Tag Archives: student experience

Adding value to your course offer: sponsored language study

Rachel Bower

Parallel session 2, Short paper 2.6

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Short Abstract
What can we offer to add value to our courses? What are our competitors offering? In the context of research in progress, discover how sponsored language study can add value & differentiation to your course offer, a personalised learning experience, and wider graduate prospects for your students.

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Detailed Outline
This session will be of particular interest to course leaders, programme leaders, heads of departments and placement officers.

Higher Education in the UK is becoming more and more market-driven. In the light of these changes, it is appropriate to ask how we can differentiate the SHU student offer from our competitors.
This in progress research project presents the initial findings of a discourse analysis of the value-added activities for students promoted on the external websites of SHU and our key competitor post-1992 universities. The findings analyse re-occurring themes, and the extent to which institutions are diversifying from common themes (such as, the student experience and employability).

The session then proposes an option for adding value to a course offer through faculty-sponsored language study, where students apply for a limited number of places to study a language at an appropriate level as an additional module for one academic year. SHU’s University Language Scheme offers 7 languages from beginners and the majority to advanced levels, delivering personalised learning and a programme of intercultural activities.
Findings of the successful pilots of sponsored language study for level 5 students in SBS and level 4 students in D&S in 2013/14 and 2014/15 are analysed in terms of engagement, learning success in assessment, and motivation to continue learning the language.

The session makes the case for language study in developing key attributes required by graduate recruiters and widening students’ opportunities in the graduate employment market, and that the understanding of others’ culture and language is part of an holistic education.

Delegates will have the opportunity to discuss and question whether sponsored language study would add value to course offers.

Does screencasting improve the student experience in the teaching of radiotherapy planning?

Mark Collins

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.1

Short Abstract
Radiotherapy planning sessions have traditionally been facilitated using paper guides. The nature of a paper guide limits the content and opportunity for explanation. In 2014 the guides were replaced with screencasts and the sessions evaluated using Survey Monkey.

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Detailed Outline
The problem
Radiotherapy treatment planning forms a key part of the pre-registration training for Therapy Radiographers. It involves the use of complex software to produce radiotherapy plans. Students undertake a number of activities in the second and third year of their studies and are required to produce plans for a variety of treatment sites.

This has traditionally been done with a staff: student ratio of 2:18 and facilitated with the use of paper guides. The large staff:student ratio can be challenging and students have fed back that it has often taken some time for the member of staff to work their way around the class answering individuals queries.

The limitations of a paper guide mean that concepts can not be fully explained. A section of each practical is dedicated to a group teach, but some students still struggle to understand the fundamental principles behind the process, limiting their understanding and enjoyment of the sessions.

The solution
In 2014, 13 screencasts were produced by the module leader (MC) using Screencastomatic and uploaded onto youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-FkZ7V6r7M4NKlxK3OTU3Q. The screencasts range in length from 1:30 to 6:00 minutes and explain everything from how to login, to how to develop a complex plan and the rationale for the various methods. The students were encouraged to work through them at their own pace using headphones, pausing them where necessary.

Following 4, 2 hour sessions an eight question online questionnaire was sent to 46 students containing 6 likert questions and two open ended questions. The aim of the questionnaire was to assess the impact of the screencasts and to determine whether they should be rolled out on other modules.

61% (n=28) of the students replied.
96% agreed or strongly agreed that “The screencasts helped me to understand the treatment planning process”
87% agreed or strongly agreed that “The screencasts helped to reduce the amount of help I needed from the lecturer”
93% agreed or strongly agreed that “In future sessions I would prefer to use screencasts rather than follow instructions in a workbook”
Comments included:
– I could learn at my own pace and rewind sessions
– The screencast were very helpful to understand the principles of treatment planning , also I did look through the booklets that were previously used before and compare the two ; booklets or screencasts and I personally prefer the screencasts
– Easy to follow, good to have a visual on how to do it
– I can keep referring back to them if i missed something – nice to have a real time example
It was noted that some of the students struggled to swap between applications on one screen, so iPads will be used in future sessions to show the videos, which will future enhance the student experience.

The future
More screencasts will be developed in the team and rolled out into the other treatment planning modules.

Culture Connect – engaging students through mentoring and supporting their transitions

Samantha Jane Logan & Krassimira Teneva
@SheffHallamINT / @SammyJaneLogan

Parallel session 1, Thunderstorm 1.1

Short Abstract
Culture Connect cross-cultural peer mentoring scheme helps new students settle in and encourages social integration between home/international students. Volunteers develop their multi-cultural awareness, preparing them to work in diverse organisations. The session will share best practice. How can we make cross-cultural mentoring an integral part of the student experience?

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Detailed Outline
Culture Connect is a cross-cultural peer mentoring scheme, which supports new students through transitions and encourages social integration between home/international students. The scheme includes 146 students from 33 countries. Culture Connect is part of the SHU GoGlobal campaign organised by International Student Support, which aims to inspire students to participate in projects that will foster their global outlook and expand their horizons.

Students get to know someone from a different country, through a one-to-one supportive mentoring relationship. They are also allocated to a learning set – a small, intimate group of mentees or mentors of different nationalities which enables them to gain a wide range of perspectives and develop their multi-cultural awareness. These activities give students the chance to reflect, discuss challenges and share helpful advice and resources to support each other on their student journey. Thus fostering shared learning and improving their student experience.

‘You get a friend who walks along with you as you get to know about life at university. I now have many friends and I feel fully integrated in the university.’
Judith Khamoni mentee from Kenya

Monthly soft skills training with other members, challenges their stereotypes in a safe environment and prepares them to work in diverse organisations. Regular social activities contribute to their sense of belonging to a wide support network, which celebrates cultural diversity.

‘It brings together the university community because it gives British students first-hand experience of engaging with international students. The media constantly portrays international students in a negative light and Culture Connect dispels media falsehoods.’ Sami Riaz mentor from Britain

This session will discuss the importance of supporting transitions in order to enhance student engagement, sharing best practice and student feedback of how the programme can assist. The scheme designer/coordinator Samantha Jane Logan will indicate some of her initial dissertation findings.

3.5 Beyond the NSS: insights from student researchers

The engineering and mathematics department recently employed two student researchers (who will co-present this talk) who are using questionnaires, interviews and focus groups to investigate student experiences on mathematics and engineering courses. This presentation will introduce this work, discuss the findings, reflect on the experience of using student researchers, and discuss some of the ways that it will inform future practice.

Drawing on the findings of the student researchers, we will explore the interaction between individual modules, course structure, and the academic and social culture of a course, in shaping the perceptions of students. As well as highlighting features that appear to be associated with high levels of student satisfaction, we will aim to capture the diversity in students’ responses so as to reflect the different ways in which different students respond in the same settings, and go beyond the “headline figures” of the National Student Survey.

We will also reflect on the process of working with student researchers, who bring their own experiences of student life, and can elicit more candid opinions from their peers about the strengths and weaknesses of their course than the academic staff. The insights gained permit us to scrutinise our practice from a perspective not otherwise available to us. Whilst this has obvious advantages for tutors, it is clear that the researchers themselves also gained much from the experience.

Finally, we will discuss how such insights might inform and improve our future practice and our relationship with other students. Provided staff react positively – either by instituting changes, explaining why changes are not possible, or perhaps especially by engaging in a genuine dialogue with students about planned changes – the work further enhances the development of a genuine learning community in which students are – and feel like – partners in their own experience.

Turning First Year History Students into Historians (2014)

Chris Corker & Sarah Holland

The first year module ‘Making History 2: Aspects of Sheffield History’ was redesigned by the presenters two years ago to incorporate an enquiry based, independent research approach, as well as incorporate an introduction to employability, enhance students’ knowledge of Public History and how to ‘do history’, and foster the development of learner autonomy.

Students taking the module work in groups of two to three to work on a piece of research on any aspect of Sheffield history they wish between 1743 and 1918, with emphasis placed on under-researched or new areas of investigation, and use of primary source material. One of the student’s main outputs is an unassessed poster, which is exhibited at a public exhibition.

This paper will highlight our findings from delivering the module for two years based on our own observations and evaluation of the module, and drawing from our surveying of students undertaking the module in the last two cohorts.  Furthermore, we will show that formative assessment is effective in improving engagement when it has an impact on a student’s ability to complete the module assessment. Finally, we will show how allowing students to choose their own topic and area of research is effective in improving their knowledge, engagement and achievement.

This paper builds on work presented at the SHU L&T Conference in 2013 during a thunderstorm session, and is also currently being prepared for publication in SEEJ in 2014.

Student library blues. An investigation into low NSS library scores for selected courses, methodologies, actions, student behaviours and expectations (2014)

Peter Gledhill & Olive Nyaga

Students’ experiences of library resources and services, both on and off-campus has a considerable impact on most students’ time at SHU.  Their rating of this experience in the National Student Survey is publicly available information prominently displayed on each course’s Key Information Set data.

Although students rated library resources and services highly in the National Student Survey for 2013 (averaging 89% across the University), there were a few courses within some programme areas that had low satisfaction scores.  After some initial discussions within a selected programme with course leaders no obvious reason for these scores was identified.  The project aims to identify reasons for low scores, establishing a methodology for similar investigations in other courses and putting in place appropriate actions.

The paper will outline the results of our analysis of;

  • NSS data for library resources and services across the university and in particular for courses in the Faculty of Development and Society including student comments
  • other student surveys such as PTES
  • students’ perceptions of learning resources questions (questions 16,17,18)
  • Comparison of courses within the selected programme area with courses that recorded high satisfaction ratings in the  NSS
  • comparison with competitor institutions’ scores for equivalent courses
  • focus groups for current level 4, 5 and 6 students
  • student questionnaires
  • library stock and expenditure analysis
  • students’ behaviour in accessing library resources on and off-campus
  • course structures including common modules across the programme
  • possible impact of course assessments
  • information literacy content, timing and delivery
  • student expectations of library services
  • messages and information given to students about library resources and services

We will discuss a range of actions that have been put in place and are planned for the coming year including work on setting and managing expectations of students.  We will address methodological issues and practical difficulties.

Reference will be made to the literature on university libraries’ responses to student feedback and students’ understanding and interpretation of NSS survey questions.

Our conclusions will be offered including the relative importance attached to each factor in the student experience. We hope that the paper will foster further discussion and ideas from the audience and potential future collaborations.

248 – An evaluation of the role of virtual support technologies in enhancing the student experience of work-related learning – Corina Bradbury

This presentation will report the findings from a Students’ as Researchers project centred around the engagement and disengagement of Level 6 Criminology students with virtual support technologies. The research aims to capture the students’ perspectives around the usefulness and applicability of the web 2.0 technologies in the form of blogs/journals, designed to aid the academic and professional development they gain from their participation in work related learning activities with various public, private and voluntary sector employers and organisations in and around South Yorkshire. Such organisations include South Yorkshire police and SOVA.

The project, funded and supported by Sheffield Hallam University “Students as Researchers scheme’, was conducted from a student-led approach by the Student Researcher, and supported and overseen by two staff members of the Criminology teaching team.

With the main researcher being a current student at the University, the objective was to obtain a clearer and more in-depth response around the students experience and attitude towards utilising these virtual technologies during their course progression. This presentation will highlight the initial qualitative findings of the project, gained from telephone interviews with two students and a focus group session with eight research participants. This will also discuss the perspective of the student researcher on her experiences and challenges involved with being in the student-researcher position.

The research findings will be used to inform improvements to the student experience and for potential future developments for the Criminology curriculum at Sheffield Hallam University.

248 corine bradbury Learning and teaching conference 2013-248 corina bradbury


233 – Sport Department International Student Experience Journey – Chris Cutforth

Strand: Supporting student learning

Anticipated outcomes

Delegate familiarity and learning from the Sport department’s approach to improving the international student experience

  1. Sharing of ideas and solutions on relevant opportunities and challenges associated with the international student experience leading to enhancements in professional practice

Session outline and activities

Over the past 2 years the Sport department has developed a strong commitment to its work with international students, with the aim of providing them with the most positive learning experience whilst living and studying in Sheffield.

The approach has been underpinned by a programme of research and consultation, the results of which have provided a springboard for a series of targeted interventions designed to improve the experiences of international students.

The session will outline the research methodology, the main research findings and how these have influenced the approach. Key successes will be highlighted as well as the opportunities and challenges encountered along the way. The Sport department’s future plans and approaches to its provision for international students will be explained, focusing on both the formal and informal learning environments.

The session will also give consideration to the wider context of international students across the University.

Feedback will be invited from delegates and there will be opportunities to share and discuss approaches adopted with international students in other parts of the University in order to stimulate future improvements in professional practice.

233 LTA conference presentation 2013