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Introducing a 3-strand model for AEM in 2020/21

by Nicola Tagoe, Projects & Resources Lead in the Exchange

The Academic Enhancement Model (AEM) and Attainment team works to create spaces for open, collaborative discussion to support development of the curriculum and teaching practice (a reminder about the AEM is included at the end of this post).

At the start of the Autumn term 2020, the AEM and Attainment team launched a new framework for delivering the Academic Enhancement Model. This saw the introduction of three discrete strands targeting specific aspects of the student experience: Fostering Belonging and Compassionate Pedagogy, Decolonising Pedagogy and Curriculum, and Enhancing Assessment for Equity.

Choosing a strand

A total of 32 course teams chose which strand they wished to focus on; the AEM college and strand leads supported course teams to decide which strand would be most appropriate for their student cohort and course data. See below for the breakdown of strand choices across each of the four colleges. 

 Fostering Belonging and Compassionate Pedagogy Decolonising Pedagogy and CurriculumEnhancing Assessment for EquityTotal
CCW2226
CSM2406
LCC2147
LCF70613
TOTAL1371232
Table 1: the choice of AEM strand for each course across the UAL Colleges

Bespoke resources and workshops on each strand

Once course teams had been assigned to a strand, they were given access to a package of bespoke asynchronous learning resources to work through at their own pace, alongside termly workshops facilitated by members of the AEM team, and course leaders.

A total of 31 online AEM workshops were facilitated during the Autumn term, covering topics including Belonging Online, Assessment Mapping, and a Decolonising Pedagogy and Curriculum Orientation workshop to support course teams in preparing for the initial self-facilitated sessions. These workshops were attended by a total of 246 members of staff who all contribute to the student experience. This included academics, Associate and Hourly Paid Lecturers, technicians, academic support and language development, as well as a number of LCC Student Changemakers.

Rich discussion and reflection

AEM college and strand leads have engaged in rich discussion and reflection with course teams, and are aware of exemplary course leadership, including the implementation of innovative new strategies. Over the next few months, the AEM & Attainment team will be providing readers with an insight into the work of the three strands here on the Exchange blog. Keep an eye out for upcoming ‘Spotlight On…’ articles!

Thank you so much to colleagues across the UAL teaching community who have shown commitment to enhancing the student experience through their partnership with the AEM & Attainment team this term, particularly at such a challenging time. We look forward to working with you throughout the rest of the academic year.

You’re welcome to get in touch with your AEM lead for a particular college or strand if you’d like more information or have any questions. Alternatively, please contact Siobhan Clay, Interim Associate Dean Academic Enhancement, on s.clay@arts.ac.uk.      


Background to the AEM

The AEM and Attainment team provide support to UG courses that fall below UAL benchmarked thresholds for student satisfaction, attainment, and continuation. A key indicator of this is the awarding gap across UAL. The most recent 2019/20 data shows a 16% gap between Home Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students and Home white students achieving a first or 2:1 at the end of their degree, and 14% gap between International and Home students. Research has shown that awarding gaps are not attributable to a lack of ability in individual students, rather that institutional factors such as the learning culture, visibility and diversity within the curriculum and assessment processes and practices, can create barriers to students achieving their potential. UAL has made an institutional commitment to address these barriers and eliminate awarding gaps by 2024/2025 as part of our Access and Participation Plan.    

The AEM cycle

The Academic Enhancement Model is in its third year and was constructed around the robust framework of a five-step cycle of activity, illustrating the stages of the AEM course journey. This begins with a review of the evidence from attainment data and NSS scores, continuing to dialogue, collaboration and completion of specific agreed actions before a final reflection stage. This process is co-facilitated throughout by the AEM College Leads, who provide support and analysis, share resources and link to wider UAL.

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