This research involves a qualitative data collection strategy utilising a combined research team of NTFs, experienced researchers, practising journalists and a cohort of BA (Hons) Journalism students from Leeds Met. This is a dynamic and creative research approach to obtain qualitative depth by exploring, interpreting and evaluating current practice on international Masters teaching.
A key feature of the proposed research involves students on our new journalism degree which aims to produce flexible graduates, employable as writers in a variety of media and journalistic contexts. The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) emphasises the need for practical experience as an integral element in its approved courses. This bid gives students opportunities to develop some of the key skills required in: 
  • developing interview skills; effectively communicating information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms including multimedia presentations;
  • communicating the continuing development of journalism experience within a Portfolio of Achievement;
  • gathering data.
This project allows students to develop their skills in a real life environment, with the support and guidance of experts in the field of journalism and under the close scrutiny of leading experts in the subject area upon which they are reporting.
Andrew Edwards, of BBC Radio Leeds, who contributes to our journalism programme, says: 
"Gathering news is at the heart of a journalist's work, but to see the process through you need to select and interpret your information, work out what to do with it and how to present it. In this multi-media world presentation might be for several platforms. Teaching students each element is fairly straightforward, but it's hugely challenging to do in a way which takes the information gathering process from start to finish. It seems to me that this project could do just that."
Second-year journalism students will be briefed and trained by our NTFs during an intensive training workshop on aspects of Masters level assessment. Graham Gibbs says: 
“The use of trained students as researchers is innovative and full of potential.” 
Training will prepare them to visit universities to collect diverse experiences of Masters assessment by interviewing relevant staff. Training will include guidance on teasing out key issues during questioning and on the practicalities of managing investigative projects, including ethical issues and risk assessment. In February each year an international academic will be visiting the university and a NTF will interview them, about Masters assessment in their home institution, in front of students as a model to guide students. To provide support and guidance - and to anticipate any difficulties which students may have – a sample of interviews will be conducted by students supervised by team members.
The pyramid reflects the year refinement of the research focus.

Using a network of contacts brokered by the core and advisory teams, each student will conduct interviews in up to three universities, using budget travel or electronic communications (e.g. phone or email). Contact has been made with over 50 universities, with universities in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore agreeing to take part. A schedule of interviews will be developed for each student which provides a balance of face-to face, internet communications (e.g. Skype) and telephone interview experience depending on issues of availability and practicality of transport costs.

Students will work in real settings, exploring existing and new delivery technologies, supported by the university’s technology-enhanced-learning and assessment specialists.

Deliverables will include articles on the emerging picture of the range of practice in Masters level assessment, as well as the ongoing wikis of student interviews and assignments.

Additionally we will hold a series of student-led and organised events and a final ‘celebration of achievement’ conference, to which colleagues from all contributing institutions will be invited. These are likely to become the ‘must-attend’ international events focusing on Masters level assessment.