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Learning from other universities

These pages present work done as part of a HEA funded project in Spring 2015. For information on the development of Warwick's Student Champion schemes, including learning & teaching champions and digichamps, see the Warwick International Higher Education Academy (WIHEA) web site.

At Warwick students have always worked in partnership with members of staff to innovate and enhance learning, teaching and the student experience (LTSE). The Academic Technology service, and its predecessor the E-Learning Advisor Team, have in the past always sought to include students in their work. Between 2007 and 2010 we did this on a more organised basis with the Arts Faculty E-Squad and the Social Sciences Faculty FLAG Team - as described in the interview with Catherine Allen. Between 2014 and 2015 Life Sciences established a similar scheme called the Digichamps, led by Rebecca Freeman. Each of these schemes has proven impact and value - for the individual students and staff members involved, for the enhancement of modules, but also for the enhancement of Warwick's capability for applying best practice in every discipline.

However, in recent years some universities have developed larger scale schemes to fit more clearly with institutional development strategies and values. Most of these schemes follow the "enhancement project" pattern. However, there is a growing trend for students to be involved directly in course review and design - Lincoln being the prime example. The Southampton team takes a different approach, focussing on the design and delivery of digital literacies workshops.

In developing the Competency Framework and the Proposal, we have looked at a small selection of these schemes - chosen to cover a range of aims and methods. Intelligence regarding the national landscape was sourced from national networks and initiatives - listed on the right of this page. Brief summaries of the schemes are given below.

Nottingham University

Introduced in 2014-2015 "...to increase levels of student engagement and empower students to make a difference to teaching and learning by working with schools on development projects". The Nottingham scheme sees students and staff partnering on LTSE enhancement "...research, implementing changes recommended by research, and co-designing assessment methods, modules and learning materials." As such it fits within a formal LTSE enhancement approach, and is explicitly designed as "...a co-ordinated approach". In the initial year they undertook the following projects with students working on a voluntary basis:

  • Pairs of students devising content and creating learning resources for a Peer Assisted Study Support (PASS) scheme in Maths.
  • A group evaluation of the Biochemistry curriculum with a particular focus on year-to-year transitions.
  • An evaluation of assessment objectives and proposals for a remodelled Biosciences curriculum.
  • Developing accredited work placements modules in the University’s Language Centre on the China campus.
  • An investigation of learning activities and behaviours of Business School students to identify different persona and typologies to recommend ways of improving engagement.

Most interestingly, the training and development of students and the development of projects is carried out within a Moodle course. There is a strong "project management" element to the training. Nottingham has two international campuses (China and Malaysia) and hopes that the network of change agents will span all three locations, using the online platform to bring people together and to create a common culture. This is something that Warwick could follow. Nottingham had hoped that students would be more proactive in identifying and developing projects, but this has not yet happened.

See this JISC Change Agent Network case study for more information.

Sheffield University

Sheffield has a fully mature centrally supported and funded Student Champion scheme, with 65 students employed in 2015 - Student Ambassadors for Learning & Teaching (SALT). This is coordinated by Jessica Baily in the Academic and Learning Services department. The scheme was developed in response to work with the QAA that identified a need to engage students more closely in the design of learning and teaching. It became an institutional priority, and developed into a permananet committment. A fresh set of students are trained as a cohort each year, following the SALT approach. They are embedded as teams into each of Sheffield's academic faculties, but remain connected and supported by the central services. In addition, in 2014-2015 three "professional services" teams were created, including one embedded into the IT department. Students and staff then work on identifying enhancement needs, writing bids and project plans, getting resources and training, and implementing projects. This has included students reviewing and designing courses. The choice of projects is overseen by a panel, but there is an emphasis on teachers and students leading change within the context of faculty priorities and strategies, and consistent with disciplinary approaches. The students are paid above the minimum wage, offered a set number of hours a week (limited to avoid interfering with their studies).

Sheffield Hallam University

The SHU scheme is closely integrated into quality assurance and student feedback processes. Students are employed to "...offer expert advice and guidance to course leaders and tutors..." with the dual aim of engaging the "student voice" (in partnership with the students' union) and providing quality work experience opportunities for students. Two types of role are supported: Students as Course Enhancement Officers (CEOs) and Students as Course Enhancement Liaisons (CELs) - described in this article from the Sheffield Hallam Student Engagement and Experience blog. This puts students at the heart of the course review, design and development process - perhaps also a smart way of developing courses that serve their target market/audience. The aim is to engage all students in dialogue "...to encourage and affirm their student peers to become active partners in enhancing the curriculum with time dedicated to dialogue, collaboratively reflect and share experiences, which meets University aspirations in ensuring high quality learning and teaching to students."

Birmingham City University

BCU employs students to work as Student Curriculum Design Consultants (as described in this job description). The students "...carry out curriculum evaluation activities, either individually or as part of a team of SCDCs, including ‘solutions-based’ inquiry with current students and/or alumni" and "...report findings from their evaluative work in a clear and concise fashion". They work in partnership with staff to "...develop curriculum design recommendations" feeding into "...annual and quinquennial course review processes." They are as such formally embedded into the quality assurance and design process of the whole university. They "...help to shape the learning experience for themselves and other, future students. Their ideas help to enhance the course experience and to engage the wider student body in an active and timely way." A training and support programme is provided to ensure that they have the required skills and competencies. This includes training in "evaluative techniques".

Huddersfield University

The Student Teaching and Learning Consultants programme was based upon the more generic Student Training and Recognition Scheme (STARS) led by Huddersfield's Careers and Employability Service in partnership with the students' union. The STARS scheme "...aims to ensure that students who are actively involved with the SU are trained and supported to be as effective as possible in their roles, while at the same time providing opportunities for students who are not currently involved in the Students’ Union to get involved." Students record and reflect upon their SU work in an e-portfolio. Over 450 students took part in STARS in 2011, with 51 submitting portfolios for assessment. The Student Teaching and Learning Consultants were STARS working as Student Champions.

Huddersfield have created this guide to setting up a student as consultant scheme.

Southampton University

The Southampton Digital Literacies Student Champions say that they "...champion digital literacies projects at the University of Southampton, with a focus on curriculum innovation and employability. We make cool stuff happen!" The se Student Champions have a different approach, being more focussed on providing workshops and online materials for staff and students. Topics include:

  • Managing your online identity.
  • Developing and managing your professional profile online.
  • Online safety and security.
  • Social Media for Researchers.
  • Providing a dynamic social media backchannel at live events.
  • Video creation and editing.
  • Getting started with blogging and tweeting.

The workshops can be delivered on request for academic departments. They have also designed and run innovative conferences.

Lincoln University

Well known for its "student as producer" ethos, Lincoln has student partnership approaches embedded into much of what it does. The Educational Development and Enhancement Unit supports student involvement in many aspects of the design, delivery and review of LTSE. Schemes include:

  • Students Consulting on Teaching (SCoT) - where students observe and feedback on staff teaching.
  • Peer mentoring by students.
  • Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS).
  • Student Reviewers - students on validation panels for new and existing courses.
  • Student Recruiters - students on interview panels to recruit new members of staff at the University.
  • Student Advisory Group - feedback to services.
  • Staff and Student Insight Scheme (SSIS) - enables staff to get an insight into the student experience in order to make sure that it is the best it can be.