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Enhancing the student experience: working to improve student satisfaction University of Plymouth. February 2012 Sally Brown Emeritus Professor, Leeds Metropolitan.

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Presentation on theme: "Enhancing the student experience: working to improve student satisfaction University of Plymouth. February 2012 Sally Brown Emeritus Professor, Leeds Metropolitan."— Presentation transcript:

1 Enhancing the student experience: working to improve student satisfaction University of Plymouth. February 2012 Sally Brown Emeritus Professor, Leeds Metropolitan University, Adjunct Professor University of Sunshine Coast, Visiting Professor, Plymouth University Phil Race Independent Consultant, Visiting Professor, Plymouth University

2 Intended outcomes After participating in this session, we hope that you will have: Shared ideas about how we can address the student experience at Plymouth University; Worked towards seeing student satisfaction increase, including in scores in such measures as the NSS; Prioritised areas where it will be most valuable to work towards particular improvements in the student experience.

3 Session plan 1.Sally will review factors affecting the student experience in general, and the context of the NSS 2.We’ll then run a short exercise where you can identify the most important things you feel that we need to address in your students’ experience. 3.We’ll then go through the particular statements in the NSS as windows on the student experience, and think about particular issues which may be most important to address.

4 The current context A changing HE context in a global economic downturn both for HEIs and our graduating students; Challenges and opportunities associated with Technology-Enhanced Learning; International issues including competition (e.g. many nations teaching programmes in English), global perspectives and trade agreements; Mass higher education and associated diversity issues; The search for effective, fit-for-purpose assessment methods; Issues around how best to deliver the curriculum.

5 Flexibility and responsiveness to market needs Students have high expectations of what they will receive in return for their fees; In a rapidly changing global market, fleetness of foot in curriculum design and delivery can ensure HEIs are viable; Students nowadays can choose educational providers internationally, and increasing numbers pick and mix to match their requirements regardless of physical location; We therefore need to be need to be flexible in providing bridges and ladders to progression.

6 How can we make changes to enhance learning and teaching in universities? External stimuli (e.g. NSS scores) can be powerful triggers for change but are not sufficient for really making a difference; It’s more important (and effective) to look at enhancing the student experience than at how to massage NSS scores; In our view, firm direction and dictat are much less effective than passion, persuasion and people- centred approaches; Evidence-based practice helps to change better than instruction; Working within university systems is essential if changes are to be long-lasting.

7 What students think about assessment Student evaluations frequently reveal poor assessment practices that: Lack authenticity and relevance to real world tasks; Make unreasonable demands on students; Are narrow in scope; Have little long-term benefit; Fail to reward genuine effort; Have unclear expectations and assessment criteria; Fail to provide adequate feedback to students; Rely heavily on factual recall rather than on higher- order thinking and problem-solving skills. (Flint and Johnson, 2011, p.2)

8 Interpreting NSS scores NSS scores are an unreliable indicator as they can be skewed by all kinds of extraneous factors, but do give us some hints on what we should be doing; Attempts to massage NSS scores usually fail; It is much more sensible and worthwhile to concentrate on improving the student experience of assessment and feedback, since these are so central to enhancing the student experience.

9 But what we can do is: Scrutinise NSS scores and free response feedback to see where enhancements can be made; Carefully consider the context and the student cohort experience; Honestly review where improvements can be made; Develop a strategic implementation plan that doesn’t just contain pious hopes, but specifies concrete action.

10 Your priorities On a post-it, please write your own completion of the starter: What I’d most like to see, in the context of NSS, is higher scores for aspects of the student experience relating to:.... In groups please compare the aspects you’ve identified, and work out which you feel is the most important. Please report these aspects for us to collect on the next slide...

11 Your priorities: areas of the student experience to address: Feedback – feedforward (12+) Library resources and info literacy Timetabling, room availability etc (management and organisation), and less cancellation or withdrawal of modules or sessions (e.g. texting students about sudden changes) Enthusiasm of staff / inspiration: e.g. avoid death by PowerPoint etc! High SSR and its effects Making the most of observation? Getting Q 22 right: getting buy-in from all contributors (and get more students to participate, and earlier?) How can we manage expectations regarding the (clumsy) wording of things in the NSS instrument? (‘smoothly’, ‘timely’, etc)

12 What do we want to change? A focus on engagement; Being more consistent and coherent; Orientation towards teaching for learning; Supporting students inclusively; Using assessment to promote learning; Fostering robust quality measures; Maximising efficiency in curriculum design.

13 Engagement: why talk about it? Because: Academics and learning support staff report increasing levels of disengagement by students of the ‘iGeneration’; Potentially the nature of student behaviour in higher education is changing radically in terms of academic and other literacies; Institutions need to ensure that new students enter with, or have the opportunity to acquire, the skills needed for academic success; HEIs must devise programmes in which the emphasis is on maximising students' development.

14 Engagement of international students: some important considerations Is recruitment undertaken to ensure students have the potential to succeed? Is induction framed appropriately to welcome international students? Are steps taken proactively to ensure international students have a good chance of integrating with their study cohorts? Are we training our staff to be aware of diverse international approaches to HE learning and teaching, or are we just expecting students to get on with our systems? Is the right kind of support offered (language, crisis support, befriending etc.?)

15 Consistency and coherence: mapping the student experience Will students feel from the outset that they are on the programme they signed up to? Do students feel that they are immersed in the subject they have signed up to study from the outset? Is induction a valuable and productive introduction to the course (or just the distribution of endless information)? Do students have a positive and balanced experience across the programme? Are there points in the academic year when there doesn’t seem to be much going on?

16 Teaching for learning Is there a coherent model of progression across programmes? Are there clearly way-marked sources of student support throughout their studies? Are students using critical thinking and high levels of analytical thought? Are students working autonomously? Do students have opportunities of working together?

17 What does high quality teaching look like? Ten factors: a)Students graduate with good degrees; b)Relatively few students drop out; c)Student evaluations of teaching are good; d)External scrutineers, including Professional and Subject Bodies, are comfortable with the standard of work achieved by students; e)Students are employable at the end of the learning process, and fit-to-practise where appropriate; f)Teachers find the workload manageable, and gain satisfaction from their work.

18 What does high quality learning look like? Our views: g)Students are able to progress from high levels of support to high levels of independence in their approaches to learning; h)Students develop a good tool kit of appropriate skills for learning, including information literacy; i)Students learn flexibly, have high levels of self- efficacy and confidence; j)Teachers and students engage in meaningful learning dialogues.

19 All ten aspects a)Students graduate with good degrees; b)Relatively few students drop out; c)Student evaluations of teaching are good; d)External scrutineers, including Professional and Subject Bodies, are comfortable with the standard of work achieved by students; e)Students are employable at the end of the learning process, and fit-to- practise where appropriate; f)Teachers find the workload manageable, and gain satisfaction from their work. g)Students are able to progress from high levels of support to high levels of independence in their approaches to learning; h)Students develop a good tool kit of appropriate skills for learning, including information literacy; i)Students learn flexibly, have high levels of self-efficacy and confidence; j)Teachers and students engage in meaningful learning dialogues.

20 Prioritising aspects of the student experience In groups, please ‘diamond-9’ the aspects ‘a’- ‘j’

21 Diamond-9: aspects to address regarding the student experience Most important to address Most important to address

22 Thinking about the 21 statements The next few slides contain the wording of each of the 21 statements, in the respective categories denoting particular facets of the student experience. It would be most useful if you help us to select which of these to discuss in most detail.

23 The teaching on my course 1.Staff are good at explaining things 2.Staff have made the subject interesting 3.Staff are enthusiastic about what they are teaching 4.The course is intellectually stimulating

24 Assessment and Feedback 5.The criteria used in marking have been made clear in advance 6.Assessment arrangements and marking have been fair 7.Feedback on my work has been prompt 8.I have received detailed comments on my work 9.Feedback on my work has helped me clarify things I did not understand

25 Academic support 10.I have received sufficient advice and support with my studies 11.I have been able to contact staff when I needed to 12.Good advice was available when I needed to make study choices

26 Organisation and Management 13.The timetable works effectively as far as my activities are concerned 14.Any changes in the course or teaching have been communicated effectively 15.The course is well organised and is running smoothly

27 Learning Resources 16.The library resources and services are good enough for my needs 17.I have been able to access general IT resources when I needed to 18.I have been able to access specialised equipment, facilities, or rooms when I needed to

28 Personal development 19.The course has helped me to present myself with confidence 20.My communication skills have improved 21.As a result of the course, I feel confident in tackling unfamiliar problems

29 Five things HEIs can do to improve NSS scores on assessment and feedback 1.Clarify what students can expect in terms of feedback and stick to what you say; 2.Speed up the turn around of assessed work so that students have time to learn from it before they complete the next assignment; 3.Focus on developmental feedback which concentrates on helping students know what to do to improve; 4.Ensure the language of feedback comments is understandable, helpful and appropriate; 5.Find ways to ensure that students use the feedback they receive.

30 Five things HEIs can do to improve NSS scores on organisation and management Ensure campus signposting is helpful and current; Follow up on student feedback about the course and the university, and rectify problems fast; Whenever issues have been resolved, publicise the remediation so students know you have taken notice of what they’ve said; Publicise the timetable in advance of the students starting the course and, wherever possible, avoid making last minute changes; Never cancel sessions: reschedule instead (and explain reasons for doing this). Consider establishing a texting service to update students.

31 Five things HEIs can do to improve NSS scores on effective teaching Demonstrate to academic staff that you value teaching through promotion and reward structures; Celebrate excellence and disseminate good practice; Ensure that responsive and proactive staff development for learning and teaching is offered throughout the year and clarify what you expect individuals to do; Strongly encourage developmental and supportive peer observation; Adopt realistic approaches to deployment.

32 Conclusions The changes we make to improve the student experience need to be strategic and evidence- based; It is possible to make significant improvements to promote high quality learning, but it needs ownership by staff at every level; Strategic approaches aren’t worth a fig if individual staff don’t embrace the need to improve things; Doing the same things we have always done in the same way we have always done them is doomed to failure.

33 References and wider reading 1 Assessment Reform Group (1999) Assessment for Learning : Beyond the black box Cambridge UK: University of Cambridge School of Education Biggs, J. (2003) Teaching for Quality Learning at University, Maidenhead: SRHE & Open University Press. Boud, D. (1995) Enhancing learning through self-assessment, London: Routledge. Bowl, M. (2003) Non-traditional entrants to higher education ‘they talk about people like me’ Stoke on Trent, UK: Trentham Books. Brown, G. with Bull, J. and Pendlebury, M. (1997) Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education, London: Routledge. Brown, S., Rust, C. and Gibbs, G. (1994) Strategies for Diversifying Assessment, Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff Development. Brown, S. and Glasner, A. (eds.) (1999) Assessment Matters in Higher Education, Choosing and Using Diverse Approaches, Buckingham: Open University Press. Brown, S. and Knight, P. (1994) Assessing Learners in Higher Education, London: Kogan Page. Brown, S. and Denton, S. (2010) Leading the University Beyond Bureaucracy in A practical guide to University and College management (Eds. Denton, S and Brown, S) New York and London: Routledge. Brown, S. (2011) Bringing about positive change in higher education; a case study Quality Assurance in Education Vol 19 No 3 pp

34 References and wider reading 2 Carroll, J. and Ryan, J. (2005) Teaching International students: improving learning for all, London: Routledge SEDA series. Dweck, C. (2000) Self-theories: their role in motivation, personality, and development Philadelphia: Psychology press: Essays in Social Psychology Taylor and Francis. Falchikov, N. (2004) Improving Assessment through Student Involvement: Practical Solutions for Aiding Learning in Higher and Further Education, London: Routledge. Flint, N.R. and Johnson, B. (2011) Towards fairer university assessment: recognising the concerns of students, London: Routledge. Gibbs, G. (2010) Using assessment to support student learning, Leeds: Leeds Metropolitan University. Kneale, P. E. (1997) The rise of the "strategic student": how can we adapt to cope? in Armstrong, S., Thompson, G. and Brown, S. (eds) Facing up to Radical Changes in Universities and Colleges, , London: Kogan Page. Knight, P. and Yorke, M. (2003) Assessment, learning and employability, Maidenhead, UK: SRHE/Open University Press. Marshall, P. and Massy, W. (2010) ‘Managing in turbulent times’ in Forum for the Future of Higher Education, papers from the 2009 Aspen symposium Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge USA.

35 References and wider reading 3 Morgan, M. (2012, at press) Improving and Enhancing the Student Experience- A practical guide, London: Routledge. Newton, J. (2003) Implementing an Institution-wide learning and Teaching strategy: lessons in managing change Studies in Higher Education Vol 28 No 4 Nicol, D. J. and Macfarlane-Dick, D. Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Studies in Higher Education. Northedge, A. (2003) Enabling participation in academic discourse Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2003, pp. 169–180. PASS project: Bradford Peelo, M. and Wareham, T. (eds) (2002) Failing Students in higher education Buckingham, UK, SRHE/Open University Press. Pickford, R. and Brown, S. (2006) Assessing skills and practice London: Routledge. Race, P. (2001) A Briefing on Self, Peer & Group Assessment in LTSN Generic Centre Assessment Series No 9 LTSN York. Race, P. (2006) The lecturer’s toolkit (3rd edition) London: Routledge. Race, P. et al (2009) Using peer observation to enhance teaching, Leeds: Leeds Metropolitan Press. Race, P. and Pickford, R. (2007) Making Teaching work: Teaching smarter in post- compulsory education, London: Sage.

36 References and wider reading 4 Renfro, W. L. and Morrison, J. L. (1983) ‘Anticipating and managing change in educational organisations’, Educational Leadership Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development. Robertson, C., Robins, A. and Cox, R. (2009) Co-constructing an academic community ethos- challenging culture and managing change in higher education: a case study undertaken over two years, in Management in Education Vol. 23 Issue 1. Roxa, T. and Martensson, K. (2009) Significant conversations and significant networks - exploring the backstage of the teaching arena, Studies in Higher Education Vol 34 no 5 pp Rust, C., Price, M. and O’Donovan, B. (2003) Improving students’ learning by developing their understanding of assessment criteria and processes, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. 28 (2),

37 References and wider reading 5 Ryan, J. (2000) A Guide to Teaching International Students Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development. Sadler, D. R. (1989) Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems Instructional Science 18, Sadler, D. R. (1998) Formative assessment: revisiting the territory Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice 5, Wisker, G. and Constable, J. (2005) Fellowship and Communities of Practice, SEDA, Anglia Ruskin University UK. Yorke, M. (1999) Leaving Early: Undergraduate Non-Completion in Higher Education, London: Taylor and Francis. Yorke, M. and Longden, B. (2004) Retention and Student Success in Higher Education, Maidenhead: Open University Press.

38 Thank you… s:


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