So What’s the Learning?: #3: Emancipatory praxis – routes towards a new learning partnership


Welcome to our third summary blog generated from a perceptive and boundary challenging “So What’s the Learning” webinar.

Our expert host for the webinar was Tyrone Messiah, Head of Technical Services at Staffordshire University.

Tyrone’s career in Higher Education dates back over two decades, beginning as a visiting lecturer at Goldsmiths College, London teaching new media technologies to excitable postgraduate curators. The next twenty years see him apply his expertise to help manage operational resources and deliver complex technological change programmes at the University of the Arts, London and the Royal College of Art before taking up his current post as Head of Technical Services at Staffordshire University in 2017.

Tyrone’s webinar shared his exploration as SCOLPP Innovator. This Innovator project revealed how adaptations to practice delivery during Covid, through the sharing of subjective experiences and storytelling, have helped to ease these tensions and bridged divisions between colleagues working at the boundary within their teaching & learning communities.

His doctoral research unpacks and explores key tensions relating to the engagement of technicians in teaching & learning and the development of their professional identities within the post-pandemic community of practice.

Want to view the recorded webinar?

Beyond the Classroom- Call for Case Studies


We are delighted to open the call for case studies as part of our project “Beyond The Classroom – Supporting Student Success”, funded by Advance HE as part of their collaborative development fund (CDF). The project is led by Staffordshire University Centre of Learning and Pedagogic Practice (SCoLPP), in partnership with the Directorate of Student Success at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS).

We are inviting you to submit a concise case study detailing current work that is driven by or largely feature ‘third space’ activities to enhance student experience and outcomes. We are using the term third space to represent beyond the classroom, building on the work of Celia Whitchurch. Following a peer review process, a small number of case studies will be selected for development into in-depth case studies and published by AdvanceHE.  

Appreciating Impact and Value of 3rd Space Colleagues

Higher education institutions (HEIs) are facing increased scrutiny over the value of the degree, not only as a transformational experience but as a societal good. This in turn has seen increased use of metrics to measure factors such as progression, retention and graduate outcomes. HEIs concentrate significant resources around the direct academic-student relationship. However, there is considerable work being undertaken by ‘third space’ professionals (e.g. careers staff, enterprise advisors, learning technologists, writing centre staff) that may have a strong influence on outcomes and reinforce or support the work of academics. This project will encourage greater recognition of the value and impact of colleagues working in the 3rd space, celebrating diversity of expertise and encouraging more progressive ways of working.

Learning from Innovative Working

The curated case studies will provide learning for the sector about what works and initiate discussions about possible futures in enhancing student outcomes. Sharing ideas and impact alongside alternative team configurations, novel skills sets and collaborative approaches might challenge the mindset of “this is the way it works here”! We hope that submitting case studies will be valuable for the individuals, professions and the sector.

Advice on Creating a Case Study

We are suggesting the following headings to your case study;

  • Background/context to the activities (including a start date) Under this heading we invite you to discuss the justifications for the activities, sharing the context in which the activities were happening. Including a start date and any narrative about the number of iterations this work has experienced will help to offer a sense of project maturity.
  • What did you do? Offer as much detail as you can about what went on, when and by whom. Can you help the project team understand the various approaches employed and the decisions you made as the initiative progressed?
  • What have you achieved? Include here evidence of impact for students, colleagues and institution. Evidence of impact comes in many forms. Consider the many ways in which you can represent the impact and value of the work. Resources such as the TASO Evidence Toolkit or ways to consider a layering approach to evidence often used for HEA fellowship submissions may prompt your thinking.  
  • How does the work connect with other activities in the university? Typically these initiatives have many layers of activities or nestle into other institutional activities- please do share how the work was embedded.

You may have used a Theory of Change to define and guide your work. If so please do share this as a way to summarise the work.

Once submitted, your case study will be peer reviewed by the research team and the project’s expert reference group. Case studies will be selected to progress to publication on the basis of evidence supplied across following criteria;

  • Integrated and collaborative practice (presence of professional services and academic expertise)
  • Leadership from 3rd space expertise
  • Detail of initiative activities
  • Transformative impact on student outcomes
  • Transformative impact on student experience
  • Transformative impact on sector

Ready to submit a case study?

At the bottom of this post you will find the Participant Information Sheet. You will need to review this before submitting your case study. Submit your case study here. The submission portal will close on 7th June.

Keep in touch with the project

As the project progresses, we will be posting updates via @SCOLPPStaffsUni, sharing developments and ideas on this blog and reporting to the AdvanceHE Project Page.

Participant Information Sheet

Please carefully read the following information about the project. At the end of this participant information summary, you will be invited to register your informed consent and will then continue through the steps to case study submission.

We would like to invite you to participate in a project to understand a range of techniques, approaches, and lessons learned from current work about student outcomes interventions that are driven by or largely feature ‘third space’ colleagues supporting activities outside the classroom.

Why are we undertaking this project?

There is considerable work being undertaken by ‘third space’ professionals (e.g., careers staff, enterprise advisors, learning technologists, writing centre staff) that may have a strong influence on outcomes and reinforce or support the work of academics.

This project will build on the work of McIntosh and Nutt (2022) and curate a small number of institutional case studies to identify and disseminate new ways of working and show how third space professionals make a positive contribution to student outcomes. The project outputs, published by AdvanceHE, will provide practical examples of how this type of reconfiguration can be undertaken for the benefit of all.

Who is running the project?

The project is led by the Staffordshire Centre of Learning and Pedagogic Practice in partnership with the University of the West of Scotland and funded as part of the Collaborative Development Fund from AdvanceHE. Within the project team there are colleagues with significant experience of third space working and institutional enhancement projects.

What will happen to the information I submit as a case study?

Your case study submission is part of the crowdsourcing activity and the information you supply will be curated in a searchable database hosted by AdvanceHE. The project team will catalogue your submission in relation to mission group; size of HEI; focus of intervention (including the representation of student demographics such as student groups with marginal identities and thematic area of enhancement); diversity of professional identities; geographical representation. Submissions to this database will be reviewed by the project’s Expert Reference Group to select up to 5 submissions that will be developed into in-depth case studies for publication. The project team will support the institutional teams to create effective case studies, working alongside the colleagues involved with the 5 short-listed concise case studies. This co-production activity will take the form of 1-2 recorded sessions with the institutional contact conducted on Microsoft Teams, each 1 hour long during which the in-depth case study will be developed. Editorial activity will be undertaken by the project team and institutional contacts will sign-off the content of the case study prior to publication.

For the purpose of this project an in-depth case study may include;

  • A pen portrait defining the context within in which the enhancement took place;
  • Details of the activities undertaken across the lifespan of the initiative and the key decision-making steps;
  • Signposting to the evidence-base and professional knowledge that the team used during decision-making;
  • An outline of evaluation activities undertaken;
  • A reflective account of how the expertise within the team was mobilised, recognised, and valued. Of particular interest will be a reflection on the ways in which the team ensured the best working arrangements as a multi-disciplinary unit;
  • Serendipitous moments, unintended outcomes and deviations from the plan that resulted in positive outcomes or challenges to success;
  • Looking to the future- narrative which points to the scale up of the initiative, the way in which the project team has influenced institutional practice beyond the initiative detailed in the case study. 

Responding to the call means agreement to use the submitted material as project data and the submitting individual/team is also agreeing to work alongside the project team during April/ May 2023 if selected to build an in-depth case study. The in-depth case studies will form the basis of an Advance-HE publication and subsequent academic publications by the project team.

Do I have to take part?    

No, your participation in this research is entirely voluntary.

How will the project team manage Confidentiality?

All raw data and recordings made during co-production activities with the participants building their in-depth case study will be stored in password protected SharePoint folders, accessible only by the core research team and Expert Reference Group.

The nature of this project and the proposed searchable database will mean that materials collated during the call for concise case studies will identify institutions and departments engaged in the activities detailed within the proffered case study.

The research team will work alongside participants generating the in-depth case studies and ensure that informed consent is obtained for all case study materials. However, the research team is aware that during the co-production of the in-depth case studies, certain information about the institutional activity may be deemed sensitive and not be for external consumption if the institution could be identified. This material will be extracted from the case study curation and will be used in the critical pedagogy commentary. There will be no identifying factors included in this commentary.

What about Data Protection?    

The data controller for this project will be Staffordshire University. The university will process your personal data for the purpose of the research outlined above. The legal basis for processing your personal data for research purposes under the GDPR is a ‘task in the public interest’. You can provide your consent for the use of your personal data in this study by completing the consent form that has been provided to you.   

You have the right to access information held about you. Your right of access can be exercised in accordance with the GDPR. You also have other rights including rights of correction, erasure, objection, and data portability. Questions, comments, and requests about your personal data can also be sent to the Staffordshire University Data Protection Officer. If you wish to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office, please visit     

 What are the risks or disadvantages of taking part?

The only risk or disadvantage to participation is the time commitment needed to draft a case study.

What are the benefits of submitting a case study?

We hope that participants enjoy reflecting on initiatives that enhance student learning and in doing so raise awareness and place value on the differing contributions third spaces professionals make to higher education. Your participation will help create a rich picture of integrated practice and share this learning with the sector through building connections between individuals, teams and departments. 

What if I chose to withdraw my case study?

Participants can withdraw their case studies from the project up to one week after submission without having to give an explanation.

How can I find out more about the project and its outputs?

For more information about the project and the development of associated outcomes please contact Updates and outcomes of the project will be shared on the AdvanceHE webpage and the SCoLPP webpage.  

Has the project been reviewed by anyone?

The project has been subject to ethical approval by Staffordshire University’s Research Ethics Committee.        

What if something goes wrong?  

If you wish to make a complaint about the conduct of the study, you can contact the Chair of the Staffordshire University Ethics Committee for further advice and information at     

For further information or to discuss your submission please contact Dr Kate Cuthbert PFHEA