Six projects to develop on-line learning and teaching materials are underway at the University of St Andrews.
The initiatives have been awarded a share of the £10,000 FILTA package – Funding for Initiatives in Learning, Teaching and Assessment – aimed at supporting innovation and development to the benefit of both students and staff.
The funding is part of the University’s new SALTIRE initiative – St Andrews Learning and Teaching: Innovation, Review and Enhancement – aimed at enhancing the development of traditional and innovative approaches to learning and teaching. Staff are offered support in their teaching roles, through training courses, and academic schools and individuals benefit from funding and learning resources. Meanwhile, students benefit from guidance and support on independent learning skills such as study, IT and personal development through the provision of individual consultations, seminars, small group courses and learning resources.
Details of the award-winning projects are as follows:
 An Online Course in Communications Skills – School of Psychology – Paul Gardner and Ronan O’Carroll.
Aim – to develop a web-based interactive tutorial to facilitate teaching of communications skills. A number of studies have emphasised the importance of improving doctor-patient communication through formal training. Results of these studies have demonstrated long term benefits in doctor-patient relationships.
 Intensive Beginners Spanish – School of Modern Languages – Bernard PE Bentley.
Aim – to create an intensive Spanish beginners course within the WebCT initiative and complement it with web-based exercises and assessment programmes. Supporting teaching in two modules in Spanish, the project will include surveys of the most appropriate web-based interactive online programmes and developing optimum ways of integrating these within the WebCT framework.
 An Online Course (and/or CD-ROM) in Critical Reasoning – School of Psychology – P Gardner.
Aim – to produce an online interactive course to enhance critical reasoning skills, one of the principle objectives of higher education. Based on a body of literature suggesting global strategies for critical reasoning can be taught, the project will hopefully enable students to transfer these strategies to their undergraduate studies, and beyond.
 The Science of the Experiment: Proposal for Development of a video-based teaching module – School of Psychology – S Reicher and P Gardner.
Aim – to develop video tape resources that would complement the recent BBC series, “The Experiment”, devised to investigate group relationships under conditions of unequal power. While the filmed sequences provide a narrative account, the authors plan produce a further videotape in which they explain/ clarify the science involved and discuss the practical implications of the material screened. The resources would form a package to be used in both classroom/distance teaching.
 Teaching Group Theory Using The Computer Algebra System GAP – School of Computer Science – Ed F Robertson, Nik Ruskuc and Steve A Linton.
Aim – to develop methods/materials for introducing the fundamental concepts of Group Theory using “GAP” – the leading international software in this area, the development of which is co- ordinated from St Andrews. Students will be taught how to use the computer as a kind of mathematical laboratory, enabling them to investigate mathematical objects, formulate conjectures about their properties and test these conjectures on further examples.
 Contemporary Issues in Economics (workshop and Newsletter) – School of Social Sciences – S Bonetti and Laurence Lasselle.
Aim – to develop and promote the research “debuts” of senior Honours students in Economics. The project will provide underpinning skills training and development to enable students to professionally present their research and publish part of their work in an annual newsletter, ultimately containing students’ abstracts of dissertations and research projects, and a selection of highly valuable short essays. It will be distributed to all students reading economics and be posted on the home page of the web site for the Department of Economics.
Director of Saltire Frank Quinault said, “Independent assessments of teaching quality at Scottish universities have placed St Andrews in poll position but we are not resting on our laurels. Our aim is to promote still better learning through still better teaching, enhancing both by means of an iterative process of review and innovation. Hence the name of the University’s new unit to support learning and teaching, St Andrews Learning and Teaching: Innovation, Review and Enhancement – SALTIRE!
“SALTIRE’s continuously developing web site provides a means of effecting communication between both staff and students on learning and teaching issues and serves as a repository of learning resources, sources of information and funding. Finally, SALTIRE’s own staff are also using the web to deliver on-line courses through the University’s adopted virtual learning environment, WebCT, to support both staff and students. This approach provides a role model for staff to develop innovative approaches in their own teaching with undergraduate and postgraduate students.”
The FILTA funding package follows the success of a similar scheme in 1998/9 and a Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC) Staff Development Initiative established during 1995-6. The main purpose of the present fund is to encourage the development of new patterns of learning and teaching, especially where the innovation or development requires extra finance which cannot be provided from normal departmental resources. Academics will again be invited to bid for funding in September 2002.
For more information on SALTIRE, please visit http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk/saltire/ or telephone 01334 462141.
Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact: Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st- andrews.ac.uk View University press releases on- line at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: saltire- funding/standrews/chg/20aug2002