I‟m proud to launch our first ever School Reports! Our journey to this point started just over 18 months ago with the publication of our Union Plan. Two of our core themes were „Create Change for the Better‟ and „Working with Students‟. At the same time the Students‟ Union received increased responsibility for the Course Rep system and invested in new methods of engagement. However, even with this progress we felt we were still not always able to clearly articulate and evidence the views and experiences of our members to meet the objectives of the Union. School Reports are the product of this on-going journey, designed simply to provide staff and students alike with a regular summary of what students as a collective are saying about their experience at UCLan. This will ensure the University and the Students‟ Union are both in touch with the student voice at Course and School level. Based on the previous semester, School Reports will provide analysis of the Union‟s „Question of the Month‟, in which we collect student feedback on pre-determined questions set by the Union or School and identify recommendations for change. Furthermore, each report will provide regular updates on activity such as Course Rep Recruitment and Training, Student-Led Teaching Awards nominations, Student‟s Council and other engagement activity such as course societies. Going forward, I hope these reports continue to develop and welcome any feedback you may have on how we can improve them (more details can be found at the end of the report).
Course Rep Recruitment
Course Rep Training
Student-Led Teaching Awards
Question of the Month October
Question of the Month November
Course Rep Recruitment This year marked the second year in which UCLan Students‟ Union carried out course rep recruitment. We supported this process by attending lectures, sending recruitment guidance to all course teams, and activity at our Freshers‟ and Volunteering Fairs; where we spoke to students about the importance of the role and the benefits of getting involved. For the first time this year we began recruitment for some returning cohorts in April of last year. This allowed us to balance the scale of the process, while providing courses and Schools the opportunity to utilise key volunteers and champions to support local induction activity. This was done on a course by course basis with recruitment delayed until September where for example a cohort receives a substantial number of direct entry students. We typically spend between 4-6 weeks prior to each recruitment phase working with School Offices and Course Teams to inform them of our responsibilities and organise recruitment. Once their details are collected or shared with the Union all Course Reps receive a welcome email which includes our training dates and the Course Rep handbook. Course Rep Recruitment 2013/14 To date, UCLan Students’ Union has recruited 1,259 Course Reps, compared to a yearend figure of 1,248 last year. Further by the end of Teaching Week 6 we recruited 1,228, compared with 1,008 last year. Details of recruited Course Reps are sent to School Offices and Course Leaders regularly and we constantly work with colleagues to identify courses without recruited representatives. In the School of Journalism and Digital Communication we have recruited 88 (91%) course reps out of 97 calculated positions available, compared with 90 (97%) out of 93 positions being filled last year. As shown in the table below almost three quarters of Course Reps were in place and known to us by the end of teaching week 3 with strong involvement from the School in April recruitment and during Induction Week.
After April Induction Teaching Teaching Teaching Teaching Teaching Teaching Recruitment Week Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 5 15 19 0 12 12 10 16 4 Table One: Recruitment of Course Reps for the School of Journalism and Digital Communication by Teaching Week
Analysis of this by course shows we experienced positive engagement from a majority of courses within the school, with Film and Media BA (Hons), Photography BA (Hons),Screenwriting BA (Hons) and all postgraduate courses, with the exception of Film Production – MA, filling all Course Rep positions before the end of teaching week 3. This is a result of high levels of engagement during the April recruitment period and during induction week.
There were a few courses that had still not contacted the union in regards to the allocation of representatives after the first few weeks of the semester. In attempts to engage with these courses we worked alongside the Student Experience Lead and School Admin Officer in tracing the course leaders to help promote available Course Rep positions and where needed clarifying any miscommunication. As a result by the end of teaching week 6 the majority of those which required extra correspondence had fully recruited including; Web Multimedia BSc (Hons), Media Production and Technology BSc (Hons), Journalism BA (Hons), Film Production BA (Hons) and Television Production BSc (Hons). That being said, there are still a number of courses that, despite attempts to contact the course leaders, we have failed to get a response from, thus these programmes of study continue to lack student representatives for their course. The courses we have failed to have correspondence with are; Sports Journalism - BA (Hons) year 2 & 3 and Media Production and Technology (Combined) - BSc (Hons) year 2 (withdrawing), Film Production – MA and Journalism (Combined) - BA (Hons). We have also at the time of writing had on representative resign the role and are yet to find a replacement despite attempts.
Course Rep Training This year the Union has continued its long tradition of providing training to newly recruited Course Reps and as a result we delivered seven initial training sessions throughout October and November. This package was also adapted so that it could be utilised in the training of Course Reps at our partner institutions. As a result of feedback we introduced two returners briefings for those Course Reps with previous experience of the role. The one hour session is designed to remind students of the role, provide them with relevant updates and give them an opportunity to share feedback of their experiences in the role thus far. Additionally we delivered training at the Burnley Campus as well as over 50 one-to-one sessions for Course Reps who found attending scheduled sessions problematic. We also provide all Course Reps with access to a resource hub on our website which provides variety of resources created by the Union and National Union of Students‟ (NUS). Course Rep Training 2013/14 To date, UCLan Students’ Union has trained 732 (58%) Course Reps compared with 657 (53%) last year. This increase in both percentage and numerical terms recognises the improvements we have made based on feedback from Course Reps last year. We have also seen an improvement at the rate in which training has been delivered with 626 Course Reps having received training as of the end of Teaching Week 7 compared with 541 last year.
In the School of Journalism and Digital Communication we have trained 45 (51%) of course reps, up from 41 (46%) last year, thus indicating a slight increase. Of those that are untrained the majority were recruited after Teaching Week 5 which instils the importance of early recruitment where possible.
Student-Led Teaching Awards
This year marks the 5th year in which UCLan Students‟ Union has organised and delivered Student-Led Teaching Awards. We will be continuing the success of last year with the We Heart U and Golden Roses Awards. The We Heart U Award is available throughout the calendar year and allows students to nominate staff for „moments of excellence‟ via the Students‟ Union website. Where successful the Education Officer or Union Representative, alongside School or Service Management visits the recognised staff member to present a "We Heart U" Certificate which is filmed and shared at the Golden Roses award evening in April. So far during the first semester we received 60 We Heart U nominations from students across all schools and services of which 6 winners were chosen. There were no nominations chosen for an award within the School of Journalism and Digital Communication however 3 nominations were received and are copied below: Name Fiona Steggles
Reason(s) for nomination Fiona consistently has engaging and stimulating lecturers, feedback from the majority of peer course members is that they really enjoy them and we leave feeling like we have learnt well and happy. I had John as a lecturer through my BA and now in my MA and he consistently gives of himself to his students with all his passion. He helps students not just to get the grade but to produce work their proud of through his gentle guidance and enormous knowledge of the subject he teaches. His lectures are just as lectures should be, full of ideas, passion and learning. A place where every student is recognised and respected. I know he has carried on at his high level of teaching despite anything that could be happening on the course with changes or with his own personal life.
Deborah Robinson is a determined course leader and lecturer who has done more than anyone else to try for all Journalism students to benefit from their course and from their university experience. The fact that she cares enough to go beyond the average lecturer and spends so much of her time to ensure that all students understand everything and they have work placements that will benefit their future should be commended! Overall she is an excellent teacher and of great value to the university and should be recognised for this.
The Golden Roses is a (traditional) Student-Led Teaching Awards evening which we have organised for five years. In recent years it has operated with eight award categories (due to be increased to eleven this year). The Awards follow a format which sees a nomination period, selection panel with inclusion of a University Staff Member and a celebration event. This years Golden Roses will be held on the 2nd April at 6pm in 53 Degrees.
UCLan Studentsâ€™ Union achieves HEA and NUS Teaching Awards Success UCLan Studentsâ€&#x; Union, in partnership with Myerscough College and Runshaw College has been chosen as one of twenty-five unions to participate in the national Student-Led Teaching Awards project. The collaborative project organised by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and National Union of Students (NUS) provides unions with funding and support to develop sustainable, impactful and innovative student-led awards. The Union proposal particularly focused on developing our already successful awards around the theme of partnership with members, local partner institutions and colleagues across the university. The proposal will see the Union supporting Course Reps at both Myerscough and Runshaw Colleges to organise their own local awards and celebration events. The Union will also utilise nomination data, union research and best practice in a seminar event to be held May 2014. The event will focus on the three aims of the proposal, namely to enhance academic quality, improve service delivery and showcase local award development.
Question of the Month As part of the new School Reports project we have introduced a „Question of the Month‟, where we focus on talking to students. Each month, we will have one or two questions set by the Union, School President or School Management. During the first semester we have managed to speak to almost 2,500 students and are thankful to courses that have let us come and talk to their students. October We launched the project in October by asking over 1300 students about their experiences. Students were firstly asked to rate to what extent they agreed with the following statement: “The information and guidance given to me during this academic year’s induction/introductory lectures has positively prepared me for the year ahead”. Students were then provided with an open text comment box to explain their choice. While the question was open to students own interpretation when asked to clarify the question we asked students to focus on how lectures had prepared them for the year ahead. This included assessment schedules and marking criteria, learning outcomes as well as general information about the knowledge and learning they were expected to develop during the year ahead. Following this, students were asked using a multiple choice question to prioritise three choices in response to: “What makes excellent teaching for you?”. Students were given 13 options which included the ability for them to add their own choice under “Other (please indicate)…”. Induction Question We received 1,305 responses of which 26 were for the School of Journalism and Digital Communication. The results can be found below, broken down by institution, school, year and programme.
Strongly Strongly Total Disagree Unsure Agree Unanswered Disagree Agree Responses 33 103 162 783 210 14 Institution 1305 (2.5%) (7.9%) (12.4%) (60.0%) (16.1%) (1.1%) 1 3 1 18 3 1 JDC 26 (3.8%) (11.5%) (3.8%) (69.2%) (11.5%) (3.8%) Table Two: Responses by Institution and School of Journalism and Digital Communication
Year 0/ Year 1 Year 2 Foundation 21 395 376 Institution (1.6%) (30.3%) (28.8%) 0 6 5 JDC (0%) (23.1%) (19.2%) Table Three: Response split by year
296 (22.7%) 11 (42.3%)
28 (2.1%) 1 (0.3%)
189 (14.5%) 4 (16.4%)
Total Responses 1305 26
Response split by Programme In total students from 11 programmes of study responded with the largest number of respondents studying Photography (5), Film Production (4) and Sports Journalism (3). Despite having a relatively small number of responses for each programme of study we obtained feedback from a wide spread of courses across the School of Journalism and Digital Communication. Comment Analysis Student feedback from the School of Journalism and Digital Communication was overall positive with the induction week at the beginning of the semester. Many students felt it made them feel comfortable and gave them the chance to meet fellow peers on their course. There was however a variety of responses regarding the amount of information some students felt they received with a couple of students identifying that the format in which the induction was being delivered became more of a socialisation opportunity than an informative welcome. “It was good because it was clear, informative and useful. However it was not delivered in an interesting way, more incentives for attendees needed.” MA International Journalism “More of a social event than an induction. Very fun and friendly, but not informative.” MA Publishing “Very good induction, Clear and understandable.” 3rd Year, Interactive Digital Media That being said, a majority of responses indicated that the induction week provided them with a solid understanding of what to expect in the forthcoming year. Some students also highlighted that their induction was beneficial because it covered a wide range of aspects of university life. Students that received an induction left with an increased confidence in what is to be expected of them throughout the year and of the support offered by the School. “Knowing what was coming ahead allows me to plan what I will be doing in advance.” 3rd Year, Film Production “Feel confident that I will be given all the help I need to get the best grade I can this year.” 3rd Year, Sports Journalism
“Everything from student life to the course, modules and tutors was covered.” 1st Year, Photography “I know what I am being assessed on in the future.” 3rd Year, Journalism An overriding number of students confirmed receiving some form of induction at the beginning of year. However some returning students claimed not to have received any sort of a distinct induction and even when they did that it didn‟t provide a satisfactory level of information on the challenges they faced that particular year. “They gave you information but bare minimum.” 2nd Year Sports Journalism “Didn't get any, would like one to forward my understanding.” 3rd Year, Film Production “Very vague, not too helpful.” 3rd Year, Film Production We have noticed that returning, top-up, direct entry and postgraduate students across the institution report different practice when receiving induction. As a result they often feel they are expected whether because of their level of study or previous experience to hold a similar knowledge to others. Recent NUS and QAA research, Student Experience 2012, identifies that the induction process at all levels should be seen as continual throughout a students‟ course of study and not at the beginning of undergraduate study.
Great Teaching Question A second question for the month asked students to prioritise three aspects of teaching and learning which they believe best captures excellent teaching. The table below shows comparative results for the Whole Institution and the School of Journalism and Digital Communication.
Aspect of Teaching
#2 #2 Stimulating, informative subject matter (12.9%) (18.1%) #3 #4 Activities to reinforce what has been taught (12.6%) (11.1%) #10 #7 Bullet points presented on Powerpoint slides (3.7%) (2.8%) #3 #7 Information relating to industry and the working (13.9%) (5.5%) world #1 #1 Lecturer who is passionate and knowledgeable (22.4%) (19.4%) #6 #7 Hand-outs available prior to lectures (8.4%) (2.8%) #9 #7 All lecture information presented (4.2%) (2.8%) #11 #8 Further reading recommendations (2.9%) (1.4%) #12 #9 Lecturer moving around the lecture theatre (2.3%) (0%) #8 #5 Use of digital media to further understanding (5.0%) (9.7%) #5 #6 Stimulating discussion and debate (9.2%) (6.9%) #4 #4 Active student participation (10.6%) (11.1%) #13 #10 Other (0.4%) (0%) Table Four: Comparative results for the Whole Institution and the School of Journalism and Digital Communication
November In November we handed over the question setting to Deans and Associate Deans of School where available. The School of Journalism and Digital Communication asked students to rate to what extent they agreed with the following statement: â€œMy course is well organised and running smoothlyâ€?. Students were then provided with an open text comment box to explain their choice. While the question was open to students own interpretation where requested they were specifically asked to focus on the systems and processes which underpin their academic experience. As result, themes raised by students included timetabling, course structure and organisation, course content, communication, support, assessment and feedback and placements. We received 61 responses to the School of Journalism and Digital Communication question. The results can be found below, broken down by school, year and programme.
Strongly Strongly Disagree Unsure Agree Unanswered Total Disagree Agree 0 12 9 36 3 1 JDC 61 (0.0%) (19.7%) (14.8%) (59%) (4.9%) (1.6%) Table Five: Responses by the School of Journalism and Digital Communication Year 0/ Year 1 Year 2 Foundation 19 10 11 JDC (31.1%) (16.4%) (18%) Table Six: Response split by year
Response split by Programme In total students from 8 programmes of study responded with the largest number of respondents studying Journalism (37) and MA Magazine Journalism (9). Comment Analysis Returning students have expressed increased satisfaction with the organisation of the School of Journalism and Digital Communication in comparison to their experience in previous years, which in turn has increased course enjoyment by a majority of students. Although a large number of students have recognised a marked improvement there have been a few individuals, largely those on joint courses, who have identified a slight drop in organisational levels. The reasoning for this appears to centre on specific courses rather than the school itself.
“My final year has been organised and enjoyable however the first two years were slow and less productive.” 3rd Year, Journalism “Course is unusually clear and organised but sometimes clash with each other and time management can be difficult with too much pressure.” MA Magazine Journalism “Wasn’t organised in 1st/2nd year, as a result I didn't enjoy the course. Much better in 3rd year which made me enjoy it!” 3rd Year, Journalism “All lectures and workshops are planned thoroughly and the Advanced Broadcast Sports Journalism module is very enjoyable and provides great experience.” 3rd Year, Sports Journalism “Seems less organised this year, lecturers often late or cancelled and coursework seems unstructured.” 2nd Year, English Language and Journalism “Tutors are well organised and offer a great module plan to enhance learning experience.” 2nd Year, Media Production and Technology A concern that has been raised by a number of the students we spoke to was timetabling issues. Although some students identified the positive effect online timetabling has had, a handful of students that found the timetable incompatible with course based activities and academic responsibilities. It was further noted that some days that have a large amount of contact learning hours fails to incorporate breaks to the annoyance of some. The NUS Charter on Organisation and Management recommends that the needs of student should take high priority in timetabling decisions and institutions should aim to devise a timetable that takes into account students need to travel to on from campus or placements locations keeping Wednesday afternoons free for sport, activities and representation. “Timetables make it difficult to fit in work outside of university and to get to places for events and interviews for assignments. Communication between lecturers is poor.” 3rd Year, Journalism “As well as online timetable we are also emailed weekly which includes any guest lecturers/other changes. We have guest lectures from industry every week!” MA Magazine Journalism “Some lecturers need to explain assignments better and give students a break on Thurs not have 9am-6pm with no break scheduled!” MA Magazine Journalism
Students appear generally satisfied with the level of communication between staff and students, with only a minimal number of students expressing concerns. These concerns typically centred on communication between staff resulting in confusion and contradiction particularly in relation to timetables and assessment deadlines. “Parts are [organised] but there seems to be a lack of communication between some modules.” 3rd Year, Journalism “Feel as though the modules aren't communicating with each other on workloads/timetables and deadlines.” 3rd Year, Journalism “Hard to get hold of some of the lecturers, lack of clear information on deadlines, overlapping lectures and no breaks on timetable.” MA Magazine Journalism Continuing from above, assessment is an area of particular concern for many whether it is through bunching, delays in feedback or students simply feeling unprepared because of a lack of information. While these are not reported as a widespread issue within the School and further is shown by recent NSS results to be an area in which the School is working proactively in improving. There is adequate evidence to ensure the school does not become complacent on such a crucial aspect of the academic experience. “Have deadlines for most modules around the same time and a lot of modules are repetitive of last year and unnecessary.” 3rd Year, Journalism “Unsure of assignments for some modules, a lot of work not being marked and returned.” Foundation, Journalism “No issues, assignments are explained in detail.” Foundation, Journalism “Mostly clear and organised but a lot of deadlines together. Feels like they clash with each other and sometimes means we are a little unprepared for them.” MA Magazine Journalism The NUS Charter on Course Organisation and Management states that assessments should be staggered throughout the term and academic staff should work together to ensure deadlines are evenly spread to allow students sufficient time to complete them and receive feedback.
We recognise at the Students‟ Union SU that organisation and management is often a topic which covers a variety of themes as shown above. Organisation and management underpins the entire academic experience and can often directly affect students‟ ability to learn. As highlighted above the National Union of Students provides a variety of charters and resources which highlights and recommends best practice when it comes to specific themes often highlighted by students. All of these can be accessed at request of the Students‟ Union. High-quality organisation and management at its most basic facilitates positive relationships between staff and students by eliminating unnecessary points of conflict and dissatisfaction.
Recommendations 1. Ensure that course organisation and management is communicated consistently at all levels in a timely, open and honest manner.
2. Review assessment schedules within the School to ensure assessment deadline are staggered throughout the term to allow students to have adequate time to complete them and receive feedback. The School should be able to demonstrate this clearly for all modes of study and cohorts.
FINALLY… If you have any comments on this report or its contents, or if you would like more information do not hesitate to contact:
Adam Bland (Education Officer) Telephone: 01772 894855
Martin Dodd (Advice and Representation Manager) Telephone: 01772 894865