Students as Partners in Teaching and Learning

By Yuki Kikuchi, BSc Business and Management

I was awarded a student researcher bursary to attend the recent SEDA Spring Teaching Learning and Assessment Conference 2019 to present my research into improving student information on module choice to help enhance the student experience on one undergraduate degree.

How I became involved in the project

The Associate Dean was keen to encourage student partnerships to enhance the student experience and offered to support both placement students working with the Student Experience Team develop a project each.

Initially, I met with the BSc Marketing and Management Course Director (René Moolenaar) to discuss the course structure and module selection process. I realised that whilst there are many options each description did not provide sufficient insight to help module selection.

In addition, the description is written by the School, so it did not reflect the student voice. Therefore, it might create misunderstandings and encourage students to choose modules that they were not best suited to. This confusion is reflected in the high volume of module change requests which adds to the office workload and can delay students changing modules.

What was the result?

The output from the project was an interactive image for students showing all the core and optional modules and descriptions.

Each module has a small button to click on its left side, and after you click it, its content will pop up:

Each module has a module description; types of assessments; and a student perspective. There is also a link to a video on YouTube where one of our students speaking about her experience regarding one of the modules she took.

What challenges did you face as a student researcher?

Throughout the project, I overcame numerous challenges and difficulties. One of the most challenging things was not having enough student voice. Without the student voice, it is hard to conduct the project and I found out that this was one of the most crucial things. Also, initially I had planned to conduct interviews by video as the audiovisual materials could also go around social media easily and would be highly adaptable, however, not many students wanted to be filmed and posted on a public site. Therefore, I had to change my plan and decided to create a written document but something that could still get some attention from students. Since I didn’t manage to have many interviews, I decided to conduct a survey to collect more data. After conducting the survey, I realised that it was hard to collect more detailed student voice via the survey as many wrote a sentence or a few words on each question. In addition, there was a low response rate, but since this was something that could be done at home with your laptop/ mobile phones, there was a higher response rate.

What next for the project?

I am keen to expand this project next year to all undergraduate degrees within the Business School as I have already received some requests from students when I was conducting this project. Also, I think it would be nice to share the knowledge with other departments and school across the university so that we will be able to keep up our service and student experience university-wide. Furthermore, I will act as a project lead to manage the overall work next year. However, in order to increase the efficiency and collect more data, it would be ideal to get in touch with the student reps/ mentors more so this should allow us to collect more personalised data from students because the reps and mentors can ask their cohorts. This work should be continuous. Involvement in projects like this enhances your motivation; improves the classroom experience, which prompts a learning community; and improves learning in relation to employability skills and graduate attributes[i].

How did it feel to present at an academic conference

Although I prepared a lot, I was so nervous and on the day, my heart was beating so much so I could feel it, especially if you are presenting your work to a room full of experts in the field. I was presenting at the very end of Day 1 after seeing many presentations from both staff and some students. I received some good feedback after my presentation, which made me relieved and I started to enjoy the rest of the conference. There were a lot of interesting academics, educational consultants, and professional staff from many universities across the nation who have stories to talk about and share. The conference made me realise that there were so many things I was not familiar with. However, it made me motivated to work on the project even more, improve the situation, and make a better educational environment at Sussex as one of the students at Sussex.

This poem below was one of the quotes that I think it really represents my work: Students as partners.

“It’s your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you” (Rumi, a 13th Century Persian Poet)

[i] Curran, R. (2017). Students as Partners—Good for Students, Good for Staff: A Study on the Impact of Partnership Working and How This Translates to Improved Student-Staff Engagement. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(2).

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