Scholarship of Engagement for Politics

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FDTL Project Background

Under Phase 5 of the Framework for the Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL), and supported by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England), five Politics projects were awarded funding amounting to well over £1 million collectively. FDTL5 aimed to reward and stimulate innovation, and encourage good practices in learning and teaching. Politics as a discipline was well-represented under FDTL5, with five awards out of 32 in the Social Sciences and Humanities.

Independent Politics departments identified similar issues that need to be addressed in order to enhance the learning and teaching in Politics. All five FDTL projects sought to improve the student experience in Politics by exploring numerous aspects that concerned the Politics academic community - employability, recruitment and retention, postgraduate research training, and citizenship. Whilst not providing all the answers, it was hoped that all five projects would offer some solutions to improving recruitment and retention at undergraduate level, better integrating work placements into the formal Politics curriculum, making research training a more fulfilling experience for postgraduate students, and enabling students to hone their skills for active citizenship.

The Other FDTL projects:

Developing a pre-entry and initial guidance package for the study of Politics and International Relations (PREPOL)
This project aims to improve pre-entry and initial guidance for prospective Politics and International Relations students, through the development and production of an innovative and interactive pre-entry learning package.
A survey and analysis of young people’s attitudes towards the study of politics, political engagement and political identity will take place, and any information acquired, combined with student evaluation of the guidance package produced, will form the basis for a review of the content, design and delivery of current first year curricula – producing a curriculum development framework. This framework will then be implemented across the consortium with the aim of ensuring a better alignment of the Politics curriculum with the needs of an increasing diverse student body.
The pre-entry guidance pack, along with the curriculum development framework and a report on Good Practice on pre-entry guidance will be made available to all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and professional bodies. Current partner institutions are the University of Birmingham, University of Lincoln and the University of Central Lancashire. For more information concerning the PREPOL project see http://www.ntu.ac.uk/preparingstudentsforpolitics/about/index.html.The Project Director is Dr Rose Gann, Head of Division, Politics and Sociology, Nottingham Trent University.

Case Based Learning in Politics: Problem-Based Case Studies for Enhancing Work Related Learning in Politics
Case-based learning refers to a problem-based approach to learning, which draws on real-life case-studies and simulations of workplace situations. The project aims to go beyond the traditional approach to work-related, and mainstream vocational learning within the core Politics curriculum.
The project will review those disciplines that use good practice in case-based learning (eg: medicine and nursing), to develop innovatory case-based learning approaches to Politics and cognate disciplines, eventually aiming to create interactive templates to enable others to build their own case-based learning packages. For more information concerning the Case Based Learning Project see http://www.hud.ac.uk/ezine/features/case_based_learning.html. This project is being run by Dr John Craig, Lecturer in Politics, School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield.

Teaching Citizenship in Higher Education
A consortium-based project, comprising the University of Southampton, University of Keele and Liverpool John Moores University. The aim of this project is to place students of politics and international relations at the forefront of the drive to stimulate, extend and enhance citizenship education, incorporating political literacy, community action and civic responsibility. Building on foundations laid in the National Curriculum, the project team will be developing methods, including a series of on-line learning activities, which can be incorporated into existing subject-based curricula, for students of Politics and cognate disciplines, fostering education for citizenship. They will be configured in such a way that they can either replace or complement existing modes of teaching and learning for just a week or two. One idea is to involve politics students in comparing their civic awareness with that of their peers on other courses. Others focus on students as representatives and on aspects of social inclusion and exclusion. In keeping with the developmental and iterative nature of the project, further ideas are expected to emerge as it progresses. For more information, see www.soton.ac.uk/citizened/. The Project Director, Dr. Graham Smith, Politics and International Relations, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.

PARLE (Politics Active Research Learning Environment)
PARLE is a consortium project involving the University of York, The Open University and the University of Huddersfield. PARLE aims to deliver high quality research training program to postgraduate students using an interactive multi-media package containing audio, visual and textual components. The teaching and study of research methods within social sciences and Politics, from the perspective of students, can be seen as the least interesting element of an otherwise interesting degree, while departments find it difficult to employ well motivated and well qualified staff in this area of the curriculum.
PARLE addresses a number of needs, concerns and aspirations expressed by political science tutors, students and the wider user-community. First, without a grasp of research methodology graduates lack some of the most important (especially transferable) skills with which to become literate and numerate political scientists. Second, there is no reason why both the teaching and learning of this important area of the curriculum should not be innovative, exciting and fun. Third, there is a considerable gap in the provision of good, UK/EU-based, research training materials for postgraduate political science programmes. PARLE aims to address all these concerns. For more information concerning the project see http://www.open.ac.uk/parle/index.htm
The Project Director is Dr David Middleton at the Open University.