The development of a co-creational toolkit to explain psychological theories and their applications to real life problems.

Dr Erika Borkoles reports on a project supported by the CEL Fusion Investment Fund. The project’s aim was to develop a series of co-creational vodcasts to enhance students’ critical thinking skills when applying psychological theories to practice. The vodcasts were co-created with students, who advised staff on the content and format of the vodcasts. There were 5 vodcasts produced.  Each of them covering one theoretical framework. It is hoped that students and staff across BU will be using these vodcasts in flipped classroom curriculum and/or in their units.

The project enabled media, psychology, and sport students to gain an ‘outstanding and personalised’ experience during their education at BU. Students and staff from three Faculties (Management, Media & Communication, SciTech) have successfully worked together to co-create five vodcasts pertinent to enhance both teaching and learning skills of participants and wider BU population. In future, sport and main stream psychology students studying the following units will directly benefit from the vodcasts through flipped classroom activities: Intro to Sport and Exercise Psychology (Lev 4); Psychology of Human Performance & Psychology of Exercise (Lev 5) (Management); Applied Sport Psychology; Health Psychology & Eating, Weight, & Behaviour Change (Lev 6) (SciTech). The media students are keen to share the technical skills they’ve learnt and also how to manage ‘Clients’ when a ‘production of this scale happens’ (Feedback from a media student). The podcasts will be shared across the three participating faculties and will be hosted on the CEL website. Staff interested in flipped classroom teaching methods would be able to discuss their ideas with our Team (staff & students) and use the vodcasts accordingly. The Team delivered a fun and enjoyable, but academically sound and evidence based teaching material. The creation of the vodcasts contributed to demonstrate BU’s teaching excellence and student engagement.

The project led to pedagogic achievements, including innovation. Based on Kahu’s (2013) work on framing student engagement in higher education the following can be concluded:

  • From the behavioural perspective, students co-created with staff an excellent educational tool, that can widely be used by BU staff and students. The process of co-creation was ultimately an enjoyable experience for the students.
  • From the psychological perspective, the evidence from the evaluation forms shows clear engagement with process of co-creating (both group and individual).
  • From the socio-cultural perspective, which was again well-articulated in their feedback, for example issues of the clashing views of different disciplines, communication when working in a multi- and inter-disciplinary environment, and managing a number of individuals’ expectations all around needed to be considered.
  • From the holistic perspective, the project is successfully completed, so all members have managed to overcome their respective and collective problems and produced a very viable and interesting output. I’ve attached a copy of their CEL celebration event (14th April 2016), which also clearly describes their experiences of the project.

Student quotes, supporting the above statements:

‘I’ve learnt a number of things from the project that ranged from technical to people skills. For example, my knowledge of how a production of this scale happens (from beginning to end), and the time it takes to complete such a project, has improved dramatically. However, the most important thing I learnt was how difficult it is to manage/work with other people.  I’ve never really managed a project like this before, and coupled with being in charge of the creative side as well, it meant that I had to learn how to manage the ‘Client’ (Erika), as well as those on my creative team, and the students that wrote the scripts. I feel that I’ve struggled a lot, but have learnt a great deal about how to process works, and what goes into managing relationships between people (media student).

‘I’ve learnt communication skills and how to effectively organise time to work as a group, so everyone’s view was heard and acted upon’ (psychology student 1)

‘I’ve learnt that team work is vital to the success of the project and communication between the group is essential, to make the vodcasts a success’ (psychology student 2).

‘I’ve learnt how to present information in an alternative way, which both expresses my knowledge of a subject, and allows the audience (of varying, but reasonable ability) to learn from it as well. Interestingly, I feel presenting information this way would be a good way of assessing students (alternative to exam or essay)’ (sport student 1).

‘I learnt theories in more depth especially the one I have done. And also this project enabled me to work with media students and learnt new things such as how to produce a script’ (sport student 2).

When students were asked what was the most challenging about this project, this is what they said:

‘Organising time to collaborate across different faculties (Logistics) (sport student 1). NB. Students in all three faculties had very different schedules (teaching, projects, mid-term assignments) and so on.

‘One of the most challenging things would be producing the script as I have never done it before and it totally new for me’ (sport student 2).

‘Getting ideas across to the media department, as the idea that was in our minds when creating the video was not the same as the production team’ (psychology student 2).

‘Trying to make sure what we first envisaged as a group was achieved, and the media group understood what we wanted the end product to look like’ (psychology student 1).

‘Managing and working with other people was the most challenging thing. I have worked with people plenty of times in the past, as most of my work is collaborative, but I had never really experienced Account (Client) and Production management before. For example, I was not brilliant at replying to emails between me and the scriptwriters and the Client (Erika), and these issues were seen the most when it got down to the edit process’ (media student).

The authors were personally very impressed how the students were able to co-create with each other from such differing educational backgrounds and personalities. They’ve engaged with staff in a meaningful and professional way. The PI avers that she was very proud of their co-creational work and also have enjoyed working with colleagues from different disciplines and faculties, especially with Dr Richard Wallis. For her, seeing how students worked together, when given a freedom and choice to create a ‘product’ from scratch, based on their own research, group work, and collaboration was very rewarding.

When students were asked ‘What piece of advice would you give to the University about developing a project like this in the future’, this is what they said:

‘Ensure the students are given the freedom in terms of the creativity, but content supported and reviewed by lecturers/academics. The students need the freedom to present it in a way they would be able to learn from most’ (sport student).

‘It is difficult to say, but I would probably try and perhaps spread the work over a longer period of time. I personally came into the project late, but even so there was not an awful lot of time to shoot and edit everything. Of course Erika and everyone were completely understanding and it wasn’t an issue in that regard, but I think it was underestimated how much time the creative process takes. I feel that a lot of people who aren’t aware of it, think that it is a very short process, especially when it comes to the edit. In this case it wasn’t an issue, as everyone was willing to wait for the project to be finished, but I think that even the amount that me and my creative team were paid shows how the university underestimates the number of hours a creative process like this takes (I have heard that the scriptwriters worked longer that they were paid as well, so perhaps it could be an underestimate all around)’ (media student).

‘Group work and communication is invaluable to a creative outcome’ (psychology student 1).

‘To allow the team developing the scripts to be involved in the production of it, even for guidance’ (psychology student 2).

‘I would take the things I have learnt from the project into my placement year (for example presentation skills or working in the team with students from different courses)’ (sport student 2).

Please contact the investigators Dr Erika BorkolesDr Richard Wallis, Dr Remco Polman or Dr Emma Kavanagh if you need more information about the project.

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