Course Reps wanted:
The opportunity to address students as a course rep within teaching time so they could reach more students A mechanism which enabled them to show students the impact their feedback could have. A system which guaranteed them an answer to the feedback they gathered. The chance to make change for students early in the module. A system to see what past course reps had feedback and what actions were taken.
The opportunity to provide feedback at a time when changes could be made to impact their student experience, not just for those in future years. To be able to express their thoughts in a student-only space that was during regular teaching so as not to compromise their other commitments. To have a feedback area where they can see what was submitted and what actions were being taken. To have a guarantee that their feedback would be answered.
A Case Study from SEC Sharif Farah and Henrietta Arasanmi The Process 1. Course Representatives in SEC pair-up and take responsibility for a module. Each pair attend a session in the module during a designated week early in the teaching block. This is usually a module they would normally attend. 2. During the module the course representatives select a time when they feel the most students would be present (for some it may be at the beginning or just before a scheduled break). The staff member leaves the room to create a student-only space. 3. One partner asks students to identify things they like about the module and things they feel could be improved. The other partner notes down what is said. 4. The pair then determine the top three positive and the top three suggested improvements and submit them to an online blog. 5. The module leader is asked to respond to the post within one week of submission. 6. This blog is accessible to students but editable only by module leaders and course representatives. It is also archived, so course representatives can see what feedback was presented in past years beginning 2013-2014.
Can be complicated in assigning modules. Is not always delivered consistently across modules. Takes a lot of staff buy-in. Relies on all course reps attending their allocated modules. In the first teaching block conflicted with gathering feedback for SSCCs. The blog system took a while to set up and wasn’t available first teaching block.
This Early-module feedback system:
For more information on the SEC Early Module Feedback system contact Michelle Morgan, SEC Learning and Teaching Coordinator at: email@example.com.
Allows early feedback at a module level, students can see change happening. Creates early links with Course Representatives. Students can see the Course Representatives working. Students can see their feedback has made an impact and will be more inclined to give more feedback to the Course Representative. Students can see what has been said in the past and why some changes have been made.
Course Rep Congress During KUSU Course Rep Inductions, KUSU did a survey to find out why students became Course Reps. One of the most popular responses after helping fellow students was to meet with other course representatives. KUSU has been working to build a community with course representatives. Feedback from course representatives and senior course representatives said they wanted the opportunity to meet, to discuss and to work together to make change at the university. From this feedback KUSU and the Senior Course Representatives have set-up a Course Rep Congress. Modelled after several similar structures at other universities, KUSU’s Course Rep Congress is a hybrid of conference and forum. It aims to provide a student-led, student focused space for course reps to discuss ideas and issues and be innovative in their approaches to the student experience.
There will be two workshop sessions in between plenaries on a range of issues including:
Assessment and Feedback
Course Representatives and Student Engagement
Communicating with Students
The event will start with lunch and should provide the opportunity for course reps to meet and mingle.
The opening plenary will host a panel discussion with PVC Education Professor Lesley-Jane Eales-Reynolds, Dean of Students Bruce Armstrong, KUSU VP Learning and Teaching Rita Serghis, and KUSU Non-portfolio officer Denza Gonsalves. The topic will focus on the panellists reflections on the 2012-2013 academic year and the changes each have brought to their respective areas.
It will be held on March 16 , 2013 at Knights Park from 12:00-5:00pm.
The final plenary session will hear from each workshop and ask course reps to discuss how KUSU should bring their ideas and issues forward to improve the learning experience for students at Kingston University. We will also welcome the newly elected KUSU VP Learning and Teaching to speak to the congress.
These workshops will be delivered by KUSU Senior Course Reps, Student Officers and student officers from other unions who are exploring similar issues (for example Birmingham City University Students’ Union). Each will aim to develop a set out outcomes which can be presented in the congress report to KUSU which KUSU hopes can be delivered to the most appropriate venue at the university.
The Course Rep Congress will develop a final report which will be delivered to KUSU Student Officers. KUSU Student Officers will take the information from the congress to the most appropriate venue at the university.
For more information on other similar events at other universities see: http://www.strathstudents.com/congress http://www.leedsmetsu.co.uk/
From the survey of course representative fears, worries and frustrations conducted during course representative inductions the top two answers were that as course representatives they would not be listened to and their feedback would not make a difference. During faculty meeting in the summer of 2012 KUSU introduced the Feedback Action Map. This action map was designed to encourage staff and course representatives to inform students of where their feedback had gone and what was changing as a result.
The important elements of the Feedback Action Map were: To keep a list of what actions were
agreed To allocate them to a person that course representatives (or staff) could follow-up with To have a clear method to record when changes were made To make sure every action was answered, even when something could not be changed, to ensure students built trust in the course representative system
Some have adapted an action tracker at the bottom of minutes, which is updated online so course representatives can have one place to check–up on the actions from meetings.
Making it clear to course representatives where they can find the answers to the feedback they have collected is a vital part of the feedback system. Informing course representatives of what has happened to their feedback increases their confidence in the system and encourages them to participate more fully If course representatives know where to find the actions taken easily they are far more likely to communicate that information to students. Students often do not provide feedback to the students (number one frustration for returning course representatives during the Course Rep Induction Survey) and course representatives have suggested this is because they don’t know where their feedback goes, or feel their contribution can make an impact. Showing actions taken, or providing reasons why actions cannot or have not been taken can make a
In SSCCs and Faulty Forums Andy Gibson and Denza Gonsalves Students responded:
Student Chairs were:
Supported by the Learning and Teaching Coordinator.
Senior Course Reps who received training in how to chair and had attended SSCCs in the past.
Chosen as a pair so they could support each other.
Introduced to the staff in the room so they could direct course representative comments where appropriate.
Provided with feedback to improve their chairing skills.
Student Chairs could:
Be paired with a staff member as a co-chair to give support and boost confidence.
Play a role in setting the agenda.
They felt confident in the ability of the chair to be fair and consistent. They noticed a change in the atmosphere to more of a dialogue. They felt equal to the chair and that encouraged them to speak. They liked the way the chairs responded to their ideas and issues.
I felt a different atmosphere in the room with a student Chairing. It felt more like a conversation, like a dialogue, then an exercise. - Andy Gibson
Top Tips for selecting a student chair:
Student Chairs should be confident speakers as they will need to respond to each person in the room.
Make sure the student chair is organised, has a copy of the agenda in advance, and is familiar with the forum they are chairing (SSCC, Faculty Forum or Board of Study)
Choose a chair who has shown themselves to be fair and just, and who has shown respect for the opinions of both students and staff.
Select someone who has often suggested ideas and opinions as they will know what it is like to present these to a room of students and staff. They will also understand the issues students are bringing forward.
Make sure your chair has undertaken Senior Course Rep Meeting and Chairing training. Feel free to send them to KUSU for a re-fresher session before the meeting.
Pair your student chair with a staff chair for support before, during and after the event. The staff chair can be a great mentor to the student chair and it increases partnership.
For more information: Michelle Morgan, SEC Learning and Teaching Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org Andy Gibson: email@example.com Denza Gonsalves: firstname.lastname@example.org
The SLTAs will incorporate many different categories of achievement in recognition of the myriad of activities academic staff undertake in their learning and teaching roles. Staff will be awarded on the practice they undertake and students will be encouraged to define what practice enhances their student experience in learning and teaching. This might include practice related to technology, assessment, employability or researchled teaching and more.
Similar schemes have been created at other HEIs and proven so successful that the NUS and the Higher Education Academy are encouraging universities across the UK to establish Student-led Teaching Awards.
STLAs will allow students to have their say on what good teaching looks like and to reward members of staff that have gone the extra mile. Students will nominate staff across categories set by the student body. Nominations will then be assessed against the student-set criteria and the winners will be presented with i-pads at an event scheduled for 2nd May. Details of the process will be made available through KUSU web pages.
ADC and KUSU have been following best practice set by the NUS/ HEA pilots to create the 2013 Student-led Teaching Awards, including creating a mascot "Dave" Cougar, who will be giving staff his PAW of approval to all nominees.
Course Reps Gathering Feedback Email
KUSU Course Rep Postcards
Course Reps in SEC have access to the course code-based email system on outlook. By changing permissions on who can use these codes, course reps can send emails to all those on their course to encourage communication, gather feedback and let students know what impact their feedback has had.
New for 2012-2013 – KUSU has created a feedback postcard which course reps can use to gather feedback in lectures or small group teaching. These postcards have graphics on the front which encourage students to think about the different areas of their student experience they could engage with for the feedback process. On the back is a large open space where students can write their ideas and issues and include their course name or code.
How did they do this?
Found the person responsible for those permissions within the faculty. This will usually be an ISrelated person or academic administrator.
Provided a list of course reps who could use each code and the above person changed the permissions.
Worked with KUSU so any student who misused those codes would be subject to KUSU Student disciplinary procedures.
Explained the email system in induction and via handouts and digital information on the SEC Course Rep section of the KUSU website on how to use the system and what not to use the system for.
Encourage a Course Facebook Group Many students use social media to communicate and facebook can be a place where students feel comfortable providing feedback for course reps. It can also be used as a great communication tool where the faculty wants to share events and opportunities with students via peer contact. While not all students are on facebook many are, and keeping the site up-to-date will encourage usage for those who regularly visit facebook. How did they do this?
Set up a Facebook group for Business Students.
Invited a select few faculty staff.
Kept the group up-to-date with feedback questions, responses to feedback and upcoming events and opportunities.
Made sure new students were added each year.
Created business cards with the group information for course reps to hand out to other students.
Linked to Student Quality Circles so big changes could be more representative.
Course Reps have delivered these in large sessions, introducing them in the first few minutes and asking for them to be returned to the front of the room at the end of the session where the course rep will collect them. They have brought these postcards to SSCC with a more representative view of the ideas and issues of their peers. KUSU has ordered 15,000 postcards and there are 4000 left in the KUSU Offices. We are happy to post them out to campuses for course reps to collect. Contact Joy Elliott-Bowman, KUSU Student Voice Coordinator, for more information: email@example.com
PARTNERS IN COURSE REPRESENTATION
KINGSTON UNIVERSITY COURSE REPRESENTATIVES Course reps are elected / nominated each year in weeks two and three. Each faculty has different rules for numbers of reps and the process they are selected by. Faculties maintain full responsibility for the course reps structure within their faculty.
Both these surveys are discussed at the Staff Student Consultative Committee: This is done informally midway through a This is done by a formal survey at the end module of each module
These are usually conducted at the school level. All course representatives should attend . They meet with staff who teach on their course to discuss ideas and issues.
A group of course reps who have been a rep for at least a year. They mentor current course reps and attend university-level meetings, focus groups and more. They are nominated by themselves, their faculties or other reps each year.
KUSU has primary responsibility for training course representatives through the Student Voice Strategy. This year KUSU embarked on the Course Representative Enhancement Project which has seen KUSU take a greater role than the strategy envisioned.
These are held at school level and often have student representation from course reps and senior course reps. They will discuss school issues as well as student feedback.
Done differently in each faculty, these forums collect faculty-wide student feedback. Some focus just on non-academic issues. Some limit the number of reps who can attend. Often representatives from university departments attend.
National survey of student satisfaction completed annually by final year students all over the UK.
This university-level committee is new this year and replaces several other committees. Many ideas from course representatives are brought to this committee by KUSU student officers, three of which sit on this committee.
One board per faculty. Most have student representation which is either a course rep or senior course rep. They meet at least twice a year.
Highest academic decision-making body at Kingston. Two KUSU student officers sit here. Eventually all student feedback will come here.
SADRAS: Research for Change Student Academic Development Research Associate Scheme What is SADRAS? A new project for 2012/13 Kingston University Students’ Union in partnership with Kingston University Academic Development Centre (ADC) providing students and staff with the opportunity to work in collaboration to strengthen learning and teaching at the University.
Projects will be presented in a poster event in April
SADRAS offers these opportunities: Paid employment for students to work in equal partnership with faculty staff To strengthen and improve the learning and teaching development of the University. Invites students and staff to identify educational development projects in which students will play an active role.
Paid employment for students to work in equal partnership with faculty staff
SADRAS overview Both staff and students were invited to initiate and consider particular issues which they were interested in researching. These ideas may have arisen from Staff Student Consultative Committees or other formal student consultations but may also have been provoked by individual thoughts, ideas and experiences. Successful projects demonstrated how students would be active partners in the project and preference was given to those proposals that were developed in partnership. KUSU & the Academic Development Centre are extremely proud of this scheme and the potential it offers to staff and students alike. To date the scheme has gained significant interest from the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA) in their joint project on student engagement as well as the Association of Registrars’ Council (ARC). Up to £1000 of student paid work was made available for each project with projects reporting in April and ending by July.
27 projects funded in 2012-13
In addition to paid employment, students gain many different opportunities while working with their staff partner: The chance to positively influence aspects of the student’s course and the student experience Experience of running and working on projects and their impact, dissemination and evaluation Transferable skills such as time management, team working, academic writing, and project management
Opportunities to develop skills through workshops
Promoting the 2013 Survey I became an NSS Ambassador because I wanted to help my faculty use the information from NSS to improve the student experience for students in FADA. Through KUSU I learned of how the National Student Survey gathered the views of students before me, and how the university used that information. I welcomed the opportunity to become involved in this process and applied through the Senior Course Reps to become an NSS Ambassador.
NSS Ambassadors Morwenna Treleven My NSS Ambassador Experience—NSS Party At our training KUSU introduced the option of an NSS Party as one of the ways NSS Ambassadors could help other students understand the survey. I wanted to hold the party to:
Let students know what to expect
Show students how NSS results were used
Give students a chance to discuss their experience before completing the survey
NSS Ambassador Training
In January we attended a session with KUSU and Rachel Gale from the Vice Chancellor’s Office. During the session we explored:
I felt that if students could learn what I had learned as an NSS Ambassador about the survey and how important the information was, they would see their role in a very different way.
What is the NSS Survey? National survey with local and national impact
How is it delivered on a national and local level?
What information was Public? What information went to the University and Students’ Union?
How did the university use NSS Results?
What was the new Question 23 on the Students’ Union?
We also looked at past results and I was surprised to see that our figures were relatively comparable with institutions across the country for main scores. This led me to think more closely about the individual questions as well as the comments as areas to consider for discussions with my faculty.
Change attitudes to the survey – students completing because they wanted to, not just to win a prize.
I was able to hold my NSS Party with final year students on my fashion course. It was a great success and we achieved a 95% response rate within the first two weeks of the survey, the highest response in the history of NSS at the university. I was determined to make it to 100% and am still searching for those 2 missing responses. I feel the session was a success for a number of reasons:
It was held during studio hours – We were able to hold the session in the studio just after we completed our work.
It had an informal atmosphere – We had subway and drinks which made everyone feel comfortable discussing NSS. The refreshments made everyone more relaxed and no one felt pressure to get the survey over with, they all felt they could dedicate the time to the survey.
Everyone had their own device – students used smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc., to go through the survey in their own time but still during the session.
We had a student only space – The students felt comfortable exploring the survey together. They chatted with each other and asked questions about what people thought parts of the survey were asking. We all chatted about our experience in first and second year, which made it easier to look at the survey on a course-level.
The presentation delivered – this gave students the chance to think about NSS and the questions in context before completing the survey.
A large part of the session outlined our role in getting 2013 final year students to complete the survey and provide results for next year’s NSS Ambassadors to work with. While I had not considered the importance of this part of the role, I was able to quickly realize the link between high return rates and good quality information within the responses. I felt my role as NSS Ambassador was just as important for the marketing of the new survey as it was for helping my faculty to interpret the results from the past survey. I decided I would aim for a 100% return in my subject area.
Meeting Faculty Staff In the second part of the training session we had the opportunity to meet with staff from our faculty and discuss the results. We explored:
Why some results were high and others low.
Our comparisons to other subjects and to other universities.
What solutions could we offer as reps that might improve the student experience and in turn student satisfaction.
I felt that I was really making a contribution to how our faculty used the information from NSS and left the meeting feeling positive about our discussion with our faculty staff members.
I enjoyed holding the NSS party and hope to have the opportunity again in the near future. I understand that my subject area still has a low response and I want to be able to bring the other courses up to the high rate for Fashion.
? s p e R e s r u o C r What are Senio
s who p e R e s r u o C e r a s p e Senior Course R ll fu e n o t s a le t a r fo le have been in the ro th an o b n w o h s e v a h d n a academic year r e h t r fu e t a ip c ti r a p o st t ability, and an intere cts e p s a y t li a u q g in h c a e in the learning and t tion. u t ti s in r o / d n a y lt u c of their school, fa ools, h c S , s e lti u c a F y b d e They were nominat ly p im s e m o s d n a , s p Re KUSU, other Course s. volunteer themselve
Senior Course Representatives What do Senior Course Reps do? Senior Course Reps have performed a number of roles and formed a pool of students who:
Acted as a representative link between the school/faculty they studied in and KUSU
s e ti i v ti c a p e R e s r u Senior Co
up o r g a o t d e it v in e r e Senior Course Reps w r la u c ti r a p ir e h t d e s s asse o ls a h ic h w y a d g in in tra took r e d n u s R C S e h t s le o r skills. As the various s a w it , le ib x e fl d n a e rs have been both dive would d e t a in m o n e r e w o h expected that most w eps R e s r u o C r io n e S . y a nt w take part in a differe ulty c fa n o g n itti s in t s e r inte that have shown an s e e itt m m o c r e h t o r dy o forums, boards of stu ith w d n a n o ti a lt u s n o c close in ly n o o s e n o d e v a h s p e R e s r u o C e h t d n a culty fa t a h t f o l a v o r p p a e th who form the SSCCs.
Assisted the faculty/school and KUSU with the induction, support and training of other Course Reps Acted as the main group for Learning and Teaching related feedback through KUSU and encouraged other Course Reps and students to take part in feedback forums and learner voice activities.
With further training, served as the main pool for selection of student representatives to board of study and faculty forum meetings as well as other Learning and Teaching committees which required student representation.
With further training, served as the main pool for selection of student representatives to Internal Subject Review Panels. Senior Course Reps formed a group of engaged and passionate students that would naturally participate in other Kingston University projects such as Student Academic Development Associate Research Scheme (SADRAS) and projects which were a result of the Review of the Academic Framework or Academic Development Centre activities. KUSU has worked to engage Senior Course Reps in Learning and Teaching campaigns.
Example Opportunities: Internal subject review student panel member
Focus group facilitator
Course rep induction facilitator
Faculty board of study student member
Student-led teaching awards selection panel member
Focus group participant
University working group student member
Staff development workshop assistant
SSCC / faculty forum chair
ADSAP: Academic Development Student Advisory Panel 2010/11: Who? Why? ADSAP is an autonomous panel made up of black students from across the university. It was created by Morris Marah (student) and Michael Hill (Director, ADC) to act as a spring board for ideas and to guide the research and actions ADC would undertake on attainment and retention of Black and Minority ethnic students. September 2011: Kingston University visit the University of North Carolina Charlotte Aim: To explore how UNC Charlotte bridged the attainment gap between Hispanic and African American students with their white American counterparts. Who went? ADSAP, Student Ambassadors, Widening Participation team, Learning Technology lead, ADC director, Learning and Teaching Development head.
What did ADSAP learn from the trip?
Continuous intervention is needed; not just pre-entry outreach or in the first year, but throughout entire time at university Variety of academic support mechanisms are required, to meet the need of various cohorts It’s okay to tailor support based on ethnicity and gender; wherever there is lack of representation and/or attainment All heritages are celebrated; when we visited there was a Hispanic women’s exhibition in the Students’ Union A strong university community feel and identity is key There must be a conscious institutional decision to address attainment gaps between different demographics
March 2012: Higher Education Academy Retention+Success ‘What works?’ conference ADC+ADSAP presented facilitated a workshop on ‘Why black students fail?’, which presented some of the research ADSAP did on the life of BME students at KU. The rest of the conference was incredibly insightful, especially for ADSAP as it was the first time we were attending and taking part in a national learning and teaching conference. It was great seeing so much goes into shaping higher education, but it was unfortunate to see that those on the frontline (lecturers) were not there to see the ideas and research first hand.
What’s next for ADSAP? Currently exploring research ideas into equipping BME students with soft skills for success, mapping the experience of support services + creating a learning and teaching toolkit created by students for their course teams.
Capturing + supporting the student voice The ideas in the boxes are examples of how to achieve the following aims: Ability to contact all reps at once Visible presence of course reps Recognised institutional support of the course reps and the representation system Including reps in the decision making process
Understanding how to create effective policychange
[diagram courtesy of NUS Policy workshop] PROBLEM
Course Rep Week; to occur post-induction training 1. Reps are given their Course Rep handbook with induction training dates and a commitment leaflet on the cover by their lecturer in class when elected. 2. Post-induction course reps are given a three question survey to ask students + given a week to speak to as many students as possible across their course + beyond, with possible incentives. They must use a variety of methods, with an emphasis of face-to-face contact so students get to know who they are across the institution.
A) To help them ease into the transition of speaking to students they do not know + gives them a conversation starter B) To help them identify key issues at the beginning of the year + have evidence C) It can help form the agenda for the VP Forums and Student Staff Consultative Meetings + Faculty Forums
Example questions: 1. What do you like that the university is doing?
2. What do you not like?
Vice President Forums Monthly forums led by the VP Learning and Teaching Topics are decided beforehand It allows for focussed discussion on either urgent issues or on something which is a recurring topic. Course reps can suggest topics or one can be chosen, but by giving two weeks notice then reps have the opportunity to get student feedback The discussions in these forums will then form the course rep conference sessions This will be part of a separate structure to the
3. What would like to do?
Reps Week is mainly a GOATING (Going Out and Talking) and GOALING (Going Out and Listening) exercise to build confidence, increase recognition of course reps and to engage both students and reps in representation from the very beginning. Course Rep Conferences—November and March
Student-Staff General Assemblies at Kingston University Think of a better name? Let the VP L+T know your ideas @KUSU_LearnTeach
Guest speakers e.g. PVC Education, NUS, other Student Unions, HEA, other institutions Skills workshops determined by course reps needs and main issues within each school
Sessions sharing best practice within the university and external, to equip reps with the knowledge to take back to their schools (similar to external learning and teaching conferences) To have a plenary session on Quality Assurance processes including moderation, double marking, external examiners, how final grades are agreed; as this process is quite opaque to students
The Philosophy department have created student-staff assemblies which form departmental decisions. The decisions range from learning and teaching to resource availability and more Course Reps have fed back that the SSCC structure does not allow them to be co-decision makers, but limits them to play the role of the complainer We are currently learning more about similar structures in other areas We are working on ideas on how this can occur in more departments; what are the advantages and disadvantages If you have any ideas or know of good practice at KU or else where please let Laura or the VP L+T know
Report of the conference and forums will then be created for each school, which will go to the SSCCs, Faculty Forums, Faculty Board, Board of Studies and Academic Board
These ideas are examples from the University of East London Students’ Union. They also run the Course Rep System in partnership with their institution. For further information on any of these ideas please speak to Laura John (Senior Course Rep) or Rita (VP L+T). UEL: http://www.uelunion.org/ Yusouf Joondan, Student Voice and Activities Manager
Other ideas Course Rep Module on timetable to ensure all reps can attend induction and skills sessions, so they can fit in their responsibilities alongside their studies without compromising their studies or their role Course reps to have access to their course list to contact their colleagues Course reps to have access to creating forums on BlackBoard Course reps to conduct
Course Representation System + the Future 2012/13: Enhanced Inductions
783 course reps
37 are from Kingston College
3 are from Richmond upon Thames College
An additional 23 are non KU students who study at Kingston College
46 are Senior Course Reps
A focus on: Skills, concept of representation, meeting etiquette + procedures, effective feedback
The new course rep inductions were designed to give students a foundation in the skills and key concepts they would need to be an effective representative, such as diplomacy, the application of representation and constructive feedback. It also covered faculty specific information such as faculty structure and support, the format of Student Staff Consultative Committees, Board of Studies, Faculty Forum, what an Agenda is, how to submit agenda items and minutes. The first skill explored was networking - being able to speak to students you may not know well. This was done via a speed meeting exercise, where course reps were asked to find out why others had decided to be course reps and what change they would like to see at KU. These questions had two purposes: 1- to show reps they are part of a larger community of changemakers 2 - to uncover that most of the desired changes are widely felt and can campaign together rather than alone. The second skill explored was how to give effective feedback. The A, B, C, D, E of feedback is A - accurate, B - balanced, C - constructive, D - depersonalised, using all elements result in E - effective feedback. Reps were particularly surprised when realising the potentially negative effects personal language can have as often the use of pronouns slips in at SSCCs & informal meetings and can come across as confrontational. The rest of the session was made up of group activities discussing how reps could create change, which University structures they would use and how they would present students’ issues and solu-
What did everyone think...? Course representatives in the previous years have fed back the need for skills sessions as they felt under-equipped to do their job well. This year there are now skills workshops available throughout the year which reps have chosen and 1:1 support is offered to all reps. So far we have hosted a public speaking workshop, how to make feedback work and presentation skills in association with the KUSU Entrepreneurs Society. There will be a time management workshop, a repeat of public speaking and presentation skills due to high demand.
Where to go from here? Must work on the democratic process; elections, decision making, representation; not every rep is elected in, some modules names are picked out of a hat or the lecturer picks her/his favourite students. Course Reps being more than a mouth piece; research & influence, example of Philosophy department; the Philosophy department has created a student-staff decision making committee where they actually decide how the department is ran! This is completely organic and has occurred outside of KUSU. I am currently, trying to speak with the students to try and get this to happen in other departments. Continue to develop course rep induction. My ideal would be like the democracy camp featured on Al Jazeera (references below).
The Future To increase representation on each course My ideal structure would be this. As you can see there is student representation on every level. With adequate training, there is no way students could not be listened to. The aim is to Ideal Course Rep have a solid body of students who can conduct research into learning and teaching in their areas which is overseen by the Learning & Teaching committee (L&T Committee) and conducted by the Faculty, School & Course Reps. This would enable a bank of feedback and research which reps can use in SSCCs (student staff consultative meetings) and Faculty Forums. This could also create a foundation for campaigns and really the Led by Learning Strategy where it can actually be led by students and learning from students.
To have students taking part in faculty, school, course & module decision making (related to the ideal structure). To create an identity for Course Reps, so they can be the point of reference for students Course reps have suggested ideas such as having hoodies or badges, to create a clear visual identity. Joy had an idea for creating a Course Rep module on the timetabling system and a section on Blackboard; we are talking to the Timetabling group about this. To equip all students (initially reps) with an understanding of the university system, democratic processes & how to make change A documentary titled ‘Democracy Camp’ from Al Jazeera on how group of youth workers have decided to equip students with the understanding of the democratic process of making change. All students who took part were from areas where the Arab Spring occurred. The democracy camp was created to aid in helping them deal with the aftermath and to create the type of society they would like to see, which is representative. Throughout their time at the camp, the facilitators created conditions which would cause them to protest and want to change. They simulated oppressive state rules and rules they did not agree with. Some examples are, only 4 hours of sleep, no junk food such as crisps or fizzy drinks anywhere on the camp and to have some really mean camp leaders. They also created the conditions for splits in the movement, to help them realise the reality of creating change. Throughout their time at the camp they keep video diaries or have a camera following them. If a modified University version could be developed for every single student it would be transformational! When you get a chance, do watch it, it is incredibly insightful using the QR code.
How’s it been? It’s been really good. Students have given really positive feedback and criticism when necessary. Previous Course Reps have stated that this year’s inductions have been much better and they no longer feel as if they are being left to figure out their role and now know where to get support. Faculties have also fed back informally, that course reps are a lot more confident and prepared this year. However, there have also been some not so good experiences of staff towards students. For example, a course rep was not allowed in to a meeting with their department lecturers to discuss the issues students were experiencing on their course. Academics have sent rude emails to course reps who have been doing there jobs when bringing up issues. Overall, there has been a vast advancement of the student voice but there is still a way to go in establishing the student voice in the minds of staff by creating a clear structure within departments where reps take part in decision making, as opposed to fulfilling a tick box exercise of simply having reps.