UAS Newsletter – February 2013

UAS Newsletter – February 2013

Dear Colleague

We would like to thank everyone involved with a UAS module this year and we hope that the experience of participating in the scheme has been both enjoyable and rewarding for all concerned. Undergraduates have undertaken a wide range of exciting and innovative projects in schools and they have had the opportunity to explore teaching as a possible career whilst gaining important transferable skills which will enhance their future employability prospects.

We are very pleased to announce that we are now approaching a total number of 150 departments that have signed up to run UAS modules throughout the UK and Ireland since the outset and would like to take this opportunity to welcome the department of Computer Science from Swansea University as our latest recruit.

For a full list of UAS departments please visit our participants page

Update on Student Teaching Placement Module in Physics at Swansea University by Prof. Simon Hands

What we believe is the first UAS-supported activity in Wales ran for the first time in 2011-12 when six third-year physics students at Swansea University spent each Wednesday morning of our second Teaching Block working at one of three partner schools in Swansea as part of our new 10 credit module Teaching Physics via a School Placement.

The students chose the option at the beginning of the year, and were quickly helped through the process of obtaining CRB clearance by our College of Human and Health Sciences, who have much experience sending out student nurses on placement. Since we don’t have an Education Department, our pre-placement Training Day in early February was provided by Pam Bashford from Swansea Metropolitan University; indeed, Pam played a leading role in shaping the course, preparing the documentation and devising the assessment, which includes keeping a log of observations and teaching activities across a range of science subjects and Key Stages, preparation of a written learning resource suitable for a specific Key Stage, and a written assessment by the Teacher/Mentor overseeing the placement within School.

We were very fortunate in this regard to have the expert help and commitment of three excellent teachers: Huw Davies at Bishop Vaughan Comprehensive, Danielle Blythe of Olchfa Comprehensive and Pete Lloyd of Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg, Bryn Tawe. As the name implies, the last of these placements was in a Welsh medium school, where our students, who this year happened not to be fluent in Welsh, were still able to work with sixth-form pupils. With each school we prepared the groundwork by drafting a Declaration of Intent and Understanding, with the assistance of our Collaborative Provision Committee, signed by both the headmaster and the Head of the College of Science at Swansea.

For each student the Teacher/Mentor provided invaluable guidance and encouragement. Written assessments at the course end were supportive: … very confident and relates well to other people – he prepares well and is clearly passionate about his subject. I’d encourage him to learn to listen to and consider the advice of others a little bit more. He will make a very good teacher….Very willing to circulate among pupils and help them. He was attentive, patient and would give good and relevant feedback. Was quietly confident in dealings with pupils and staff, takes advice on board. We’re so grateful to our teacher colleagues for the time and effort they devoted to this project, and are pleased that all three are keen to continue into Year Two, when we have another six students ready to put a toe in the water.

Perhaps the best testimony to the success of the scheme is that two of the six successful pioneers are now enrolled on PGCE courses in the UK (two are still in the final year of an M.Phys. degree). Another good outcome is that our colleagues in Computer Science have set up a similar scheme running in Teaching Block one, overseen by Prof. Faron Moller – indeed, the positive impact on our students’ future employment prospects is recognised by the University, and the module is flagged as such in the HEAR transcript.

UAS in New Zealand?

We are very excited to inform colleagues that we are presently in communications with a potential new UAS colleague in New Zealand.

Dr Loretta Dunne from the department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand is in the process of setting up a pilot course to send undergraduates into her local schools to experience teaching and gain transferable skills. Discussions are still in the early stages but it is hoped to align the course in New Zealand with the UAS scheme in the UK. Dr Dunne is not only hoping to link to UAS and become our first overseas UAS ‘sign up’, but she is also interested in trying to promote the scheme wider within STEM subjects in her own university and in other New Zealand universities if all goes well.

My UAS

‘My UAS’ is a section on our website which provides access to our comprehensive yet very flexible UAS guidance materials and other support information, including Powerpoint presentations, etc.

‘My UAS’ contains all the information required to implement a UAS module e.g., course descriptors, letters to recruit schools/teachers, example undergraduate handbook, training information for students, assessment criteria and mark sheets etc. The main UAS information is called “UAS Documentation” but the area also contains many examples in use at other universities running a UAS module. These have been kindly provided by current module leaders to help new departments get the scheme up and running with the minimal amount of time and effort! Specifically, UAS provides guidance documents on the following areas:

  1. Recruitment, Training and Placement of Undergraduates
  2. Recruitment of Teachers and working with schools
  3. Assessment and Evaluation of the UAS module

A new username and password is required to access and download the information stored there. If you would like a new username and password please do not hesitate to request one from me by email.

Help with the UAS Mission

As part of our 10th year celebration, we would like to invite you to help us with our recruitment mission. It is very difficult for us to find out who is the right person to contact in a given department and you may have this local knowledge. So if you run a UAS module in an institution which has a STEM department or any other suitable department not currently running UAS, then perhaps you would be prepared to help us and contact someone appropriate in that department and tell them something of the advantages in running the Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme. Alternatively, if you are not yet involved in UAS but have involvement in a department that could benefit from UAS then we would like to invite you to give serious consideration to joining the scheme and get in touch for further details.

Anyone interested should please contact Brian.Lockwood@uas.ac.uk for further information.

I end this newsletter by thanking Professor Simon Hands for his interesting article.

I hope you have found the information provided in this newsletter of interest. For further information about UAS, or if you have any information to contribute for the next newsletter please contact me Brian Lockwood, National Manager, UAS at Brian.Lockwood@uas.ac.uk

Inspiring Education and Communication