Institute of Education promotes student-staff partnerships in learning and teaching by Dr Eileen Hyder

The academic year 2012-13 has been a dynamic time for the SSLC of the BA Ed programme. In response to results on the NSS and internal evaluations, two sub-committees were set up to focus on specific areas for development within the course: Organisation/communication and Assessment/feedback. This student input has resulted in many changes. For example, the timing of assignments has been reviewed; use of Blackboard has improved; processes for school placements have been revised and students have had input into timetabling and planning for next year.

In addition the Year 4 student reps have taken part in the PLANT (Partnerships in Learning and Teaching) project linked to the University’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement Priority Area of engaging students in research and enquiry, specifically within the areas of engaging students in curriculum and pedagogic developments and expanding opportunities for students to engage in research.

The focus of the project was to allow final year students to evaluate the programme and make recommendations for future developments. Reps engaged with Year 4 students in a variety of ways. Firstly they asked students to use post-it notes to write words which represented the positive aspects of the course. This was used to develop a Wordle. Secondly they carried out a focus group with a randomly selected group of students. Results were fed back to all Year 4 students for validation.

The PLANT project has been underpinned by the idea of legacy (Year 4 feeding back to make positive changes for other students). Funding from the PLANT project has allowed students to develop resources which will be beneficial for the programme. The Wordle will be used on Open Day presentations; flyers are being developed which will be emailed to Freshers before they join the course and a sheet of ‘Top tips for surviving Year 4’ is being developed for next year’s finalists. In addition, the results have been disseminated to programme tutors with Year 4 reps attending the termly tutor meeting and they have also met the IoE Director of Teaching and Learning.

This year has shown that students can be active partners in curriculum design and development as their input has been vital in driving forward change. We are now considering the transition from this year’s reps to next year’s so that momentum is not lost and so that we can continue to work with our students to continue improving the student experience on our programme.

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