Previous Learning and Teaching Conferences

2020 Learning and Teaching Conference. "Preparing Students For The Future: Employability and Education for Sustainable Development"

Thursday 9 January 2020 and Friday 10 January 2020, The Diamond

Learning & Teaching Conference 2020 Photo 1

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Conference Themes this year:

The 2020 conference explored how we can successfully prepare our students for graduation and their futures with a particular focus on Employability and Education for Sustainable Development.

The Programme Level Approach priority areas of employability and education for sustainable development seek to equip students with the knowledge, skills, values and attributes they will need to make a difference in their chosen careers, and to play their part in finding solutions to the urgent environmental, economic and social challenges that we face.

This year, we invited academic and teaching staff from across the University of Sheffield to share their experiences and expertise in these areas using a range of formats. Staff-student collaborations were particularly welcome. Some suggested topics were:

  • Embedding skills and attributes within the curriculum.
  • Collaborating with employers in curriculum design, delivery and review.
  • Ensuring curriculum content is current and relevant.
  • Incorporating Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) activities that positively impact on the programme offer.
  • The Learning and Teaching Conference is an opportunity to engage in conversations around learning and teaching and to develop your practice in a way that will embed the student experience.

Keynote Speech

Panel Discussion and Q&A

Materials from the 2020 conference.

Conference Summary

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2020 Learning and Teaching Conference.

This year's conference was a new approach - we experimented with a new venue, moving from the Student Union to The Diamond, brought in a new format over two days, and tried to minimise our use of paper.

We also used Google live captioning (with varying degrees of success!), and provided a dedicated quiet space in the venue for those who wished to escape the hustle and bustle of the Conference. Our Keynote speaker Zoe Robinson of Keele University highlighted an uncomfortable contradiction between employability and sustainability, while our Head of Careers Helen Smith asked how we can prepare our students for a radically different future. We involved student speakers, drawing on their passion for sustainability, and threaded the question of inclusivity through many of our discussions.

If you weren’t able to make it to the conference, please explore the links below to some of the presentation slides to get a flavour of what was discussed across the day.

Conference Resources

Thirteenth Annual Learning and Teaching Conference. 'Assessment and Feedback for Student Learning'

Tuesday 8 January 2019, Students' Union Building.

Assessment and feedback is key to the student learning experience, as highlighted by its presence as a common theme in evaluations from students themselves. Positive approaches to assessment and feedback practice focus on assessment for learning, rather than assessment of learning; assessment that enhances student learning can be formal, but can also be ongoing, formative and informal. Assessment and feedback takes many forms, including not only ‘traditional’ methods but also ongoing practical work, discussions of ideas, and support through personal tutorials and research supervision at all levels of study. However, there are potential tensions between ensuring that students feel supported and informed of how they are learning throughout their programme, and making sure that they are not over-assessed in a way that impacts negatively on their wellbeing or that of staff. At Sheffield we are committed to developing inclusive, coherent approaches to assessment and feedback that benefit and inspire students by enabling them to reflect on their learning and identify areas in which they can develop. Taking a programme level approach, whether at the level of undergraduate, postgraduate or PhD study, can help to ensure that assessment is timely and that feedback informs future activities, while reducing the potential for duplication and over-assessment.
This conference will explore the ways in which assessment and feedback practices, processes and values can be designed and enacted to support student learning. Colleagues are invited to share how they have approached assessment and feedback at all levels and in all teaching contexts to:

  • implement assessment and feedback methods that are appropriate and proportionate in supporting student learning
  • develop criteria to support the assessment process
  • actively engage students in the development of assessment and feedback practice
  • diversify assessment and feedback methods
  • embed inclusivity in assessment and feedback
  • adopt a coherent, consistent and balanced approach to assessment and feedback design across the programme
  • support students to cultivate lifelong academic and transferable skills through assessment and feedback
    The topic of assessment and feedback will be a key area of focus over the coming months. This event provides an opportunity to start critical and thought-provoking conversations around the development of practices that can benefit the experiences and learning of our students.

Professor Wyn Morgan, Vice-President for Education.

View materials from the 2019 conference

Conference Materials

An image from the 2019 Learning and Teaching Conference

An image from the 2019 Learning and Teaching Conference

An image from the 2019 Learning and Teaching Conference

An image from the 2019 Learning and Teaching Conference

Learning and Teaching Conference Archive

View summaries of previous Learning and Teaching Conferences.


The University's twelfth annual Learning and Teaching Conference.
'Engaging Students in a Research-Intensive Environment'

Tuesday 9 January 2018, Students' Union Building.

"Defined in Learning and Teaching at the University of Sheffield 2016-2021 as ‘moving away from a module level view of teaching to help create coherence and enable reshaping of teaching and assessment, [and] encourage a team approach to teaching’, taking a programme level approach to the curriculum prompts us to think holistically about how our teaching can support an inspiring and engaging learning experience for our students.

This conference aims to provide critical insights into the benefits, challenges and opportunities of adopting a programme level approach in practice to support student learning. As well as drawing on emerging findings from the institutional programme level view pilots and research around the role of the programme leader, it will offer a space for colleagues from across the institution to share their own experiences of working at a programme level to enhance curriculum design. These could include:

  • reviewing and redesigning programmes to enhance student experience and/or mitigate compartmentalisation of learning
  • engaging students in the design of programmes
  • creating holistic approaches to assessment and feedback that go beyond modular and/or departmental boundaries
  • supporting student skills development through all levels of the programme
  • leading teams, both within and across departments, to develop holistic programmes.

By conceptualising our curriculum from the perspective of the programme, we can start to think beyond modular boundaries and constraints. As a result, this programme level view potentially opens up more possibilities for innovative teaching approaches to enhance the student learning experience."

Professor Wyn Morgan, Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching.

View the conference programme here:

View the full conference report here:


The University's eleventh annual Learning and Teaching Conference.
'Engaging Students in a Research-Intensive Environment'

Tuesday 10 January 2017, Students' Union Building.

"This conference seeks to explore what we mean by ‘engagement’ in the context of our research-intensive environment, and consider ways of involving students not only in the learning process but also in the wider learning community of this university. As an institution that brings together world-leading research and high-quality teaching, we are well-placed to utilise our expertise in a wide range of processes, models and frameworks to provide learning experiences that will inspire our students and foster collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. Successful research is often the result of an ongoing process of dialogue, experimentation and inquiry, and it is this approach that we need to harness to help students take ownership of their learning and become integral to our university community. This could include:

  • drawing on techniques of inquiry at all stages of the curriculum to enable students to shape their learning in a way that enthuses, inspires and excites them
  • fostering creativity, challenge and experimentation by developing students as active participants within a research-intensive learning community
  • developing genuine collaborations between students and teachers to design learning experiences both within and across disciplines
  • bringing together students from diverse backgrounds to learn from each other through the sharing of experiences
  • adopting an outward-facing ethos as part of the curriculum which encourages students to work with communities beyond the University to create innovative solutions to real-world problems
  • supporting students to become confident, independent and self-directed learners

The focus of this event therefore goes further than incorporating research findings or using innovative techniques in individual teaching sessions. Drawing on our experience of collaboration, creativity and inquiry as a research-intensive institution to inform our curriculum design and teaching practice will enable us to inspire the next generation of scholars, leaders and entrepreneurs."

Professor Wyn Morgan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching.

View the conference programme here:

View the full conference report here:


The University's tenth annual Learning and Teaching Conference.
'Celebrating Success in Learning and Teaching'

Thursday 7 January 2016, Students' Union Building.

"As places of innovation and creativity, Higher Education institutions are continuously finding new ways to enhance the learning and teaching of our students. The University of Sheffield exemplifies this openness to development, for example by adapting modules and teaching methods to foster greater student engagement, embracing the role of technology in enabling new forms of learning, and promoting the growth of interdisciplinary learning and teaching. Our internationally-recognised research continues to shape teaching in new and exciting ways, while we also bring a range of academic, employability and cultural benefits to students through increased international and practical experience.

This tenth annual Learning and Teaching Conference gives us the opportunity to celebrate and explore such developments through five distinct, but closely related areas of discussion:

  • fostering greater student engagement through innovative teaching methods and involving students in curriculum design
  • adopting an interdisciplinary approach to offer a diverse and holistic learning experience
  • providing students with practical experience and international awareness to develop skills for a global workplaceIncorporating the University's excellent research into our learning and teaching methods
  • creating an engaging and inclusive environment to enable effective learning.

This year not only marks the tenth annual Learning and Teaching Conference, but also coincides with the development of the University’s new Learning and Teaching Strategy, setting out our core priorities and goals for the next five years. As the new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, this conference gives me an important opportunity to reflect on learning and teaching at The University of Sheffield, celebrate what has already been achieved with you, and look forward to how we might build on this in the coming years."

Professor Wyn Morgan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching.

View the conference programme here:

View the full conference report here:


The University's ninth annual Learning and Teaching Conference.
'Developing Student Learning Beyond Knowledge Acquisition'

Tuesday 6 January 2015, Students' Union Building.

"Higher Education institutions play a unique role in supporting student learning - they not only provide a forum for the discovery and creation of new ideas, concepts and forms of knowledge, but they also enable students to develop skills, values and behaviours that will be of value beyond their graduation. In today's uncertain economic environment, our University is more determined than ever to ensure that our graduates are equipped with the skills and approaches they need for employment, enterprise or further study in a globalised world, as expressed in our Sheffield Graduate attributes. This might include developing:

  • core practice competences required to carry out particular tasks in a vocational setting
  • transferable skills such as team working, critical thinking, digital literacy and independent planning that are key to any workplace
  • academic techniques for example around information literacy, revision planning and effective note-taking
  • ways of critically evaluating their own approach to studying in their discipline in order to become more effective learners
  • expertise in working across disciplinary and professional boundaries.

Our interdisciplinary 'Achieve More' initiative, which all faculties have begun to implement from September 2014, is one of the ways in which we are supporting student development strategically across the University. However, many departments and services already use a wide range of innovative and creative approaches both within the curricula and more broadly to encourage students to utilise their subject knowledge and build up relevant disciplinary and generic skills. As teachers and supporters of learning, we need to consider our role in facilitating skills development beyond knowledge acquisition to enable students to apply what they've learned to new settings, new experiences and new challenges."

Professor Anne Peat, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning & Teaching.

View the conference programme here:

View the full conference report here:


The University's eighth annual Learning and Teaching Conference.
'Digital Possibilities: Inspiring learning through technology'

Tuesday 7 January 2014, Students' Union Building.

"Universities have long been regarded as centres of innovation, from leading cutting-edge research to exploring new approaches in learning and teaching. However, recent advancements in technology mean that many of our students are already accustomed to using the internet, videos and social media to interact with their world at a time, place and pace that suits them before they arrive at university. At Sheffield, we want to ensure that the teaching methods we use, whether face-to-face or digital, are designed to meet the learning needs of our diverse group of students. The use of technology does not have to be complex or onerous. From clickers, podcasts and online peer feedback to MOOCs and iTunesU, staff across the University are already deploying digital tools in their teaching. The theme for this year’s Learning and Teaching Conference – ‘Digital Possibilities’ – provides an opportunity for us to reflect on how we can use technology to support student learning. Today’s sessions will look at how digital approaches can enhance teaching activities, support effective assessment and feedback, further peer collaboration among students and facilitate learning outside the classroom. However, a key element of our discussions today will be to consider how technology can be used alongside face-to-face methods to add value to our existing approaches, rather than replacing them. Exploring how to integrate digital technologies into the design of our teaching encourages us to reflect on what we do, why we do it, and how we could have a greater impact on our students’ learning. Asking these challenging questions will help us to provide the best learning experience we can for our students."

Professor Paul White, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching.

View the conference programme here:

View the full conference report here:


The University's seventh annual Learning and Teaching Conference.
'Embracing Diversity'

Wednesday 9 January 2013, Richard Roberts Building.

The University of Sheffield has a diverse student body that falls into many different groups including nationality, socio-economic background, disability and health, employment status, age group and location. This conference provided an opportunity for colleagues across the university to share strategies and practices that ensure that all students have a quality learning experience that is enriched by diversity. In particular, it provided an opportunity to explore and share examples of:

  • building inclusive communities of learning
  • teaching diverse groups of students including those with different life experiences, and teaching UG and PGT students together
  • integrating home and international students
  • formative and summative assessment strategies for diverse groups of students
  • incorporating international and inter-cultural perspectives in to the curriculum
  • valuing students' previous learning styles and educational cultures, particularly in transitional support
  • using mentoring/peer support/personal and academic support to enrich diversity and promote inclusivity
  • understanding and utilising student perspectives
  • providing opportunities for all students to develop employability skills for a global market

Almost 300 people attended the conference and contributed to thought provoking discussions throughout the day.


The University's sixth annual Learning and Teaching Conference.
'Teaching Differently: New programmes, new delivery'

Monday 9 January 2012, Richard Roberts Building.

The conference this year was designed to help you in this changing educational environment: an exciting variety of sessions where 90 colleagues presented practical teaching workshops, panels on teaching approaches to plenaries where senior academics discuss how strategy has been developed to deliver an improved student experience.

Key streams and sessions at the conference considered and demonstrated:

  • innovative clinical teaching practices
  • research-led teaching
  • setting up collaborations and civic engagement
  • how technology and creativity can make learning and teaching more effective
  • delivering postgraduate and supervision differently
  • feedback and student engagement
  • creating learning spaces
  • recruiting different types of students (international, WP, mature)
  • teaching professional/employability skills and internationally diverse cohorts

The University's firth annual Learning and Teaching Conference.
'Identifying What We Offer: Preparing students to move on'

Monday 10 January 2011, Richard Roberts Building.

On September 30, 2010 our Vice Chancellor Keith Burnett sent University staff an email where he gave us his answer, "We need to work even harder on employability, supporting our excellent new graduates in the development of crucial skills in one of the most challenging employment markets we have seen for decades. Questions of teaching quality, assessment, and the interactions between teaching and research will continue to be high on our agenda." This came just as our PVC for Learning and Teaching Professor Paul White began to hold consultations across the University about the new Learning and Teaching Assessment Strategy (LTAS), the University's agreed teaching objectives for the next 5 years. Our 5th Learning and Teaching Conference will be a place for you to consider how everyday life in the University ties into broader strategy and why this matters.

The aim of this conference was to enable staff to consider common problems, explore experiences of teaching and come together to think about "how my solutions can be adapted to address the challenges you and (your) students face."


The University's fourth annual Learning and Teaching Conference. 'HE 2010: New partnerships for learning'.

Thursday 14 January 2010, Richard Roberts Building.

There were two main strands to the conference: employability and international collaboration. 190 people registered for the conference although we had a few no-shows on the day, unsurprisingly given the poor weather conditions. All faculties were represented, with delegates from 36 different academic departments attending, along with colleagues from 10 professional services. Our furthest-travelled, and most popular, presenter was Petros Kefalas from City College in Thessaloniki and our furthest-travelled delegate was Karyn Gonado from Queensland Institute of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

For the plucky delegates that braved the ice and snow (did I really see a sledge behind the registration desk?!) there was a great day in store, starting off with an introductory presentation from Paul White, Pro Vice Chancellor for Learning and Teaching. Taking a direct and pragmatic approach, Professor White outlined some of the threats facing the University in the current economic climate, such as cuts in HEFCE funding; the possible introduction of differential fees; instability in international student recruitment; and the continuing need to do more with less. But the presentation also emphasised the opportunities open to us to deal with these threats, for example, by utilising collaborative approaches to learning and teaching and exploiting our reputation for research, thereby maintaining excellence (and student numbers).

There were 11 sessions in total, eight covering different aspects of employability and three on international collaborations. The range and diversity of these sessions reflects the fantastic variety and quality of work going in the University at the moment with regards to employability - it's not just a case of throwing in a few generic skills sessions, there's some really innovative and thoughtful work going on that's tailored to the needs of different disciplines and professions.

International collaborations are an important potential area of growth for the University. The three sessions on this topic covered transition to UK higher education, feedback from some of our international partners on developing programmes with us, and key stages in building a successful international relationship. You can read more about all of the sessions that took place, and download presentations and handouts for many of them.