Treasure Island Pedagogies: Episode 19 - the one with the treasure hunt

Posted on: 6 April 2022 by Dr Tunde Varga-Atkins in General

Host and Guests in Online Meeting
(Host and Guests in Online Meeting)

In Episode 19, in addition to lightbulb moments, treasure island pedagogies/props and luxury items, our islands have included micro-learning, trauma-informed pedagogy, authentic learning, simulation, portfolio-based dissertations and the importance of creating social spaces for students to open the door fully to their learning potential.

Speakers: Dr Gemma Ahearne, Dr Treasa Kearney, Johnny Lee & Marcus Pedersen

Date: 28 March 2022

Treasure Island Pedagogies: Episode 19 podcast

(Treasure Island Pedagogies Episode 19 - podcast transcript)

Read or listen to find out our guests’ lightbulb moments, teaching props, pedagogies and luxury items that they would take to their Treasure Islands for precious contact time with students.

Dr Gemma Ahearne

Lecturer in Criminology, University of Liverpool, England


  • Original discipline(s): Sociology (although I entered academia through a non-traditional trajectory)
  • Current role: Lecturer in Criminology
  • Lightbulb moment: I offer a portfolio-based dissertation in final year, inspired by my recent diagnosis of dyslexia. This is SOCI347 Creative Consultant: Dissertation by Portfolio. Students have the option from 3 capstone modules in their third year, they can choose between a work placement option through Interchange, a 'traditional' dissertation SOCI301, and my option where students work in action learning sets.

    From September 2022, students can work cross-Faculty with the Engineering students from MECH327 through Dr Matt Murphy Director of Education in Engineering, and Medical students through Dr Iain Young, Deputy Director of Studies in the School of Medicine. We have been awarded Beacon Funding to develop this further and I am enrolled on the programme Leading in Learning and Teaching at Liverpool through Professor Lisa Anderson, The Academy and CIE.

    I utilise my trauma-informed pedagogy and micro-learning approach which enables students to join in with learning in ways that suits them and allows students to control in the pace and direction of their learning. My lightbulb moment is seeing my students do the same in their action learning sets. I was very impressed to see that they were making reasonable adjustments to ensure that each of their group member was able to engage in a way that meets their needs. For instance, if a member in their action learning set could not attend f2f meetings due to anxiety or caring commitments, then they would meet each other in another way.  This demonstrates the transferable employability skills of managing projects over several different apps/digital mediums and working in real-time with some peers, and in different time frames/zones with others. This has culminated in incredible work that the students showcase during our 'Research Day' for the module.

    This module engages students with complex local and global social, economic and environmental challenges which invite students to reflect on their own values and engages learners beyond their comfort zones. The module also uses the campus as a 'living lab' where students have timetabled sessions working with cross-faculty peers to find innovative solutions to complex problems. This gives students a strong sense of community, belonging and identity on our world-leading university campus. This is particularly important given the sense of isolation during the pandemic.

    Students have learned the value of collaboration over competition and are willingly sharing drafts and ideas to gain peer feedback. They reflect on this in their portfolios. The module evidences a commitment to group work and collaboration, sustainability, digital tools, accessibility and inclusive education, curriculum design.

  • Teaching prop or pedagogy: micro-learning and trauma-informed pedagogy, they both help students feel safe and provide them with a choice in the direction and pace of their own learning.
  • Luxury item: my yoga mat and my four dogs.

Dr Treasa Kearney

University of Liverpool, England


  • Original discipline(s): Services Marketing
  • Current role: Director of Studies for the MSc in Marketing
  • Lightbulb moment: I run treasure hunts for Masters in marketing students to engage them in the theory of services marketing and allow them time to engage with the many services the university offers e.g., Student support, library services. The students are from disciplines with no marketing experience and there is a large international population on the programme (e.g. China, Indian, Thailand). In groups, students explore different parts of the campus and perform many tasks that have a dual purpose: partly to induct them to the various services that will be useful to them as students as well as to realise that these are educational services. And most importantly, that in order to get the best out of these services they need to engage and co-create with the service, which is the essence of services marketing. By the end of the day, students really get the key concepts of services marketing and that to get the benefits and derive value from the service offering, that their value co-creation is essential.
  • Teaching prop or pedagogy: I am going old school: pen and paper. Students remember more when they write things down using pen and paper.
  • Luxury item: marshmallows to toast round the fire or a musical instrument to learn something new. 

Johnny Lee

Ravensbourne University London, England

  • Original discipline(s): teacher of English as a second language, then technology enhanced learning and instructional design
  • Current role: Learning technologist
  • Lightbulb moment: worked with Nursing colleagues to develop a module with authentic assessment. Students had to create a poster on raising awareness of mental wellbeing of patients using innovative e-learning tools such as Adobe Spark (Currently called Adobe Creative Cloud Express). This goes hand in hand with cultivating our support for colleagues in embarking new tools in phased, manageable chunks to increase confidence in digital capabilities.
  • Teaching prop or pedagogy: authentic learning enabled by technology. Enabling students to practice real-world skills and learning using simulation in an authentic virtual learning environment.
  • Luxury item: a can-do spirit!

Marcus Pedersen

UCL, England


  • Original discipline(s): primary school teacher in Australia
  • Current role: Learning technologist
  • Lightbulb moment: when students were unable to watch surgeries during the pandemic, I connected with a London hospital and recorded surgeries. I wanted to make these as an active learning resource so created interactive videos, e.g. with true/false questions, then students could move on. Feedback from students were positive. Masters students (doctors training to be ophthalmologists) wanted to take this further to learn how to create these interactive videos themselves including acquiring the technical skills so that they can then use these in their respective education practice.  Despite students being busy people doing surgeries, clinic and teaching, they cared about education to want to learn how to create interactive videos.
  • Teaching prop or pedagogy: Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking book – it is an insanely simple yet complicated book.
  • Luxury item: a sun screen.

Any sparks? How might our joined-up Treasure Islands look like?

Trauma-informed pedagogy resonated with everyone that led us to discuss the importance of creating a safe, social spaces to learn for students. We want students to be comfortable working with each other during sessions or group work activity. They have lost a lot of confidence during the pandemic for social speaking or they may already have been shy to approach others they do not yet know, so what some of us do is consciously organise some social events for students outside classes, exactly for this reason. Having a sit down with some tea & coffee during a morning before our lecture or arranging a social pizza event after a treasure hunt activity means that students can just informally chat to each other or with the tutor and will be more comfortable to say hi to each other next time.

Links / resources

From Gemma

If you wanted to read more about my micro-learning approach:

From Treasa:

From Johnny:

From Marcus:

Facilitated by Dr Tünde Varga-Atkins, Sound: Chris Loxham, Web design: Dennis Wong, @LivUniCIE