Learning and Teaching Strategy update 2008
Faculty of Information and Mathematical Sciences
Associate Dean (Learning & Teaching): Quintin Cutts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Title of case study: Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme Courses in Computing Science
Keywords: employability, Personal Development Planning
The Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme (UAS) is a national initiative to encourage final year
students to spend time in school classrooms, both helping pupils to understand and learn, and
extolling the virtues of, their subject while also gaining experience of working in an educational
environment. The key aspect is that a specific credit-bearing module is created for the students,
so that this experience becomes part of their university transcript and attainment level, rather
than being a voluntary add-on. The UAS course both enables students to decide if they would
be interested in and committed to a career in education, and also is a valued addition to their CV
if they do subsequently decide to apply for PGCE or equivalent.
Maths and Computing Science have pioneered the introduction of this scheme to Glasgow
University. They have developed extensive networks with local schools in the West of Scotland
so that they are able to place quite large numbers of students. For example, Computing
Science placed 7 students in its first year of operation (2007), and placed 14 students, around
25% of the class, in the following year. The scheme has been running in Maths for four years
and enrolment is at around 12 students, or around 14% of the class.
The feedback from students, pupils, teachers and university staff has been uniformly excellent.
For example, Computing Science students asked to present in front of an industry panel for
another course during their final year said that it was an easy task – easy since the experience
they had gained presenting many times to excitable 13-15 year-olds had prepared them well.
Maths students are enthusiastic about their experience both as a possible precursor to teaching,
and also because the team working and communication skills are valuable transferable skills.
The school teachers use the students in a wide variety of different ways – from classroom
assistant, to one-on-one tutor, to university evangelist. As a way of demonstrating both the
value of university education and its disciplines to school pupils, who will be our future students,
these courses provide an excellent training. Every teacher who has so far taken part has been
enthusiastic to take part again the following year
The Maths department has gained Aiming University Learning @ Work funding
(http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/aulw/) to further develop this course option. This funding
normally goes to non-vocational subjects, but could apply to Computing Science as well, since
teaching is not the natural/vocational end-point for the subject.
This is an on-going project. The two courses in Maths and Computing Science are now well-
settled into the degree programmes, and clearly appreciated by students The University has
recently funded a project to support the development of similar courses across many Science
subjects in the University, and our courses will be able to provide a wealth of experience as
these courses come on stream.