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The Student Voice & Partnership project at Reading: Resources now available

Student writing on desk

In January 2019, a new strategic project was established, led by Professor Elizabeth McCrum and latterly by Professor Orla Kennedy, aiming to support Institutional and School-level improvements in promoting the student voice and working with students as partners.  The project team included colleagues from Schools, CQSD, Student Services, MCE, RUSU, PSO and students.

Through four Workstreams, the Student Voice & Partnership project identified and implemented a number of key activities designed to support staff and students to work together in partnership, allowing the student voice to be heard and acted upon.  This project gave us the opportunity to integrate and enact our University strategy by further embedding the Curriculum Framework pedagogic principles regarding partnership working and focusing on the new 2020 -2026 Strategic Plan, Principle 1: Community and continuous reflection through Evaluation & Impact.

Another one of the key drivers for this work was the National Student Survey (NSS) results relating to Student Voice.  In 2018, our NSS results for questions in this section were 7.58% below the sector, with an average of 65.75% of students agreeing with the statements. 

Following a significant amount of work from colleagues in Schools and Functions on a range of initiatives, this year's NSS results have already improved in student responses to all three questions in the Student Voice category:

 

 

2018

2019

2020

 

 

UoR

Sector

UoR

Sector

UoR

Sector

Q23

I have had the right opportunities to provide feedback on my course

80.2%

84.0%

83.4%

84.7%

84.1%

84.6%

Q24

Staff value students' views and opinions about the course

70.0%

75.4%

70.2%

75.6%

73.3%

75.6%

Q25

It is clear how students' feedback on the course has been acted on

47.1%

60.6%

47.7%

60.7%

54.2%

60.6%


Now that the formal project has come to an end, we are pleased to share a number of developments and resources with colleagues which can help support staff to engage in partnership with students, enabling the student voice to be heard.  In addition, training is being scheduled and delivered to help support staff to embed these resources and tools into their regular interactions with students, which will be promoted in the coming weeks and months, and it is hoped this will help to continue to build on these improved NSS results, whilst recognising we have some way to go to meet with the sector average for these areas.

Fostering a sense of community and belonging during the autumn term when students will be attending fewer face-to-face sessions on campus will be especially important and we hope the resources and work carried out listed below will support colleagues to engage effectively with students through online communications and interactions, as well as in person.

-        Student Voice & Partnership online toolkit

A repository for already existing Student Voice & Partnership resources and tools in one place.

-        Principles of Partnership

We have worked with students and colleagues to co-design and develop our University of Reading Principles of Partnership.  This set of principles underpins our approach to partnership working. The accompanying guidance draws upon examples and initiatives being utilised successfully across the University. It unpacks each principle, provides ideas for enhancement, and aims to support students and colleagues to put the Principles of Partnership into practice.

-        Partnership at the University of Reading: A Guide for working in partnership with students

This guide will support you to embed the Principles of Partnership in your practice.  The guidance will be of particular use to colleagues in Schools in this new autumn term and we consider how to nurture a sense of belonging among students across different learning environments.

-        Student Representation Policy model and Student-Staff Partnership (SSP) Groups

As part of the project work, CQSD and RUSU have consulted with students and colleagues across the University to review and update the Student Representation Policy. The revised policy aims to reflect better the roles and responsibilities of the newly named Student Reps, formerly known as Academic Reps, when working with staff to improve the student experience, as well as responding to feedback from colleagues and students for a less prescriptive and more flexible approach. The new policy, which is included in section 4a of the Guide to Policies and Procedures for Teaching & Learning, is accompanied by accessible Student Staff Partnership (SSP) Group guidelines that outline best practice for conducting SSP Groups (formerly known as Student-Staff Liaison Committees (SSLCs)). This guidance includes case studies and quotes showcasing best practice, as well as top tips for organising and running face-to-face, virtual and asynchronous group meetings.

-        Digital Rep Tool "ROSIE"

ROSIE (Representation Online Student Impact Evaluation) is a quick and easy digital tool for Student Reps at the University of Reading to use to help record student feedback in a virtual world and ensure the student voice is heard. Following ROSIE's successful Pilot during the first year of the SV&P project, when over 250 Student Reps were trained to use the tool and more than 293 utilised it over two months in 2019, it has been continued for this following 2020/21 academic year.  Watch here to find out exactly what ROSIE is and how to use it!

-        ‘Student Engagement Guide'

A resource for staff, informed by best practice, to help colleagues foster a sense of community and partnership with students through their communications.

-        Closing the Feedback Loop' guidelines

Student feedback on Teaching and Learning is received via a number of sources including mid-module evaluations, and SSP Groups. Consequently, a staff-facing resource has been developed to help colleagues with responding appropriately and effectively to this feedback. This resource helps colleagues to identify where they might start, as well as ideas for how to enhance current practice.  There are examples of current practice as well as recommendations for working with students to ‘close the feedback loop'.

Additionally, a series of Top Tips on informal light touch evaluations and closing the feedback loop in an online environment has been developed specifically as part of the Autumn Term Teaching resources and can be accessed here.

-        ‘Student opportunities timeline'

This visual timeline has been developed to help students and colleagues navigate the range of student development opportunities available at different stages and times of year across the student journey (UG Part 1, middle years, finalists, and PGT).

-        Programme Evaluation Guidance  

New guidance for Programme Directors which outlines what Programme Evaluation is, why it is important and how you can put the Policy on Student Evaluation of Teaching and Learning into practice for your Programme. This guidance, whilst not mandatory, is recommended as good practice and will help you to align your evaluation with University strategic priorities and provide evidence to meet the needs of other internal and/or external Quality Assurance processes.  Please note that the Quality Assurance Review Steering Group is currently considering student evaluation of teaching and learning and how this will feed into and articulate with the new Enhancement-Led Quality Assurance Processes.

-         Your Reading' webpages on Essentials

Following some interactive workshops to seek student feedback, a number of changes and updates have been made to these pages to support the promotion of student engagement opportunities.

-        Student Reps' Survey

Student Reps' experiences of remote learning in the spring term were captured earlier in the summer via an online survey. The feedback received has been hugely valuable in shaping our Autumn Term Teaching guidance for staff and students.

-        Student Partners

The experience and insight of students is being further harnessed through the recent employment of 65 Student Partners to work with schools in supporting their move to blended learning. The scheme was immensely popular with both undergraduate and postgraduate students, attracting a total of 275 applications!

-        Student Voice Ambassadors

Student Services have recruited 13 Student Voice Ambassadors to ensure student voice is considered and heard throughout all our student communication channels and transition work.  We have ensured that our ambassadors are studying a variety of subjects and include undergraduate, postgraduate, home, EU and international students.  They come from a range of backgrounds to acknowledge our diverse student body and hear a range of views and experiences.  They will be working on writing blog posts, podcasts and social media takeovers, and we will be seeking their views on how we can improve student voice in our communications and engagement work, so will be working in true collaboration.

Further resources and tools are currently under development supporting this work including:

-        A hard copy of the ‘Partnership at the University of Reading' guide

-        A Student Panel - aiming to provide an additional mechanism for engaging with students across the University, working in partnership to enhance the student experience.

-        A pilot for a new approach to recruiting and supporting students involved in producing Student Submissions for Periodic Reviews.

For further information, please contact Em Brady on e.e.brady@reading.ac.uk

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