Industry in Action
Dr. Graeme R. Jones, Prof. R. Mark Ormerod
The aim of this project was to establish a new business based subsidiary course called
Industry in Action. It received a total of £2500 funding to help establish the course.
Course Approval Procedures
Considerable difficulties were encountered when seeking approval for the two
modules from the Science Faculty Course Development Subcommittee. In total the
course was considered by the committee three times and it was only after intervention
of the Dean and the Deputy Director of Academic Affairs that the course received
approval. The course now has a special category status within the Keele subsid
system and is counted as a Science Subsidiary for those non-scientists who take it.
Interacting with Industry
Originally it was envisaged that the course leaders would be contacting the companies
and putting together a list of interested companies from which the students would be
allocated one. Following consultation with David Tabbinor Head of Chemistry at
Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College it was decided that the students themselves should
contact the companies and persuade them to take them on. The rational behind this
was that, as he pointed out, most schools and colleges organise placements for their
students and hence if we wanted to offer something extra then making the students
cold call and persuading companies to work with them would be good experience.
Lists of companies within the local area were compiled by the Work Related Learning
Co-ordinator and Information Officer. All the companies were approached with a
letter introducing Keele and describing three Work related Learning initiatives,
including Industry in Action. Only one company replied. Six out of the nine
companies who took part in the course came from students persuading the companies
on this list.
This was by far the most difficult part of the course for the students and there was a
certain amount of pot luck, depending upon the companies that the students were
given to ring. The number of companies willing to take on such projects in the future
could be a limiting factor. In addition lists of companies and phone numbers are vital
to this activity and these will need to be sourced in the future.
It was decided to limit the number of students to 30. Students could sign up for the
course in the Lindsay studio and it was fully subscribed in 20 minutes. Subsequently
three students withdrew from the course and the course finished with a cohort of 27.
Two of the withdrawals were in week 2 of semester 1 , however one happened at the
start of the second semester. The student in question had not attended many of the
sessions in semester 1, did not interact or keep in contact with the group and missed
arranged meetings and the visit to the company.
Course Structure and Development
The course content and descriptor was developed by the course leaders. From the
start of the course and radically different from anything run before, we made it clear
to the students that as this was a new course we would review the structure as the
course progressed. The major change made that the section on interview techniques
was removed from the course to give the students time to work on their projects. The
course has been further reviewed again in the light of feedback and a new booklet
produced for 2002-2003
Presentations and Prize Giving
All companies were invited to attend and on the night eight out of nine came along.
In addition a number of Keele staff were invited and Prof. A. Dugdale, Prof. B.
Heywood, Dr. D. Furness, P. Leadbetter and B. Hatton attended the evening. All the
teams presented a poster and gave a powerpoint presentation of the projects they
undertook with the companies.
A copy of the student evaluation and a summary evaluation were been carried out and
a summary is attached
An article on the Presentations and Prize Giving was published in the business section
of the Sunday Sentinel.
Proposed changes for 2002/2003
1. The first session Fluorofen was good for team building but was far too
chemical for most people on the course. An altered version of the session will
be given in the future that will last only one hour to then be followed by an
introduction to the course.
2. The students need to contact the companies much earlier in the semester so
that they have more time for project work.
3. In the first semester students lacked a goal to work towards. Therefore it
would be a good idea to bring forward the posters so that these are done for
the week before Christmas.
4. The Presentations and Prize giving should be organised by the students, one
member from each group to sit on a Prize giving committee to work out the
structure of the event, raise sponsorship for the prizes and eats and to generally
do all the work. It might be possible to have two committees, one that looks
after the event and the other that looks after the sponsorship and invitations.
5. If numbers are to be expanded to 80 an additional member of staff and a
technician need to be involved with the course. The technician needs to have
computer expertise to give students help with powerpoint presentations,
printing, scanning etc.
6. With a class of 80 group size needs to increase to 4. It is much more difficult
to bring groups of 4 together at mutually agreeable times, but it would be
difficult to find more than 20 companies wanting to participate. If numbers do
not reach the target then group size will be kept at 3.