Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund (TALIF)
The University’s Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund (TALIF) offers
funding to individuals and groups of University staff to undertake
innovative teaching and learning projects that embody the University’s
commitment to excellence in education and will make a significant difference
to the student experience at Essex.
Any member of staff may apply for project funding. Applications are
particularly welcomed for collaborative projects, particularly those which
include a substantial amount of student involvement, including as
TALIF grants will ordinarily be awarded up to a maximum of £5,000.
Applications for larger scale projects – up to a maximum of £10,000 – will
be considered if the project is demonstrably collaborative across
faculties/departments/sections. In addition, an award of £1,000 may also be
reserved to fund a student-led project.
Applications for funding can be made to support innovation in any field
of teaching and learning practice. However, they are particularly encouraged
in the following areas which are central to the University’s Education
- Research-led education
- Assessment and Feedback
- Knowledge exchange
- Enhancing the student experience
- Students as co-creators of knowledge/collaborators or partners
- Learning technologies and learning environments
How to apply
There is one funding round per academic year. The next round of
applications will open in February 2014.
Please contact us if you would like to
discuss a potential project.
Examples of previous projects
eBooks for Essex
This project aims to evaluate current and projected e-book technology in
terms of its educational applications at the University of Essex, and
particularly in relation to the planned Student Centre/Library Extension.
Key aspects of the project will include:
- Identification of the most versatile devices, and purchase of around 10
devices of 3 different types, to be lent out for evaluation to departments,
professional services, and students across the university
- Technical evaluation: capabilities, limitations, software,
networking/connectivity, file handling, annotation, ergonomics and expected
development trends over the medium term (1-5 years)
- Application evaluation: what uses would different departments in the
university put e-book devices to? Simple/obvious applications would include
readers for core texts, lecture notes, and course readers, and this may be
enough for some, but there are also possible novel applications including
collaborative groupwork, disability support (particularly for dyslexia), and
multimedia use. Departments need to actually handle and try out such
devices, supported by project 'facilitators' to be able to understand how
the dynamic display and annotation capabilities of devices could be used in
new ways in their own academic context, and how eBook readers may differ
from conventional PCs, laptops and netbooks.
- Student evaluation: Having identified some potential application
contexts (for example: wider access to short loan primary and secondary
course texts available in ebook format, annotating lecture notes in a
lecture theatre; collaborative group use within the Student Centre,
Multimedia application examples including video and imagery), we need to get
student feedback on how attractive (or not) such new ways of working would
be. Would the advantages of new forms of flexible note-taking and
text-searching outweigh the known disadvantages of browsing within limited
display windows, for example? How does collaborative work compare with using
e.g. existing iLab collaborative software, online conference software, or
more low-tech paper-based solutions?
- Technical re-evaluation: evaluate progress in hardware and software over
the lifetime of the project (9 months). Rapid development of hardware and
diversification of software tools is currently apparent in this market, and
by comparing initial and final capabilities over the project life-span, it
should be possible to identify trends and trajectories in the technology,
its application and uptake that will increase confidence in the conclusions
that the project can draw for future University use.
Contact: Professor Andy Downton
Managing the transition of mature students into higher
This project is a collaboration between Widening Participation, Student
Support and Learning and Development.
- To integrate mature students into higher education in a way which will
ensure compatibility between their expectations and first year experience.
- To consolidate existing activities across widening participation,
student support and learning and teaching in order to ensure a holistic
approach to the academic support and guidance provided to mature students.
The University is committed to supporting student diversity and expanding
opportunities among under-represented groups as stated in its Vision and
Strategic Plan. In the last ten years the University has made significant
progress in enhancing student retention, meeting the HESA-set benchmarks and
contributing to the widening participation agenda at a local and regional
level. However, the retention of mature students has recently been
highlighted as one area which could still be improved.
This project will therefore specifically address the transition of mature
students into higher education. The project will bring together a range of
academic support and pastoral activities at different stages of the first
year experience, including pre-registration. It will then track student
engagement with these activities across an academic year and assess their
impact on the student experience. It will consist of the following
- Development of an e-Newsletter aimed specifically at meeting mature
students' needs that can be sent at key points in the student lifecycle,
starting at pre-entry, then post-registration, followed by an end of term
reminder, etc. The e-Newsletter would provide relevant updates, draw to
attention resources, and help to put students in touch with one another.
- Design and delivery of a pre-registration event providing both a social
induction opportunity and introducing students to the range of supporting
resources available to them. An optional overnight element with further
study skills sessions will be available to a selected number of students.
- Provision of academic supporting resources through the applicant portal
to enable early remote access and also to familiarise students with the
- Establishment of Action Groups and a voluntary mentoring system to
provide ongoing academic and social integration for students.
- Development of an appropriate qualitative tracking system to monitor the
impact of the activities over a 12 month period.
- Delivery of a staff development workshop focused on supporting student
retention through early engagement with the curriculum.
- Proposal of a transition policy for mature students to be considered at
The project will draw on previously funded activity in this area, which
has identified that managing the transition into higher education is vital
for student retention, particularly in light of the possible change to the
student demographic from approximately 2011. Providing events and resources
that are targeted at specific groups have a track record of success and
signal to students that they are highly valued by the institution.
Contact: Rachel Earle
Essex Human Rights Clinic
The Human Rights Centre and School of Law aim, both as a
teaching/learning and as a recruitment strategy, to emphasise the practice
of human rights as a way to address effectively complex human rights issues
and the needs and interests of real people, thereby informing theoretical
aspects of the study of human rights and its related problems and actors.
Clinical education is a method of learning and its purpose is to teach human
rights as a mechanism for pursuing social objectives. Creating a sustainable
Human Rights Clinic will provide a realistic context in which students can
develop and practise their transferable and applied research and
professional skills as a complementary aspect of their overall programme of
learning. It seeks to complement scholarly study and substantially enhance
student employability. In order to strengthen engagement with human rights
practice, students are provided with direct experience of the role of advice
agencies, counsel, clinics and the human rights/legal profession in
delivering human rights services and access to justice.
Funding from TALIF is sought to build upon and consolidate the work
undertaken in 2009 to create a fledgling Human Rights Clinic by setting up a
main structure to support and facilitate the work of students and staff on
real initiatives for human rights in three main thematic areas: litigation
and advocacy; human rights education, research and training; and
communication and media. This will enable us to provide a continuing and
streamlined resource for teaching and learning in human rights; to engage
students with diverse academic backgrounds and to improve their experience
in relation to skills development and career guidance; and to disseminate
examples of good practice to other departments.
We believe the establishment of a sustainable Human Rights Clinic will
place the University of Essex in front of the burgeoning human rights
educational competition and help retain Essex's place as the leading
institution of its kind with innovative practice-oriented teaching and
Crucially, the establishment of a robust Human Rights Clinic will
demonstrate competency and capacity which will underpin applications to
private foundations (notably the Sigrid Rausing Trust and to the Open
Societies Institute) who have expressed interest in possible long-term
funding if provided such evidence.
Contact: Professor John Packer
This project in the Department of Health and Human Sciences aims to
continue the development of a series of computer simulated patients. The
software will have the following unique features:
- uses input method that does not prompt the student what to do next (i.e.
free text)ability to create unlimited number of patients/scenarios
- patients/scenarios able to be created by a subject specific expert
rather than a technologist
- provides students with feedback based on preset “best practice” rules
- best practice able to be configured by educator/expert
- records all events so assessors can “see” the students sequence of
The current teaching methods utilise role playing with other students.
This has the following limitations:
Teaching: Scenarios are created by the educator for students to
act out. The interpretation varies and students often do not have the
expertise to respond as the patient/pathology would require and the key
points of the scenario are lost.
Learning: Scenarios cannot be repeatedly “practiced” and must be
done where and when other students can participate (classroom based).
Students break into groups and role-play therefore no specific feedback can
be given by the educator to each student.
Assessment: No formative assessment of the student's clinical
reasoning skills can be made on a one-to-one basis. There is no clear way of
documenting and “seeing” what the student is thinking (clinical reasoning)
for further in-depth analysis by an educator at a later date.
Contact: Dr Jo Jackson
Career development learning
The issue being addressed by this project is the university-wide delivery
of Career Development learning, which is one of the benchmark areas of the
Employability Framework. A Career Development Module is being piloted with a
group of self-selected students, from across academic disciplines, during
the Autumn and early Spring terms in 2009-2010. It is being delivered by
experienced Career professionals from within the Careers Centre and the
Learning and Teaching Unit. From the academic year 2010-2011 the university
intends to offer the complete module, or elements of it, on a
university-wide basis through faculties / departments, with the potential
for delivery by academics with no previous engagement with teaching in this
The project will review and evaluate the course structure and teaching
materials used in the pilot in the context of varied approaches to delivery
that departments might choose. There will also be further consultation and
research into best practice in other institutions. It will develop a suite
of elements delivering specific learning outcomes that can be used together
as a complete 15–credit module or as learning resources that can be included
in the delivery of existing or new discipline-focused modules. A series of
comprehensive tutor handbooks will be produced that will complement the
The aim is to develop comprehensive, innovative and interactive learning
and teaching resources, including thorough guidance on assessment, that can
be used by lecturers with no previous experience of delivering Career-based
Contact: Lynne Jordan
Tower Publishing House - embedding employability
This project was a collaboration between the Department of Art History
and the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies.
The academic success of students is the primary goal for the University,
however, the need to produce work-ready graduates is also a high priority
both for this institution and for the government. This project responds to
that need by creating an on-site publishing house in the Faculty of
Humanities and Comparative Studies. It will enhance undergraduate
employability by embedding employability skills development in assessed
academic activity. Based on the model established by the University of
Central Lancashire (UCLan), the publishing house will be a reusable teaching
tool available to all departments in the Faculty. Student work in the
publishing house will make explicit the connection between academic and
employability skills, as well as promoting PDP.
The project team will include full-time and part-time research and
teaching staff from Art History and Theory and LiFTS, and one member of the
Learning and Teaching Unit. Art History has a strong background in
'practical' coursework, such as curating exhibitions, and alternative
assessment methods; LiFTS is involved in innovative curriculum delivery and
is piloting new assessment; the LTU, whose goal is to support innovative
curriculum development, has a good history of working with both departments.
The team will decide on the best way forward by consulting UCLan staff,
and by examining the two departments' curriculum to identify where best to
incorporate publishing house activities and assessment. The team will then
design publishing house material to be embedded in Art History modules in
October 2010, and establish a descriptor for a new, dedicated publishing
house module. The module will be benchmarked against the University's
Employability Framework, and be ready for accreditation in February 2011,
and for delivery in October 2011. As well as raising the profile of
employability in HCS, this project will establish a powerful reusable tool
with which the Faculty can engage directly with the University's
Employability Framework, while at the same time reinforcing and encouraging
the culture of academic writing and publishing that is central to both
Contact: Dr Lisa Wade
Maths@Work: University-wide numeracy skills for
As well as being essential to many academic disciplines, numeracy is an
important element to employability regardless of career path. However,
currently within the University there are limited central resources
available to students who want to become more numerate and enhance their
employability. A Working Group was convened in the 2008/09 academic year to
look at literacy, numeracy, and ICT, and confirmed the need for a diagnostic
numeracy test and some central supporting resources. As a consequence the
University has committed to large-scale numeracy testing in its Learning and
Teaching Strategy. Using or adapting an existing test was recommended by the
Working Group as preferable to developing a new in-house test, therefore
staff from Mathematical Sciences looked at some of the available options and
the online numerical reasoning tests by Assessment Day were identified as
being suitable because they simulate Assessment Centre tests – an important
part of the project – as well as being suitable as a diagnostic tool. This
project will develop an online numeracy diagnostic test using the Assessment
Day template as a basis. The test will be trialled in a few chosen
University departments and student performance analysed to determine the
current 'state of play' with regard to numeracy within the student
population. We will investigate how a diagnostic test could be implemented
on a University-wide scale, and take the first steps in developing a support
network that will exist to help students improve their numeracy and
ultimately their employability prospects. The aim is to have a diagnostic
tool and support system in place at the end of the project that will be
Contact: Dr Edd Codling