Students as Partners Kate Wicklow - Head of Quality and Student Engagement, Jennifer Swain – Project Officer, Student Led Teaching Awards National Union of Students Anglia Ruskin Learning and Teaching Conference June 2013
In this session • Brief outline of the possibilities of partnership and the NUS manifesto • How do we use SLTA’s for enhancement? • How do we engage students and does it work?
History of Student Engagement • Although the practices around student engagement may be long-standing in some cases, student engagement as a policy priority is relatively recent. • We are now moving beyond a narrow focus on the validity of various systems of student representation and instead describing concepts linked to student identities and the potential of individuals to influence their environment.
History of Student Engagement • Lots of concepts have clustered around student engagement. Co-creators, co-producers, active participants, students as collaborators, students as agents for change… • The concept of ‘partnership’ has gained significant currency.
Rejecting Consumerism • Student engagement is not happening inside a policy vacuum. • A narrative of ‘competition’ and ‘choice’ offers students an inflated perception of their power, when it is in fact limited to commenting only on what has been sold to them. • ‘Customer is always right’ devalues the role and expertise of educators.
“Regardless of whether students agree with the values and characteristics of the funding model in which they sit, they may adopt behaviours we associate with consumerism unless we offer a new and compelling way of thinking about learning”
What is Partnership? • At its roots, partnership is about investing students with the power to co-create not just knowledge or learning, but the institution itself e.g. widening access, community engagement, sport, capital investment. • Genuine and meaningful dispersal of power so that students are enabled to contribute to educational change. • Shared responsibility- for identifying the problem or opportunity for improvement, for devising a solution and for co-delivering of that solution. • Students and staff at all levels working together to achieve agreed goals.
Rethinking apprenticeship • Students can never be ‘equal partners’ because they do not have the necessary ‘expertise’ to engage with academic staff on an equal basis…is what some people say. • ‘Equality’ is as much about respecting each other’s views as it is about having similar levels of knowledge.
Rethinking apprenticeship • Students provide a very clear sense of what is in the student interest. • This takes leadership- the ability to assess where the student interest lies and argue for it and the ability to listen to various constituencies to ensure their concerns are understood and that they are informing the debate. • Atomised student feedback could never substitute serious student representation, which is why you and students’ unions are so important.
Importance of students’ Unions • In the student movement we value collectivism and democratic representation. • Individual students may engage in various forms in their learning, but a whole system of partnership must flow through the students’ union. • A new understanding of collectivism- accounting for differing views and concerns, whilst sustaining the possibility of solidarity among students.
An approach to partnership: Student Led Teaching Awards
How can we encourage students to talk about what they want and value from their education?
An overview of what NUS has done this year… This year we have 13 small and specialist Students’ Unions who have received £800 from the HEA to pilot the project this academic year. It is important to note here that we also have HE in FE colleges involved in this project for the first time this year. Additionally, 11 Students’ Unions who were involved in 2011-2012, have continued to be involved in the joint NUS/HEA project this year. This group have focussed specifically on improving their projects further with a lot of activity occurring after their project has been carried out.
So what’s new this year compared to last? Since 2011, the SLTA project has been developed and led across 42 students’ unions altogether with the help and support of the HEA and NUS. When looking across a national level, there is an even higher number of students’ unions taking part in the project. After researching a small snapshot of the UK & Northern Ireland, it seems that a minimum of 50 students ’ unions are also running the SLTA project in some capacity. This project has evolved from simply just celebrating great teaching to creating fantastic work carried out around partnership and student engagement. I will now go onto demonstrate the impact that this project has had in terms of student engagement and partnership relationships drawing on examples from the cohort this year but also on a national level.
Student Engagement • A crucial part of the Student Led Teaching Awards project was to engage students to take part in the delivery of the project. • Competitions: Writtle students designed the award itself where as Bradford and Bath Spa students designed the branding of the project. • Roadshows: Students at SU Arts & Marjon were heavily involved in the delivery of this project by travelling around campus raising awareness of the project and collecting nominations. • Marketing: In particular, Birmingham City students recorded students who wanted to make verbal nominations rather than on paper. These videos are now on their website. Stirling used their funding to recruit students to record personal messages from students for the winners and also interviewed the winners afterwards. This footage is now on their SU website and is being used to create a blog around the project. • Sunderland: Use their Event Management course students to run the entire project! • Sunderland and Northumbria: Carried out post project focus groups with their students to see what they can improve next year and secure their engagement for the following year!
Partnership • The SLTA project has created a platform for students’ unions being able to build partnership relationships with the institution. • Students’ Unions are starting to use their data to build partnership relationships with their institution. • Plymouth: Are in their 3rd year of running this project and their SU lead staff member on this project has analysed the data set and created a briefing which will be circulated amongst all learning and teaching departments. • Bangor: Have used their funding to hold ‘Share & Inspire’ Lectures. These were carried out across 2 nights and were attended by University staff, students and Students’ Union staff and sabbatical officers. • Sunderland have used their data to produce material for lectures at the beginning of the year. These lectures will be delivered by the winners of the project and are aimed at first year students. • Stirling & Northumbria: Have worked with their institution and have created sessions for this years Institutional Learning and teaching conference. • Many Group 1 Students’ Unions noted the enthusiastic response from institutional senior management and academic staff when attending their award ceremonies. This optimistically is the starting point of future partnership relationships.
On a bigger scale… • Exeter: Exeter Students’ Union held a showcasing event for the winners of the project in a visible location on campus. Additionally, they work alongside their institution to hold a student engagement conference led by the winners of the project and the students’ union. • Birmingham City: Birmingham City are working alongside their Centre of enhancement learning and Teaching, who wholly support embedding the results of the SLTA Project within the PG Certificate course for September 2013. The students’ union Student Partnership Coordinator will be meeting with departmental staff to design the course and optimistically develop the session into a full module with students leading and teaching from 2014. Additionally, Birmingham City are recruiting students’ to capture some nominations verbally, a resource which will be used as a teaching aid when carrying out the PG Certificate course. • Cumbria: The Students’ Union Representation Manager is in the process of arranging and conducting videos with the winners, which along with an analysis of their nominations will form the basis of the substantial bulk of the further learning material. The SU will be working with University Academic Quality & Development learning technology colleagues to incorporate these findings into academic staff development materials.
National Case Studies to demonstrate Partnership • Brunel: The nominees and winners are showcased not only on the SU website ‘The West Londoner’ but on the University department page on the website and the individual staff pages. • Staffordshire: Staff members blog about the SLTA Project and its value. • Sunderland: Not only do the students involved in the project blog but the University staff who have won also have! • London Met: Senior Lecturer in Computing was awarded a Teaching fellow and won a SLTA award! • Cardiff: PHD students who were nominated – celebrated on the University department website. • Gloucestershire: School of Humanities staff newsletter! • Manchester Medical School: Article accessible via the Department website encouraging students to get involved in the project.
The engagement and enthusiasm with this project, seen across many students’ unions, is inspiring, and it is clear that through continued NUS/HEA support, excellent work will be maintained and ground-breaking results uncovered.
Activity • How do you work with students to develop your practices? • What works and doesn’t work? • Are there groups of students that are hard to engage with? Have you overcome these barriers? • Individual students • Placement students • International students • Franchise students • Course reps • Sabbatical officers
Key Points • How do we encourage students to participate in active student engagement? • Are our processes accessible to students? • Do we show the value of their voice? • Courses have their own approach to the specific processes of partnership based on their pedagogic approach
Any questions? Download the manifesto for partnership: http://bit.ly/manifestoforpartnership Speak to your students union about partnership activities Kate.email@example.com Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org