Skills for success!

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Catching up with blog entries from an eventful June and July out on my travels. One course that I went along to was “Skills for Success! Study Skills in Higher Education.” The UC&R group East Midlands put on the event at the University of Lincoln – it proved to be a very interesting insight into the variety of skills sessions that Librarians provide across the region.

The day began with an introduction to the learning development sessions offered by Lincoln. These sessions take the format of 1-2-1 booked slots where students get bespoke personalised help on a range of different subjects including writing skills, information skills and project management to name a few.

The second session came from Elizabeth Gadd an Academic Services Manager based at the University of Loughborough. She provided an interesting insight into how Loughborough had found themselves teaching study skills and the support that they are able to provide. Once again they offer a broad range of support covering issues such as report writing to using word and power point in their work (the latter being the most popular.) The format of these sessions includes drop-in sessions, workshops, and embedded sessions. After recent re-branding the sessions have been entitled “Know-How…” sessions. They have also developed “study trail” an online tutorial.

Challenges to the provision of study skills were highlighted including the need for joined up support and the raising of awareness with regards to the transferability of skills. Different services provide different skills sessions and therefore Loughborough have developed a Skills Forum whereby people from different departments meet three or four times a year to share experiences and best practice. They have also developed a student hub – a one stop shop for skills and support across the campus – this acts as a sign-posting site for other sessions and services available. The use of an employability award is an added incentive for students to take part in the skills sessions.

Another challenge highlighted was how to provide support and skills to the teachers who teach. In most cases teachers are teaching sessions that they have previously never taught. At Loughborough all Academic Librarians are encouraged to take the HEA pathway, reading material relevant to the area, and observation and team teaching are all areas that provide potential solutions to this challenge.

Another outcome from the day was a great proposal from Elizabeth that an East Midlands “Skills Share” network be established. The idea behind this is that a skills tutor from one HEI observes a workshop at another HEI and vice versa. The idea behind this would be to share best practice and develop new approaches.

Sally Patalong provided another really useful presentation this time the focus was on her experiences of study skills in higher education. She outlined the different support available at Coventry to meet different users needs. Sally also picked up on a theme highlighted at LAT10 demonstrating the skills a librarian now needs to have – the ‘blended librarian’ incorporating skills required for librarians, academics, educational technologists and counsellors.

Other presentations from Derby and Northampton also demonstrated the role of partnerships and collaboration in the provision of skills support. In all instances the Library is at the heart of them. A representative from Skills4study provided an insight into one skills package available for purchase.

Overall it was an interesting day out of the office – and demonstrated the diverse role of the Librarian. It was also interesting to hear how Librarians are working with different departments in the provision of skills training to support the needs of the various user groups.

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