Dr Angela O' Sullivan

Job: Faculty Head of Widening Participation

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Allied Health Sciences

Research group(s): Centre for Pedagogic Research

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.

T: +44 (0)116 207 8821

E: aosullivan@dmu.ac.uk

W: www.dmu.ac.uk/alliedhealthsciences

 

Research group affiliations

  • Centre for Pedagogic Research

Publications and outputs 

  • PuzzlEd: RAISE
    PuzzlEd: RAISE O'Sullivan, Angela; Nichols-Drew, L.; Bacon, Joanne; Bassford, Marie; Crisp, Annette; Fowler, Mark R. In this interactive workshop, the HE Advance CATE (Spotlight) Award winning CrashEd team from De Montfort University will showcase our current innovative venture, PuzzlEd. Whereas CrashEd was the culmination of interdisciplinary subject specialisms including Criminology, Forensic Science, Physics, Maths and Policing, PuzzlEd has evolved from our differentiated personal learning styles. Between the team members, our varied strengths are represented including words (anagrams and homophones), associations (shapes, numbers, colours), language and images. By working together as partners, we have evolved our original collaborations which has culminated in an immersive and engaging pedagogic tool, that accommodates a range of learning styles and in doing so promotes teamwork and peer feedback. The purpose of PuzzlEd is to utilise the popular genre of escape rooms, whereby participants face tasks against the clock. We have created our challenges influenced from our own learning styles, resulting in an array of logic puzzles which when solved generate padlock codes leading to further clues. Underpinning PuzzlEd are numerous theoretical approaches such as Constructivist, Humanist and Connectivist, enabling scaffolding of learning and transformative opportunities. Utilising technology via computerised avatars as narrators further enhances the PuzzlEd experience for participants. This is a novel approach to teaching, learning and assessment, which will inspire and empower the higher education community. Workshop at 2019 RAISE Pedagogic Conference in Newcastle
  • PuzzlEd: Playful Learning
    PuzzlEd: Playful Learning Nichols-Drew, L.; O'Sullivan, Angela; Bassford, Marie; Crisp, Annette; Bacon, Joanne; Fowler, Mark This interactive Playful Activity Session presents our current novel endeavour, PuzzlEd, being developed by the successful Advance HE CATE (Spotlight) 2018 award winning team CrashEd (Angela O’Sullivan [NTF], Marie Bassford, Annette Crisp, Joanne Bacon, Mark Fowler, Marisol Martinez-Lees and Leisa Nichols-Drew). This innovative project, replicates the inter-disciplinary and constructivist team ethos of CrashEd, whereby our scholarship and knowledge, stemming from good practice, provides the pedagogic foundation of PuzzlEd as a learning, teaching and assessment tool. PuzzlEd provides a unique opportunity for participants, utilising the experiential and engaging principles of escape room activities, to learn new concepts, whilst developing teamwork skills. An array of innovative and creative teaching and learning approaches will be demonstrated to nurture problem solving skills and encourage lateral thinking. Additionally, the involvement of computerised avatars throughout the activity, highlights the theory of connectivism in our technology facilitated practice. Participants will find the challenge of the ‘hands-on’ puzzles immersive, building bridges across inter-disciplinary subjects and scaffolds of knowledge through the experiential learning of solving progressively complex and interlinked puzzles. Cohesively working together, groups of participants will also have the opportunity to work to their individual strengths and learning preferences, solving abstract puzzles, anagrams and a range of other practical logic problems to literally unlock the padlocks. In doing so, they will not only reveal formative assessment answers, but the key to successfully engaging students in fun, interdisciplinary tasks to embed learning. As in any escape room scenario, the task is against the clock. Therefore, participants are briefly introduced to the task to maximise actual participation time, with a subsequent 15 minute plenary discussion, to identify essential factors that make this imaginative approach transferable and engaging.
  • PuzzlEd
    PuzzlEd Nichols-Drew, L.; O'Sullivan, Angela; Crisp, Annette; Bacon, Joanne; Bassford, Marie; Fowler, Mark R. This interactive workshop showcases the next creative and innovative project, PuzzlEd, being developed by members of the successful Advance HE CATE (Spotlight) 2018 award winners, CrashEd, (Marie Bassford, Joanne Bacon, Annette Crisp, Leisa Nichols-Drew, Mark Fowler, Marisol Martinez-Lees and Angela O’Sullivan [NTF] ). The project emulates the successful constructivist and inter-disciplinary approach employed in CrashEd, ensuring that the knowledge and scholarship developed by the team’s good practice underpins the pedagogy of PuzzlEd as a teaching, learning and assessment tool. Delegates will have the opportunity to experience PuzzlEd which uses the principles of escape rooms to engage learners to develop teamwork skills whilst learning new concepts. A range of creative and innovative teaching and learning tools will be employed to encourage abstract thinking and nurture problem solving skills. Participants will be immersed in the challenge, building scaffolds of knowledge and bridges across inter-disciplinary subjects with a range of 'hands on' puzzles. Teams of participants will have the opportunity to work to their strengths, solving anagrams, abstract puzzles and a range of other practical logic problems to literally unlock the padlock to reveal not only the answer to the formative assessment but the answer to engaging students in fun, interdisciplinary tasks to embed learning. Like any good escape room scenario the task is against the clock and so participants will have a brief introduction to the task and a 15 minute plenary discussion afterwards to identify the key factors that make this creative approach engaging and transferable. Faculties of HLS, CEM and interdisciplinary research.
  • The Co-creation, Connectivism and Collaboration Jigsaw; assembling the puzzle pieces for a successful multi-disciplinary student learning experience
    The Co-creation, Connectivism and Collaboration Jigsaw; assembling the puzzle pieces for a successful multi-disciplinary student learning experience Bassford, Marie; O'Sullivan, Angela; Bacon, Joanne; Crisp, Annette; Nichols-Drew, L.; Fowler, Mark R. CrashEd is a multi-disciplinary, cross-Faculty, University project that arose from five academics’ collaborative commitment to develop a car crash scenario as a widening participation activity. The success of the outreach project culminated in the inspiration to develop more academically challenging forensic scenarios for study at Higher Education level. The ethos of the Forensic Investigation module is on realistic, scenario-based learning and assessment methods, and involves subject specialists across five Schools, an FE college and the Leicestershire Constabulary. CrashEd team members and the police Forensic Crash Investigator have delivered their specialist expertise on anatomy and physiology, ballistics and trauma injuries to students on a local college FdA Theatrical Make-up and Special Effects course. These students have reciprocated the collaboration with the development of bespoke prosthetic resources designed from remits written by University Forensic Science students. The result is realistic latex ‘injuries’ for use as teaching and assessment tools for the new undergraduate module (optional for Physics, Mathematics, Criminology and Forensic Science students). This is a novel example of students working as co-creators. This study involves an investigation into the practicalities, benefits and challenges of co-creation and collaborative work; for example, the expanded specialist knowledge base available to the Physics and Maths undergraduates has provided them with wider vocational career awareness. The connectivist approach has stretched students to think across subject boundaries; a great motivator that has enhanced student engagement. The specialist resources provided by the police have enabled students to learn from real life simulations; a truly ‘hands on’ experiential learning environment.
  • CrashEd - A live immersive, learning experience embedding STEM subjects in a realistic, interactive crime scene
    CrashEd - A live immersive, learning experience embedding STEM subjects in a realistic, interactive crime scene Bassford, Marie; Crisp, Annette; O'Sullivan, Angela; Bacon, Joanne; Fowler, Mark R. Interactive experiences are rapidly becoming popular via the surge of ‘escape rooms’: Part game, part theatre, they are exploding globally, having gone from zero at the outset of 2010 to at least 2800 world-wide today. CrashEd is an interactive learning experience that parallels many of the attractions of an escape room – it incorporates a staged, realistic ‘crime scene’ and invites participants to work together to gather forensic evidence and question a witness in order to solve a crime, all against the backdrop of a ticking clock. An animation can enhance reality and engage with cognitive processes to help learning; in CrashEd it is the last piece of the jigsaw that embeds the students’ incremental acquisition of knowledge to tie together the pieces of evidence, identify a suspect and ultimately solve the crime. This paper presents the background to CrashEd and an overview of how a timely placed animation at the end of an educational experience can enhance learning. Our lessons learned from delivering bespoke tailored versions of the experience to different ages and demographics are discussed. The paper will consider the successes and challenges raised by the collaborative project, future developments and potential wider implications of the development of CrashEd. Open Access journal
  • Real Engagement
    Real Engagement Bassford, Marie; O'Sullivan, Angela; Bacon, Joanne; Crisp, Annette; Fowler, Mark R. Pedagogical practice in STEM education is directed to authentic learning approaches in order to engage students and develop graduates with the skills employers demand. This pecha kucha considers the outcomes of this approach to learning and assessment in a physics and mathematics module at De Montfort University. The collaborative CrashEd project was developed by university Teacher Fellows, academic specialists, police crime scene investigators and and an FE college Theatrical Make-up and Special Effects department. The result is a ‘real life’ car crash. Undergraduates have been taught a wide range of forensic crash investigation skills on a cross-faculty module by academics and police staff. These include criminology, blood pattern analysis, skid mark and light bulb analysis alongside forensic entomology and palynology (creepy crawlies and pollen!) Teaching and formative assessments utilise realistic learning tools including the university’s forensic house and a bespoke crashed car. Qualitative evidence drawn from multiple deliveries of the course suggest that authentic assessment is a valuable tool for improving student learning outcomes and delivering key insights into workplace practices. Students were enthused by this novel approach; “It was such a refreshing change to our usual assessments”. Academics were equally enthused by the professionalism displayed by the students as they became emersed in the realism of the summative assessment investigation. This involved students collating evidence at the scene of a fatal car crash, complete with a realistically injured manikin. Assessment has never been such fun, both for the students and the academics!
  • The Evidence: Translating a crime scene outreach activity for school pupils into a Higher Education module whilst maintaining student engagement
    The Evidence: Translating a crime scene outreach activity for school pupils into a Higher Education module whilst maintaining student engagement Bassford, Marie; O'Sullivan, Angela; Bacon, Joanne; Crisp, Annette; Fowler, Mark R. In April 2014, a team of academics at [anonymised] University developed a ‘hands on’ outreach initiative for year 8 school pupils attending a TeenTech event. A realistic crime scene was set: the pupils, dressed in forensic overalls, approached the ‘live’ scene of a crime whereby a car had just crashed, a ‘body’ lay injured in the vehicle and a distressed witness was causing havoc nearby. On cue a Police Officer approached the scene of the crime and the children were led through a process of gathering evidence and interviewing the witness in order to identify the cause of the crash. In the past year, the outreach activity has been incorporated into numerous other on-campus school visits and university-wide open days, with more than 200 school pupils to date participating in our practical challenge. The age range of participants has naturally increased to include pupils in year 8 to year 12, and accordingly the content and pitch of the activity has evolved significantly. Feedback from schools and TeenTech organisers has been extremely positive; student engagement is exceptionally high. It has proven especially effective as a way to enthuse and motivate pupils identified as disengaged from education. The academic team recently acquired University funding to adapt and enhance the scenario to develop a new cross-Faculty module on Forensic Investigation aimed at Physics, Mathematics and Forensics undergraduates. The translation of a single, focused activity lasting between 20-30 minutes into a 12-week module involves significant new material development, however the ethos of the module will continue to centre about our innovative ‘hands on’ crime solving scenarios. This is because with striking consistency, studies show that innovative, active, collaborative, and constructivist instructional approaches shape learning more powerfully, in some forms by substantial margins, than do conventional lecture- discussion and text-based approaches [1]. Another step towards the improvement of student engagement is the provision of clear, immediate feedback. Our crime scene scenario concludes with an animated film that shows the cause of the accident – texting while driving, which immediately confirms the students’ success or otherwise in solving the crime. This paper presents our collaborative experiences in translating a successful school activity into a HE module, and includes the benefits and challenges to raising the academic level whilst maintaining student engagement. [1] Pascarella, E.T. and Terenzini, P.T. (2005). How college affects students, Volume 2, A Third Decade of Research, p.646, San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Crime Scenes: cultivating colleagueship and enabling connectivist learning
    Crime Scenes: cultivating colleagueship and enabling connectivist learning Bassford, Marie; O'Sullivan, Angela; Bacon, Joanne; Crisp, Annette; Fowler, Mark R. A cross-Faculty collaboration has brought together five academics from a variety of disciplines at De Montfort University (DMU), resulting in a novel project that inspires year 8-12 students to learn collaboratively and apply their mathematics, physics and other classroom learning in a practical context. The exercise centres around the collision of a real motor vehicle on campus at DMU and a realistic injured manikin. Along the way students have to question a witness, measure skid marks to calculate speed and collate additional forensic evidence to enable them to identify the cause of the crash. An animated film finally shows the cause of the accident – texting while driving. Ainsworth’s six different levels of explanation that can and should be evoked to understand learning with animation [1] are explored as part of this paper, namely a) expressive, b) cognitive, motor and perceptual, c) affective and motivational, d) strategic, e) metacognitive and f) rhetorical. An animation can enhance reality and engage with cognitive processes to help learning and in our project is the last piece of the jigsaw that embeds the student’s incremental acquisition of knowledge to tie together the pieces of evidence, identify a suspect and ultimately solve the crime. The ‘hands on’ initiative was initially developed for a TeenTech event in April 2014 and hosted at the University. Since then, more than 200 school pupils along with visitors at three university-wide open days have participated in this practical challenge. Collaboration with local police Crash Scene Investigators (CSI) and Artistic Make-Up and Special Effects (AMSE) students from a Leicester college helped to increase the authenticity of the project. It has proven especially effective as a way to enthuse and motivate pupils identified as disengaged from education and demonstrates the importance of connective knowledge requiring an interaction. Downes posed ‘Is the knowledge being produced the product of an interaction between the members, or is it a (mere) aggregation of the members’ perspectives?’ [2]. We have observed that a different type of knowledge is indeed produced when student learners interact as a network to solve a crime and concurs with one of Siemen’s principle of connectivism, namely that the ‘ability to see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts is a core skill’ [3]. We will discuss the successes and challenges raised by the collaborative project, and consider the numerous nodes and connections in our network as well as future developments and potential wider implications. [1] Ainsworth, S. (2008). How do animations influence learning? In D. Robinson & G. Schraw (Eds.), Current Perspectives on Cognition, Learning, and Instruction: Recent Innovations in Educational Technology that Facilitate Student Learning. pp 37-67: Information Age Publishing. [2] Downes, S. (2007). An Introduction to Connective Knowledge, Media, Knowledge & Education – Exploring new Spaces, Relations and Dynamics in Digital Media Ecologies. Proceedings of the International Conference held on June 25-26, 2007. [3] Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Vol. 2 No. 1.
  • Closing the gap: investigating the barriers to educational achievement for looked after children.
    Closing the gap: investigating the barriers to educational achievement for looked after children. O'Sullivan, Angela; Westerman, Rob; McNamara, Peter; Mains, Antony
  • Closing the gap: Investigating the barriers to educational achievement for looked after children
    Closing the gap: Investigating the barriers to educational achievement for looked after children O'Sullivan, Angela; Westerman, Rob

Click here to view a full listing of Angela O'Sullivan's publications and outputs

Research interests/expertise

  • Education of Children in Care
  • Care leavers and HE
  • Widening Participation

Areas of teaching

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Forensic Entomology
  • Diversity & Inclusivity

Qualifications

  • BSc(Hons) Science and the Environment
  • PhD Plant Molecular Biology

Courses taught

  • BSc Human Communication
  • BSc Healthcare Science
  • BSc Biomedical Science
  • BMedSci Medical Science
  • FdSc Hearing Aid Audiology
  • BSc Forensic Science
  • PGCert HE

Conference attendance

Conference Presentations:

Aimhigher Tees Valley Conference (June 2005)
Aiming Higher for Young People in Public Care

The Aimhigher ‘Way Ahead’ national project for Looked After Children & Care Leavers. (November 2006)
Supporting the Raising of Aspirations, Achievement Rates & Participation in Higher Education of Looked After Children & Care Leavers.

Worcestershire County Council Aimhigher Conference (April 2007)
Raising Aspirations for our Looked after Children and Care Leavers

8th International Looking after Children Conference (July 2008)
Care Matters: Transforming Lives – Improving Outcomes.

Conference Workshops:

Action on Access Annual Conference (December 2006)
Breaking Down the Barriers to Higher Education for Looked After Children

European First Year Experience Conference (June 2014)
Supporting HE Transition for Disadvantaged Student Groups

Professional esteem indicators

University Teacher Fellow
Buttle UK Champion
Reviewer for British Adoption & Fostering Journal
STEM Ambassador

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