we work with students at all levels of their Higher Education journeys. In a previous research project, we focused on Level 7 (postgraduate) students and the ways in which we can best support their learning and meet their academic needs (Siddall et al., 2020). We would like to speak with colleagues from all areas of LLS and beyond, to understand your perspective of Level 7 student’s experiences. Learning more about the encounters colleagues have with Level 7 students, or Level 7 learning, across the department will help us build on our previous research and inform our practice. Previous conversations with academic colleagues have helped us pinpoint various common observations, and we are keen to add to this for a broader picture which reflects student’s whole experience. This ideas exchange will offer us a chance to learn from your professional perspective. We hope this exchange will help us all to better understand our postgraduate students. Your informal observations could aid us to adapt our practice, and we would hope that the conversations generated may also help us to outline and plan future research with students. 

Siddall, G., Mansfield, S. and West, A. (2020) Levelling the playing field: embedding academic skills for postgraduate students. SCONUL Focus. 71, pp.54-57.

‘So here’s the thing…’ Engaging the local and academic community through events

Jen Townend

Academic Services

This mini keynote will describe the ‘So here’s the thing…’ programme. This programme spotlights a number of speakers from our local and academic community in order to provoke conversations, provide insight into areas of interest and build connections between people.

What’s the point of referencing?

Fiona Watkins and Darren Flynn

Academic Services

This mini keynote will invite attendees to consider why we ask students to engage in citation and referencing as part of their academic study and whether the reasons we give for having students use referencing schema and the way we talk about, teach and assess referencing actually match up. Attendees will also be asked for their thoughts about an upcoming research project on values-based referencing.

The Black Award Gap

Kate Coulson

The Learning Development team at the University of Northampton has been developing research projects to understand the extent and potential causes of award gaps (Coulson and Loddick, 2020), (Loddick and Coulson, 2020), (Coulson, Loddick and Rice, 2021).  However, the team was not prepared for other findings that emerged from this research related to the Black award gap. Firstly, Black students who engage with a tutorial can see an improvement of up to 4 sub grades. Secondly, after analysing award gap data, it revealed that the Black award gap could be reduced by 50% by eliminating non-submission of assignments.

This mini keynote will outline the projects that have been developed: a project with Black students within the Foundation degree framework to ascertain why they might not submit their assignments and a second project to engage ‘Black Student Advocates’ will also be outlined. The challenges of this work will be shared, and the following questions asked:

  1. How has your institution approached the Black award gap?
  2. How might you contribute to the reduction (or elimination) the Black award gap?
  3. Can we eliminate the Black award gap?

Reference List

Coulson, K., Loddick, A., Rice, P. (2021). Exploring the Impact of Learning Development on Student Engagement, Experience, and Learning. In: Huijser, H., Kek, M., Padró, F.F. (eds) Student Support Services. University Development and Administration. Springer, Singapore.

Coulson, K. V. and Loddick, A. (2021) Non-submission of assessment – the impact on the BAME award gap. Conference presentation to: Association of Learning Development in Higher Education Annual Conference. Online. 9 April 2021.

Loddick, A. and Coulson, K. V. (2020) The Impact of Learning Development Tutorials on Student Attainment. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. Volume 17. Available from:

Bringing Learning Alive

Jim Harris

One of the outputs for The Bringing Learning Alive Learning Enhancement and Innovation project aimed to develop a mobile app for the Chester House Estate that would overlay the real world with interactive virtual information to create an intelligent and responsive environment, using augmented reality to present 3D artefacts from the Archaeological Resource Centre along with models created by UON students to support a deepening understanding of the heritage site. This session will provide an opportunity to get hands-on with the app, and to discuss the learning, teaching, and wellbeing opportunities the app may provide.

Presentation slides

How diagnostic tools based around academic skills could be used to support students’ independent learning.

Ivelina Cramphorn

The project which has inspired this discussion, intended to support the evaluation of students’ personal perception of their academic skills through the application of diagnostic tools at the very beginning of their academic journey (Dole, 2017; Ryan & Ryan, 2012; Bryan & Clegg, 2006). Diagnostic tools within the context of supporting academic development and transition to higher education, have been recognised as a method of providing a ‘reality check’ to new students and an opportunity for further development (Palmer et al., 2018; Read, 2016). Furthermore, diagnostic assessments aim to provide meaningful feedback which could be applied in improving future academic performance (Tang and Zhan, 2021). However, further investigation of those suggestions has raised questions about the application of diagnostic assessments at a higher education level and how they could be used to tackle issues of students’ academic self-perception. Those matters are to be explored within this mini-keynote session.


• What diagnostic tools have you come across being used in your institution? 

• Could academic diagnostic tasks be used beyond ‘fixing gaps’ in knowledge and develop sustainable academic abilities? 

• Could diagnostic tasks help us overcome the issue of unrealistic academic self-perceptions?


Bryan C and Clegg K (eds) (2006) Innovative Assessment in Higher Education, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group Ltd, London, 256pp

Dole, S. F. (2017) Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 11(2). 

Palmer, L. et al. (2018) First year students’ perceptions of academic literacies preparedness and embedded diagnostic assessment. Student success. [Online] 9 (2), 49–61. 

Read, J. (2016) Some key issues in post-admission language assessment. In J. Read (ed.). Post admission language assessment for university students (ed.). New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-39192-2_1 

Ryan, Mary & Ryan, Michael (2013) Theorising a model for teaching and assessing reflective learning in higher education. Higher education research and development. [Online] 32 (2), 244–257. 

Tang, F. & Zhan, P. (2021) Does Diagnostic Feedback Promote Learning? Evidence From a Longitudinal Cognitive Diagnostic Assessment. AERA open. [Online] [14/03/2023]