Reflections on Advance HE conference, Keele, 6th July 2023

Posted in: learning and teaching, Student engagement

As a relatively new member of CLT I was delighted to be able to attend the Advance HE conference at Keele University. In preparation, I poured over the programme for the last day’s presentations and workshops to decide on what to attend from the extensive programme. The overarching themes for the conference were inclusivity, engagement, and the use of digital technology to enhance learning. So, the big question was: did I want to immerse myself in a virtual reality painting to explore the nuances of interpreting art… a possible extension to my life-skills, or perhaps more pertinent to my role at Bath, contribute to round table discussions on post-pandemic student engagement? Student engagement won the day, and it was good to hear other university’s experiences and debate whether attendance was a measure of engagement, and we discussed the potential added value of attendance at recorded lectures. We concluded that engagement was not linked directly to attendance, and data can explore students’ engagement with the VLE. Staff were keen to collaborate in researching these concepts across institutions, as they were processing their own data over the last 4 years to ascertain the shift in student behaviours.

The day was filled with other enthusiastic talks encouraging lecturers to challenge the sedentary behaviours within HE and consider how to get HE education on the (mindful) move, and I certainly stepped outside of my comfort zone to experience techniques to get attendees on the move and away from technology, into green spaces and converse with each and every member of a group, some excellent ideas for ice-breaking. It was refreshing to hear of such practices across the globe, particularly Australia and New Zealand with the incorporation of cultural traditions and greetings, and how learning spaces could be optimised to encourage student engagement.

Some useful articles that were cited during the conference 

Büchele, S.  (2021) Evaluating the link between attendance and performance in higher education: the role of classroom engagement dimensions, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 46:1, 132-150, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2020.1754330

Castro, O., Bennie, J., Vergeer, I. et al. (2020) How Sedentary Are University Students? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Prev Sci 21, 332–343.

Clughen, L. (2023) ‘Embodiment is the future’: What is embodiment and is it the future paradigm for learning and teaching in higher education?, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2023.2215226

Nieminen, J.H., Tai, J., Boud, D. & Henderson, M. (2022) Student agency in feedback: beyond the individual, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 47:1, 95-108, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2021.1887080


This blog post was written by Jo Charles, Curriculum and Academic Staff Development Officer, Centre for Learning and Teaching. If you would like to get in touch with Jo email her on

Posted in: learning and teaching, Student engagement


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