Research and activities

Signed Sealed Delivered

Siyu Ren, Minju Lee, Paul Middleditch and Will Moindrot presented at the ALT Annual Conference 2018

Session Description

The Higher Education sector has been revolutionised with a backdrop of commercialisation, fee structures, attention to rankings, and higher expectations. The collection and actioning of student feedback has never carried so much importance. It is therefore unsurprising that our deep-rooted mechanisms for the collection of student-to-university feedback is found to be outdated and ineffectual by both students and staff (Luescher-Mamashela, 2012). Here the feedback routes via the student rep process and institutional surveys, both suffer from accusations of small-sample bias and self-selection, greatly affecting their efficacy.

Key members of the student representative body on the BA (Econ) Programme at the University of Manchester have set out to explore and tackle the general student perception that their feedback and suggestions, whilst being pivotal to the successful maintenance and development of the programme, often feel overlooked. Through an action research project, those students have been empowered to produce an alternative system that reflects the need to modernise the process through the use of appropriate technology and increased student ‘buy-in’. This presentation will be delivered by two of the student members from the project, with project authors in attendance. It will reflect early-stage findings, a description of the approach used to tackle the problem, and perspectives upon how students have found the experience of taking agency of the design process.

Session content: evaluation and reflection

The session is based on action research currently being undertaken with students on the BA (Econ) Programme at the University of Manchester, who are looking to overhaul the student representation system to make it more effective in the collection, reporting and transparent actioning of student-to-university feedback, to help drive forward change and improvement. The project is ongoing, having been initiated at the start of the academic year 2017/18 with a view to the representatives putting into place their designed system during this and the following academic year, with review and evaluation via observation and reflection giving further evolution of the design process. The programme has approximately 1800 students with around 70-course representatives across its three levels.

This session will be delivered by students involved with the project to improve the representative system of the programme, reflecting on the nature of the project, the autonomy granted in order to find a fitting and creative solution to the problem. The session will introduce the project in general, with students describing the issues they see with the current system (something they have termed the ‘feedback journey’), an outline of how they have organised themselves to identify and address strategic aims for reform and report back on early-stage findings. More broadly the session will examine student’s perspectives on assuming greater control in the design of their own processes, and how the right environment might be created by others thinking of allowing this form of innovation to take place in other areas of the learning environment.

References

GuildHE (2015). Making Student Engagement a Reality: Turning Theory into Practice. [online] Available at: https://www.guildhe.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/6472-Guild-HE-Student-Engagement-Report-36pp.pdf [Accessed 23 May 2018].
McMillan, J., and G. Cheney. 1996. The student as consumer: The implications and limitations of a metaphor. Communication Education 45, no. 1: 1–15.
Thierry M. Luescher-Mamashela (2013) Student representation in university
decision making: good reasons, a new lens?, Studies in Higher Education, 38:10, 1442-1456, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2011.625496

Other activities

In July 2016, the centre sponsored a field trip visit to the Liverpool John Moores University Teaching and Learning Conference.