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 Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences we have recruited 47 (100%) Course Reps out of 47 calculated positions available, matching last year’s statistics, which were 34 (100%) out of 34 filled positions. It is worthy recognition that the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences is one of only 5 schools within the institution that has achieved 100% recruitment.
After Induction Teaching Teaching Teaching Teaching Teaching Teaching Week Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 5
15 3 4 0 1 3 10 11 Table One: Recruitment of Course Reps for the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences by Teaching Week
Generally we have had a positive response from course leaders within the school in assisting us in the recruitment of course reps and had all available positions filled by the end of teaching week 6. Approximately half of these were filled at the end of week 3, which in comparison to the other schools demonstrated the School of Pharmacy of Biomedical Sciences was initially slightly slower in filling all course rep positions.
Course analysis indicates that we had an especially good engagement from students studying Biological Science BSc (Hons), Biomedical Science BSc (Hons) and Physiology and Pharmacology BSc (Hons) during April Recruitment for returning students. These courses had all 2nd and 3rd year rep positions filled before the beginning of the new academic year.
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 returner’s 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 Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences we have trained 29 (62%) out of the 47 course reps, which in percentage terms is relative to the 22 (65%) out of 34 course reps that attended training last year. Our data has shown that returning course reps and those who are student representatives for postgraduate programmes of study are initially lacking in attendance to the returners briefing we have introduced although delayed recruitment beyond Teaching Week 3 is also seen to contribute across the institution. However it is worth noting that we have noticed that returning Course Reps throughout the university tend to be harder to attract to training although we hope the introduction of the returner’s briefing will result improved attendance rates in future years.
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 have received 60 We Heart U nominations from students across all schools and services of which 6 winners were chosen. There were no nominations received for the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences during this period. We will be working closely with the School Office over the next semester to increase nominations for both awards and welcome any staff members that support 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 Students’ Union achieves HEA and NUS Teaching Awards Success UCLan Students’ 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 130 were for the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. 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%) 3 15 13 86 12 1 PBS 130 (2.3%) (11.5%) (10.0%) (66.2%) (9.2%) (0.8%) Table Two: Responses by Institution and School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences Year 0/ Year 1 Year 2 Foundation 21 395 376 Institution (1.6%) (30.3%) (28.8%) 0 28 44 PBS (0%) (21.5%) (33.8%) Table Three: Response split by year
296 28 (22.7%) (2.1%) 25 14 (19.2%) (10.8%)
Unanswered 189 (14.5%) 19 (14.6%)
Total Responses 1305 130
Response split by Programme In total students from all 11 programmes of study participated, with the largest number of respondents studying MPharmacy (87), Biomedical Science (20), and Physiology and Pharmacology (8). Comment Analysis Most of the students that we received feedback from expressed a positive response to the level of induction and information presented to them at the beginning of the year. Students felt the experience was particularly efficient in aiding them to prepare themselves for the forthcoming year, especially in terms of course content, expectations and where to find support for academic and personal issues. It was also noted by some first year students that having extracurricular activities signposted to them during induction week was highly beneficial in showing students the variety of opportunities on offered by the university.
“The introduction gave us information about the modules, and contains things we may not be aware of including attendance, online assessments and dates we may need to keep free.” 2nd Year, MPharmacy “I was given enough information to start my course in a professional manner. I was able to join clubs to boost my CV.” 1st Year, MPharmacy “Great info was provided, and help and advice available throughout.” 1st Year, Healthcare Science “Information given was very useful as it outlined the modules, coursework, exams etc.” 3rd Year, MPharmacy “[It] was nice to know what to expect for the year to prepare and plan my work” 2nd Year, MPharmacy “Provides you with an insight of what is required throughout the year of study and what target level we should be at.” 4th Year, MPharmacy Students also gave a range of responses in relation to academic staff. A majority of first students highlighted the support and approachability of staff members, however there were a few returning students who identified an uneven balance in the standard of induction they felt they received, with some module leaders being every informative and supportive whilst others not. “[There were] a lot of introductory lectures. Lecturers are reassuring and friendly.” 1st Year, Physiology and Pharmacology “Staff are very supportive.” 1st Year, MPharmacy “It’s not been very clear, lecturers when asked don't know what the module holds, and they only know what they teach the students.” 3rd Year, Physiology and Pharmacology “Some lecturers included introductory lectures which told me the overview of the modules e.g. assessments however others did not include introductory lectures.” 2nd Year, MPharmacy “Some tutors do not explain it as well as others can be confusing.” 4th Year, MPharmacy
There were also concerns raised over the amount of information students were presented with during their induction. It was noted by some students that they struggled to process the volume of information given, especially by those who only had their induction condensed into one session. “I felt much unprepared in the transition to university level with lots of information being given and not then being able to make sense out of the info.” 1st Year, Healthcare and Biomedical Science “Too much detail within one lecture.” 1st Year, Biological Science “We certainly did not have a lack of information; however it was a lot to take in.” 1st Year, MPharmacy “There was too much information given out in the space of 1 week and it was chaotic. Induction lectures collided with SU activities and fairs.” 2nd Year, MPharmacy Furthermore it was identified by some returning students that they felt as though they did not receive the same level of induction as in previous years. A few students recognised that a lot of the material and information they were presented with at the beginning of this year was the same as in previous years of study, which was not seen as particularly effective in supporting them in the new challenges they will face in the new academic year. Comments also noted that some students returning to study after a year away have found difficulties adapting to new changes that had occurred within the institution that they had not been made aware of by staff. According to the NUS Charter on Academic Support, inductions should be an on-going process throughout a student’s time at university as they go through a different journey each academic year which poses different personal and academic challenges. These students should be made aware of the continuing support systems available by the institute to assist them with any new problems they may face. “Not so much of an induction for 2nd year - only a 1hr induction.” 2nd Year, MPharmacy “They basically just talked through module handbooks and things from first year that we already knew.” 2nd Year, Biological Science “Everything was repeated from first year introduction.” 2nd Year, MPharmacy “There was not a great deal of info for a student returning after a year out - it was difficult as changes had been made e.g. SAM.” 2nd Year, Physiology and Pharmacology
Lastly a concern raised by a number of returning students was the lack of information provided on assessments at the beginning of modules in terms of the different forms of assessment and deadlines. However this was only an issue concerning some, as other students have commented stating they feel that they were offered sufficient information regarding assignments. “One module failed to provide a proper outline of what assessments we had for the year ahead.” 4th Year, MPharmacy “Mostly everything was explained well however I was left with a few uncertainties regarding assessment strategy - this info could be found in module booklets however.” 3rd Year, Biomedical Science “Tutors did not give any clear guidance on timetabled assignments [such as] when everything was due.” 4TH Year, MPharmacy “We were given good information about the year and assessments.” 3rd Year, MPharmacy “All the key dates and deadlines were provided; the breakdown of each module was done in detail.” 2nd Year MPharmacy
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 Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences.
Aspect of Teaching
#2 #4 Stimulating, informative subject matter (12.9%) (12.3%) #3 #2 Activities to reinforce what has been taught (12.6%) (14.6%) #10 #8 Bullet points presented on Powerpoint slides (3.7%) (3.9%) #7 Information relating to industry and the working #8 (5.5%) world (3.9%) #1 #1 Lecturer who is passionate and knowledgeable (22.4%) (20.1%) #3 #6 Hand-outs available prior to lectures (13.9%) (8.4%) #9 #5 All lecture information presented (4.2%) (11.3%) #11 #10 Further reading recommendations (2.9%) (2.9%) #12 #11 Lecturer moving around the lecture theatre (2.3%) (1%) #8 #6 Use of digital media to further understanding (5.0%) (6.5%) #5 #7 Stimulating discussion and debate (9.2%) (5.5%) #4 #10 Active student participation (10.6%) (3.6%) #13 #12 Other (0.4%) (0.6%) Table Four: Comparative results for the Whole Institution and the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
November In November we handed over the question setting to Deans and Associate Deans of School where available. The School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences asked students to rate to what extent they agreed with the following statement: “My course is well organised and running smoothly”. 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 process which underpin their academic experience. As a result themes raised by students included timetabling, course structure and organisation, course content, communication, support, assessment and feedback and placements. We received 89 responses to the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences question. The results can be found below, broken down by school, year and programme.
Strongly Strongly Disagree Unsure Agree Unanswered Disagree Agree 0 6 9 58 15 1 PBS (0.0%) (6.7%) (10.1%) (65.2%) (16.9%) (1.1%) Table Five: Responses by the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences Year 0/ Year 1 Year 2 Foundation 0 32 35 PBS (0%) (36%) (39.6%) Table Six: Response split by year
Response split by Programme In total students from 6 programmes of study participated, with the largest number of respondents studying MPharmacy (56), Biomedical Science (16), and Pharmacy (11). Comment Analysis A significant proportion of students appeared content with the level of structure and organisation of the school, individual courses and modules. Themes identified by students relating to organisation included the practicality of information provided by staff and their preparation of lectures. A number of students felt course content and information is relevant to their respective courses and that staff effectively utilise online services to provide information prior to lectures. There were also a few students that responded positively to course structure in terms of offering a variety of learning environments, enjoying the range of lectures, workshops, seminars and practical’s.
“At the beginning of the year it was not well organised but it is now and last 3 years have been good too. Very good 'new' university to provide a pharmacy course.” 4th Year, MPharmacy “My course is well structured and organised. I am provided with a range of different topics each week in every module which is always made as interesting as possible.” 1st Year, MPharmacy “Well organised, always on time and useful info is always given.” Unknown, Biomedical Science “Classes and lab practical’s all run smoothly and connect together very well. Lecturers give great lectures and everything is going great so far. So far, so good!” 1st Year, Biomedical Science “Lecture power points [are] provided in advance, help offered if required, optional drop in sessions scheduled, overall well-structured so far.” 2nd Year, Biomedical Science “Some modules are unorganised - took a few weeks for students to understand their work/deadlines. Other modules are going well and content and structure is clear.” 4th Year, MPharmacy “Course runs according to the module handbook, made aware of any changes. I know what deadlines I have [and] what dates they are due. Lectures and tutorials complement each other very well.” 2nd Year, MPharmacy One theme that was highlighted in our feedback was the positive response received from students in relation to improvements in the timetable, with only minimal concerns. Most students appear satisfied by the online availability of their timetable and comments have indicated that a large majority of allocated contact time runs according to the timetable and that students are made aware of any changes promptly. The few concerns that were raised, primarily focused on the inability of teaching hours to not effectively make the most of the day where for instance students are only in for a small length of time. “It is organised in some modules but really unorganised in others. Our timetable changes sometimes in the last minute.” 4th Year, MPharmacy “The course runs smoothly however it is clear that the timetabling is done on computer as it often makes no logical sense.” 3rd Year, MPharmacy
“Everything is going well, the timetable is good and there is no pressure. Assignment times can be a bit tricky, other than that everything is great!” 3rd Year, Biomedical Science “The classes run according to the online timetable and whenever there is a change we are informed by email beforehand.” 4th Year, MPharmacy “Understand most things set, lectures/timetabling works well, lecturers put a lot of effort in.” 2nd Year, MPharmacy “Lectures all start on time. Central timetabling [are] not very good.” 3rd Year MPharmacy “Layout of the timetable is unorganised (a lot of wasted days only using 1hr in a day for 1 lecture).” 1st Year, MPharmacy Additionally most students have indicated that the academic staff within the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences are knowledgeable and appear to enjoy teaching their subject. As revealed in October’s question of the month, being passionate in your subject is what student’s feel best constitutes excellent teaching, thus staff who communicate this through their lecturers enhance a student’s course experience. “Passionate teaching, great tutorials - you are not just a 'number'.” 1st Year, Biomedical Science “The lectures are well thought out. The structure of learning topics is very efficient and we have good module leaders.” 1st Year, Biomedical Science “Lecture notes are usually on blackboard with reasonable time to print etc. Lecturers put effort in and are interested in what they teach.” 2nd Year, MPharmacy “Lecturers, admin and support staff members are all brilliant and as expected.” 1st Year, MPharmacy It is worth noting that a couple of students have expressed concerns over poor levels of communication between modules within the school. Feedback has indicated that some students feel this means sometimes the same information is repeated in different modules and it has also been noted this can be problematic when it comes to deadlines. A small number of students have further expressed experiencing issues in not knowing how to access personal and academic support as it has not been told to them by staff members, which can be detrimental to their learning experience.
The NUS Charter on Organisation and Management recommends assessment deadlines should be staggered throughout the term and departments should work collaboratively to ensure assessments are not bunched at specific times of the term. “There is a lack of communication between modules leaders on my course. Each module runs smoothly but they should speak to each other so they can help manage our workload as they all think their module is the most important.” 2nd Year, MPharmacy “In general [it is organised] but some of the modules could be more co-ordinated with no repetition.” 2nd Year MPharmacy “Sometimes it is not clear who to go to when we have particular problems academic/personal support etc.” 2nd Year, Biomedical Science It was also identified that certain students are continuing to experience issues with receiving sufficient assessment information. Additionally, as previously mentioned a lack of communication between modules leaders have left some students feeling deadlines are not spread out evenly across the semester. It was further identified by a handful of students that a lack of clarity in assessment information can result in difficulties understanding what is required from the various types of assessments they are asked to complete. The NUS Charter on Feedback and Assessment states that programme induction should include information on assessment practices and understanding marking criteria. Students should be told what is expected of them academically and provided with relevant study skills sessions prior to assessments to aid a student’s understanding of the assignment at hand. “I believe we could be provided with more information in regards to our assignments.” 1st Year, MPharmacy “The deadlines are too crunched together and there are too many different ways of assessing that can get rather confusing.” 2nd Year, Pharmacy “I am always in the know about what is going on, but getting results back for coursework is usually late.” 3rd Year, MPharmacy “I think we should be provided with a clear specification/syllabus for each module so we know exactly what to focus on for exams/assignments.” 2nd Year, MPharmacy
Lastly, a majority of students have recognised the positive effect Blackboard has on both their independent learning and course experience as a whole. Students have identified the effective use of this system by staff in providing them with extra materials for their course as well as finding it particularly helpful when lecturers upload lecture material prior to the session as it enables students to sufficiently prepare for the lecture. “Lectures and tutorials provide up to date and very relevant information. All slides and notes can be found on blackboard and extra help can be given if needed.” 2nd Year, Biomedical Science “The Blackboard system is very good!” 1st Year, Pharmacy “Good lecture notes on blackboard promptly, Good timetabling, good contact time (20+ hours).” 2nd Year, MPharmacy We recognise at UCLan 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. 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. Design induction as an on-going process throughout a studentâ€™s duration of study with particular focus on returning cohorts and postgraduate courses. The School should be able to demonstrate this clearly for all modes of study and cohorts. 2. Review and respond to comments regarding the timely dissemination of information during the initial induction period to ensure effectiveness of the information given. The School should feedback any outcomes too all students.
3. Ensure all students are provided with a minimum standard of orientation to assessments during induction period for all levels of study. The School should be able to demonstrate this and where additional support can be found if needed to all students.
FINALLYâ€Ś 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
Published on Apr 25, 2014