A post updating project progress for the Students as Teaching and Learning Consultants project – funded by the Higher Education Academy
The power of Play-Doh
I feel like I should have known to bring in Play-Doh at a much earlier stage in this project as there is something about engaging your hands in moulding something that seems to open up conversation. I think I tend to forget that it is incredibly difficult to show up to a group session and then be asked to reflect on what you have been doing. The last session that I did with the student I asked them to evaluate the project and also to talk about what inspirational teaching is. Nick Boone, one of the student consultants, took the photo below and uploaded it to the online forum the group is using to share experiences.
I think it is interesting that the students have mostly considered teaching to be lecturing in a classroom (as depicted in the photo). I am not sure whether this is due to how we have presented the idea of feedback on teaching (which did involve a mock-lecture and an introduction to observation), the activities they have been asked to undertake by staff or simply reflects the current experiences of the students involved.
Benefits to students
I asked the students about the skills or benefits that they thought they had gained by being part of this project:
- Confidence in giving feedback
- Ability to communicate effectively
- Seeing teaching methods more clearly
- Using an audio recorder
- Nice to feel on par with a lecturer and work ‘with them’ rather than ‘for’ or ‘against’ them
- I think I have become more observant of good practices since doing training and observing others
“I feel that I have certainly gained more skills and experience in the way I think and give critique. This has helped me in my everyday studies giving me more confidence in my own feedback.”
(Student consultant H)
“I have found that working one to one with tutors has enabled me to improve my communication skills. I was initially concerned that I would not be ale to communicate effectively if I needed to provide constructive criticism, however I have found that this has been received in a positive manner by the tutors I have worked with. Another concern was that I would not be taken seriously as I am a student and not a tutor, however the staff that I have worked with have had respect for the project and have been eager to find ways of improving the learning experience for their students.”
(Student consultant F)
Student teaching and learning consultants want to know more about impact
In evaluating the project students are keen to know what the members of staff thought about their feedback and also if their contributions had any impact (eg. any changes being made). The way the current consultation process is set up relies on staff filling in an evaluation form after they have worked with students. As we all know getting anyone to fill in a form takes time so this part of the work is only partially done. Dr Liz Bennett is also carrying out a number of interviews with staff that we hope may provide some more detail.
Most of the staff who responded said the feedback was very useful but some had longer comments:
- I thought it was amazing. We looked at what students wanted from feedback as opposed to what I want them to learn.
- I thought the feedback was incredibly useful. It had both positive and negative points and he had clearly thought about the activity and its use to students.
- It was all very positive – probably some areas of development would have been good.
- The feedback received provided some very useful insights. The feedback was delivered in written and verbal form, written first followed by a face-to-face meeting. This was very useful, since it allowed time for reflection on various aspects of the consultation before being given further comments and being able to ask for clarification on a couple of points.
How can we improve the scheme?
The students also had a number of ideas for how to improve/enhance the scheme, most of it to do with tracking impact in some different ways:
- Follow up observations to track progress/improvements
- Look at other modules taught by lecturers
- Send feedback forms to students to see if they have noticed improvements
- Receive feedback from staff evaluation to see how useful they have found the project to be (I am working on this and I will be presenting project findings to the students at our next session)
- Advise lecturers that face to face feedback meetings normally produce better results
- Get members of staff who had taken part to promote the scheme in committee meetings
Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen)