Improving Teaching According to the Student Experience
By Jasper Shotts (Principal Lecturer – College of Social Science) – Staff Profile
This blog looks at the role of the ‘Student Consultants Project’ across the university and the effect it has had on the staff and students involved in the process. To find out more information about the Student Consultants Project please visit: Student Engagement Team Page
What is Student Consultants Project?
This project trains undergraduate and postgraduate student volunteers to observe and give feedback to lecturers on an aspect of their teaching practice. Student Consultants might observe a lecture delivery, review how staff assess student work and give feedback or facilitate a focus group to find out about the student experience. This project helps teachers by providing them with impartial student insights and perspectives. Students are recruited from across the University to take part in this project. They are in a position to compare teaching observed with that they have already experienced in their own discipline. In the case of international student volunteers, they can also compare teaching in Lincoln with their previous experience in another international higher education setting.
How have students involved in this project helped me in my teaching?
Working with the Student Consultants project has been dynamic to the way I have developed participatory approaches to teaching within the School of Health and Social Care. It has helped me adjust my methods according to the student experience and to become more skilful in meeting the needs of different student groups including distance and part-time learners, mature students and those with additional learning needs. With such groups in mind, I have developed teaching approaches over the last 5 years in the flipped classroom. Working with Student Consultants has helped me to do this. On many occasions, they have observed and given me feedback on my teaching and assessment practice. I have also involved student consultants in facilitating module evaluations, and also exploring student experience in the flipped classroom.
Following a dialogic and participatory approach, I regularly co-produce teaching and training materials with students. Over the last 3 years, I have also involved Student Consultants and student reps to conference presentations, posters and short film production for 6 pedagogical conferences. For example at the Jisc national meet up in June 2015 I worked with students to produce a film about the student digital experience and co-presented a showcase event. Currently, I am looking forward to taking more students to the next Jisc national meet up to deliver a further showcase event in April 2018.
The particular value of the Student Consultants project is to gain a more impartial student perspective on the quality of teaching in order to understand how further improvements might be made. I also benefit from delivering training to Student Consultants and regular cross-disciplinary interaction with students about teaching. A key element of this training involves getting students to describe their best teaching experiences and working with interdisciplinary groups of students to develop a framework they can use when making judgements about the quality of teaching in another discipline. This work has informed the way I have developed student engagement training with student union and student engagement staff. Training now combines online and face to face elements. It incorporates elements that students have rated most highly in their feedback on teaching they have observed and experienced in the flipped classroom.
The main thing that I have learnt from this process is the added value of working in more equal staff-student partnerships. It yields fresh insights on the student academic experience and provides more creative ways to discern and improve the quality of teaching.
If you would like further information about Student Consultants Project, or would like to find out how you can work with a Student Consultant please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Below are a selection of videos which expand on the benefits of working with Student Consultants as well as a video outlining the Student Constultants programme from a student experience point of view.