Dr Alicja Syska
Profiles

Dr Alicja Syska

Learning Development Advisor

Student Learning Services - Student Services (Academic Registry)

Biography

Biography


I am a hybrid academic, with a wiggly career path and years of exposure to different countries' educational systems, cultures, and ways of thinking. At the University of Plymouth, where I have worked since 2006, I combine the role of Learning Developer for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business, with the role of Associate Lecturer in History. I use this bridging position to enhance student experience and reinforce the link between the academic and pedagogic missions of the university. 

My key external role is leading the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. At the JLDHE, an open-access peer-reviewed academic journal, we offer a forum for researchers who publish work relevant to Learning Development, which is a field of practice concerned with how students learn and how they make sense of academic conventions in higher education.
If you're interested in researching, collaborating, and writing about academic practices in higher education, consider publishing with us: http://journal.aldinhe.ac.uk  

Qualifications

Ph.D. in American Studies, Saint Louis University, USA 2003–2008
Thesis title: Eastern Europe in the Making of American National Identity (Passed with Distinction)

Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies, Saint Louis University, USA 2004-2005
Project: Self-Representations of Josephine Baker and Frida Kahlo (Published)

Teaching Programme, St. Louis Community College, USA 2002-2003
Specialism: American History and Literature (Dean’s List)

M.A. & B.A. (Hons), University of Szczecin, Poland 1996–2001
Sociology of Human Behaviour (First Class Distinction)

TDF Advance HE Fellowship evaluator
Aurora Leadership Programme (2021)
Senior Fellow of Advance HE, SFHEA (2020)
Certified Leading Practitioner in Learning Development (ALDinHE http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/development/, 2019) 
PGR supervisor training (2019)
SI-PASS Supervisor (European Centre for Peer Assisted Learning, 2018)
Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (University of Plymouth, 2013) 


Professional membership

Senior Fellowship of Advance HE (SFHEA)

Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE)
Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE)

Roles on external bodies


Lead Editor at the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education (JLDHE)
Steering Group member of Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE
ALDinHE Working Group: Research and Scholarship of LD
ALDinHE Working Group: Peer Mentoring
External Collaborator at the International Legal Communication Research Center, University of Warsaw
Reviewer for the Oxford University Press, Sage Publishing, the RIHA Journal
Stand Out! Coordinator (Stand Out!)

Teaching

Teaching

Teaching interests

As a Learning Developer, I focus on building students' academic confidence by helping them develop strong academic skills, such as writing, presentation making, conducting research, and working collaboratively. 


For a one-to-one tutorial, Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Business students can connect with me during my consultation hours, every Friday in term time, 10:00-12:00, in the Library or online, by booking via this link 


In my role as a Lecturer in Education, I work with postgraduate students who pursue the SENCo Award.


In my role as a History lecturer, I teach on a range of modules including Visual History, US History, and Dissertation Preparation. I also supervise undergraduate and MA dissertations.

Research

Research

Research interests

Within pedagogy, my research interests include academic writing in Arts and Humanities, writing for publication, interdisciplinarity, learning identities, and mentoring. I am currently working on projects designed to critically engage with and facilitate writing and publishing in Learning Development.

I'm also interested in cultural and historical memory, historical constructions of race and gender, American cultural myths and issues of national identity, as well as film, cultural imagination, and women’s history. I have recently written two research methods based case studies that provide guidelines for students on how to work with primary sources, such as posters and film.

Grants & contracts

Research and Innovation Grant, Atlanta Conference, 2013 (£1,000).

The Roosevelt Study Center Research Grant, Middelburg, the Netherlands, 2012 (£500).

HCA Spring Academy Dissertation Grant, Heidelberg Center for American Studies, Germany, 2007.

Dissertation Grant at St. Louis University, USA, 2006.

Graduate Research Assistantship with full tuition remission and stipend at Saint Louis University, 2003-2006 ($64,000).

Publications

Publications

Journals

Syska, A. and Buckley, C. (2022) 'Writing as liberatory practice: Unlocking knowledge to locate an academic field', Teaching in Higher EducationDOI: 10.1080/13562517.2022.2114337 [PDF]

Syska, A. and Pritchard, C. (under review) 'Students’ perceptions of blended and remote learning and its impact on their sense of belonging: a critical realist perspective'.

Syska, A. (2021) 'When flipped classroom disappoints: engaging students in asynchronous learning', Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Special Edition: Compendium of Innovative Practice. DOI: 10.47408/jldhe.vi22.771

Syska, A. and Mesley, M. (2021) 'Keep Learning in a pandemic: podcasts for learning development conversations and informal learning', Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Special Edition: Compendium of Innovative Practice. DOI: 10.47408/jldhe.vi22.797.  

Syska, A. 'Using Documentary Film as a Historical Source', Adam Matthew Digital: Research Methods for Primary Sources, in Research Methods Primary Sources. Marlborough: Adam Matthew Digital. DOI: 10.47594/RMPS_0085.

Syska, A. (2021) 'Posters as Primary Source Documents – Using a Twentieth Century Public Health Poster', Adam Matthew Digital: Research Methods for Primary Sources, in Research Methods Primary Sources. Marlborough: Adam Matthew Digital. DOI: 10.47594/RMPS_0122.

Loughlin, E., Syska, A., Sedghi, G. and Howell-Richardson, C. (2020) 'On peer reviewing: how to nourish an author's mind and win a JLDHE editor's heart', Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education 15, Special Edition, pp. 1-18. Available from https://journal.aldinhe.ac.uk/index.php/jldhe/article/view/626/438

Hilsdon, J., Malone, C. and Syska, A. (2019) 'Academic literacies twenty years on: a community-sourced literature review', Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education 15, Special Edition, Academic Literacies, pp. 1-47. Available from http://journal.aldinhe.ac.uk/index.php/jldhe/article/view/567/pdf

Syska, A. (2011) Review of African Americans and the Presidency: The Road to the White House, ed. by Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, Journal of American Studies.

Sowinska, A. (2007) 'Ambiguous Women: Debates within American Evangelical Feminism', The European Journal of American Culture, 26:3, pp.167-180.

Sowinska, A. (2006) 'Dialectics of the Banana Skirt: The Ambiguities of Josephine Baker’s Self-Representation', Michigan Feminist Studies Journal, Special issue no19, 'Bodies: Physical and Abstract' (Fall 2005-Spring 2006), pp.51-72.*

* This article was used as a teaching resource at the California Institute of the Arts, USA, between 2010 and 2014.

Chapters

Syska, Alicja, 'In Search of Subjectivity: An Irigarayan Reading of the Body in Self-Representations of Josephine Baker and Frida Kahlo' in Women in the Arts: Eccentric Essays in Music, Visual Arts and Literature, ed. by Barbara Harbach and DianeTouliatos-Miles (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010).

Internet Publications

Syska, A. (2022) ‘The classroom as “a location of possibility”: the engaged pedagogy of bell hooks’, Thinking Education, Plymouth Institute of Education, https://plymthinked.wordpress.com/2022/05/31/the-classroom-as-a-location-of-possibility-the-engaged-pedagogy-of-bell-hooks/
Syska, A. (2022) ‘The JLDHE Compendium: a receipt for success’, Take 5 https://lmutake5.wordpress.com/2022/01/27/take5-67-the-jldhe-compendium-a-receipt-for-success/.
Syska, A. (2020) ‘The best way to run our Journal?’ Take 5 https://lmutake5.wordpress.com/2020/05/28/take5-44-the-best-way-to-run-our-journal/amp/.
Syska, A. ( 2019) CDE presentation model, LearnHigher http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/working-with-others/oral-communication/the-cde-presentation-model/

Presentations and posters

Syska, Alicja, ‘Stand Out: A Creative Approach to Employability for Humanities Students’, presented at the Vice-Chancellor’s 16th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference. University of Plymouth, 2018.

Syska, Alicja, and Sara Erskine, 'Writing as a creative exploration with image as a pedagogical tool', presented at the Vice-Chancellor's 14th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference, Plymouth University, 2016.

Personal

Personal

Reports & invited lectures

INVITED TALKS

Holden, P., Dobson, J., Cordell, K., Syska, A. and Von Berg, P. (2022) Expert panel on the 'Russian Invasion of Ukraine'. University of Plymouth, 17 March.

Syska, A., and Canton, U. (2021) Finding the Silver Lining in the Cloud – A Response to the Pandemic. Learning Development. Presentation and Discussion at the UCU Academic-Related and Professional Staff Annual Meeting, 18 March.

Topping, S., Bennett, H., Brockington, D and Syska, A. (2021) Expert panel on the 'Inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden'. University of Plymouth, 19 January.

Topping, S., Bennett, H., Brockington, D and Syska, A. (2020) Expert panel on the 'U.S. Presidential Elections: Trump vs. Biden'. University of Plymouth, 2 November.

Syska, A. (2006) 'Dialectic of the Banana Skirt' at The Sheldon Art Galleries, Saint Louis, USA.

OTHER TALKS AND RESEARCH SEMINARS

Syska, A. (2022) Engaged pedagogy of bell hooks, Plymouth Institute of Education.

Syska, A., and Pritchard, C. (2022) Students’ perceptions of blended and remote learning: a critical realist analysis, Plymouth Institute of Education.

Syska, A., et al. (2021) ‘Supporting the Scholarship of Learning Development’, LD@3, ALDinHE.

Syska, A. (2015) Eyes on America: Rethinking Popular Culture – English, History & History of Art 6th Form Conference.

Syska, A. (2015) Salem Witchcraft Trials, The Shanghai Summer School, University of Plymouth.

Syska, A. (2014) Hollywood and History, The Shanghai Summer School, University of Plymouth.

Syska, A. (2013) The Mystery of US Elections, The Shanghai Summer School, University of Plymouth.

Syska, A. (2012) Imagining America, The Shanghai Summer School, University of Plymouth.

CONFERENCES

Syska, A. (2022) Mini Keynote: ‘Peer Reviewing as Community Building’, Association for Learning Development in Higher Education Conference, University of Northampton.

Syska, A., and Pritchard, C. (2022) ‘Students’ perceptions of blended and remote learning: a critical realist analysis’, Association for Learning Development in Higher Education Conference, University of Northampton.

Syska, A., Sedghi, G., Grayson, N. (2022) ‘The JLDHE Journal as a Collaborative Means to Develop Scholarship of Teaching and Learning’, Association for Learning Development in Higher Education Conference, University of Northampton.

Syska, A., and Pritchard, C. (2021) ‘Students’ perceptions of blended learning’, Association for Learning Development in Higher Education Conference, University of Northampton (online).

Syska, A., and Buckley, C. (2021) ‘Turning knowledge into power’, Association for Learning Development in Higher Education Conference, University of Northampton (online), 2021.

Syska, A., et al. (2020) ‘The art of reviewing’, Association for Learning Development in Higher Education Conference, University of Northampton (online).

Syska, A. (2020) ‘Using visual sources to develop analytical thinking’, Association for Learning Development in Higher Education Conference, University of Northampton (online).

De Guevara, Victor Ladron, and Syska, A. (2019) ‘Marathon Running: The damages of wellbeing’, Association for Medical Humanities Conference, University of Plymouth.

Syska, A. (2017) ‘Stand Out: Profiles in Employability’, Vice-Chancellor’s 15th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference, University of Plymouth.

Syska, A. (2016) ‘Writing as a creative exploration with image as a pedagogical tool', Vice-Chancellor’s 14th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference, University of Plymouth.

Syska, A., and Erskine, S. (2016) ‘Writing With Charlotte: Image as a pedagogical tool to facilitate academic writing’, Writing Development in Higher Education Conference, University of Plymouth.

Syska, A. (2013) ‘The Science of Memory: W.E.B. Du Bois and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., on the Genealogical Trail to Membership in the Sons of the American Revolution’. BAAS 58th Annual Conference in Exeter.

Syska, A. (2013) ‘W.E.B. Du Bois as a “Memory Entrepreneur”: A Genealogical Project for Membership in American Society’. W.E.B. Du Bois and the Wings of Atlanta Conference, Clark Atlanta University.

Syska, A. (2012) Legacies of the 1960s America, American Studies Center, Warsaw.

Syska, A. (2012) ‘Black Origins of the American Self: W.E.B. Du Bois’s Nationalistic Project’, British Association for American Studies 57th Annual Conference in Manchester.

Sowinska, A. (2007) ‘Rhetorics of Vision: Narratives of Eastern Europe in American Discourse’. HCA Spring Academy, Heidelberg Center for American Studies, Germany.

Sowinska, A. (2006) ‘Methodological Challenges’—panel chair, Postgraduate Conference ‘Thinking Gender’ at University of Leeds.

Sowinska, A. (2006) ‘Tolerance for Ambiguity: Dialectics of Evangelical Feminism’. Postgraduate Conference ‘Thinking Gender’ at University of Leeds.

Sowinska, A. (2006) ‘Visualizing Distinctions: Constructing Public Identities Through Images’—panel chair, Mid-America American Studies Association Conference in Saint Louis, USA.

Sowinska, A. (2006) ‘Remapping Eastern Europe in America: “Us” and “Them” in Photographs’, Mid-America American Studies Association Conference in Saint Louis, USA.

Sowinska, A. (2005) ‘In Search of Subjectivity: An Irigarayan Reading of the Body in Self-Representations of Josephine Baker and Frida Kahlo.’ Women in the Arts Conference at University of Missouri–St. Louis, USA.

Sowinska, A. (2005) ‘Dialectics of the Banana Skirt: Who Made Josephine Baker?’ National Popular Culture and American Culture Associations conference, San Diego, USA.

Sowinska, A. (2004) ‘Double Consciousness: W.E.B. Du Bois and Gender’, Mid-America American Studies Association Conference in Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

Sowinska, A. (2004) ‘“It’s Hard to be a Woman, but a Black One!”—W.E.B. Du Bois’s Dialectic of Feminism,’ The Ninth Annual Barnes Club History Conference at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA.

Other academic activities

Co-Host of the Learning Development Project podcast.

Co-Host of the Keep Learning Podcast.

Gallery work (The Sheldon Art Galleries in St. Louis, USA: working with Curator on the exhibition Josephine Baker: Image and Icon, 2006; Co-curating a gallery exhibition on Minimalism in the Pulitzer Institute for the Arts, St. Louis, USA, 2005)

Filmmaking (Plymouth College of Art, 2017, 2018) 

Lead Editor (Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education)

Freelance copy-editing and proofreading (academic articles, books and professional websites)

Reviewing academic publications (Oxford University Press, Adam Matthew, RIHA Journal)

Additional information

On a more personal note:

I was born and raised in communist Poland. As a teenager I watched the Solidarity movement triumph and the democratic forces take over. Two degrees later and impatient at the pace of transformation, I packed my bags and moved to America, with my little girl in tow. Both enchanted and intrigued by the country and its culture, I decided to pursue a Doctoral degree in American Studies. This commitment ushered in the most challenging, rewarding, and illuminating years of my life, and allowed me to grow expertise in an area that keeps shifting and surprising. Subsequently, I made my home in the U.K., where I fulfill my personal and professional ambitions through teaching, publishing and research, and working closely with the students, which is an absolute delight of my professional existence. 

My guiding thought: keep learning and keep moving.
My favourite philosophy: Albert Einstein's 'Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler'.