The Reading Rep Issue 8
Summer is Coming Hands up if you‟ve had enough of exams and are looking forward some sunshine, music and good vibes at Summer Ball? We certainly are! This month we‟ve been kept busy with RUSU Says Relax and have a fantastic photo feature on P3-4 for you to feast your eyes on. From adorable baby goats to not-so-cuddly but super cool snakes, there was something for everyone at this year‟s mobile and reptile zoos! This issue, we‟re pleased to introduce our new feature Your Say on P3 which is making a debut to The Reading Rep pages, packed with your thoughts from the Impact Survey and home to our star letter winner. Let us know what you think and you could pick up a prize next month! Plus, don‟t forget our back page profile with Graduate Teaching Assistant Dina Ghanma - discover what makes her tick on P10! Join us for a Starbucks (on us!) at Café Mondial and answer our fun quiz to be in the next issue.
Meet the team Hi! As exams come to a close I hope you take this time to reflect on all the amazing work we've done this year! From securing exam feedback, de-bunching exam timetables, slashing hidden course costs and ensuring the 15 working day turnaround is being met! I would also like to take this time to remind you that all the services in the SU and university will still be running over the next few weeks (and throughout the summer). This means you can access the RUSU careers service, our housing, finance and academic advice, visa advice etc as normal. Finally, we'll be running a few events in the lead up to the General election this June, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for that!
Niall Hamilton, Education Officer
Victoria Bundy – Academic Rep Manager I hope revision is going well and plans of summer celebrations are coming together! We‟ve had a productive few weeks; running Student Forums together with the University and TSEP (The Student Engagement Partnership). We‟ve been exploring methods to improve student engagement in quality review processes at Reading and what „Student-Staff Partnership‟ means to you. We love hearing about your experiences... Have you been collaborating with teaching staff to improve your programme? Think there is room for improvement? Let us know and you could be our next Star letter!
Emily Bartholomew –Academic Rep Coordinator We want to say a HUGE thank you to all our wonderful Reps who filled in the Impact survey (make sure you keep an eye out to see if you won an Amazon voucher!). We exist to provide you with a quality representation system and want to know if you guys are happy. Because of this your feedback will be the driving force behind our future projects. Look out for more on the survey next issue! Till then, as always, the door is open to all of you if you want to pop in and chill with the team or have a chat about anything.
Hannah Smithson – Academic Rep Coordinator I am super excited about this issue of The Reading Rep! This month we‟ve interviewed some of our Excellence Award winners on camera. Find out what UoR staff make of teaching and learning with thoughts from lecturers and links to videos on P8-9. We‟ve also managed to successfully launch our new feature Your Say and have had you writing in to tell us your success stories as Academic Reps. This is just what this page is for so keep those emails coming! I also couldn‟t stop laughing out loud when speaking to Dina, our back page profile – she‟s hilarious – well worth a read.
Have a nosy at other Reps inspirational stories and find out how you can share your experiences
When I was first elected as a Course Rep for Zoology I had my doubts over how much influence the position would hold. I've held similar positions before in student representation throughout college but often had limited success - this time, however, I was impressed by how seriously peers and senior staff took the role. In the year I've been in the position I've been able to implement some really positive changes, which I will be able to use the experience from to ensure I employ a successful approach to my new positions next year as Biological Sciences School Rep and Environment and Ethics Officer. The changes I've encouraged this year have been a result of multiple surveys and polls, as well as a close liaison with the other reps and UoR staff. We have been able to refine the way the school offers animal dissection alternatives, making it more inclusive for students that do not wish to take part in dissection. If all goes to plan, as soon as September of next year there will be video resources of dissections, which will allow for people to opt out of dissections and still have access to the information. I'm really happy with the progress we have made this year. Two of my lecturers have been excellent and always very polite and helpful when we meet with them in our SSLC meetings. Overall, very pleased!
Kyle Smith, Biological Sciences Course Rep and School Rep elect 17/18
“Being an Academic Rep! It has helped me grow as a person and made me realise that even small efforts are valuable to others in ways I would not have thought previously.” ~ Anon. Feedback from the Impact Survey 2017
WHAT YOU’RE SAYING ONLINE “I‟ve loved having a „behind the scenes‟ experience as a rep and being more involved with RUSU and my school.”
……………………… “I have discussed this role during interviews. It has strengthened my application.”
……………………… “It‟s been a wonderful experience and I wish I had become one earlier.”
GET IN TOUCH academicreps @rusu.co.uk
WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR NEWS AND VIEWS Facebook.com/Acade micRepresentation
RUSU, Whiteknights, Reading, RG66AZ
“We‟ve been working hard this term to make RUSU Says Relax the best it‟s ever been – from puppies to chocolate fountains, there‟s been something for everyone. We‟ve given away over 250 free breakfasts to students across campus and handed out 2000 booklets containing de-stressing tips and advice this term. It hasn‟t been easy organising a campaign on this scale, but the great feedback we‟ve had from students has made it all worth it. We hope each and every one of you has had a chance to get involved! Personally, my favourite event to organise was the Mobile Farm. Who wouldn‟t want to spend the day chasing baby goats around trying to take pictures of them? “Our last big event for RUSU Says Relax is the Tapas & Sangria Night on Friday 26 th May from 8pm in Mojo‟s Bar. Whether you still have exams or you‟re lucky enough to be finished already, I‟m sure this will be a great event to bring a couple of housemates to after another long week.” ~ Josh Lang, Campaigns and Democracy Coordinator
Did you know? spent time 72 students with puppies in the Puppy Room got up 300 students close and personal with snakes at the Reptile Zoo
Calling all School Reps! School Rep training is on the 30th & 31st May from 1-3pm in the RUSU Boardroom – please arrive promptly. A buffet lunch will be provided!
Don‟t forget to register to vote by the 22nd May to have your say in the election on June 8th
RUSU Says Relax Timetable Friday 26th May – Tapas & Sangria Night – 8pm, Mojo‟s Bar Tuesday 30th May – Hydration Station – All day, Outside URS Building
RUSU Excellence Award winners on COLLABORATION in teaching and learning
Dr Maddi Davies is a Senior Tutor and Lecturer in English Literature and endorses proactive student contribution
We talk a lot about teaching and learning at Academic Representation HQ, but what exactly is the essence of it and how do the people that „teach‟ work together with those who „learn‟? Off the back of the Partnership in Teaching and Learning Showcase, an event we run annually as a result of the RUSU Excellence Awards, we spoke to winners Dr Maddi Davies, Dr Irute Daukseviciute and Mr Patrick Holmes to find out how they see teaching and learning in genuine collaboration… MADDI SAYS: “Teaching isn‟t a simple matter of just downloading information and delivering information and learning isn‟t just a matter of students passively absorbing. University is all about knowledge and knowledge is best developed and exercised in collaboration. It has to be an active experience and genuinely it always has to be a partnership between the teacher and student. It‟s one of the reasons why I don‟t like hierarchies in teaching or
“I think it’s fair to say my students teach me as much as I teach my students” formality because we are all in it together. Maddi explains that the academic rep system is very useful in highlighting when and where teaching falls down and learning becomes hindered: “The course reps are a conduit for us, they can talk
to us about student opinion, that I don‟t think we would always know about. Sometimes you can sense that there might be an issue but meeting regularly gives a formal space for ideas to be shared and it allows us to act, so they [course reps], are very important indeed, particularly in the Staff Student Liason Committees – there we can take real action.” With the backdrop of rising tuition fees, Maddi explained:
“I think students should be more vocal. If they feel that they‟re not being fully supported in their learning, it‟s absolutely right that they should say. Also on behalf of the University there is a willingness to act, to enhance programmes, to do better at every stage and it does help to have that feedback to generate those improvements. I don‟t think there is any hesitation that we want to develop but you do need to have that reminder.”
Make sure you check out our full video interviews with Dr Irute Daukseviciute and Patrick Holmes @ rusu.co.uk/ representation
As we grow older, maybe we think we‟ve done all the learning we can do. But, some at Reading University see learning as a lifelong art that is modernising with the times as „student‟ and „teacher‟ evolve together. Old School to New Tech IRUTE SAYS: “It‟s all about cocreation today, so we do things together. We are no longer here to come and teach the way we were taught, I try and modernise my teaching with tech. The students are adding value and we‟re always welcoming feedback.
Dr Irute Daukseviciute is the Programme Director for Masters in Marketing at Henley Business School and advocates teaching in more modern ways with tech and virtual learning
“Students are contributing just as much as us sometimes in terms of ensuring a positive learning experience” Skills test It is much more about students building important skills nowadays; analytical thinking, critical thinking, communication skills, leadership skills etc. When you become a course rep you have the chance to develop all those skills because you do have to represent student voice and you have to be able to stand up for yourself and for other students on issues which can be challenging. Building relationships Last summer I remember talking on Skype to a prospective student – she
Patrick Holmes is the Student Support Coordinator for the school of Humanities. It‟s his role to answer any questions or help with problems that students have; academic and pastoral. Patrick believes partnership is essential for staff to check how they‟re doing and for students to help improve their education.
was naturally quite shy. Eventually, when she came to study she became a course rep and I witnessed her become a totally different individual because we went through different things, both positives and resolving issues. I was very proud to see her grow in confidence and be able to debate and discuss proficiently. Positive impact I really want to make a difference. It‟s not about how many hours I work, but if I can make an impact or contribution to a students learning experiences – that‟s my biggest achievement.”
How do you see teaching and learning as a partnership?
Is the rep system beneficial to both students and staff?
PATRICK SAYS: “I think being at University is more about giving an opportunity to someone to investigate. From my own time at University that‟s certainly how I felt, so perhaps providing the gateway to interests and learning skills that will serve you for the rest of your life. Supporting students is something I feel very passionately about. I encounter a lot of students with mental health issues, physical health issues and other general problems. It‟s great to see them succeed and it‟s great to help them.”
“As with the awards, the departments I work with and I‟m sure everywhere in the University take the rep system very seriously. You see this in the Student Staff Liason Committees where the staff are always keen to get the feedback and to know what the students think – to try and improve and develop. We want to provide you with a good education and we want to make you successful but we also want to listen to what you want.”
„It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.’ ~ Aristotle
MY FRIENDS WOULD DESCRIBE ME AS... On the positive side, I‟d say rational, reliable and funny. On the negative, maybe pedantic *see-no-evil-monkey-emoji*
Sharing a coffee with… Dina Ghanma Morning or Evening? Evening Summer or Winter? Winter-Christmas nuff said Kittens or Puppies? Kittens Netflix or Nightout? Netflix Tea or Coffee? Coffee By Train or by plane? Train Essay or presentation? Presentation Mojos or Mondial? Mojos
BIGGEST DAILY INSPIRATION... Something that inspires me every day? Knowing that I can go back to sleep at the end of it? Just kidding – the faith my family, friends and mentors have in me. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST ACHEIVEMENT: Probably graduating top of my Bachelors class with a 90%. MOST INSPIRING READ… I actually hate reading (is a TA allowed to say this?), but I usually like articles by Dr Travis Bradberry on emotional intelligence. SOUNDTRACK TO MY LIFE... Really difficult! Every day has a different vibe, but at the risk of sounding morbid, Billy Joel‟s Vienna. PET PEEVE Hmm… maybe bragging/humble-bragging/attention-seeking GUILTY PLEASURE Mainstream TV shows. Currently obsessed with Gossip Girl. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO? Short-term, I can‟t wait for a Euro trip with my family. Long-term, completing my PhD! WHICH FAMOUS PERSON FROM THE PAST WOULD YOU SHARE A COFFEE WITH? Any intelligent, powerful woman – Marie Curie and Margaret Thatcher are the current names coming to mind. MY MAIN GOAL FOR THE NEXT 5 YEARS IS… Again, completing my PhD. PSST… I‟m looking to learn French, so if any native speakers are free over the summer, hit me up!