The ‘Mini’ Gathering goes to the QAA International Conference!

Midwifery Lecturer Lyz Howie and two student midwives Melanie Halpin and Ren Forteath attended the recent QAA International Conference on Enhancement and Innovation in Higher Education at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow on Wednesday 10th June 2015.
Lyz presented the data from the evaluation of ‘The Gathering’, which is an innovative approach to enhance PDP/ePortfolio within the midwifery curricula at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). BSc and MSc (pre-registration) students showcase what they have learned through PDP for that academic year. Each September all pre-registration students come together for a day to participate in The Gathering. Students are encouraged to be imaginative and innovative by choosing a creative medium for their showcase. This could be painting, poem, role-play, music, video or baking! The best PDP showcases for each year are awarded a ‘Certificate of Participation’. ePortfolios are also submitted for review and assessed using the QAA for Higher Education PDP Toolkit (2011). Gold, Silver and Bronze awards are presented to students who have demonstrated the best ePortfolios for their year, which has significantly contributed to the rise of use and sharing of ePortfolios within the programmes. Introducing creativity and expression through different mediums can enrich curriculum and add to the ‘art’ of the ‘art and science’ of midwifery.
The stars of the show were Melanie who presented her poem called ‘Whose Student is this?” and Ren who brought her trusty acoustic guitar and sang a song she had written called ‘In the morning’. Both these student showcases were created by the student when reflecting on their year within the midwifery programme and they not only had a tremendous impact on the audience, they also were very moving and poignant. The session not only highlighted the positive impact that PDP/ePortfolio has within the programmes but it also demonstrated the creativity and talent that students had through reflection and creation of their showcase.
Melanie Halpin informs us about her poem and experience at the conference: “When I wrote the poem for The Gathering I never imagined it would be good enough to win an award so I was surprised and extremely pleased to receive recognition for it. PDP can sometimes be an afterthought but for me reflection is an important part of this learning journey as its helps me create a narrative of my experiences. “Whose student is this?” is a tribute to all the fantastic mentors I have had and a way of sharing my experience with my fellow midwifery students who can relate to the fears and emotions expressed in the poem. I was delighted the RCM published the poem through their e-newsletter as well as being asked by Lyz Howie to present the poem at the “Enhancement and Innovation in Higher Education” conference in Glasgow. And actually the first verse of the poem perfectly describes the emotions I felt when standing up at the conference! It was a very enjoyable day and great to be a part of, particularly hearing the stories of other students who have overcome many obstacles to achieve their dreams”.
Ren Forteath shares her experience of the conference: “I felt very privileged to be asked to represent my year group from Hamilton campus at the Enhancement conference in Glasgow. It was a beautiful day and the list of speakers was impressive. Our allocated time slot was at the end of the day, so I had an undercurrent of nerves in my stomach as we listened to the other presentations, occasionally going through my song lyrics in my head! Much of what we heard was either challenging or inspirational, or both. At last our turn arrived and I couldn’t wait to stand up and sing. The audience was very receptive to my piece, laughing at the appropriate moments, and Mel and I both received a generous round of applause. While future engagements at conferences are not likely to have a musical slant, I am certainly glad to have participated and would be excited to do so again. I would encourage any of my fellow students who have this opportunity while at uni to seize it with both hands.”
The results from The Gathering evaluation also incorporated students views on the relevance of the student survival letters. This was a positive experience for the students as they had insight into the year ahead and what was expected of them in a fun, creative and positive way through a letter, song, recipe or poem. This helped with transition into and across the Programmes. Ultimately this conference presentation demonstrated The Gathering to be a positive, innovative teaching and learning approach within the BSc and MSc (with-registration) Midwifery Programmes as a 21st century curriculum, which further embeds the feeling of a midwifery community ethos at UWS.