Learning Development
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Latest News

May 2013

The 2013 Peer Assisted Learning Student Conference is to be hosted by Plymouth University on November 8th and 9th, 2013. PASS and PALS Leaders from across the UK and Ireland will have an opportunity to share practice and develop their skills. More information will be sent out over the summer but for initial inquiries, please email: studentsaspartners@manchester.ac.uk

April 2013

National Learning Development Conference The Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE) 10th anniversary conference was held at Plymouth University on March 25th-27th, 2013.

The conference provided an opportunity to recognise achievements in the field of learning development andl look ahead and ask how we are adapting to the ever changing landscape of higher education; responding to strategic changes in government policy and funding and leading innovation in educative practice, particularly through the use of new technologies and supporting creative learning and teaching practices.

Keynote speakers

Les Ebdon who recently took up the position of Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, Stella Cottrell, who many know though her seminal publications on academic skills and learning development and we welcomed Dave Cormier from the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada. Dave is an educational activist and researcher with an interest in 'rhizomatic learning' and practical classroom uses of open learning.

September 2012

PALS@Plymouth: The video 'What the Students Say' is now available.

Link to Older News


The Plymouth University Learning Development and LearnHigher video resource for teaching staff: Includes short video clips, PowerPoint presentations, handouts and in-class activities designed to support embedding critical thinking and reflection in your lectures/curriculum. (See www.learnhigher.ac.uk for teaching resources on other topics)

A Student video on critical thinking and reflection is also available.

WrAssE fish

Writing for Assignments E-library (WrAssE)
A resource which includes examples of real student writing from a number of subject areas with comments from lecturers about why the writing is good - or how it could be improved.



The Learning Development team at Plymouth is principally involved with improving student learning, working both directly with students and in a consultative capacity with other HE staff. We are committed to providing resources of the highest standard. Our own study guides for staff and students are listed below; a link to WrAssE (examples of real student writing) is on the left and a bank of tried and tested resources is available on the LearnHigher website. Some of these resources are designed to be mediated by teaching staff and learning developers, and some are designed for students to access directly.

Plymouth University Learning Development study guides
A summary version of these guides can be found here: The short one

Starting University

  • Common student concerns
  • Skills for learning
  • Reflection and feedback
  • Work/life balance

Learning settings

  • Lectures and seminars
  • Experiential learning
  • Placements and work-based learning
  • Group work

Critical thinking

  • Organising your thoughts and materials
  • Critical questions - a linear model
  • Description, analysis and evaluation
  • Developing an argument


  • What is reflection?
  • Becoming reflective
  • How is reflective practice applied in academic life?

Reading effectively

  • What to read and where to find reading matter
  • Reading techniques
  • The SQ3R method
  • Reading difficult material


  • Note-taking versus note-making
  • Note-making styles
  • Techniques and tips

LearnHigher Guide to Referencing

  • How to reference (what to include and where to put it)
  • When to reference
  • How to avoid plagiarism
  • Links to other support (Reference Manager, Endnote)

Writing essays

  • Why write an essay?
  • How to research, plan and write an essay
  • Language and style
  • An essay-writing checklist

(Writing Essays - extended version)

Writing reports

  • introduction/background/context
  • Literature review
  • Planning, writing and presenting a report
  • Discussion/analysis

Writing a dissertation

  • What is a research proposal?
  • What is a literature review?
  • What research methods?
  • How do I write a discussion section?

Giving presentations

  • Planning and preparing presentations
  • Giving presentations
  • Poster presentations

Exams and revision

  • Revision techniques
  • Taking exams
  • Maximising memory, minimising stress

Getting organised

  • Managing time
  • Assignment planning
  • Procrastination
  • Creating a study environment
  • Stress management

Any comments or suggestions about these pages are welcome. Email learn@plymouth.ac.uk
team pic Learning Development Advisors: John Hilsdon, Joe Allison, Eloïse Sentito, Julia Dawson, Carolyn Gentle, Helen Bowstead, Jonathan Wooding and Jane Feaver (Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow)