Abertay Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund 2014-15
“Innovation” Strand
The Abertay Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (ATLEF) was established in 2013 to
support the implementation of the University’s new TLE Strategy, to develop new leading
practice and to build capacity within the University for scholarship in teaching and learning.
It is being funded internally with additional external support from the national enhancement
themes. Following the success of ATLEF 1, which supported 12 projects, ATLEF 2 will focus
on two main strands: the University’s strategic priority on “Reforming our Curriculum” and
a more general “Innovation” strand. The application processes for these two strands will be
slightly different. This document outlines the criteria and process for proposals around the
“Innovation” strand.
Projects will be expected to start in August 2014 and to run for 6-9 months. The total
amount of funding available through ATLEF 2 is approximately £40,000.
Applications must be submitted by 4pm Wednesday 25th June 2014 to If you have an enquiry prior to the deadline, please email
Teaching and Learning Enhancement Themes – Our Priorities
We are seeking applications which will investigate one or more of the following:
 Innovations in curriculum design and delivery.
 Assessment and Feedback
 Employer engagement, enterprise and work-related learning
 Technology enhanced learning, including “the flipped classroom”, use of open
education resources and blended learning approaches
 Internationalising the curriculum
 Enhancing student support
 HEAR-verifiable extra-curricular activities.
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Application Form
1. Contact details
a) Individual or Lead contact details
(All communication associated with collaborative bids will be with the lead contact.)
Andrew Samuel
Job title
Lecturer in Sociology, SHS
b) Team members (for collaborative bids)
Please list the names of other members of the bid team
Job title(s)
School/ Service(s)
David Blackwood (Divisional Leader, Environ. Eng. And Systems Vis.
SSET), Edward Simpson (Lecturer, Environ. Eng. And Systems Vis.
SSET) Jim Moir (Senior Lecturer, Sociology, SHS), David Holland-Smith
(Lecturer, Sports and Exercise Science, SHS), Daniel Gilmour (Environ.
Eng. and Systems Vis. SSET), Ruth Falconer (Lecturer, SIMBIOS, SSET),
Rebecca Wade (Lecturer, Environ. Eng. And Systems Vis. SSET), Clare
Brenan (Teaching Fellow, SAMCG), Gary Muholland (Division Leader,
Business and Magmnt. DBS), Neil McGregor (Division Leader,
Accounting, Finance and Econ., DBS), Wilfred Otten, (Professor,
Biophysics of Soil Ecosystems, SSET), Ian Simpson (Director of
2. Project details
Project title
Acting Locally, Thinking Globally: Developing Learning for Sustainability at Abertay
Describe your plan. If the project is successful, this information will be published on the
NetTLE intranet site.
100 words.
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is critically encouraged by a variety of groups
associated within education in the UK. Yet, Abertay has not explicitly embraced ESD as a teaching
prerogative. Despite its embrace of ‘graduate attributes’, it’s support for pedagogical approaches
and values that match those of ESD and a well-defined research agenda associated with Sustainable
Development, sustainability remains unarticulated as a teaching and learning imperative. Embracing
the Universities new Teaching and Learning Strategy and cognate of the QAAs Teaching and
Learning Enhancement Themes, while building on a developing Community of Practice, this project
aims to elaborate on a whole-institutional approach to ESD.
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3. Teaching and Learning Enhancement Themes
To which of these themes does your project most closely relate? Tick all that apply.
Curriculum reform
Assessment and feedback
Employer engagement, enterprise and work-related learning
Flexible learner journeys
Technology enhanced learning
Internationalising the curriculum
Enhancing student support
Continued Professional Development of staff
4. Project aims and rationale
What are the aims of this project?
How does it support the successful implementation of the University’s new Teaching and
Learning Enhancement Strategy?
What outputs, if any, will be produced?
250 words.
The program as set-up is designed to build on the work already taking place at Abertay as part of a
current ATLEF funded project (ATLEF 1, Project 12). It aims to further consolidate and develop ESD
as a teaching prerogative across the University — a whole institutional approach. In doing so, it
articulates with the institutions current Teaching and Learning Enhancement Strategy; a strategy
which aims to, ‘create a distinctive Abertay student experience that has the potential to transform
its students’ lives’. And it aims to embrace changes to our Graduate Attributes. The Project
proposes meeting these aims, by achieving three interrelated objectives:
1) Investigating the rationale, and practicalities, for Curriculum Reform around the idea of a
‘transformational experience’ through embracing Abertay’s revitalised Graduate Attributes;
2) Embracing the ‘internationalisation of the curriculum’ by ‘thinking globally’, but acting
locally, - that is, discerning environmental global issues that can be acted on locally but
sustainably; and,
3) Facilitating a community wide discernment of the nuances of ESD as could be embraced at
Abertay and in the Tayside Region, facilitating ‘staff development’.
In focusing on Abertay’s new Teaching and Learning Enhancement Strategy and our augmented
Graduate Attributes, we are particularly interested in Civic Responsibility as an overarching ideal,
nesting, as it does, three interrelated characteristics – Personal, Intellectual and Professional. In
interacting with these attributes, the project hopes to evoke Geddes’ idea of civics (Geddes, 2010)
drawing on his argument that scholarship needs to use Head (Academic), Heart (Personal) and Hand
(Professional) in looking at the potential of acting responsibly in enabling a transformational
experience – a ‘civics’.
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5. Intended impact
What will success for this project look like?
150-250 words.
In advocating a whole institutional approach to ESD it is envisaged that the success of the project
will be based on a collective visualisation of ESD at Abertay and, in turn, the manifestation of this
visualisation in a vibrant ‘Community of Practice’, combining students, staff and wider community
interests. Success here can be gauged through the organisation of three interrelated activities with
specific outcomes. Firstly, It is anticipated that ongoing funding will allow further meetings of the
‘Community’ over an extended period allowing further consolidation and realisation of ESD at
Abertay and locally (Regionally). It is envisaged that this will materialise in research funding
applications and publications in learned journals (see Section 9)
Secondly, it is hoped that the successful conclusion of this project will result in a well-defined
Elective Module on Sustainability, providing a platform for future developments on ESD at levels 9,
10 and 11 at Abertay, and additionally root a Regional teaching agenda.
Thirdly, it is hoped that the successful implementation of the project will result in a greater
institutional awareness of the impact and practicalities of implementing changes to the Abertay
Graduate Attributes, especially as regards ‘Active Citizenship’.
And fourthly, in meeting the above, the Project will allow Abertay to engage with ongoing
discussion about changing tertiary Education policy, highlighting the idea of Civics as associated
with ESD, in shaping the future role of an Honours Degree at a Scottish University, its delivery and
its relevance. Here success will be based on dissemination of results in the traditional academic way
– publication and presentation at appropriate learned events (see below, Section 9).
6. Methodology
How are you planning to undertake this work?
How will you evaluate the success and impact of your project?
500 words.
This proposal is based on evaluating and particularising techniques associated with what Geddes
(1915) called the Regional Survey, but in a way that explicitly realises ESD. In doing so, we aim to
help facilitate a whole university-wide discussion on changing our teaching and learning strategy to
explicitly realise ESD. This will be done by building on the Community of Practice already in
existence, and in embracing our new Graduate Attributes.
In particular the project orientates around a collective discernment of the term ‘active citizenship’,
within the context of said Attributes and, indeed, ESD pedagogical priorities – critical thinking,
systematic thinking, inter- and trans-disciplinarity, experiential learning, reflexivity, etc (see
HEA/QAA, 2014, and Deeha and Karlson, 2014, for a detailed discussion of key pedagogical features
of ESD). In doing so, the project is shaped by the Scottish Generalist tradition which arguably moves
on from an approach to citizenship teaching that, ‘has a strong focus on individuals and their traits
and attributes’ (Biesta, 2013: 102) orientating around ‘the development of knowledge skills and
dispositions’ (ibid), to one with a strong emphasis on ‘collective’ (or ‘civic’) responsibility and action;
one that engages with ‘experiential learning’ associated with gerneralism per se (ibid).
Generalism encourages breadth of study (as opposed to specialism) and at the same time public
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engagement. It does so in as much as it is based on the idea that any one area of thought, for
example, an environmental threat such as flooding, or expertise benefits from illumination by
another but more, that in placing such areas in relation to one another allows for a democratisation
of the intellectual pursuit. As Davies (1961) has argued, the ‘generalism’ of the Scottish tradition
acted as a barrier to an individualistic notion of learning and in so doing bridged the gap between
the expert few and the lay majority; in other words, it created an association between varies
aspects of Scottish society and the Scottish academy per se, one that allowed the academy to
remain in touch with the wider community, retaining a strong sense of social responsibility and, in
turn, helping create a civic identity. It was ‘democratic’ because it ensured the social distribution of
intellectual knowledge.
This project intends to use this approach in co-organising (that is, with students, staff and other
stakeholders, i.e., the pre-existing Community of Practise) and piloting fora for experiential learning;
that is, to co-organise and co-run, pedagogical opportunities for our students, staff and other
stakeholders (explicit or otherwise) facilitating a collective discernment of ESD and its practicalities
as regards our teaching practices here at Abertay. These opportunities include a learned
conference, consensus conferences, internal discussion through Yammer and, where appropriate,
seminars and overnight and day-long field-trips (see below Sections 7, 9 and 11, for a full discussion
of these opportunities).
In utilising experiential learning we would hope to broadly align our endeavours with Kolb’s (1984)
techniques; a four-stage learning cycle, consisting of: 1) Concrete Experience; 2) Reflective
Observation; 3) Abstract Conceptualisation; and, 4) Active Experimentation.
7. Timeline and project management
Please provide a Gantt chart-type project plan including details of the various phases of the
projects, any milestones and final deliverables.
How will the project be monitored?
Field Trips
A ticked cell refers to a milestone.
A greyed cell refers to work in progress or working towards said milestone.
Above outlines a four-stage discernment of Sustainability at Abertay, which is building on work
being done under Project 12, of ATLEF 1.
Under this funding, the organisation of the Conference is already under way and is penciled in for
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the 17th of September this year, while additional funding from ATLEF 2 will allow us to further
develop our ideas by inviting additional guest presenters/workshop facilitators and publicise more
widely. It is hoped that we can invite these guests from the Environmental Association for the
Universities and Colleges Scotland, Learning for Sustainability Scotland and NUS Scotland, while
staff from regional Colleges and neighbouring Universities will be invited to participate as delegates.
Three Consensus Conferences, have been factored in, which allows us to bring the pre-established
community of practice together to further discern our understanding of sustainability and its play as
regards our teaching practices.
Internal Discussion has also been factored in and will take the form of electronic communication
through a dedicated Yammer Site (already in operation) and, further, three internal seminars,
student lead and focused’ will be organised and run.
This community collective discernment will then be used to look at the feasibility of adopting
experiential techniques in organising two field trips; one of one days duration to Falkland Estate and
one of three days duration to the Isle of Rum, both are areas of contention as regards land
management and control, where contested ideas about sustainable development are to the fore.
These are also areas in which the ‘Lead Contact’ has an extended action research agenda and
experience of facilitating other experientially-based field trips. These trips have orientated around
an analytical engagement with Scotland’s land reform agenda where sustainable community
development is a crucial chracteristic. Both areas represent ‘cases’ where students’ can discern
(experience and act on) the nuances and competing narratives involved in implementing (or
otherwise) sustainability. So, in organising the trips to Falkland and Rum, students’, based on prior
learning and our collaborative discernment of sustainability, as above, will be able to engage with
real time problems of ‘sustainable’ land management and control through interaction with
stakeholders on the estate and the island, including local people, and official land managers. This
engagement could take the form, for example, of walking round the island with local people and/or
managers, discussing the management of the estate and island respectively (it is envisaged that
appropriate experienced staff will organise and oversee walks around the estate and island as
required, wherein particular management issues will be evidenced experientially, discussed and
discerned) or simply meeting local people as appropriate. Herein Kolb’s (1984) four-fold experiential
pedagogy is brought to fruition in Active Experimentation and Reflection thus facilitating the
‘transformational experience’ envisaged in the new Teaching and Learning Enhancement Strategy
Participants on the field trip will be taken from both staff and students at Abertay. It is anticipated,
15 students will be chosen from existing taught modules at levels, 8, 9 and 10, which articulate with
sustainability at the moment (as articulated under Project 12, ATLEF 1) and are taught as part of
Degree Programmes, at least one from Each School in the University, while 5 staff will be asked to
participate; staff associated with the Community of Practice.
It is intended that all the above will be student organised and student lead, with oversight from staff
on the Project team. To this end, student engagement is a priority, and interested students will be
sought to work on the project as necessary. Four sustainability ambassadors, one from each School
will be appointed and have been factored while their work will articulate with a HEAR profile for
each. The Conference scheduled for this September will, we hope, act as a first contact with
It is also noteworthy that while match funding is not a part of the project as it stands; that every
opportunity will be made to actively pursue research funding as part of this application. Targeted
funders include, Edinburgh Royal Society and the Carnegie Trust for Scottish Universities (funding
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applications due this September/October). Although this is not a limited list and applications will be
submitted on publication of funding calls that articulate with the aims and objectives of this
8. Reference list
Please provide up to five references, if applicable.
Biesta, G (2013) ‘Responsible Citizens: Citizenship Education between Social Inclusion and
Democratic Politics’, in Priestley, M. and Biesta. D (eds.) Reinventing the Curriculum: New Trends in
Curriculum Policy and Practice (London: Bloomsberry Academic)
Deeha, C. and Karlson, H. (2014), Higher Education and Sustainable Development (London:
Davie, G. 2013 (2nd) The Democratic Intellect: Scotland and Her Universities in the Ninetieth Century
(Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)
HEA/QAA (2014), Education for Sustainable Development: Guidance for UK Higher Education
Providers (Gloucester: QAA)
Geddes, P. (1915) Cities in Evolution (London: Williams).
Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as a Source of Learning and Development (New
Jersey: Prentice Hall)
9. Dissemination
All successful projects will be expected to present their outcomes and/or findings at an
Abertay TLE event or conference during 2015/16.
The University’s NetTLE intranet site also provides an opportunity to share the outcomes
of this project, if funded.
How do you intend to capture what emerges from your project and share it more widely
within the University and the HE sector, more generally?
How do you intend to ensure the project’s legacy and future sustainability?
The project is orientated around the discernment of Sustainability as a teaching prerogative, which
is to say, that the project is orientated towards establishing a collective understanding (a grasp or
comprehension) of how we at Abertay, and the wider community, understand sustainability, and
how this understanding can be utilised as regards our teaching practices. To this extent
dissemination is built into the project as its underlying rationale.
As outlined above (Sections 6 & 7), this collective discernment will be facilitated through organising
and running four interrelated fora: 1) a Conference timetabled for the 7th of September; 2) three
Consensus Conferences; 3) Internal Discussion; and, 4) two Field Trips.
As well as the above, the Project team expect that where appropriate traditional means of
dissemination will be utilised. That is, publication and presentation through, respectively, learned
journals, seminars and conferences.
Targeted journals include: International Journal or Sustainability in Higher Education and Journal
for Education for Sustainable Development, while conference contributions (posters or
presentations) will be tabled in as appropriate
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