Under Construction

Building to learn at the University of Surrey

Guest blog post by Sarah Roberts, School of Health Sciences- The Facilitation of Learning and of Assessment in a Practice Teacher course in Health Sciences

The intended outcome of the session was to enable student Practice Teachers to critically reflect on ways that styles, theories and domains can be used in facilitating learning in practice, to examine factors that help and hinder learning in practice and to examine strategies for assessment and apply them to the practice setting.

Lego Serious Play was used to encourage the students to explore how they view facilitation of learning and assessment in more depth, and to allow them to discuss their ideas with their peers. All of the students engaged in the first activity, but one student vocalised that she felt stressed and under pressure when building the second model.

Facilitation of learning

The students talked about the exchange of knowledge and experience, balancing of priorities, and supporting the student on their journey in a partnership.


The students highlighted the importance of discussing their student’s progress with other members of the team and the use of criteria.

They fed back that they enjoyed using Lego, and felt that it enabled them all to engage in discussion and consider ideas they may not have previously considered.

Sarah Roberts

Teaching Fellow / Health Sciences

Lead for Admissions

Special guest blog post by Naomi Winstone. “Reflections on using Lego Serious Play as a tool in writing development: Overcoming writer’s block using Lego blocks”.

Contributed by Dr Naomi Winstone, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Higher Education at University of Surrey, Senior Fellow of the HEA, NTF 2016, Academic Consultant (Higher Education Academy) and Associate Editor: British Journal of Educational Psychology  Last year, I reflected on techniques that support academic writing for a blog post as part of Academic Writing […]

Using Lego to explore dissertation topics

The Under Construction team have been using Lego Serious Play methodology with Surrey’s PhD students for a while now. We’ve seen how researchers are able to clearly articulate the nuances of their research by modelling it in Lego, and how in-depth discussions are prompted by others asking questions about the models. It seemed a natural […]

What are YOUR ‘rockets’? – Explorations of student resilience using Lego

Yesterday’s open-to-all workshop in SPLASH exploring Resilience got me thinking about about some of the wonderful and fascinating metaphors we uncover in our Lego activities and how many of them go uncelebrated. So I thought I’d do just that and share some of them.

The many and varied ways in which staff and students have conceptualised Resilience in Lego in recent months provides us with great insight into not only the myriad of understandings of the concept itself, which is echoed in the literature, but also, and importantly, how metaphors can be such a powerful leveller and  inclusive communication tool.  Yesterday’s group have certainly given my colleague and I food for thought.

There were lots of interesting models: the one below depicts resilience in terms of the self being enclosed and partly protected by a low wall, but not fully closed off due to its height and due to the gaps where sometimes things slipped through. The description also included strong foundations, windows for openness, various sizes and colours of bricks representing flexibility. Within this ‘self’ are different characters: one in a crown turning a giant cog producing ‘the money makers’ (tiny lego coins) which represent her ideas and her knowledge; another in a crash helmet (a theme which occured in multiple models) carefully ascending the ‘tower of enlightenment’.

But my personal favourite metaphor was from the model below and has given me cause to reflect on the language that we use to talk about resilience. This student’s very simple model is of him driving through a sea of obstacles towards a ‘pot of gold’ up on a high tower: his reward or end goal. The rope which connects him also guides him through these obstacles. But the pièce de résistance was the declaration “but I have my rockets!” (see model below) which led to a deep discussion around the rest of the group about their drivers or motivations which keep them going.

So I’ve been reflecting on what my own ‘rockets’ are in tough times and the importance of exploring with students their drivers and motivations, passions or callings, support networks, goals – whatever it is that propells them on – and taking the time to revisit and re-evaluate these from time to time.

And I came to the conclusion that after a tough few days, this workshop, and inspirational students I work with daily, ARE my rockets.

Rachel (in cooperation with Julia Anthoney)



If learning was made of Lego, what would it look like?

The Library and Learning Support Services team includes a group of staff who serve at Learning Assistants, supporting the SPLASH team in delivering learning experiences to students across campus. Learning Assistants were recently invited to participate in a session on creative and playful learning, delivered by the SPLASH team. The group were asked to create a Lego model which represented learning. As you can see below, the models were all very different!

Each Learning Assistant then presented their model to the group, and answered questions about it. Through this process the group were able to explore concepts of learning at perhaps a deeper level than might have been possible without using Lego.

In this way, Learning Assistants had the kind of learning experience that the SPLASH team are currently bringing to students at all levels of study, and from a variety of courses. Learning Assistants have the potential to add value to these creative learning sessions by supporting and encouraging learners to engage with the novel task, as well as assisting with the significant task of distributing and collecting up the Lego sets in each session!


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