Research Café I: data collection, adaptive movement and maker education

researchcafesThese were the topics for the first of our Research Café this academic year, held in I M Marsh on 8th October.

Jane Webster from the Centre for Public Health was first up to kick start the 2014/2015 Research Café series. The future of Data collection: Introduction the telephone Research Team, being the topic. Jane was employed to set-up an in house call centre, enabling telephone surveys to be carried out directly by the university. A team were recruited and trained. Special focus was placed on making friendly, personable appointments, and ensuring the team are ‘research au fait’. Along with the dedicated team, the Centre also invested in a dialler system, which manages and distributes calls through the telephone team and monitors the productivity and efficiency of the survey. To date the team have worked on a number of internal and external projects and have exceeded their targets and milestones. Racking up an impressive average conversion rate of 40% compared to an industry standard of 5%.

With such an impressive track record, Jane and the team are keen to share their knowledge and skills with others interested in conducting telephone surveys. Anyone interested in more information should contact Jane on: or 0151 231 4332.

Rebecca Robins, School of Sports and Exercise Sciences, a 3rd year PhD student working in the Brain and Behaviour group in RISES was next up to speak on the topic of Sensorimotor Control of Adaptive Movement. Thankfully Rebecca started with an introduction to the field and then guided us through the senses involved in movement. Explaining the coordinated effort required from a number of our senses; from the somatosensory system (touch) to kinesthesia (movement), the vestibular system (balance and spatial orientation) and finally through to the visual system.

The focus of Rebecca’s PhD is standing turns – changing from one direction to another. Rebecca highlighted the challenges turning exerts on our sensory system. Current research in to turning has focused predominantly on the point at which the turn begins. Through her research Rebecca hopes to measure turning more accurately, by looking at data for the whole turn and examining associated eye movement. This will lead to a greater understanding of turning and will eventually lead to changes in therapy provided to those who struggle with turning.

The final talk of the afternoon was from Dr. Mark Feltham, School of Natural Sciences and Psychology. Through his talk, Maker Education: The Next Wave of Teaching and learning Innovation? Mark introduced us to the maker ethos explaining what maker education and makerspaces are and why we need them in higher Education. Using examples of how ‘making’ is increasingly being used in educational settings to encourage new ways of learning Mark argued that this more kinesthetic approach to learning provides a fantastic opportunity for creative cross-curricular collaboration.

Makerspaces (or hackerspaces) are physical locations where people gather together to share resources and knowledge and work on projects, network and build. From an educational perspective they provide a place for designing and constructing projects. Hands-on, project-driven, self-directed learning zones with an emphasis on learning by experimenting, using resources and tools (laser cutter, 3D printers, digital routers, Arduinos, Raspberry Pis etc) made available at the space. An ideal vehicle for providing students with creative opportunities to engage in a more  enquiry-based, problem-solving style of learning in which they choose the direction they wish to go and we ‘mould’ the elements of our curricula around them.

Mark highlighted Liverpools own makerspace DoES Liverpool (

Our next Research Café will be on 26th November in Avril Robarts Library, more information coming soon

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