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Swollage (SWOT + Collage) for Medical Science students: a lecturer’s perspective

Posted in Workshops


Thanks to Zoe Redshaw, Lecturer in Medical Science, for this blog post about the Swollage workshop that Kaye and I have developed with her and run during the past 2 academic years:

Getting first year undergraduate students to recognise the skills they have and build their confidence in those abilities can be a challenge. As the leader of a module designed for developing personal and professional skills in a scientific field, I was interested in experimenting with ways in which this could be achieved. For students who perhaps have a more methodical and practical way of achieving their goals, I was curious to see whether a more creative approach could influence how students view themselves – their strengths and weaknesses.


At the beginning of term, students generated a personal SWOT analysis – highlighting their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, which could later help shape a coursework essay reflecting on how their first year at Uni had changed them. The interactive workshop organised by Julia Reeve and Kaye Towlson, gave students an opportunity to lay down the text books and explore in an artistic way, how they felt about their abilities. This began with collage – collating images they connected with, building up a collection of pictures to reflect the personal qualities of their SWOT. This exercise gave the students time and space to consider themselves, discuss with fellow students and see how others perceived their ideas. Talking through their choices seemed to help students link previous experiences in a positive way to their strengths and gave some insight into how these could benefit their approach to study.


I was unsure how science students would view this kind of session, however the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with many recognising and feeling more confident about the abilities they already have. Students enjoyed this novel approach to learning and the activity appeared to achieve the aim of boosting self-esteem and offering an alternate tool for self-reflection.

Zoe Redshaw

Coming soon, a blog post from Mhairi Morris about the recent ReGenring Academic Writing and Assessment event at Nottingham Trent University,


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