Magic to conjure up academic skills for dissertation support

Research output: Contribution to Specialist PublicationArticle


This project uses magic to explore dissertation skills with students. Students in a session on preparing for the dissertation learnt a magic trick and then used their experience of learning the trick to reflect and to develop narratives around their dissertation topic focussing on the skills of researching and writing. We compared the results of the intervention group to those of a control group (who were given the same session but excluding the magic trick). The teaching sessions integrated skills essential for completing the dissertation such as critical thinking, linking, metacognitive reflection, and conceptualising the process of a long project. Previous research has suggested that using magic can stimulate curiosity, engage and motivate students, and that they will find the session more memorable (see Moss, Irons and Boland, 2017; Wiseman and Watt, 2020; Wiseman, Wiles and Watt, 2021)

The presentation reported the findings from pre- and post-session questionnaires completed by participants to evaluate the use of a magic trick in teaching dissertation skills by:

Evaluating the effectiveness of using a magic trick to teach dissertation skills.
Evaluating the use of magic to make skills teaching more memorable.
Evaluating the use of magic to support motivation and positive emotions around dissertation tasks.
Evaluating the use of magic to counter some of the negative affects students encounter such as lack of motivation or negative self-efficacy beliefs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Specialist publicationJournal of Learning Development in Higher Education
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2022


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