Dr Declan Wiffen, Dr Juha Virtanen, Dorothy Lehane, and Professor David Stirrup
School of English
Faculty of Humanities teaching award
The collaborative colleagues are all from the School of English. In recent years’ students in the School of English at Kent have indicated that their summer term didn’t seem as rewarding as it could be.
The team interpreted this as the students wanting more learning opportunities in their summer term; that students felt isolated; and, for third years specifically, they wanted to mark the end their degree by engaging with the School and their peers. The team put on a suite of activities to meet this need focusing upon extra-curricular activities to promote engagement, nurture belonging and enhance employability.
In 2018, the School piloted a summer project where students created and ran Writing for Wellbeing workshops for patients at Pilgrims Hospice. This was designed to enable students to develop transferable skills from their degree and put them into practice outside of the classroom.
In 2019, Academic Workshops were designed and led to the involvement of more staff in the summer term activities. Explore Kent: Kentish literary locations [funded by TESSA] was a project open to all undergraduate students in the School of English. Students participated in an informal workshop on a text by a literary figure from the local area and then visited the location the writing was based on. The three days were Derek Jarman and Dungeness; Charles Dickens and Rochester; Vita Sackville-West and Sissinghurst. These three writers were chosen as they map onto three core Research areas in the School: Contemporary Literature, Victorian Literature, and Modernist Literature.
Finally, the Summer Research Internships created an opportunity for third year undergraduates to work on a large research project ranging from: archival work, image research and analysis, database production, online map creation, to blogging and report writing. The range of activities and learning opportunities the team created had a transformative impact on both staff and students within the School of English.
The varied opportunities stimulated curiosity; built skills and knowledge; inspired future learning; encouraged peer-peer relations and meaningful interactions with staff; promoted well-being and provided HE experience relevant to future goals.