Kia ora Members of the Academic Programme Review Panel, Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the Information Systems Programme offered within the School of Information Management (SIM). Over the past month, the Victoria University of Wellington Studentsâ€™ Association (VUWSA) has been surveying Class Representatives (Trimester Two) from the Information Systems Programme. The survey specifically looked at items on the Reviewâ€™s Terms of Reference. This submission has been prepared from the survey results and submission feedback given by fourteen Class Representatives and eighteen general students from Trimester Two. This resulted in a total of thirty-two respondents/submissions. It should be noted at this point, that Class Representatives are trained to gather informal feedback from class members throughout the trimester and feed that information back into the University and VUWSA. It is a movement away from defining representation as being there for issues to seeing representation as working within a community of scholars. Class representation in the Information Systems Programme is of an excellent level (in a quantitative sense). In Trimester Two, all fourteen papers had representation. As a consequence, class representative feedback should be considered to cover the full range and depth of courses offered within the SIM in 2011. From the feedback received by VUWSA, the SIM should be aware that several items of concern were picked up, particularly with 100-level papers. There were also issues of communication, facilities and crossovers between papers. On the positive side, the strength of the Programme could be said to be in its tutorials â€“ as many respondents spoke highly of them and requested more of this form of learning. On the whole, students do feel that their academic learning needs are being met, but addressing some key issues around communication, facilities and crossover will benefit their learning outcomes within the Programme itself. The following submission looks specifically at each of the items in the Terms of Reference.
1. To what extent is the design of the overall programme and its courses comprehensive, current, coherent and clearly communicated to all teaching staff and students? Responses from representatives and students in the Information Systems programme showed that most students thought that the learning outcomes of the courses were clearly communicated. Some responses showed that students were not always so clear on how the course content would help them in the long term for a career. Just over half the respondents felt that there was a clear
progression in the development of knowledge and skills; some however, were unsure or in disagreement. One of the major concerns by students was the similarity between the following courses: INFO 101, MGMT 101 and MARK 101 with one student suggesting that all three papers be collapsed into one year-long course, which could be considered. There were also some concerns about ‘having to take INFO 101’ as some respondents felt it was perhaps ‘over-rated’ for their own degree purposes. This may be an individual learning path issue (they may be majoring in another FCA major), an issue within the restructuring of FCA degrees (all students have to take the same core papers), or one indicative of core papers (students tend to, on the whole, be more critical of core papers at Victoria). Overall, crossovers in content between 100 level courses is frustrating for students and better communication of course content between papers, programmes and schools could address this.
2. To what extent does the programme integrate research into teaching and learning activities? I really enjoy reading papers that have been written in New Zealand and even within the School by tutors, students and lecturers. Lecturers who use their personal experience i.e. the projects they have worked on to relate to the topic they are teaching, I find engages the class much more to theoretical examples.
The experience and everyday examples by lecturers were highly valued in this course. However, with regards to the courses teaching student specific information management research skills, the majority of students responded that they did not think this occurred much, or they were unsure. Many of them did appreciate how the course contributed to the development of knowledge. Therefore, it might be worth considering improving the communication of specific information management research skills as part of the various courses where applicable. 3. What is the quality of the learning opportunities provided by the programme? The School needs to update the way it teaches, I feel the technology it uses in some of the practical courses is dated and overly reliant on Microsoft software and products. The industry is moving past languages like C# and Microsoft access - yet whole courses are devoted to them. Universal languages and principals should be taught, allowing for transitions towards what ever the next big thing is. The workshops teach outdated techniques (ACCESS, HTML). On the whole, the respondents felt that the general facilities, such as library and computing resources were adequate and other aspects of the programme (such as tutorials) also positively facilitated their learning. Of concern to respondents were the following: Sometimes the lab usage is unfairly distributed across 100,200,300 level students Some of the labs are hot and noisy and in some cases computers take a long time to warm up if they have been shut down
Students bringing their own laptops (often in response to the above issues) find that they are experiencing incompatibility problems when their laptop software is up-to-date and the university software is of an older nature Material taught in the labs did not always correspond to the lectures A couple of respondents felt that INFO 101 was too easy and similar to other courses and could be made harder or more specialist With regards to learning HTML, some respondents thought this system was outdated and redundant for their learning purposes.
4. How well does assessment align with programme learning goals and foster learning? Tutorial submissions that contribute to overall mark are a good study incentive and have really helped my learning, as they are an effective review of important concepts, and it is rewarding to study when there are marks available for the work. Overall the School rated favourably in this area, and is to be commended for this, with students commenting that they felt that the assessments in the course met the stated learning objectives, and three-quarters of respondents were happy with the way assessments were moderated. With regards to receiving timely, consistent and effective feedback on their progress, less than a quarter of respondents were not satisfied, and the majority were happy with this aspect of the programme, and also felt that there was a good â€˜personal rapportâ€™ between the staff and students concerning assessment feedback. There was only one other concern here in that some felt that sometimes there was not much communication between papers so that several assessments were often due around the same time. A special mention should be made of the tutorials and how assessment is integrated into tutorial learning: they were regarded very highly, with some respondents wanting weekly tutorials and fewer computer labs, which were not rated as highly.
5. To what extent has the Programme developed a learning and teaching environment that effectively promotes engagement in learning and a sense of academic community?
[I appreciate] lecturers who communicate effectively and aren't tiresome - assignments that require 'real world' analysis and application. I found that INFO301 was a fantastically taught paper. Stimulated my learning and the lecturer was right into the topics, therefore passed her passion on to the class. Great stuff.
Two thirds of the respondents felt that the learning atmosphere was positive and encouraged students to engage with the academic community. There could be some room for improvement with communicating how information management courses are applicable in the workplace and showing career paths in this field. Just over a third of the respondents did not feel that struggling students received adequate support. Overall, the respondents felt that they were encouraged to participate in activities and pursue higher learning in this field, and that the school fostered a diverse community.
6. How effectively and efficiently does the Programme manage, explore and reflect on learning and teaching in relation to its learning and teaching goals? To respond to the question on whether they feel Information Systems, e-Commerce and Information Management courses effectively reflect and evaluate on the learning of students with regards to how well the teaching is occurring, just over half responded in the affirmative. There were few comments concerning this area, although one student appreciated the evaluation forms that they fill out as being very worthwhile. It may be worth considering further avenues for the programme to reflect on its goals and communicate these to students.
7. How clearly and effectively is the Programme linked to and responsive to its relevant academic, social and professional communities? Responses were mixed on how well the Information Systems Programme linked with relevant communities and many felt unsure about the development or opportunities for MÄ ori scholarship in particular. With regards to the needs of international students, just under half felt that international student needs were being met, although many were unsure. Most students felt that the Information Systems Programme takes account of cultural diversity. It is worth considering here that better communication, particularly regarding any scholarships would be useful for the students.
8. Has the panel identified any examples of good practice in learning and teaching that it feels should be shared more widely?
I really enjoy the tutes and wish they were weekly. The lecturers are engaging and appear to know their stuff.
Students highlighted the following aspects of the Information Systems programme as being very beneficial to their learning: The tutorials; and The passion and experience of the lecturers in the â€˜real worldâ€™ as being inspirational. 9. Where appropriate, what comment can be provided on additional issues raised by the programme in their self-review document, or by the Dean of the Faculty? e.g. distinctive features of the Programme[s] under review, future directions for the Programme. Students Like other Schools at Victoria, SIM has gone through changes in the last twelve months. Some of these changes have affected students in the BBIS (as this major will no longer allow new students to enrol from 2012 and will finish soon after). Students have expressed concern during these changes on the overall communication to students before and after changes occur. Students often feel supported (and their degree is supported) when good communication mechanisms are in place. We would encourage the Panel to reflect on ways that communication could be encouraged in schools that work with large numbers of students and often, in 100 level papers, students who come into the Programme but major in another.
Closing Remarks In analysing the results of this survey, it was informative to read the responses students made about the Information Systems Programme and although we can identify areas of weakness, overall the students commented favourably, particularly on the higher level courses. We would also conclude that the students find the lecturers interesting and knowledgeable and this creates a positive learning community. We would recommend some adjustments be made, particularly to some of the issues raised around INFO 101 and software. We hope that the Committee will take into account that these points are the reflections of representatives who speak from their own experiences and the experiences of their class.
Seamus Brady President Victoria University of Wellington Studentsâ€™ Association