Tag Archives: student voice

3.6 Students as CEOs (Course Enhancement Officers 2.0)

The Course Design Consultancy project was supported by the Higher Education Academy’s Students as Partners Programme in 2012/13.  It began as a small-scale pilot which aimed to have a positive impact on the learning experience by engaging students in the quality enhancement processes at Sheffield Hallam, in particular with regard to the re-approval of existing courses.

The activities that were initiated last year have been continued and developed, in line with the expectations stipulated in Chapter B5 (Student Engagement) of Part B of the Quality Assurance Agency’s UK Quality Code for Higher Education.  This chapter calls on institutions to seek contribution from students in curriculum design, and recommends that students are supported and trained in order to enable them to engage appropriately.

Many improvements have been implemented to what has now been renamed the Course Enhancement Officers scheme, including the introduction of a ten-hour training program for students taking part, to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to undertake quality enhancement work which is integral to university business.

In this presentation we will introduce the national context in which the scheme was developed, reflect on what we learned from the first iteration of the initiative, and explain how the conclusions drawn from our experience have informed the scheme’s progress.  We will outline how it has developed into a scalable model which can be embedded as good practice across the institution.

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.

3.3 Supporting Writing Development

This Thunderstorm session will contextualise the use of writers’ workshop through the provision of outline information on the aims, learning outcomes and assessment strategy of the module. The role of the writers’ workshop in supporting student learning will be identified and the methodology briefly described.

The Thunderstorm presenters include two students as well as the module tutor and student perspectives on the experience of the writers’ workshop will form the main part of the presentation. The benefits and challenges of introducing peer-supported learning in relation to writing development will be offered. Student presenters will share examples of their development as writers during the module and will offer some reflections on the contribution of the module to their personal and professional development.

The session will conclude with some implications of writers’ workshop for the role of the tutor in managing student experience and promoting effective learning.

The Essence of Belonging: Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union ethnographic research into student communities (2014)

Jessica Baily, Emily Connor & Emmet Cleaver, SHU Students’ Union

Sheffield Hallam Students Union conducted a research project on the theme of ‘belonging’. The Education Officer and Welfare and Community Officer ran a series of filmed student interviews from a large range of demographics to discover exactly how students at Sheffield Hallam found their sense of belonging to their course, campus, sports team, society or within the institution. Following the interview, students were issued with cameras and were required to visually ‘capture’ this sense of belonging in a series of photographs. The research culminated in ‘The Belonging Hub’, a room and event at the Students Union of the students photographs coupled with a video documentary displaying all of their responses.

Following on from Sheffield Hallam Students Union’s research into how students forge a sense of belonging with their course, society or institution, this session was designed to engage staff with an approach to understanding how to create communities in the classroom. Using the research as a basis for discussion, participants will relate and apply the student perspective into the various challenges of teaching from classroom engagement, attendance and feedback. Members will hopefully leave with an understanding of the kinds of atmospheres students work best in and have ideas of how to replicate if not recreate these climates in their own practices.

290 – Student Voices – Student Vision – Cathy Malone

This Thunderstorm presents two projects: an account of a collaboration between Falmouth University iWrite project and Sheffield Hallam Animation and Visual Effects. Falmouth students were recorded discussing approaches to writing at university and our students provided a visual track for these short accounts. The initial work was completed as part of a first year module  ‘Researching Creative Industries’, where students developed their ideas with an external client. The best animatics were chosen for development using a small ALDHE grant to fund an employability project for four students. In the second project second year students created animated student advice for younger peers within a module on Visual Narrative. Both  projects were guided by the desire to incorporate authentic student perspective into advice and support for learning, and accounts of student experience.  It has been influenced by the wider discussion on ‘student voice’ in particular Fielding’s ideas of students as collaborative partners and change agents (Fielding 2001 & 2004). While most of the discussion has focused on slightly different contexts this project raises a number of interesting questions about the role and function of student support in HE and how we can best act as collaborative and supportive partners in learning. Session activities for engagement: Overview of the projects  Student presentation of animations from Year 1 and 2 Evaluation student work – feedback  Participants will be asked to discuss and identify aspects of student academic life that they would nominate for such intensive treatment

289 – Course ethos: it’s not the students who are strange – Neil Challis, Michael Robinson

If you talk to some lecturers, you will find no shortage of opinion about the shortcomings of our students.  They are ill-prepared for the university curriculum; don’t turn up to class; aren’t interested if it isn’t assessed; lack motivation; don’t love the subject; don’t know what they should; are only interested in how to pass the exam; lack basic skills; can’t write properly… Teaching in a university would be great, if it weren’t for the students.

Our own experiences are atypical. Contrast the caricature presented above with an equally broad-brush picture of a lecturer: we love our subject; are good at it; are motivated and hard-working; are interested in a deeper understanding; could cope with exam stress; and we’ve spent our adult lives surrounded by similar colleagues.

Drawing on work from the More Maths Grads project, which examined four diverse departments ranging from 30 to 350 students per cohort, we compare what students and staff say about their aspirations and consider how this impacts the students’ enjoyment and confidence in their subject. Whilst we found evidence of special effort being made to overcome the perceived student shortcomings, we nevertheless detect some frustration at these. If we become frustrated, is it us or them that have the problem? Is it reasonable of us to expect our students to share our outlook?

We suggest that our perceptions can lead to messages – explicit or implied – to students about their abilities can easily damage their confidence and well-being.

In particular we discuss ways to generate a more positive attitude so that more of our students might report, as one did:

“The … tutors treat the students as equals, I have never been talked down to …  I feel that the tutors and students work as a team aiming for one goal and that is the students understanding and enjoyment of the subject.”

Click to view:  289 course ethos it’s not the students who are strange

283 – Student partnerships and employability: case study of the Course Design Consultancy @ SHU – Manny Madriaga, Luci Cockayne, Andrew Squire, Lizzie Webster, Barbara Gonzalez Jaspe, Neil Morris & Chris Corker

This interactive workshop raises questions about the extent of our partnerships with students in their learning.  How are we ensuring that students are reflecting upon their own professional development in volunteering and/or work-based learning activities?   How transparent are we making the skills and attributes students are developing while working in partnership with academic staff? In pondering these questions, this workshop will include a show-and-share of how students and staff within the institution collaborated on a project to enhance student engagement in the curriculum design process this year.  This institutional initiative, Course Design Consultancy, was supported by the Higher Education Academy’s Students as Partners change programme, which is run in partnership with Birmingham City University.  This presentation highlights how both Venture Matrix™ students and Faculty Student Representatives from the Sheffield Business School were recruited to become course design consultants (CDCs).  It will describe the role of CDCs from students who have taken on this role.  The CDCs will share their experience of working with course leaders and course planning teams to first identify areas of improvement to inform course (re)development.  In addition, the CDCs will share their experience of working alongside their student peers and prepping, organising and running of ‘solution-based’ workshops to develop ideas for course improvement.  CDCs will discuss the work involved, particularly in producing CDC Reports which include recommendations based on student ideas taken from workshops.

276 – Staff-Student Consultation Committees – David Robert Broom

Giving students a voice is imperative and is one of the Key Performance Indicators of the National Student Survey particularly regarding the questions, ‘I have had adequate opportunities to provide feedback on all elements of my course?’, ‘My feedback on the course is listened to and valued?’ and ‘It is clear to me how students’ comments on the course have been acted upon?’ Whilst module leaders get students to complete module evaluation forms, all courses within the Academy of Sport and Physical Activity have a different process for gaining feedback from students to improve course delivery through the staff-student consultation committee process so the decision has been made to make this consistent. The session will highlight how the ‘Science’ suite of courses gleans feedback from students which has been suggested as a model of good practice from the former Academic Delivery Lead and student support officers. There will be discussion on what has worked well and what hasn’t and it is hoped colleagues will offer suggestions for improvement drawing on their own experiences of getting feedback from students.

Click to view presentation:  276 David Broom SHU LTA conference 2013

205 – Comparing the learning experience of students following cross-curricular and subject specific modules – James Scales

The importance of considering students’ perceptions of their course when discussing course evaluation is well documented (Schaeffer et al, 2003). While studies such as (Subramanian et al, 2012) may not be a gold standard they are certainly considered to represent the current best practise. Reasons cited for this is the combination of qualitative (Focus groups) and quantitative (Survey) methods of data collection that are used, as opposed to the more unstructured approaches used in earlier examples of course evaluation.The aim of this study is to investigate students’ perceptions of modules taught on a cross-curriculum basis and on a subject specific basis to inform the development of a module that is currently undergoing review.With institutional ethics approval 30 student volunteers from the teacher education courses at Sheffield Hallam University will complete an online survey comprising of a series of multiple item scales. Designed principally to highlight any statistically meaningful differences between students perception of the two module delivery methods.

Data collected from the survey will be used to inform discussion within focus groups using samples drawn from the same population. From which broad themes will be drawn and collated.

Findings from comparable studies have highlighted that there is a difference in the way students’ perceive the different module delivery styles. It is postulated that this difference may be due to a perceived increase of relevance of the subject matter.

The findings of this study are going to be acutely useful with informing the content of the teacher education courses at Sheffield Hallam University. Moreover in a broader aim the findings will be useful informing a range of course in higher education setting that may consider using a cross-curriculum or subject specific course delivery method.

2012 Defining student engagement

Caroline Heaton and Helen Kay

The term ‘Student Engagement’ is used widely across the HE sector in a variety of contexts, to refer to matters concerning the perceptions, participation, expectations and experience of being a student within Higher Education.  The Higher Education Academy defines Student Engagement as providing opportunities for students to be ‘active partners in shaping their learning experiences’ (http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/student-engagement).  These opportunities can be interpreted in a variety of ways.  For example, the University of Exeter has developed a focus on Student Engagement which concentrates on student-led action research initiatives (http://as.exeter.ac.uk/support/educationenhancementprojects/current_projects/change/) and the University of Lincoln’s ‘Student as Producer’ scheme provides opportunities for students to work alongside staff in the design and delivery of their teaching and learning programmes (http://studentasproducer.lincoln.ac.uk/

The Quality Assurance Agency is about to publish a new chapter within its UK Quality Code for Higher Education (http://www.qaa.ac.uk/AssuringStandardsAndQuality/quality-code/Pages/default.aspx) which addresses engagement in relation to the provision of feedback from students and student participation in quality assurance / enhancement processes.   This is in addition to the chapter: Learning and Teaching which will address students engagement in deep and independent learning. 

This co-lab will introduce and explore the good practice promoted within the codes of practice and will provide an opportunity for participants to consider and discuss their implications for Sheffield Hallam University.  It will include reflection on the various aspects of Student Engagement which are promoted within the sector and consideration of those features of Student Engagement which contribute to the student experience at Sheffield Hallam.  The session will also provide a forum for consideration of how Student Engagement might potentially be defined within an institutional framework.

Link to presentation:  Defining student engagement

B6 – (EN23) 11.50