On 13 November, students and staff from across the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences were invited to share their experiences of issues that student feedback has consistently raised, with the aim of developing collaborative solutions.
Prior to the event, four themes were identified to frame and support discussions:
- Learning & Teaching
- Assessment & Feedback
- Community & Support
- Skills & Employability
Following a ‘World Café’ format, students and staff spent fifteen minutes at each ‘theme station’, exploring pre-existing student data and feedback.
Addressing the issue
Discussions were supported by student facilitators, who encouraged the sharing of lived experiences to develop understanding of the varied perspectives in the room. Discussions centred on topics from embedding an increasingly inclusive curriculum, the diversity of assessment and feedback practices, initiatives to develop a sense of community on a course and how to enhance support for students on placement.
Subsequently, staff and students regrouped around the theme in which they had the most interest or the theme in which they had ideas to address the discussed issues, and project groups were formed to begin the development of solutions. Solutions proposed included mechanisms to improve the accessibility of assessment feedback, the development of accessible course materials, skills development for students who do not undertake a placement, activity to develop a sense of community in departments and research into why certain cohorts of students are ‘less satisfied’.
Feedback highlighted that staff found it beneficial to have the opportunity to actively engage with a diverse range of students and hear their perspective on issues in a space free from the constraints and protocol of a formal meeting. Feedback also highlighted the benefits of cross-departmental conversations which resulted in potential cross-discipline projects being identified.
Thalia Gjersoe, HSS Associate Dean (Learning & Teaching), said: ‘Annika Theilgaard and her team have developed an innovative and inspiring way of meaningfully engaging staff and students to work together as collaborators to address common concerns. The feedback I have received from students and staff alike has been absolutely charged with excitement about what can be achieved together. I have no doubt that this model will inspire new collaborative solutions that will be influential both within the university and beyond. I look forward to seeing this rolled out to other faculties and individual departments in the near future’.
Alice Palmer-Ross, student Faculty Representative, said: ‘It was great to see students talking with staff members, working collaboratively on issues that affect them both, on an equal footing. I think the ideas that we all came up with are going to be really useful in improving both learning and teaching, some of which I'd love to see started now as I think they'd have immediate benefits for our university community. It worked really well on a faculty level, but I think it could be equally applied to departments, and should be! It would be great to see events like this, with students and staff building effective working relationships, rolled out across the university.’
Annika Theilgaard, Student Engagement Manager commented: ‘It was really fantastic to see professional services and academic colleagues as well as students from across the Faculty come together in such a positive way. The inclusive nature of the event was incredibly important and I’m delighted that such a diverse number of our students were able to engage with staff in such a meaningful and beneficial way’.
The next step
Feedback gathered from the event will be collated, and projects and ideas arising from the event will now be considered for further development and funding which, where possible, will be allocated to bring ideas to life.