Paul Rice and James Bywater



After relocating to a brand-new campus in 2018, the Learning Development team at the University of Northampton wanted to ensure that all students had the opportunity to understand the space and ascertain how the Learning Development team (and the Library and Learning Services department) could support and advise them in their academic endeavours.  Hence, we wanted to ensure that the students knew about the team in their first week. To achieve this aim, we designed and created a fun activity to engage students and introduce them to the Learning Hub through problem solving and undertaking some generic academic skills.

In Welcome Week 2019, a pilot study was rolled out and 400 new students undertook an “Open The Box” activity. All of the engagement occurred with students in situ but online using their phone, tablet or laptop. As part of this pilot we surveyed the participants to measure their experiences of the activity – their emotional response, whether they became familiar with the Learning Hub environment and their understanding of the Learning Services tools available to them. Due to COVID-19 our focus turned to the development of a 100% online escape room activity for the 2020 student induction that allowed for delivery F2F or Online to ensure that all students could access the experience regardless of external factors. This session will outline our prior experiences of escape room activities but mainly focus on the development, roll-out and reception given to the new activity called “The Induction Investigation”

Speaker Bio’s

James Bywater is a Senior Customer Service Supervisor supporting the library front line, he sees first-hand the positive effect of the University’s ‘Super Supportive’ ambition on new and anxious students. With a lifelong passion for games and puzzles, he saw a digital escape room as an opportunity to create a super supportive, inclusive and engaging induction activity. James has been with the University of Northampton for 7 years and has a BA (Honours) in English Language and Literature.

Paul Rice is a Learning Development Tutor specialising in Mathematics and Statistics. He has been in this role for 12 years supporting students in their academic studies through workshops and 1-1 tutorials. Throughout this time, he has had a diverse area of interest, but his current academic research is focussed on game-based teaching strategies.

Share this event