New perspectives: reflections from Student Teaching and Learning Consultants

Through being one of many Higher Education Academy projects, I made contact with Garry Maguire and Fiona Gilbert from Oxford Brookes University. They are doing the Assignment Brief Consultancy (ABC) Project also funded by a HEA individual grant. We did a small collaboration where some of the student consultants interviewed lecturers about designing assignment briefs and thus collected data for the ABC project.

Garry developed an evaluation survey for the Student teaching and learning consultant project and 8 out of 11 students responded. All responses were anonymous.

  • Seven of the students said that participating in the project had encouraged them to become involved in research related activity in the future and they would recommend participating in such projects to another student.
  • Six rated their experience of participating in the project as a student consultant researcher as extremely positive and two as very positive.
  • When asked to rate the preparation / induction / research training they received for the project 3 said it was ‘Extremely effective’, 2 said ‘Very effective’ and 3 said ‘Moderately effective’.

We asked them to outline ONE aspect of the research process that they were now more expert in than before participating:

  1. How to have open and constructive dialogue with a lecturer
  2. Observing large rooms of students and spotting areas for development.
  3. Giving effective feedback
  4. Asking the right questions
  5. Providing constructive feedback
  6. Details of writing a feedback or reports has improved
  7. Liaising with lecturers and approaching sensitive subjects with tact
  8. Range of teaching methods

Developing perspectives on the complexity of teaching and learning

But what I think is the most interesting to come out of the survey are the student comments on how participating in the project has made them think about the role of the teacher and about teaching and learning. The students appear to have a more nuanced view of what it means to teach and what this means for the learners.

We asked them: to what extent has the project changed or informed your perception of learning?

I am definitely more informed about the underlying principles of good teaching and how people learn. I have always been aware of people learning better in different forms but I have been able to see where they fit into different subject areas and content types.

I now know that there is the potential out there for learning to be so much more than it is now. Some lecturers get it but I think more can be done to change the learning experience. But I also realise that students still need to be willing or no changes will make a difference.

It has made me more observant during lectures and realising what is good and bad practice. I realise that people learn differently and at different levels therefore it is a skill to get the balance right during a lecture.

I have learnt about different ways people learn

It has made me see that teachers find it difficult to match their style of teaching to all students’ learning styles therefore I should be more open to different teaching methods

I realize now the amount of different factors that can affect a students learning and motivation in their course. Furthermore, I have become aware of certain areas where there is miscommunication between lecturers and students.

It has given me a better eye at seeing different teaching techniques being used and the amount of planning that involved in one lecture.

We asked them: to what extent has the project changed or informed your perception of teaching?

I have a much more informed view of what students as a whole think of as good and inspiring teaching, what techniques there are and how people use them.

Teaching is far more complex than I ever thought, and even though some teachers do understand that changes are necessary and even implement them it is very difficult to get students interested, involved and inspired.

It is harder than we would assume it to be!!

Different teaching styles

It has made me feel like the university cares about how the student’s feel about learning. I have found that lecturers are also receptive to feedback and are eager to alter the way they teach in order to improve students learning.

I have become aware of certain areas where there is mis-communication between lecturers and students. Also, the lack of lecturers engaging with students – I believed lecturers understood the position the students were in sometimes. But also, how hard it is to get lecturers and teaching materials right when students complain but do not give constructive criticism which i believe is very important.

I am looking forward to going to the Third Annual Researching, Advancing and Inspiring Student Engagement (RAISE) Conference, 12 – 13 September 2013 at Nottingham Trent University where I am co-presenting some of the findings from this project. Click for Conference Programme

Also I recommend joining the RAISE network if you are interested in student engagement.

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen)

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About talintuoh

Supporting and connecting colleagues to develop inspiring and innovative teaching and learning
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