Collaborative writing communities for Learning Development research and practice


  • Ian Johnson University of Portsmouth
  • Karen Welton Arts University Plymouth
  • Kiu Sum University of Westminster & Solent University
  • Victoria Rafferty Arden University
  • Ralitsa Kantcheva Bangor University
  • Jane Nodder Northern College of Acupuncture, York
  • Paul Chin University of Bath
  • Ursula Canton Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Silvina Bishopp-Martin Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Ed Bickle Bournemouth University



This workshop discussed how collaborative reflection and writing provides us, as a group of Learning Developers, with insights into our role and sense of identity. The wider potential for using collaborative writing to develop topics of mutual interest was also explored. Our reflections on the collaborative writing process arose from our first-hand experience of collaborative writing (Bickle et al., 2021). Therefore, we aimed to introduce participants to the tools we used for our writing and encourage them to experience the tools themselves to stimulate a discussion on the potential and challenges of collaborative writing for LD research and practice. We hoped to increase participants’ understanding of collaborative writing through practice and reflection and provide ideas on how others can initiate a collaborative writing community. The introduction briefly outlined the insights we gained from our study, focussing particularly on the way collaborative writing served as a tool to examine and broaden our identities as Learning Developers. It also introduced the methodologies for creating (collaborative writing) and analysing (collaborative autoethnography) data. Next, participants were invited to try out collaborative writing activities and reflect on their potential use as part of their own practice. We used a Google document (Figure 1) to collect their spontaneous responses to short writing prompts related to the challenges and potential of collaborative writing. Finally, at the end of the session, participants left with tips and techniques on how to develop a collaborative writing group of their own.

Author Biographies

Ian Johnson, University of Portsmouth

Ian Johnson is a Learning Developer in the School of Education and Sociology at the University of Portsmouth, where he is about to complete his EdD thesis on student and institutional perceptions of the Learning Developer role.

Karen Welton, Arts University Plymouth

Karen Welton is a Learning Development Advisory in the Learning Lab at Arts University Plymouth. She has a particular interest in neurodiversity in learning, and co-leads ALDinHE’s Neurodiversity and Inclusivity Community of Practice.

Kiu Sum, University of Westminster & Solent University

Kiu Sum is Lecturer in Nutrition at Solent University following a PhD in Nutrition at Westminster University. She is an active pedagogic researcher, focusing on student engagement and student partnerships in higher education.

Victoria Rafferty, Arden University

Victoria Rafferty is Lecturer in Employability and Professional Practice at the University of Sunderland. She is an experienced researcher in students’ learning experiences, and her PhD was based on her research around academic literacies.

Ralitsa Kantcheva, Bangor University

Ralitsa Kantcheva is a Study Skills Adviser at Bangor University (Wales). Her primary research interest is students’ understanding of the threshold concepts embedded in academic writing and in scientific research procedures.

Jane Nodder, Northern College of Acupuncture, York

Jane Nodder is currently studying for the award of PhD in Technology Enhanced Learning and E-Research at Lancaster University where her research is investigating the professional development needs of online educators. She has an MSc in Nutritional Medicine from the University of Surrey and is now a Research Supervisor for the online MSc courses and a Lecturer for the MSc Nutrition Science and Practice.

Paul Chin, University of Bath

Paul Chin is the Head of Learning and Teaching, Centre for Learning & Teaching at Bath University, where he manages the Academic Staff Development Team, Curriculum Development Team and Student Engagement Team. His main research interest is peer learning, having completed his PhD in online peer learning and assessment. He is a Certified Leading Practitioner in Learning Development, a Principal Fellow of the HEA, and a Co-Chair of ALDinHE.

Ursula Canton, Glasgow Caledonian University

Ursula Canton is a Senior Lecturer in Academic Writing at Glasgow Caledonian University in the School of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment. She also works with students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and supervises MSc dissertations in Education for the University of Glasgow. Her research focuses on interdisciplinary work and is shaped by her experience of studying and teaching at very different institutions and disciplinary contexts. Interests include the evaluation of writing and teaching of writing, the role of academic and professional literacies in HE and harnessing insights into the writing process for teaching.

Silvina Bishopp-Martin, Canterbury Christ Church University

Silvina Bishopp-Martin is the Learning Developer for all Education programmes at Canterbury Christ Church University. She has an MA in TESOL, has achieved CeLP status, is a Fellow of the HEA and a certified CMI Coach and Mentor. Her research interests include peer-mentoring, academic literacies, critical EAP, and LD professionalism and identity. Silvina is a member of the ALDinHE Research & Development and Peer Mentoring working groups. She is currently undertaking a PhD on Learning Development professional identity and its place in academia.

Ed Bickle, Bournemouth University

Ed Bickle is a lecturer in Learning Development at Bournemouth University, where he works within a small academic team to provide faculty level support to students. He has 20 years’ experience within the HE sector is a member of the ALDinHE Research Community of Practice. He has held research roles within the Widening Participation field and worked within national schemes such as Aimhigher.


Bickle, E., Bishopp-Martin, S., Canton, U., Chin, P., Johnson, I., Kantcheva, R., Nodder, J., Rafferty, V., Sum, K., & Welton, K. (2021). Emerging from the third space chrysalis: Experiences in a non-hierarchical, collaborative research community of practice. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 18(7), 135-158.




How to Cite

Johnson, I., Welton, K., Sum, K., Rafferty, V., Kantcheva, R., Nodder, J., Chin, P., Canton, U., Bishopp-Martin, S. and Bickle, E. (2022) “Collaborative writing communities for Learning Development research and practice”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (25). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi25.986.

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