How can we meaningfully listen to students’ voices?

How can we meaningfully listen to students’ voices to shape policy and practice? OFFA/SRHE January 25th 2018

SRHE and OFFA recently hosted a joint event which brought together colleagues from across the sector with an interest in alternative ways of listening to student voices, especially within Widening Participation contexts.

Liz Austen from STEER presented the various ways that student voice is researched in Higher Education, before providing examples of the digital storytelling method.  Stories which were produced as part of a project with the Yorkshire Universities group were shown and discussed, alongside the ethical dimensions of the narrative process and the publication of a story as a product.


The YU project created a toolkit resource for digital storytelling: http://www.yorkshireuniversities.ac.uk/digital-storytelling

The (further) utility of digital storytelling in HE is worth exploring.  Can collections of digital stories be analysed thematically to highlight, for example, a student cohort experience? Can students return to their digital stories after a period of time and analyse their own personal and professional development and even learning gain?  Can student stories be used to evaluate the effectiveness of learning and teaching approaches?  These questions are areas for future discussion within SHU and across the sector.

Finally, how representative are these stories of institutional student experience?  This question was raised at the OFFA/SRHE event.  Like most qualitative research, the method can be defended using concepts such as ‘authenticity’.  But more importantly for institutions, any powerful and emotive ‘voice of one’ may be more than we have really listened to before.

If you are interested in using digital storytelling for student voice research please get in touch – l.austen@shu.ac.uk