Research Project Proposal

To design, deliver and evaluate a lesson plan for first-year creative writing bachelor students and to revise for application within the local community.

Abstract

This paper explores a design to execute a first-year creative writing bachelor’s lesson within a university environment where the topic focuses on genre writing within speculative literature. The structure follows the guidelines of action research within a praxis paradigm to gain primary research on learning styles, learning environments and teaching techniques relating to creative writing. This includes sampling, questionnaires, a trial lesson and evaluation surveys for the sample which was further divided into subcategories for student types. An analysis of data revealed common patterns in learning styles and teaching preferences. The project evolved throughout the study to shift focus as it progressed through the stages of research from arguing that academics in universities should fall under the umbrella term ‘community service learning’ providers and that speculative literature can be beneficial to first-year students to the alternative benefits within other areas of the community. The same lesson plan design, including speculative expressive writing, can be implemented within other community-based settings such as mental health support groups for therapeutic purposes. This would be implemented within the local Milton Keynes community.

Background

The institution of education is a community in its own right; this extends to schools, academia and universities which were once accessible to all members of the community free of charge. During this time, academic study was considered open to all because universities acted community service-learning providers.[1] Many suggested texts avoided labelling universities as communities, such as The Self on The Page, Active Reading, Creative Writing: Education, Culture and community, and Creative Writing in the Community. Creative writing within academia has ‘historical reach … [t]he first positive references to teaching creative writing occur in 1917’.[2] This may be due to the shift in the academic institutions from being student-centred to business focused. The added university fees can exclude access to or drive potential students away from higher education toward other more inclusive avenues.[3] Creative writing is a student-centred subject which slants the curriculum[4] and as a subjective field of work, it is difficult to objectively study without interpretative bias from the researcher’s own perception.

The question of ‘whether you can, and whether you should, teach creative writing’[5] has been treated with some bias in the academic world, with some writers adamant arguing that writing cannot be taught, debating whether creative writing is part of the English subject discipline and that the courses are ‘a waste of time’.[6]

Similarly, speculative literature and the categories covered by this umbrella term are often frowned upon by literary critics and writers who distance themselves from labelling their work within the genre. P. L. Thomas writes that ‘Margret Atwood doesn’t want any of her books to be called science fiction’[7] and that Kurt Vonnegut ‘both practiced [sic.] and shunned the conventions of SF’[8] as if the intellectual activity or achievement of writing is somehow besmirched by a connection to SF. The genre is one of the most popular and highest-earning genres of modern times.[9] SF and other subcategories of speculative literature are beneficial to students and it has been argued that ‘speculative writing helps students to examine their own attitudes and feelings … to generate ideas’[10] through the escapism from reality to a safe space which the genre provides.

Aims, Objectives, Hypotheses & Rationale

Objective: to collect data from participants who have not interacted with creative writing at an academic level and find out the most effective teaching techniques for varying learning styles.

Aim: to cater for participants with more than one learning style, provide numerous learning resources to actively engage with and understand creative writing academically, through focusing on speculative literature in genre writing.

Hypotheses:

  1. Students will use multiple learning styles and materials to become competent in topics where they previously had little or no experience.
  2. Speculative literature can be used to stimulate discussion and increase contribution in new group dynamics.  

Null hypotheses:

  1. Students will use a singular learning style and an individual resource to digest new information.
  2. Speculative literature will have no impact on discussion or group dynamics.

Rationale: to design, deliver and evaluate a lesson plan for first-year creative writing bachelor students and study the impact of varying resources/activities on differing learning styles.

Methodology

The approach used for this research was framed around action research, the most suitable for the study, as described by Rory O’Brien action research ‘is used in real situations, … since its primary focus is on solving real problems’.[11] The lesson therefore evolved and adapted throughout its real time progression. As the lesson was trialled in an artificially simulated classroom with representative participants, it allowed for an objective collection of data on the resources and structure.

Stephen Kemmis’ model of the cyclical characteristic of the action research process shows that each cycle has four steps: plan, act, observe, reflect.[12] For this study it was appropriate to execute primary research within the local community to gauge an idea of trends in learning styles, interest in this topic and the variety in ability or experience. This allows the study to be adapted and improved to better suit learner needs. Terry Ann Thaxton states that ‘[a]rt … is a form of resistance’[13] for example, street art such as graffiti drawn by famous artists like Banksythatact as political statements, yet are also mirrored as criminal vandalism.[14] Through creative self-expression opinions on important societal matters such as politics or current affairs can be explored and shared with others. Student activism is at an all-time high today.[15] Freeing students to write within the speculative genre could allow for social action writing which ‘teaches students to break their silences, to witness their lives, to be engaged and responsible members of their communities’[16] providing an escapist platform to fictionalise real world events in fantasy settings. This acts as a safe space for students to express themselves and promotes empathetic behaviour in the lectures or seminars, while encouraging students to participate actively in the community.

A paradigm of praxis was used as the interpretive and positivist paradigms independently were unfitting for the research which needs due to placing limitations on methodology. O’Brien states positivist methods use ‘quantitative measures, with relationships among variables commonly shown by mathematical means’[17] and qualitative methods place ‘emphasis on the relationship between socially-engendered concept formation and language’[18] but the best course of action is to bring the two approaches together. Merging these creates the paradigm of praxis, providing a wider scope of information for collection, which Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt describes ‘as the interdependence and integration—not separation—of theory and practice, research and development, thought and action’[19] allowing a mixture of data types consequently raises the quality of assessment by guaranteeing that the limitations of one type are balanced by the strengths of another.[20] Through using both empirical and subjective data collection methods research can uncover both quantifiable trends as well as socially-constructed ideas within the community.

Initial primary research was conducted through preliminary questionnaires where sociological processes were followed[21] to minimise any technical jargon and maximise the response rate. The questionnaires[22] aimed to depict learning styles and ability as well as assess potential resources in mind for the lesson. Both open and closed questions were utilised to gather both numerical and qualitative data. This could then be analysed and translated into visual information in the forms of graphs to pinpoint patterns or trends, as well as qualitative data in the form of personal opinions, descriptions and participant feedback. Questions were tailored to the topic of speculative literature and education. For participant’s learning styles, Neil Flemings’ VARK model[23] was followed to categorise people into the four learning styles: visual, auditory, physical (kinaesthetic) and social (verbal). Some researchers argue learning styles are redundant. Studies show ‘[l]earning styles are not consistent attributes’[24] and by allowing the participants to select more than one preference, all attributes can be considered when designing the lesson. These four learning styles are useful for this project as they are the four most commonly used outlets for creativity: visual art – paintings, auditory art – music, kinaesthetic art – dance/theatre, verbal – spoken word. On the other hand, there are arguments against the classification of learning styles stating that identifying and accommodating them has no impact on learning, and that research on learning styles points to inconsistencies.[25] The alternative suggestion is ‘[u]sing learners’ prior knowledge to help them learn new things’[26] but both of these theories can be combined and taken into account. 

Questions were tested in a pilot study with three participants selected by opportunity-sampling, during which all multiple-choice answers were altered to cater for more specific answers to the quantitative questions for accurate data to reflect the true sample as per the feedback. ‘[The] answers are not easy to understand, need to be simplified and more specific answers available’ said one pilot participant.

A total of thirty-six participants consented to take part in the study. All participants completed the questionnaire. Through opportunity sampling, surveys were given out in a place of employment (an office building in the Linford Wood estate, Milton Keynes area) as an effective way to gather data in a short duration but this will have impacted how representative sample is. For the immediate local community, Milton Keynes, the sample will be accurate as it was narrow in terms of location. It will be more difficult to apply it to other geographical locations nationally and acquire similar results. Subject selection had to be executed through this route to ensure background research on the local community was completed prior to designing the micro-lesson to tailor the topic to the learning styles discovered. Creative writing courses attract people from all walks of life in terms of age, gender and education, which means the representation of their average class demographic was difficult to capture. Previous studies show writers are predominately female, white and aged forty-three.[27] This links well to the sample collected in this study which was also predominately female, white, and an average age of 35. Although creative writing students may not fit this exact demographic, they most likely will be aspiring writers who will fit into the demographic and therefore still produce relevant results.

Once the data was analysed through calculating the averages and responses across the sample, it showed the average participant was qualified to A-Level grade. All data—returned surveys[28], samples of work[29], feedback forms—were marked numerically or alphabetically to ensure information remained anonymous and confidential. Participants were given the option to produce pseudonyms for their data. This was stored in a folder in a securely locked cabinet. Once all data had been entered digitally onto excel, the original paper copies were shredded, and digital copies were password protected on an external USB drive.

When participants queried the aims of the research they were advised the study was looking at learning styles within university environments and this was clear on the survey where it states:

‘This is a questionnaire on education and learning styles in university environments. All information used is for research purposes. It will be kept anonymous. If you have questions relating to the study, please contact v8145670@live.tees.ac.uk. By completing this, you consent to the data being used for academic purposes.’

To design the lesson plan[30] utilised in this project and tested in a micro-study lesson templates were reviewed from a variety of sources including from the British Council.[31] A framework from the Qatar Ministry of Education and Higher Education[32] was adopted for the design as it used an English lesson plan which gave a basic guideline for layout regarding sections such as materials, resources and activities or tasks, and was more in depth than other templates reviewed.[33] As the lesson is intended to be adaptable and flexible for multi-purpose use within the community in a variety of settings, this is beneficial for ease of understanding.

The Complete Guide to Becoming an English Teacher’s section on planning individual lessons in the Planning and Progression chapter[34] reinforced a requirement for objectives, outcomes, evaluation, assessment and timings of activities. This was consistent across the multiple examples, including Jo Budden’s Lesson Planning[35] where the structure underlines guided timings for tasks. It also labels interaction type: s – s student to student, t – Ss teacher to students etc. Budden advises to ‘[c]onsider the plan to be a tool to guide you, but always use it flexibly’.[36] These three plans were consolidated into one larger plan, and then further separated down into two for one lesson plan and one activity guide, as the final design followed different structures. The tasks were written in a way to differentiate for varying student abilities and catered to individuals’ requirements as Terry Ann Thaxton confirms in Creative Writing in the Community projects ‘can be adapted to fit different groups’.[37] These were met by having access to large print versions, blue or green paper versions for dyslexic students and by providing a glossary of key terms for lower level learners.[38] Multiple person preferences were catered to for individual or group work, learning styles and favoured resources to encourage active participation and enthusiastic behaviour to increase motivation in the group setting.

Twelve participants included in the survey began the micro-lesson as a pilot of the lesson plan, activities and materials. The purpose of which was to evaluate the structure of the lesson, evaluate the tutor’s (being myself) capabilities acting in the group dynamic and review success of chosen topic. Two participants of the twelve studied as a subdivision for distance learning. This was to review the materials and topic on a standalone basis as the lesson needed to be fully accessible for other community services (such as university outreach programmes, local support groups, schools, tutors or workshops). The design of lesson pack allows it to be adapted easily.[39] These distance learning participants received their lesson pack digitally via e-mail with an introduction to the study and topic, as well as contact details for the tutor.

Throughout the study four participants dropped out and did not complete the evaluation stage, however remained happy to consent for the data already gathered to be utilised. Further to this, one participant completed the lesson as a one to one tutored session, leaving five students participating in the micro-lesson, one one-to-one student and two online students. Themes were developed through finding reoccurring keywords or phrases in responses and trends in the numerical data.

A variety of teaching techniques were used to meet the requirements of participating learners. This included group work for social learners where students actively researched and interacted with the book resources as well as with each other to discuss perspectives on the work within the genre. There were individual activities such as free writing which allowed more solitary students to work alone. The materials used catered for all four learning styles chosen by providing sheets to read, activities to do, videos to watch, presentations to listen to and open discussion to partake in.[40]

To conclude, the methodology fits with the structure of a framework for reflective practice based upon Gibb’s model[41] by beginning with an action (lesson) plan, describing the process (through surveys, verbal communication with students and tutor notes) and evaluating the lesson design (by using feedback forms and interviews) to come to an interpretation of the strengths and weaknesses of the project. This way, it can be redesigned and planned again for an evolved study. In addition, the study fits with action research by following the below six guiding principles:[42]

1) Reflexive critique: use of notes from the tutor, as well as work produced by students, returned surveys and evaluation forms.

2) Dialectical critique: ongoing dialogue between tutor and students, time allotted for verbal feedback.

3) Collaborative Resource: ‘[p]articipants in an action research project are co-researchers’[43] and their responses were used to tailor the design of the lesson plan to the student’s specific requirements.

4) Risk: ‘chang[ing] process[es] potentially threatens all previously established ways of doing things … whatever the outcome, learning will take place.’[44] Through observing, reflecting and amending the process for this research through trial and error, change occurs which can threaten the dominant ideology. Reflective practice allows for an open discussion.

5) Plural Structure: the end result of the project proposal allows for multiple interpretations and actions based on the research; use of the lesson plan within workshops set in prisons, support groups, access courses and other community environments. It can still be applied to first-year bachelor students once the access is granted to an academic institution to execute the lesson.

6) Theory, Practice, Transformation: this project has transformed throughout the research whereby materials have been added (e.g. a list of vocabulary definitions for the topic), edited and removed for ease of understanding so the lesson can be applied more openly in other community settings.

Costing

All resources are digitalised and can be distributed in an e-learning pack for cost reduction and environmental protection. Some participants elected to complete materials and surveys digitally. The questionnaires were kindly printed free of charge and recycled after use.

If printing is required – 0.05p per B&W sheet or 0.20p per colour sheet.

Questionnaires total (if required): £10.80 for 36 copies (£7.20 at 0.20p per colour sheet and £3.60 0.05p per B&W sheet, double-sided printing, 0.30p per questionnaire double-sided printing).

Micro-lesson evaluation forms:0.80p for 8 copies in B&W only, two digitalised copies were sent to distance e-learners.

Materials: Information hand out pack, B&W per student 0.35p or colour £1.25 per student, quiz B&W only per student 0.10p,

If all resources required printing, including the lesson plans (£0.10 for both sheets in B&W), this would total £15.90 GBP.

Results and Discussion

Preliminary Survey

The preliminary results gathered from surveying a sample from the sample population was entered into an Excel workbook with quantitative data analysed to show averages in patterns and qualitative data colour coded to demonstrate reoccurring themes in feedback,[45] as well as all numerical data translated onto graphs to easily show results.[46]

Initial responses gave a clear picture of the local sample:

  • 63.88% were female
  • 30.55% were educated to a-level, 27.77% to GCSE level, and 25% to bachelor’s level. 5.55% responded they no had education.
  • The average age was 34.66 with the youngest participant being 13 and the oldest being 79.

This applied well for realistic reflections of the local community for use of the lesson plan in workshops, prisons, care homes etc, as well as fitting with the demographic of arts or humanities degrees which are predominately female and that the number of more mature students within these fields have been on the rise in recent years.[47] Creative writing degrees attract students from a variety of backgrounds at different stages in their life, education and career so the sample obtained was as representative as possible.

            The survey results also gave insight into writing and learning preferences:

  • 72.22%[48] wrote daily but only 25%[49] had previous creative writing experience. (The lack of experience in the topic is favourable as most bachelor students won’t have had formal interaction with the subject previously.)
  • 52.78% preferred learning within a classroom, followed by 44.44% who preferred to learn at home.
  • 75% of participants used writing skills in their place of work, 52.78% for personal or leisure reasons, and 30.55%[50] for educational purposes.
  • 63.88% of respondents said they worked better with music.
  • 77.88% chose demonstrations as a preferred resource and the same percentage chose kinaesthetic as their type of learning style. 61.11% selected visual as their preferred learning style.

This gave justifiable cause for allotting material space to visual aids such as the PowerPoint presentation[51] and information handouts[52] as well as research activities on provided texts and group tasks such as creating the table of advantages and disadvantages.[53]

The qualitative data gathered came from the open-ended questions on the questionnaire and some notable comments, sub-divided into thematic categories include:

            Group Work

  • ‘Cannot trust others’ Participant 1.
  • ‘I like to bounce ideas off other people’ Participant 4.
  • ‘[A]lone, you can work at your own pace. Groups, good to interact to increase knowledge’ Participant 6.
  • ‘[T]his is task dependent’ Participant 11.
  • ‘Only have yourself to rely on’ Participant E.


Reading

  • ‘I find reading peaceful, helps with my anxiety’ Participant 9.
  • ‘Way of escaping, knowledge, enjoyment’ Participant 6.
  • ‘[F]or self-development and mental health’ Participant 25.

Learning Styles

  • ‘Learn through trial and error. I find it easier to process information by seeing others first’ Participant 16.
  • ‘Hearing audio instructions reinforce the visual learning’ Participant 19.
  • ‘I can pick things up quicker by doing them, to find my way and adapt’ Participant 21.

Trends and Patterns in comments

  • 11 / 36 mention directly multiple examples of learning, comments reflect kinaesthetic learning as most popular.
  • 11 / 36 people mentioned visual learning in their comment.
  • The majority agrees that groups are distracting, but provide the most ideas, independent and group work are both useful in different circumstances.
  • Visual stimulation through speculative artwork displays: 16/ 36 commented they evoked as intended, 15/36 evoked in new unintended way, 4 students not evoked.
  • The majority learns vocationally at work.
  • 6 / 36 explained they preferred tutor-led discussions, agreeing that it keeps the group on track. 5 / 36 agree further that discussion should be open and less guided.
  • 4 / 36 actively state low interest in reading, 12 / 36 actively state a higher interest in reading.

Due to participants having fully informed consent, as well as being under observation by the tutor/researcher, there is the possibility of the Hawthorne effect[54] impacting study results due to the artificial simulation of a real lesson, as well as conflicts of interest due to existing personal relationships between the tutor and the participants. This poses minimal risk as in academia students are under observation by university officials and tutors.

An observation on the methodology shows participants responded in less detail further through the questionnaire as engagement and interest dropped. This has no negative impacts as this was a trial study to prepare for the proposal and iron out any problems encountered throughout this test run.

Micro-lesson

The micro-lesson took place in an informal home environment, as the home was the second most popular choice for setting compared to the classroom, but also easily an accessible environment for a trial lesson to the tutor. As participants on average selected two choices for learning environments it provided the tutor with more flexibility in choosing a location.

Raw data from the evaluation forms returned by students participating in the micro-lesson[55] was represented on a graph.[56] This shows the average overall rating at 8.02 out of 10. The highest scoring attribute was the tutor at 9.22. The lowest scoring factor was the background music at 6.11. The poorest overall scoring came from the one to one trial with participant J. This could be due to the unshared attention from the student toward the tutor throughout the session as engagement with materials and tasks were significantly higher.

During lessons, participants produced work from the activities[57] including a chart task completed as a group, free writing exercises with the prompt to write about a place that doesn’t exist. The participants free writing responded in different ways, respondent 0 wrote a piece titled Cat World,[58] participant G wrote dark prose about their mind[59] and a third about a marshmallow city.[60] The exercises were a success as every student had written a cohesive piece ranging from a paragraph to over a page in length.

The notes made by the tutor during the session[61] indicated a vocabulary list for a definition of terms was needed for better clarity and ease of understanding and this was useful to further differentiate information for the learners. There was a difficulty keeping participants focused on the lesson due to external distractions perhaps due to the informal environment as opposed to holding the micro-lesson in a classroom setting, but this did not impact on participant J’s one to one tutorial. This suggests the problem is group maintenance, control and authority on behalf of the tutor for the group lesson and is an area for improvement.

Throughout the tutorial session, participant J proceeded to pause the lesson to give real-time feedback to the tutor. This included reducing the amount of text originally included on the slides in the presentation, which is backed up by research on presenting to audiences.[62] Some text was removed as it had been recycled on the information handouts and acted as a duplicate. This feedback was reinforced further by participant 23, a qualified English teacher, who wrote on the evaluation form that there was ‘quite a lot of information on the slides and at times I found this difficult to follow’.[63]

The earlier objective[64] was met through using a combination of suggested teaching methods including open discussion, analysis of texts and creating a sense of purpose for students.[65] Aims for the research proposal[66] were fulfilled through design, evaluation and further development of a range of learning resources as well as the production of low level bachelor’s academic work by participants, active engagement in the trial lesson and basic understanding of the umbrella term speculative literature (evidence of which was shown to the tutor by the responses to the quiz and in class discussion).

The first hypotheses ‘[s]tudents will use multiple learning styles and materials to become competent in topics where they previously had little or no experience’ was proven correct and evidence to support this is shown by the high scoring evaluation as well as the topic-specific work produced by participants.[67] The second hypotheses ‘[s]peculative literature can be used to stimulate discussion and increase contribution in new group dynamics’ was proven correct through analysis of the tutor’s notes.[68] There are obvious signs of strong debate and from comments from the students reinforce the value gained from working within a group such as participant A who wrote ‘[e]veryone was more knowledgeable about the subject at the end of the session’.[69]

The starting rationale[70] was maintained consistently throughout the proposal design by focusing on academic references, resources and individual learning preferences until after the evaluation stage where there was a period of reflection on the most appropriate rationale for the research’s purposes. Only then was the rationale revised.

Revisions and Future Intentions

To advance the project multiple amendments would be necessary to refine the lesson, as Thaxton writes ‘[w]hile developing your project overview and lessons … you grow personally … you develop a stronger sense of civic responsibility’[71] and the experience gained in this trial fundamentally changed the intention of the research proposal due to the results found.

Reviewing texts relating to community service learning in reference to therapeutic uses, such as Graham Hartill’s speculations that ‘the words ‘poetry’ and ‘healing’ have a lot in common: ‘poetry’ … means to compose, to pull things together … ‘healing’ … also means to make whole’[72] argue healing requires joining the mind and body together which can be achieved through writing. This, in conjunction with comments made by participants in the study indicating reading and writing was beneficial to their health, sparked a new interest in application of speculative writing to support groups. Thus, the proposal needed to be updated to reflect these new goals.

After finishing the surveys, trial lesson and evaluation, there was a period of reflection on the project proposal where knowledge gaps were filled by the experience gathered to further develop the proposal for a successful research project. Participant 9 commented that writing helps them to work through difficult emotions such as anxiety. The link to health benefits from writing, such as where Celia Hunt and Fiona Sampson identify ‘the poet’s work as a form of sentimental confession’,[73] can lift the emotional weight from the shoulders of more isolated people. Incorporating escapist expressive writing into support groups can allow members to explore their thoughts in a safe space, much like a priest’s confessional experience relieving penance. This led to the decision to redirect the research proposal for the speculative lesson plan to be executed within a support group setting as opposed to for bachelor students in university to provide more services for mental health in the local community.

To improve evaluation, future feedback or assessment forms will use the 5 point Likert scale[74] for any numerical ratings on surveys as this is an ordered scale that can measure respondents attitudes toward a topic[75], which can be amended to an even-numbered scale to force participants to choose a definite answer and not a neutral option. Whereas the 10-point scale used within the trial project may have resulted in inconsistent evaluation due to different perceptions of the rating.

For further sessions, information will be concentrated into the digitised e-pack and much less text used on the presentations as respondents commented that ‘presenters use too many slides with too much text and too many bullet points’[76] to stop student focus being drawn away from the tutor thereby minimising distractions. There is a suggested ‘indirect relation between speaking anxiety and the number of words’ used on slides.[77] To prevent this in future attempts more preparation from the tutor is necessary in terms of practising presentations, demonstrations or lectures as well as to invest in public speaking courses or training to minimise performance anxiety. These merits would also apply to community work such as support groups, many of which are set up by sufferers for sufferers due to the lack of services provided specifically for mental health.[78]

Revised Aim: To cater for people with more than one learning style or condition, as well as provide numerous materials/activities to actively engage with and understand creative writing expressively, through focusing on speculative thinking and imagination.

Revised Rationale: Creative writing (and expressive arts) can be utilised for the benefit of mental health in the community by bringing people together into peer support groups.

This revised rationale allows the therapeutic use of creative writing to be trialled in a mental health peer to peer group setting. ‘[E]xpressive writing is … available at any time to anyone with basic writing skills … it can offer access to memories, feelings and experiences … to clarify and organise thoughts’[79] but in the current healthcare climate with local services being under too much pressure,[80] harnessing these benefits of writing in society could reduce negative impacts experienced due to limited services for mental health sufferers. This is reinforced by, as Hartill writes, the ‘many artists … who have experienced mental health distress in their lives … have been disempowered by the healthcare system’[81] whereas self-help can be used through the medium of creative writing and is constantly accessible to everybody.

Community service groups require more varied preparation than academic lectures as the service needs to have a budget, advertise digitally and in print, market the group, as well as set up digital platforms such as social media and websites[82] to reach further potential audiences. Flyers distributed into local circulation help build awareness in the local community as to the benefits of the project. It also requires a venue, which can add to costs but when inquired with local charities such as Rethink and Mind there were possibilities for free venues such as unused public buildings e.g. The Unity Park Station, Milton Keynes.

Resources initially tailored to the bachelor’s lesson will no longer service as learning tools to students but as informational inspiration for self-reflection within writing at support groups. This moves attention from understanding the topic academically to utilising the techniques and genre for personal development.

Revised Costing:
700 sheets for a6 flyers £140.00 GBP

20 sheets for a4 posters £4.00 GBP

25 sheets for a5 posters £5.00 GBP

Tea, coffee, milk for meeting £3.00 GBP per meeting

Venue free – supplied by Unity Park Station

Training, fundraising and mobile phone free – supplied and support by Rethink as registering as an official non-profit rethink support group

The research undertaken in this proposal and trial study has proven the hypotheses that speculative literature can be used to stimulate discussion in new group dynamics as well as positively evaluated the lesson plan designed in conjunction with the materials created for the lesson would allow for students to become more competent in a task not encountered previously. Feedback from participating students confirms that expressive writing and speculative thinking benefit their mental health. This inspired the proposal to take a new direction in the lessons’ use within other community settings outside of academia. The trial study proved it is necessary for more research to be conducted in this area.  


[1] ‘Between 1962 and the 1990s higher education in Britain was effectively free, as the state paid students’ tuition fees and also offered maintenance grants to many’.
Robert Anderson, University fees in historical perspective (2016) <http://www.historyandpolicy.org/policy-papers/papers/university-fees-in-historical-perspective> [accessed 4 May 2019]

.

[2] Rebecca O’Rouke, ‘The Rise of Creative Writing in Education’, Creative Writing: Education, Culture & Community (Leicester: NIACE, 2005), p. 51.

[3] UCAS, Applicants for UK higher education down: 5% for UK students and 7% for EU students (2017) <https://www.ucas.com/corporate/news-and-key-documents/news/applicants-uk-higher-education-down-5-uk-students-and-7-eu-students> [accessed 19 May 2019]

.

[4] Ibid p. 158.

[5] Ibid p. 39.

[6] Alison Flood, Creative writing professor Hanif Kureishi says such courses are ‘a waste of time’, The Guardian, 4 March 2014, <https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/04/creative-writing-courses-waste-of-time-hanif-kureishi> [accessed 10 May 2019]

.

[7] P.L. Thomas, Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction: Challenging Genres (ProQuest Ebook Central: Sense Publishers, 2012) p.15 <https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/tees/detail.action?docID=3034866> [accessed 4 May 2019].

[8] Ibid p. 16.

[9] IMDb.com, Box Office Franchise Index (2019) <https://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/?view=Franchise&sort=sumgross&order=DESC&p=.htm> [accessed 19 May 2019]

.

[10] Raghu N. Singh, and N. Prabha Unnithan. “Free to Write: On the Use of Speculative Writing in Sociology Courses.” Teaching Sociology, vol. 17, no. 4, 1989, pp. 465–470. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1318424.

[11] Rory O’Brien, An Overview of the Methodological Approach of Action Research (1998) <http://www.web.ca/~robrien/papers/arfinal.html> [accessed 4 May 2019]

.

[12] Dan MacIsaac, “An Introduction to Action Research,” 1995, http://www.phy.nau.edu/~danmac/actionrsch.html (22/03/1998).

[13] Terry Ann Thaxton, Creative Writing in the Community (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014) p. 123.

[14] Luke Dickens, BBC: How did Banksy become the world’s most famous vandal? (2014). <https://www.bbc.com/timelines/zytpn39> [accessed 17 May 2019].

[15] Zachary Jason, The New Age of Student Activism (2018) <https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/ed/18/08/student-activism-20> [accessed 4 May 2019]

.

[16] Terry Ann Thaxton, Creative Writing in the Community (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014) p. 128.

[17] Rory O’Brien, An Overview of the Methodological Approach of Action Research (1998) <http://www.web.ca/~robrien/papers/arfinal.html> [accessed 4 May 2019]

.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt, ‘Action Learning and Action Research: Paradigm, Praxis and Programs’, in Effective Change Management through Action Research and Action Learning: Concepts, Perspectives, Processes and Applications, ed. by Sankara, S., Dick, B. and Passfield, R.(Lismore, Australia: Southern Cross University Press, 2001), p. 15.

[20] Jennifer C. Greene, Valerie J. Caracelli and Wendy F. Graham, (1989). “Toward a conceptual framework for mixed-option evaluation design.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 11(3), pp. 255-74.

[21] Saul McLeod, Research Methods » Questionnaire (2018) <https://www.simplypsychology.org/questionnaires.html#ethics> [accessed 27 April 2019]

.

[22] Appendix 1. C.

[23] Walter L. Leite, Marilla Svinicki & Yuying Shi, ‘Attempted Validation of the Scores of the VARK: Learning Styles Inventory With Multitrait–Multimethod Confirmatory Factor Analysis Models’, Educational and Psychological Measurement, 70.2, (2010), 323–339,  <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0013164409344507#articleCitationDownloadContainer> [accessed 4 May 2019]

.

[24] Carol Lethaby, Four reasons to avoid ‘learning styles’ – and one alternative (2017) <https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/four-reasons-avoid-learning-styles-one-alternative> [accessed 27 April 2019]

.

[25] Carol Lethaby, Four reasons to avoid ‘learning styles’ – and one alternative (2017) <https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/four-reasons-avoid-learning-styles-one-alternative> [accessed 27 April 2019]

.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Data USA, Writers & Authors: Demographics (2019) <https://datausa.io/profile/soc/273043/#demographics> [accessed 18 May 2019].

[28] See Appendix 1. D.

[29] See Appendix 2. I.

[30] Appendix 2. B.

[31] Jo Bertrand, Teaching English, British Council: Lesson Plans (2019) <https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/lesson-plans> [accessed 17 May 2019].

[32] Qatar Ministry of Education and Higher Education, English Lesson Plan Template (2019) <www.edu.gov.qa/Ar/SECInstitutes/EducationInstitute/CS/…/English2/1.docx> [accessed 28 April 2019]

.

[33] Appendix 2. C.

[34] Stephen Clarke, Paul Dickinson & Jo Westbrook, The Complete Guide To Becoming An English Teacher (London: Sage, 2000).

[35] Jo Budden, Lesson Planning (2008) <www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/lesson-planning> [accessed 27 April 2019].

[36] Ibid.

[37] Thaxton also includes a basic structure for lessons outlining use of introductions, content, models and activities.
Terry Ann Thaxton, ‘Making a Plan’, Creative Writing in the Community (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), p. 50.

[38] Appendix 2. D.

[39] This is essential for community-based learning as the lesson plan can be utilised whilst ‘working at a public school, nursing home, foster-care facility, prison or shelter’.
Terry Ann Thaxton, Creative Writing in the Community (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014) p. 67.

[40] Appendix 2. D, Appendix 2. F, Appendix 2. E, Appendix 2. F, Appendix 2. I.

[41] Graham Gibbs, Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. (1988: Further Education Unit. Oxford Polytechnic: Oxford).

[42] Richard Winter, Learning From Experience: Principles and Practice in Action-Research (Philadelphia: The Falmer Press, 1989) pp. 43-67.

[43] Rory O’Brien, An Overview of the Methodological Approach of Action Research (1998) <http://www.web.ca/~robrien/papers/arfinal.html> [accessed 4 May 2019].

[44] Ibid.

[45] Appendix 1. F, please see colour code key in appendix 1. F, figure 3.

[46] Appendix 1. F figures 5 – 20.

[47] Rebecca Mantle, Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2016/17 – Subjects studied (2018) <https://www.hesa.ac.uk/news/11-01-2018/sfr247-higher-education-student-statistics/subjects> [accessed 9 May 2019]

.

[48] Appendix 1. F – Figure 8.

[49] Appendix 1. F – Figure 9.

[50] Appendix 1. F – figure 13.

[51] Appendix 2. E.

[52] Appendix 2. D.

[53] Appendix 2. I – figure 1.

[54] David Oswald, Fred Sherrat and Simon Smith, ‘Handling the Hawthorne effect: The challenges surrounding a participant observer’, Review of Social Studies (RoSS), Volume one. Issue one, (2014), 53-73. <http://www.rossjournal.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/RoSS-Vol1-No1-Oswald-et-al-53-73.pdf> [accessed 19 May 2019]

.

[55] Appendix 2. A, figure 1.

[56] Appendix 2. A, figure 2.

[57] Appendix 2. I.

[58] Ibid, figure. 3.4.

[59] Ibid, figure 3.2.

[60] Ibid, figure 3.5.

[61] Appendix 2. H.

[62] Aaron Weyenberg, 10 tips on how to make slides that communicate your idea, from TED’s in-house expert (2014) <https://blog.ted.com/10-tips-for-better-slide-decks/> [accessed 9 May 2019].

[63] Appendix 5. A.

[64] To collect data from participants who have not interacted with creative writing at an academic level and find out the most effective teaching techniques for varying learning styles.

[65] Stephen Clarke, Paul Dickinson & Jo Westbrook, The Complete Guide to Becoming an English Teacher (London: Sage, 2000) p. 292.

[66] To cater for participants with more than one learning style, provide numerous learning resources to actively engage with and understand creative writing academically, through focusing on speculative literature in genre writing.

[67] Appendix 2. I.

[68] Appendix 2. H.

[69] Appendix 1. F, figure 2.

[70] To design, deliver and evaluate a lesson plan for first-year creative writing bachelor students and study the impact of varying resources/activities on differing learning styles.

[71] Terry Ann Thaxton, Creative Writing in the Community (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014) p. 51

[72] Graham Hartill, ‘The Web of Words: Collaborative Writing and Mental Health’, in The Self on the Page, ed. by Celia Hunt and Fiona Sampson (London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1998), p. 47.

[73] Fiona Sampson, ‘Thinking About Language as a Way Through The World’ in The Self on the Page, ed. by Celia Hunt and Fiona Sampson (London Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1998) p.134.

[74] Rensis Likert,”A Technique for the Measurement of Attitudes”. Archives of Psychology (1932). 140: 1–55.

[75] Jan Losby and Anne Wetmore, Using Likert Scales in Evaluation Survey Work (2012) <https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/pubs/docs/cb_february_14_2012.pdf> [accessed 4 May 2019].

[76]Brigitte Hertz, et al. “Why Do Scholars Use PowerPoint the Way They Do?” Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, vol. 78, no. 3, Sept. 2015, pp. 273–291, doi:10.1177/2329490615589171.

[77]Brigitte Hertz, et al. “PowerPoint Slides as Speaking Notes: The Influence of Speaking Anxiety on the Use of Text on Slides.” Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, vol. 79, no. 3, Sept. 2016, pp. 348–359, doi:10.1177/2329490615620416.

[78] Julia Fisher, 2019, personal communication, March 15th.

[79] Gillie Bolton, ‘Writing or Pills? Therapeutic Writing in Primary Health Care’ in The Self on the Page, ed. by Celia Hunt and Fiona Sampson (London Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 1998) p. 79.

[80] Sam Francis, More mental health patients sent ‘hundreds of miles’ for care (2019) <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-48123113> [accessed 10 May 2019].

[81] Hartill, p. 48.

[82] Appendix 3. A, appendix 3. B, appendix 3. C.


Bibliography

*Please note the bibliography has been divided up into categories to differentiate between the various range of resources and research utilised within this proposal.

Primary Sources

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Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (New York: Random House, 2012).

Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves (New York: Pantheon Books, 2000).

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Marketing and Advertising Platforms

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Terry Ann Thaxton, Creative Writing in the Community (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014).

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Research methodology

Chris Livesey, Sociological Research Skills Research Methods (2019) <http://www.sociology.org.uk/notes/methodq.pdf> [accessed 27 April 2019].

David Oswald, Fred Sherrat and Simon Smith, ‘Handling the Hawthorne effect: The challenges surrounding a participant observer’, Review of Social Studies (RoSS), Volume one. Issue one, (2014), 53-73. <http://www.rossjournal.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/RoSS-Vol1-No1-Oswald-et-al-53-73.pdf> [accessed 19 May 2019]

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Jennifer C. Greene, Valerie J. Caracelli and Wendy F. Graham, (1989). “Toward a conceptual framework for mixed-option evaluation design.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 11(3), pp. 255-74.

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Mental Health

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Meredith Sue Willis, Personal Fiction Writing, second edn. (New York: Teachers and Writers Collaborative, 2000).

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