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  5. Summer Series of Journal Clubs: an opportunity to develop employability skills and a sense of community amongst students in secure environments

Summer Series of Journal Clubs: an opportunity to develop employability skills and a sense of community amongst students in secure environments

Project leader(s): 
Karen New, Fiona Moorman and Hannah Gauci
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current

Students in secure environments have few opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and, perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly, may be more isolated from any learning-community than the typical student base at the OU.  In common with other OU students, many SiSe have low prior levels of academic qualifications and tend to start their studies at Access or L1 modules.  However, many students do not complete their qualifications.  This may have significant long-term implications in terms of their future employability.

This pilot builds on experiences from a current Esteem project, providing Online Journal Clubs to a range of students within STEM.  Feedback from students participating in OJC has been positive.  In this proposed project, we aim to develop a proof-of-concept model for Journal Clubs within secure units.  Conventional universities and a wide range of employers (particularly in science/health-care) utilize Journal Clubs to provide opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and dissemination of current developments.

We believe that Journal Clubs for SiSE offer an enrichment opportunity and may facilitate peer-peer learning and the development of a sense of community amongst participating students. In turn, this may have implications for motivation and retention.  Furthermore, in agreement with Pike (2014) students who feel part of a learning community ‘identify with apositive, pro-social student identity’ which may have wider implications for ‘in-unit’ behaviour and recidivism.

We suggest that Journal Clubs may provide the opportunity for SiSE students to develop key study skills, which will help their transition through academic levels.  Participation may also develop employability skills, including communication and interpersonal skills, critical awareness and a proactive approach to self-development.

In this pilot, we will hold a “Summer Series” of Journal Club events, to be held at HMP Bure, Norwich, Norfolk. This prison is well supported by staff and has a large number of students studying Access, level 1 and level 2 modules.

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