Quack, Quack Duck: LEGO® Serious Play® Group PAT session with International Students.

Sally P Laurie (University of Northampton)
Anna Poole (University of Northampton)
Gosia Plotka (University of Northampton )

Tuesday, April 9, 2024 1:30 PM - 2:15 PM

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Session Outline

This workshop demonstrated the application of LEGO® Serious Play® (LSP) principles in Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) sessions for International Students at the University of Northampton (UON). UON PATs are part of an integrated learner support system, including counselling, learning development, career services, and residential support. While LSP’s origin and design lie in academia, it derived from an industry need to address short comings in objective analysis in business strategy. Since then, it’s efficacy has been demonstrated in diverse contexts.

LSP catalyses verbal communication, fostering innovation, and supporting personal resilience by enhancing self-awareness and empathy (Brown & Collins, 2018). It stimulates open discussions, embracing diversity, exploring possibilities, overcoming communication barriers, and encouraging reflection. The approach provides a good fit to the core values of personal academic tutoring and advising (Hayes, 2023). It also aims to bridge the gap between academic learning and practical skills demanded by employers, particularly in diverse international contexts (Gowsalya & Elavarasan, 2018; Ayodele, Oladokun & Kajimo-Shakantu, 2020). The method’s Creative Commons license provides flexibility to further develop its own application of the LSP within UON specific context. 

The focus of this session is on the design and reflection of international post graduate group tutorial sessions. The tutorials were designed so that students discovered there are solutions 'already in the room” (Gauntlett & Holzwarth, 2006, p. 85) through the sharing of stories and reflections of their models in an emergent and playful way (Dann, 2018; McCusker & Swan, 2018) by sharing perspectives on challenges, needs, and values. A trained LSP facilitator ensured “safety protocols” were adhered to while creating a playful, positive activity for participants to connect meaningfully with each other. In the development phase experienced PATs undertook the role of ‘critical friends’ (Costa and Callick,1993).

The participants engage on an equal footing to contribute to the personal and social transformation it stimulates open dialogue and fosters critical thinking. Every student’s voice is heard, fostering a sense of belonging and 'mattering' (Felton & Weston, 2021). This participatory approach encourages students to take ownership of subsequent actions and development.

Observations will be shared in the workshop and involve hands-on activities to provide a tangible understanding of the outcomes. Delegates will be encouraged to explore the extent to which this approach cultivates collaboration skills, knowledge exchange, shared understandings by promoting reflective thinking. We will explore how these methodologies can help attendees gain insights into the unseen pressures on students, impact on their behaviour, motivation, and learning. The transformative and empowering role of the PAT tutorial process will be a focal point for discussion.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
R1 - Build advising and tutoring relationships through empathetic listening and compassion for students, and be accessible in ways that challenge, support, nurture, and teach
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners
P2 - Appreciate students’ views and cultures, maintain a student-centred approach and mindset, and treat students with sensitivity and fairness