Skip to main content
Queen Mary Academy

Enabling students to support their peers by building better learning resources

Dr Folashade Akinmolayan Taiwo, photography by Jonathan Cole

Dr Folashade Akinmolayan Taiwo

Reader in Engineering Education and Director of Student Experience

Engineering staff and students are collaborating to create animated videos that aim to boost fellow students’ confidence and communication skills.

Dr Folashade Akinmolayan Taiwo is a Reader, Director of Student Experience for the School of Engineering and Materials Science and Deputy Director for the Centre for Academic Inclusion in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Queen Mary.

“Even though I was research-trained, I found that I didn’t enjoy technical research quite as much as I enjoyed interacting with students and encouraging people to come into engineering,” says Dr Akinmolayan. “I did a lot of outreach when I was an undergraduate and I continued that throughout my PhD and even got several of awards for it.”

“My research area has changed from core technical chemical engineering to engineering education. I focus quite heavily on group work and group dynamics, the student experience and students’ sense of belonging. I enjoy working with students a lot, so I naturally gravitate towards projects that have students involved in some way.”

Dr Akinmolayan Taiwo teaches as part of an integrated undergraduate programme, where students from different engineering courses work together on projects. She says she likes to provide students with resources that will support their groupwork and assessment pieces. For example, in a module on ‘exploring engineering’, students are assessed on producing a report, an oral presentation, a video and a poster. When Dr Akinmolayan Taiwo gave students access to a variety of learning resources she saw that they tended to make use of quick interactive resources, such as YouTube videos, rather than text-based resources.

She explains: “I realised that we needed more of that, but I wanted some information that was Queen Mary-specific and module-specific. I also wanted it designed from the student point of view, because they can speak to their peers in a language they understand.”

Dr Akinmolayan Taiwo secured Westfield funding to help her develop new, bespoke learning resources. She recruited Mehnoor Mohsin, a second-year student, and Feezan Akhtar, who is in his final year, and worked with them to find a way to pass on the knowledge and confidence their fellow students need to produce their best pieces of course work.

“They decided unanimously to create a set of animated videos and we chose to do this via a web-based tool called Animaker. This helped the students create fun, interactive videos with characters who talk directly to the audience.”

They produced four videos over a six-week period, first developing storyboards, then characters, scripts and images. Mehnoor Mohsin made videos on how to work effectively in a group and how to design a poster, and Feezan made videos on how to structure a written report and how to design an oral presentation. They reviewed each other’s videos before they were published.

The project has helped 500 students do these assessments with videos which were created by their peers from previous years.


The videos are now online, and Dr Akinmolayan Taiwo can see that students are beginning to watch them, but she is also keen to see whether students like the videos and whether they find them useful. For example, she is hoping for good feedback via the student-staff liaison committee.

She adds: “In our online forums last year, we saw a lot of questions from students who wanted more details or more clarity on what we are looking for in their assessment pieces. This year, we haven’t had many questions, which could be a positive sign. I’d also like to see an effect in the quality of the work that students produce.”

Feezan and Mehnoor have applied for a Student Enhanced Engagement and Development (SEED) Award for the videos. Dr Akinmolayan Taiwo hopes that this recognition could inspire other students to produce similar videos on different topics.

She adds: “At Queen Mary we’re striving to be the most inclusive university in the world. In order to do that, we have to build with all the people who are part of the university and their experiences. I enjoy the process of working with students, seeing them understand and go on to explain to other students. Co-creation is at the core of all my work because I really see the benefit.”

This is a great way of giving back to the community through helping younger students who have just started their university journey, enabling them to excel in their assignments.
— Feezan Akhtar, MEng Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering

Student co-creator Feezan said: “In the past, I have struggled creating engaging content for presentations as well as presenting. Supporting resources such as these videos would have significantly helped me if they were available."

Student co-creator Mehnoor said: “Students should be involved in creating learning resources because it benefits themselves as well as their peers. When students create these resources, they are learning and understanding the material they are learning. In this project, I gained knowledge on how to design and create an effective academic poster, and how to effectively work as a team. I am in the process of applying for a SEED award and this project provided me the opportunity to do so.”

Watch the videos

How to develop a presentation:

How to format a report:

How to design an academic poster:

Working in teams:

Back to top