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Building partnership and community with students through fostering engagement Colin Bryson, Newcastle University

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Presentation on theme: "Building partnership and community with students through fostering engagement Colin Bryson, Newcastle University"— Presentation transcript:

1 Building partnership and community with students through fostering engagement Colin Bryson, Newcastle University

2 Goals  What is student engagement?  Why it matters  What does SE have to do with relationships?  An example of that student engagement and relationships

3 What is student engagement? SE is holistic and socially constructed  Every student is an individual and different (Haggis, 2004)  Engagement is a concept which encompasses the perceptions, expectations and experience of being a student and the construction of being a student in HE (Bryson and Hand, 2007).  Engagement underpins learning and is the glue that binds it together – both located in being and becoming. (Fromm, 1977)  More than about doing/behaving and quantity  SE is dynamic and fluid  SE is multidimensional, includes student’s whole lives and it is the interaction and pattern that matters not any specific variable – avoid reductionism student engagement and relationships

4 A definition of SE Student engagement is about what a student brings to Higher Education in terms of goals, aspirations, value and beliefs and how these are shaped and mediated by their experience whilst a student. SE is constructed and reconstructed through the lenses of the perceptions and identities held by students and the meaning and sense a student makes of their experiences and interactions. As players and shapers of the educational context, educators need to foster educational, purposeful SE to support and enable students to learn in constructive and powerful ways and realise their potential in education and society. [Bryson and Hardy, 2011] student engagement and relationships

5 Why does student engagement matter? Pre-requisite to powerful learning – the sort of transformational learning that matters in HE (and thus educational achievement) (Perry, Baxter Magolda) Retention and persistence (Tinto etc) Graduate outcomes (Holmes, Yorke, Nicol) A fulfilling student and staff experience! student engagement and relationships

6 Influences on SE – the negative Alienation, inertia/anomie and disengagement (Mann: Krause)  Performativity  Being ‘other’  Disciplinary power  Inertia  Battle between cultures and values student engagement and relationships

7 Key influences on engagement - - positive 1. Student expectations and perceptions – match to the ‘personal project’ and interest in subject 2. Balances between challenge and appropriate workload 3. Degrees of choice, autonomy, risk, and opportunities for growth and enjoyment 4. Trust relationships 5. Communication and discourse 6. A sense of belonging and community student engagement and relationships

8 The salience of relationships Levels – relationships to whom Collective SE – but also participation and partnership (Little et al: Bovill: Healey et al) Student:staff - Integration, belonging and community (Tinto: Kember: Wenger and several others) Student:student – social and affective dimensions in the classroom and beyond (Hardy and Bryson, 2010) student engagement and relationships

9 Engaging students - principles We should: 1. Foster student’s willingness and readiness to engage by enhancing their self-belief 2. Embrace the point that students have diverse backgrounds, expectations, orientations and aspirations – thus different ‘ways of being a student’, and to welcome, respect and accommodate all of these in an inclusive way 3. Enable and facilitate trust relationships (between staff:students and students:students) in order to develop a discourse with each and all students and to show solidarity with them 4. Create opportunities for learning (in its broadest sense) communities so that students can develop a sense of competence and belonging within these communities student engagement and relationships

10 5. Teach in ways to make learning participatory, dialogic, collaborative, authentic, active and critical 6. Foster autonomy and creativity, and offer choice and opportunities for growth and enriching experiences in a low risk and safe setting 7. Recognise the impact on learning of non-institutional influences and accommodate these 8. Design and implement assessment for learning with the aim to enable students to develop their ability to evaluate critically the quality and impact of their own work 9. Seek to negotiate and reach a mutual consensus with students on managing workload, challenge, curriculum and assessment for their educational enrichment – through a partnership model – without diluting high expectations and educational attainment 10. Enable students to become active citizens and develop their social and cultural capital student engagement and relationships

11 A holistic approach to a degree programme – fostering relationships  Combined Honours at Newcastle  Do not share curriculum and there are problematic identities/coherence/equity issues student engagement and relationships

12 Enhancing engagement in Combined Honours Codetermination – deliver the student agenda through empowerment and strong student voice – student led SSC and wider fora Redesign of transition, a new ‘combined’ module, other co-designed modules based on innovation (and assessment for learning) Building community – facilities, shared spaces, social events, awards night etc Peer mentoring and PAL – this group even more than the reps has become the catalysts and the ‘doers’ The outcome is a large group of super-engaged students, high student satisfaction and other strong indicators of student and graduate success student engagement and relationships

13 Conclusions – educational purpose Engaging students is worthwhile Much more about the transformational than transactional Partnership with shared interests vs. conflict with antipathetic interests Trust relationships are at the centre of SE student engagement and relationships


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