I am quite excited to have started a new project this August which is all about creating opportunities for student/staff engagement around teaching and learning at the University of Huddersfield. The project is run in collaboration with the Students’ Union and we also have a cross institutional steering group to support the project.
- Joelle Adams, SEDA executive, Writing and Learning Centre coordinator, Bath Spa University
- Becka Colley, Dean of Students, University of Bradford
- Karen Strickland, Senior Lecturer/Senior Teaching Fellow Academic Practice, Edinburgh Napier University
The project aims are:
- to promote authentic student engagement in the enhancement of teaching and learning and explore the nature and construct of inspirational teaching
- to create opportunities for student and staff to engage in reflection and dialogue around teaching and learning approaches
- offer academic staff a qualified student perspective (at points of need) that goes beyond the typical end of module evaluation response or NSS survey
The project will run for a year and is funded by the Higher Education Academy, Teaching Development Grant Scheme. I have created a Students as T & L consultants web page for the project but the main updates will happen here on the Teaching and Learning Institute blog and on twitter via the hashtag #heastlc
The idea for the project came from linking two strands of activity and research that I was pursuing:
1: I had been reading about work done by Alison Cook-Sather in the US with students working as pedagogical consultants:
- Alison Cook‐Sather (2008): ‘What you get is looking in a mirror, only
better’: inviting students to reflect (on) college teaching, Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 9:4, 473-483
- Catherine Bovill, Alison Cook‐Sather & Peter Felten (2011) : Students as
co‐creators of teaching approaches, course design, and curricula: implications for academic
developers, International Journal for Academic Development, 16:2, 133-145
2: I attended a SEDA conference where there were a focus on student and staff co-inquiry and a partnership approach to Teaching & Learning enhancement.
The project came out of marrying up these two strands.
Students Consulting on Teaching (SCOT) Project at University of Lincoln
When I was putting together the project proposal I came across a similar project, which had been developed by Dr Karin Crawford. Karin is a Principal Teaching Fellow from the University of Lincoln, see her staff profile for more details.
Dr Crawford kindly agreed to come and talk to our project team here at University of Huddersfield and she gave us some great practical insight and advice which will help improve and inform the project, especially the training of the student. Karin highlighted the importance of understanding that the student consultant is not a subject expert but expert in the experience of being students and with the ability to bring the student perspective to the tasks.
Among other things she gave us a better idea of what kind of things that students could consult on and what staff liked about the scheme.
Some of the tasks that SCOTs carried out were:
- “Simple” observation (and feedback) (“sit and see”, review experience)
- “Directed” observation, students being asked to look at specific aspects of presentation or classroom behaviour.
- Mini focus groups with students before/after lecture about expectations and experience
- Act as critical reader for materials
- Look at VLE site to evaluate how user/student friendly the structure/layout etc was.
- Follow up confusing/contradictory module evaluation feedback
Advantages of student consultants that staff highlighted:
- Candid/honest feedback
- Different perspective, students would pick out different – sometimes minute – things about teaching
- Enabled staff to investigate things that they were not able to look at before
For more on the SCOT project:
Crawford, Karin (2012) Rethinking the student/teacher nexus: students as consultants on teaching in higher education. In: Towards teaching in public: reshaping the modern university. Continuum. ISBN: 9781441124791
Crawford, Karin (2009) Understanding the students’ perspective on how pedagogical approaches influence their experience. In: iPED 2009 Fourth International Inquiring Pedagogies Conference ‘Researching Beyond Boundaries’, September 2009, Coventry University Technocentre.
posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen)