Learned Society of Wales medals

The Learned Society of Wales  (LSW) annually awards medals to researchers who excel in their field. The medal categories celebrate excellence in several areas of achievements, with further information on each medal at –

If you would like to nominate a colleague or an Early Career Researcher (ECR) please see the guidelines and nomination forms on the LSW web page.

To be eligible for any of the medals, nominees must be resident in Wales, born in Wales, or otherwise particularly connected with Wales.

The deadline for 2024 medal nominations is 5.00pm on 30 June 2024. Each medal has a dedicated committee to assess the nominations and decide who should receive the award.

Winners will be announced in October 2024 and will receive a specially struck medal and a cash prize of £500.

Please read the guidelines before you complete the medal nomination form. If you have any questions, please contact the LSW Fellowship Officer, Fiona Gaskell – fgaskell@lsw.wales.ac.uk. For further information about the LSW Medals, including past winners, visit www.learnedsociety.wales/medals or you can have an informal conversation with Annette Edwards, LTEU aee@aber.ac.uk

Digwyddiad Rhannu Arfer Da – Sharing Good Practice Event

Aberystwyth University will be running a two-day Digwyddiad Rhannu Arfer Da – Rhagoriaeth Academaidd on the 2nd (face to face) and 3rd (on-line) July 2024. The event will be held through the medium of Welsh only. This event has been made possible due to the Small Grant Project money from the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

The aim of the two-day event is to present papers under the theme of Teaching Excellence – for example:

  • Learning and Teaching
  • Dysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg
  • Student Support
  • Supervision
  • Personal Tutoring

The academic papers will be an opportunity for staff across Wales to present their research, under the theme of academic practice – through papers, posters, panels etc. Presentations at the event are welcome from anyone teaching from staff to PhD students.

The Call for Proposals, at the following link Galwad am Bapurau – Digwyddiad Rhannu Arfer Da (jisc.ac.uk)  asks for submissions of no more than 500 words, through the medium of Welsh. We welcome contributions to the event in the form of:

  • 20 minutes presentations
  • 45 minutes presentations
  • An individual or a group presentation
  • Posters from individuals or groups
  • Sharing good practice Panels

The deadline for these proposals is midday on Wednesday 27 March 2024.

I would be grateful if you could share this more widely with colleagues who maybe in interested in attending this event. 

If you would like to discuss anything further, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Annette Edwards (aee@aber.ac.uk)  01970 622386

Learned Society of Wales ‘meet and greet’

Tuesday 13th February 2024

12.30 – 1.30pm with hot drinks and Welsh cakes available throughout.

Location: Research Dialogue Hub, Visualisation Centre, Penglais Campus.

Tŷ Trafod Ymchwil | Research Dialogue Hub – The Dialogue Centre (aber.ac.uk)

The Learned Society of Wales would like to invite you and a guest to join us at a drop in ‘meet and greet’ session being held at Aberystwyth University on Tuesday 13th February 2024.

Tea, coffee and light refreshments will be served and you are welcome to join us for as long as you wish between 12.30 and 1.30pm.

You will be able to meet and talk to staff from the Learned Society including Olivia Harrison (CEO) and Helen Willson (Strategic Engagement Manager) as well as our University Representatives at Aberystwyth University – Emeritus Professor Eleri Pryse and Professor Iwan Morus.  We will also be joined by the President of the Learned Society of Wales – Professor Hywel Thomas.

It will be an opportunity for Fellows of the Learned Society to come together and for all those who attend to meet others who are interested in research and its impact in Wales as well as network and find out more about the Learned Society of Wales including its work with Early Career Researchers.

Who is this event for?

  • Current Fellows of the LSW
  • Anyone interested in research in or about Wales and its impact on policy
  • People interested in learning more about becoming a Fellow of the LSW
  • Early Career Researchers who would find benefit from joining an interdisciplinary network to engage with and learn from

You can find out more about the LSW and our work here. This is a drop-in session and there is no obligation to sign up or formally accept this invitation.  However, we would appreciate an indication of numbers so If you know you’ll be coming along or if you would like further information please email us on lsw@wales.ac.uk

Upcoming Trace CPD Workshops

Sara Childs will be delivering two workshops over the coming weeks based on the findings of ongoing research on trauma-informed communication. Aberystwyth University is committed to becoming one of Wales’s only two trauma-informed universities along with Wrexham university. We are currently in the self-assessment phase of a two-year project, of which the next phase will identify individual projects for enhancing our trauma-informed approach. In parallel, sessions are being offered to the community which raise awareness of trauma-informed approaches.

The upcoming workshops will provide an opportunity for those engaged in teaching, or roles that involve direct contact with students, to develop their practice to incorporate this ground-breaking research.

Towards a trauma-informed approach – theory and reflective practice Part 1

Date: 5/12/23 15.00-16.00

Location: Hugh Owen E3

Towards a trauma-informed approach – theory and reflective practice Part 2

Date: 12/12/23 14.00-16.00

Location: Hugh Owen E3

Blackboard Messages

Staff teaching on Blackboard courses can use the Messages tool to send messages to their students, and these are often sent by email.

Because of the way that the Message tool works, all messages are sent from the e-learning support email address (bb-team@aber.ac.uk ), rather than the staff members’ personal email addresses. Replying to a Message sends it to our e-learning support staff.

Students – please don’t click the Reply button to respond to a Message.  Instead, use the Forward option, adding in the relevant email address for the staff member. If you aren’t sure what their email address is, you can find it on the University Directory.

Staff – to help students get back in touch with you, we recommend including your email address in any Messages you send.

This is an example of a Blackboard Message sent via email

[Alt text: screenshot of a Blackboard Message sent via email]

And the image below shows what happens when you click on the Reply button in your email – the To: box sends the message to bb-team@aber.ac.uk

[Alt text: Screenshot of the email message created when you Reply to a Blackboard Message]

We are working with Blackboard / Anthology and colleagues to resolve this issue, but in the meantime please check before replying to a message. This is especially important if you are sending personal information.

Important Update on Generative Artificial Intelligence for Staff

The following was sent as an email to all staff from Prof. Tim Woods, Pro Vice-Chancellor Learning, Teaching and Student Experience, on 25th September.

“Dear Colleague

As discussed at the Academic Board on 13th September 2023, the university has decided to turn off the Turnitin AI Detection tool as of 30th September 2023. The decision was based on experience with the tool across the higher education sector, especially statistics that seem to demonstrate a high incidence of false positives and the anxiety that this induces for students.  

Generative AI has already become pervasive. It is becoming increasingly embedded in the tools we provide for staff and students such as Office 365 and Blackboard, as well as tools such as Google that are widely used by the general public. It isn’t feasible to ban the use of these tools, so we need to find ways to help students use Generative AI ethically and effectively for real learning, not cheating.  

The promotion of AI literacy for both staff and students has emerged as a key agenda across the higher education sector. A key principle is for staff to be transparent with students about the rationale behind assessments, how they help students learn, and what staff expect from their students. Students, in turn, should apply critical thinking if they use AI tools and be transparent in their submitted coursework about how and where they used such tools. This includes the use of tools such as Grammarly or Quillbot that may have been recommended for students with specific learning differences, for example. 

Please encourage your students to view the new LibGuide created by the Academic Engagement Team in Information Services: Utilising AI in the Library: A Student’s Guide: What is AI? The AI and Your Studies page in the LibGuide was created by the Gen AI Working Group and features video clips highlighting practical guidance on ethical and effective use of AI. A session on Using AI for Good will be offered on 6th November as part of the Digital Skills Festival.  

Guidance for staff can be found on the LTEU’s workshop materials Generative AIpage, with guidance created by the Gen AI Working Group and links to selected authoritative sources. The staff document will be updated shortly with additional details on how to identify red flags when marking. 

Please see the CPD booking page for upcoming Gen AI training sessions for staff and discussion forums that are open for staff and students together. 

If you have any questions about marking or learning design in connection with AI, please contact the LTEU.  

Best wishes Tim”

Considerations for Generative AI Detection 

This blog post is written by Generative AI Working Group members. 

The landscape for learning and teaching in the age of Generative AI has been developing rapidly. As staff will be aware, the UAP regulation has been updated to address the use of AI in student assessment. The UAP Form and penalty table have been updated to include ‘Presenting work generated by AI as if it were your own’ (approved by Academic Board March 2023). 

A Generative AI working group, chaired by Mary Jacob, was created in January 2023 to coordinate university efforts. Please see Generative AI for current guidance and resources. We are designing training materials for staff and students that will be available well before next academic year. 

Advice for marking 

On 3/4/2023, Turnitin enabled its AI detection tool. At present, staff can see the ‘AI Score’ but students cannot. This may change if Turnitin updates the tool later in the year. Please see Launch of Turnitin AI writing and ChatGPT Detection Capability on the LTEU blog and Turnitin’s AI Writing Detection from Turnitin (note that sometimes the same passage can be identified as both AI generated and matching an external source).  

There is a clear consensus among experts in the sector that no AI detection tool can provide conclusive evidence.  

This comes from the QAA, the National Centre for AI in Tertiary Education (sponsored by Jisc), and others. You can find links to this evidence on the Generative AI page, including the QAA recording where Michael Webb from the National Centre explains why this is the case. 

If you face a potential UAP case, your professional judgement is key to making the right call. Here is the best advice we can give departments: 

  1. Use the Turnitin AI detection tool in conjunction with other indicators – The Turnitin detection tool can identify red flags for further investigation but cannot provide evidence in itself.  
  1. Check sources – Gen AI often, but not always, produces fake citations. These can seem plausible at first sight – real authors and real journals, but the article doesn’t exist. Check the sources cited to see if they are 1) real and 2) chosen appropriately for the assignment. Is the source on topic? Is it the type of source a student would have read when writing the assignment (e.g. not a children’s book used as a source for a business case study)? This isn’t conclusive proof of AI use, but it is solid evidence that the student didn’t do things correctly. 
  1. Check facts – Gen AI often produces plausible falsehoods. The text may sound reasonable but include some made-up ‘facts’. Gen AI is not intelligent, but merely a sophisticated predictive text machine, so if you spot something that seems a bit off, check to see if it is a plausible falsehood. 
  1. Check level of detail – AI tends towards overly-generic output, e.g. using abstract terms with no concrete definitions or examples. Is the essay or report written in generalities or does it include concrete examples in enough detail to support the conclusion that a student wrote it? Again, lack of detail isn’t conclusive evidence that the student cheated but it can be a red flag in combination with other factors.  
  1. Hold an interview to determine authenticity – If you see strong indications of unacceptable academic practice, an interview or panel where the student is asked questions about their assignment may be a way to get conclusive evidence. We know this isn’t feasible at large scale, however. This is a sticky problem not only for our university but across the sector.  

To find out more about Generative AI, see the Weekly Resource Roundup for events and materials, e.g. this article specifically about a study on Turnitin’s AI detection: Fowler, G. A. (3/4/2023), We tested a new ChatGPT-detector for teachers. It flagged an innocent student, Washington Post. Fowler explains how they tested it, what they found, and why it generated the false results.  

In short, if staff don’t see anything suspicious other than the Turnitin AI score, we would recommend against bringing a UAP case forward. There’s too much potential for harm if the student really didn’t cheat. 

Learning and Teaching Mini Conference Materials Available Now

Resources are now available from the Aberystwyth University Mini Conference for Learning and Teaching that took place on 20th December 2022. For those who were unable to attend or who would like a refresher, the resources for all sessions can be found here.

The conference focused on Sustainability in Higher Education, with the key-note session delivered by Dr Georgina Gough (UWE Bristol) exploring how to embed sustainability goals within the curriculum.

Other topics included Marian Gray’s session ‘Student Mobility and Cross-Cultural Skills – Global & Sustainable?’, and Dr. Louise Marshall’s ‘Discipline hopping: Interdisciplinary approaches to a sustainable curriculum’.

Blackboard UBN

Blackboard Ultra icon

It’s been about a week since we moved to Blackboard UBN. Here are some answers to some of the questions that staff and students have asked us. You may find your question answered here (or in our How do I get started with Ultra Base Navigation FAQ). If not, you can email us.

1. Where is my departmental information site / training module? If you are looking for a Blackboard site that isn’t linked to a taught AU module, have a look on the Organisations page. You’ll probably find the course you are looking for here.
2. How are the courses organized on the Course page? They are listed by academic year, and then alphabetically by module title. You may find it easier to find your courses by using one of the following:
a. Search box – you can search by module name or module code.
b. Favourite – use the favourite (star) icon to pin the courses you use regularly at the top of your list.
c. Filter. This is particularly useful for staff who are Instructors on some modules and have other roles in other modules. Choosing Course I teach will show you all your Instructor courses.
d. Change the academic year. You can limit your view to just the current academic year by changing Courses to Cyrsiau 2022-23 Courses.
3. My course menu was a different colour / design – can I change it back? No, this is no longer available. Once we move to Ultra courses there will be no course menu.
4. How do I change the picture displayed? Have a look at the Blackboard guidance (follow from bullet point 3).
5. Why am I getting an error message when I go to Blackboard? Make sure that you go directly to https://blackboard.aber.ac.uk. Don’t use a link or bookmark.
6. The Activity Stream says I have overdue assignments? In some courses there may be submission points for extensions, groups etc that aren’t relevant to you. These will show in the Activity Search. If you aren’t sure if a submission is for you, go back into the course and check you have no assignment submissions outstanding.
7. My course or Organisation says Private on it; what does this mean? It means that the course isn’t available to students. If you no longer need this course, please let us know and we can remove the course.

UKCGE Research Supervision Recognition Programme

Graduate School/Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit

Are you an established research degree supervisor?

Would you like your supervisory practice acknowledged at a national level?

The UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE) has developed the Good Supervisory Practice Framework and the Research Supervision Recognition Programme to allow established supervisors to gain recognition for this challenging, but rewarding, role.

In May 2022, Professor Stephen Tooth from the Department of Geography & Earth Sciences became the first member of academic staff across the University to receive recognition for their approach to graduate supervision.

We are keen to support supervisors who wish to achieve this accreditation. For further details about the framework and how to apply please visit our web page https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/grad-school/supervisory-framework/ or contact Annette Edwards via the Supervisory Framework (sfastaff@aber.ac.uk).