National Student Survey Launches on Campus

This week sees the launch of the 2016 National Student Survey (NSS) at Newcastle University.

Entering its twelfth year, the NSS gives students the opportunity to give their opinions on their experiences at Newcastle, from teaching to accommodation.

We will survey our final year undergraduate students in Malaysia and Singapore as well as those based here in the UK. We are unable to survey non-UK based students as part of the NSS, so we will be running a simultaneous survey using EvaSys for students at NUMed and those at SIT. The results of this additional survey will not be publicly available in the same way that NSS results are, but will allow us to have comparable data for Schools and programmes on our international campuses as well as for those programmes delivered here in the UK.

What is the NSS?

The NSS is an annual survey of final year undergraduates in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. It is a high profile annual census of nearly half a million students across the UK, which gives students a powerful collective voice to help shape the future of both their course and university or college.

The survey is widely recognised as an authoritative measure of student satisfaction and, as such, the results are highly visible on Key Information Sets (KIS) and on Unistats, and often reported in the media. It has helped to build a broader picture of the quality of higher education in the UK and has made it possible to monitor trends over time.

The NSS is commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) on behalf of the UK funding bodies. Ipsos MORI, an independent research company, conducts the survey.

What questions does the NSS ask?

The questions allows students to provide feedback on a range of topics, relating to six aspects of their learning experience: 1) the teaching on the course, 2) assessment and feedback, 3) academic support, 4) organisation and management, 5) learning resources, and 6) personal development. Students also are asked about their overall satisfaction.

All final year undergraduates can complete the NSS.

WHO BENEFITS FROM THE NSS?

Current students

The University and NUSU examines the anonymised NSS data internally to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. This information can be used to help effect changes designed to enhance or improve the student experience for both current and prospective students.

Newcastle has always supported the NSS and as a result of listening to what former students had to say, the following changes have been implemented in recent years:

  • increased opening of Robinson Library
  • increased availability of computer clusters
  • improved access to internet in University accommodation
  • new University policies on feedback turnaround time and feedback on exams

 

How important is the NSS?

Aside from helping the University ensure that students are satisfied with its courses the NSS is also increasingly crucial for prospective students and parents in deciding which institution to choose.

Data from the NSS are publicly available via Unistats. This official site allows prospective students to compare information across institutions and subjects/courses. The site draws together comparable data on areas that students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study, including the findings of the NSS.

As it is publicly available and the NSS can also be used by prospective students but also by other bodies wishing to measure student satisfaction and experience, from newspapers to government and policymakers.

Promotions and Incentives

This year we will once again be focusing on the Schools’ league table that has been a success in previous years. Two prize categories will exist – one for subject areas with fewer than 100 students, and one for those with 100 students or more, with two prizes available within each category: £500 for first place and £250 for second place. Again, we are including Malaysia and Singapore in the league table to help support their efforts in encouraging responses too.

Weekly response rate updates will be circulated to on the nss-updates mail list, so everyone can see how their School/subject area is doing and who is in the lead on the league tables. Members of staff who would like to be included in this list can request inclusion by contacting ltds@ncl.ac.uk.

We will be using more social media outlets to promote NSS this year and are putting together the final details of a plan with the University’s Social Media Team. Thank you for recently sharing School platform addresses and administrators. Please get in touch with Myra Giesen (myra.giesen@ncl.ac.uk) if you think we can help with your School’s NSS campaign.

Student ambassadors promoting the NSS across campus will be strategically located across campus starting in teaching week 6 through the end of April. Locations and times will be advertised through social media outlets once they are set.

Want to know more

To find out more visit www.thestudentsurvey.com or contact the NSS team at Ipsos MORI directly at thestudentsurvey@ipsos.com. You can always contact the Learning and Teaching Development Service on campus by emailing ltds@ncl.ac.uk.

Entrepreneurs Panel

During the first run of The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen we held an Entrepreneurs Panel.

Simon Laing and Roland Glancy are entrepreneurs, so they are well placed to talk about becoming an entrepreneur and the everyday life of an entrepreneur. The challenges can come well before you even start developing your idea. During the first run of this course, we invited Simon and Roland into the Shed and explored with them how their lives have changed since becoming entrepreneurs. You can view the recording here.

The full video is 39 mins long, so you can select 2 or 3 questions from the list below that interest you most. If you click on the links they will take you to Roland and Simon’s answers in the video.

Questions posed during the session

Ideas to action in The Enterprise Shed: The Chatterbox

The Chatterbox is an unique high bandwidth Skype facility launched recently in our brand new Majorie Robinson Library Rooms. The idea was something which Jo Robinson-Lamb, a Communications Specialist from NUIT, had been mulling over for some time. Here she tells us how taking part in our free online course, The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen helped her turn her idea into reality.

Jo Robinson-Lamb
Jo Robinson-Lamb

“The original idea for the Skype Booth came from the Digital Campus Scoping Project, part of the University Digital Campus Initiative, which looked at how our students make use of technology in their day-to-day lives on campus. One finding that really stood out for me was the basic need for students to connect with friends and family at home – especially our international students.

The idea stayed with me; could we use our IT skills and services to offer students the ultimate ‘Skype’ experience: a private booth, large screen, comfy seats and great sound so they really felt the person was in the same room?

After further discussions with colleagues, the idea started to grow. I’d heard about the Newcastle University MOOC: The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen and the free online course seemed like the perfect place to share my thoughts and discover how to turn ideas into action.

After sharing the idea in a blog post, I was overwhelmed by the support from the Shed community and mentors. My post was picked up by colleagues in LTDS, who passed it to colleagues in the University Library; they loved the idea, saw its potential and decided the new Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms would provide the ideal opportunity to give it a go. NUIT Audio Visual Services and the Estate Support Service came onboard too and the ‘Chatterbox’ was born.

I couldn’t have done this on my own. The Enterprise Shed helped me to make the connections I needed to turn an idea into reality and I’m thrilled with the results.”

Sign ups are open for The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen which starts on 15 February 2016 and lasts 4 weeks.

Why should you join us in The Enterprise Shed?

lightbulb

Katie Wray, Lead Educator for the course explores why we should all be joining her in The Enterprise Shed

“Firstly, let me unpack ‘enterprise’. For me, enterprise is about making creativity, problem solving and ideas practical. This makes it relevant across all areas of education, not just business. Where enterprise is applied to creating a new venture, it is commonly known as ‘entrepreneurship’. We are increasingly aware of entrepreneurship, through the steady creation of new businesses (particularly in austere times), but also through the media. From this awareness we can each draw our own conclusions about what an entrepreneur is? The Enterprise Shed challenges a variety of definitions of an entrepreneur and looks at enterprise and entrepreneurship at a grassroots level. On the course you will be introduced to a whole bunch of entrepreneurial individuals and teams, not all of whom refer to themselves as ‘an entrepreneur’.

So if you can be ‘entrepreneurial’ (behave like an entrepreneur) without actually being an entrepreneur (starting a new business venture), who is ‘entrepreneurial’ and what can you do with your ‘entrepreneurialness’*?  We are committed to exploring this with you throughout the course, and to supporting each participant to draw their own conclusions about how they can make change in their own context. Our other commitment is to exploring your ideas, to collecting insights into what a solution looks like, and to help you to turn that idea into something tangible.

This course is about you; it is about your role, through your ideas, in making change. There are 3 main reasons why you should commit 3 hours per week, for 4 weeks to The Enterprise Shed:

  1. You will develop confidence in yourself as a ‘doer’. You will do this through analysing the behaviours of other entrepreneurial people that you will be introduced to on the course, and drawing conclusions about the way that they ‘do’ and what you might ‘do’ when approaching your own challenges, problems and projects.
  2. You will discover ideas that address problems you want to play a role in changing. You will do this through identifying problems, sharing them with others, creating and collaborating on ideas generation, and developing solutions together with peers on the course.
  3. You will have the opportunity to meet people and build networks.WE will do this by forming virtual and physical networks around the globe, which can outlive the end of the course. You will meet people that share your passions and drivers to make change in your world, find out where you can go for help, and collaborate to achieve impact.

The Enterprise Shed is not just a course, but a place where you can go to think, and critically, to do.

Join us from 15th February 2016 in The Enterprise Shed and Make your ideas happen”.

*Actually, you can also be ‘intrapreneurial’ (behave like an entrepreneur as an employee in someone else’s business), but I’ve tried and keep it simple for this post.”

Katie Wray
Lecturer in Enterprise

EDUBITES – Teaching Forum Inaugural Meeting 27th January

Edubites1

Teaching colleagues from across the University have launched a new educator-led forum to share good practice and provide support.

The group – which is open to anyone with an interest in teaching at Newcastle – will hold its inaugural meeting on 27th January.

This first EDUBITES session will include a talk on ‘Supporting Reflective Practice’ by Dr James Field (Dental Sciences) and will include lunch.

Although the group has existed in a range of guises in recent years (Teaching Fellows Forum, NUTS Forum), this year’s coordinators are determined to provide a space for the support and discussion of teaching practice and teaching staff across the University.

The group is run by teaching staff for teaching staff and organisers are drawn from across the three faculties; James Field (Dental Sciences), Sara Marsham (Marine Sciences), JC Penet (Modern Languages), Phil Ansell (Maths and Stats.), Lindsey Ferrie (Biomedical Sciences) and Katie Wray (SAgE Faculty).

The group is partially funded by a grant from Pro-VC for Learning and Teaching, Suzanne Cholerton.

Sara said: ‘We really started it as a space for Teaching Fellows and other early career teaching staff to support each other and answer each other’s teaching related questions and queries.’

‘It can often be intimidating to come into a department and start teaching, and quite isolating too.’

‘Early career or new colleagues don’t necessary want to ask more senior staff when they’re unsure or worried about something, so we want to create an informal space for them to raise those queries, get advice from others, and share good practice.’

Although the origins of the group were around the establishment of teaching-only roles in the University, all colleagues are welcome to attend the sessions.

‘We hope everyone will be happy to come along, find out what is happening across the campus, and even propose a session to share their ideas and their practice.’

The meeting takes place on Wednesday 27th January, 12-1 in Bedson Rm 1.19. To register, fill out this form.

To find out more, or to propose a session email: educators@ncl.ac.uk.

 

The Taught Postgraduate Offer

In 2011 the University developed a statement of the Newcastle Offer.  This set out the range of opportunities that we would make available to all our undergraduate students irrespective of their programme or location of study, and in 2013 the University won the THELMA for outstanding leadership and management team for its work in developing and implementing the Newcastle Offer.

Many of the Newcastle Offer developments benefitted our taught postgraduate programmes and students, as well as our undergraduates (for example ReCap;  ePortoflio;  Reward and Recognition;  a number of assessment and feedback initiatives).   It was still the case, though, that the focus of the Newcastle Offer was largely undergraduate.

The University is now developing a statement of its Taught Postgraduate Offer, focusing on the specific nature and needs of taught postgraduate provision.  A Task and Finish Group chaired by Professor Suzanne Cholerton has recently circulated to Faculties a consultation paper – Consultation paper on the development of the Taught Postgraduate Offer. This includes a draft of a statement of the Taught Postgraduate Offer, why it has been developed and how it might be implemented.

The consultation paper will go to Faculty committees over the next couple of months to get feedback from colleagues across the University, but we’re also keen to receive feedback directly from schools, subject areas and individual colleagues as well. If you want to pass on your views on the draft, please comment below this blog post or alternatively send any feedback directly to me at richard.harrison@ncl.ac.uk and the Task and Finish Group will consider what you say along with all the other feedback we get.

The consultation closes on 29 Feb. 2016.

Star Case Study – Mock Viva Video in Politics

Doing your viva in Politics has been revolutionised by a new mock viva video for Ph.D. students.

 

Politics PGR Director Professor Tony Zito and Kate Manzo (Geography) realised that students often were not attending or were not paying attention to more traditional approaches to preparing students for their viva, so he decided to show them exactly what to expect by making a video.

Tony said: ‘A lot of students were just not coming to the sessions I was running about vivas and what their viva would be like.

‘I think for those who were in first or second year of their Ph.D.s their viva seemed very far away and for those nearing the end of their project the viva had become something too scary to think about.

‘So we decided to make sure that there would be something online that they could always access, perhaps even in the middle of the night when they were worrying about an upcoming viva.’

Tony enlisted the help of politics student Russell Foster, himself preparing for an upcoming viva.

Russell agreed to be filmed during a mock viva with Tony and Kate taking the roles of internal and external examiners.

The mock viva was kept very formal, with Russell entering the room in a suit to greet his examiners, just like in the real thing.

‘It was great of Russell to agree to do that on camera because it’s a pretty scary thing but he was happy to help other students.

‘The video worked really well and will hopefully give other students an idea of what to expect as their viva looms.

‘You can see Russell go through the whole process so hopefully it will be helpful to them to see the whole thing so clearly laid out.’

The video was posted on Youtube, with Russell’s permission and is used frequently as a resource for students in GPS approaching the end of their Ph.D.s.

Tony said: ‘We’re not sure of the impact yet. We did this in October 2013 and Ph.D.s are a slow process so we’ve not had that many students through yet to notice any particular trends but we expect that it can only have a positive impact.’

Thinking of doing a similar thing in your school? Contact LTDS@ncl.ac.uk  for more information or for technical support.

For more examples of good practice in teaching and learning from across Newcastle have a look at the Case Studies Database.

New Year, New Ideas, Your Opportunity

Come and make your ideas happen in The Enterprise Shed! This free online course starts on 15 February and lasts 4 weeks, with a time commitment of around 3 hours a week. It is led by Katie Wray, Lecturer in Enterprise from here at Newcastle University.

Join Katie on this highly interactive journey exploring and developing your own entrepreneurial mindset with a community of like minded people from all over the world.

“we were all sparking off each other and I really felt I was learning and being encouraged”

“I am now more confident about my big idea and am excited to get started”

“So inspiring, and exposing me to much more than I anticipated.”

On the course, you’ll meet a whole bunch of thinkers and doers; those just starting out, makers, tinkerers and experienced entrepreneurs. Sharing your ideas with them and other learners will encourage you to have more confidence to think and do more to create change and solve problems in your own world.

You don’t need any specific skills or experience – just passion and a willingness to get involved.

Sign up at www.futurelearn.com/courses/enterprise-shed

You can download a flyer too to share with your friends, colleagues and family.

HEA Arts and Humanities Conference CFP closing

Inspire – sharing great practice in Arts and Humanities teaching and learning
3–4 March 2016
The Waterfront Hotel, Brighton

The call for papers for the HEA Arts and Humanities conference closes on 11 January 2016.

We are accepting paper, ignite sessions, workshop and poster submissions on the following themes:

  • Innovate: How are we adopting and implementing innovative practice in Arts and Humanities teaching and learning?
  • Assessment: How can we meet the assessment & feedback challenges in Arts and Humanities?
  • Achievement: How can we support student retention and attainment in Arts and Humanities?
  • Embedding employability: How can we embed employability and prepare students for their transition into the world of work or postgraduate study through our teaching and learning strategies?
  • Developing our practice: How do we drive our own practice forwards, what are effective strategies for continuing professional development?

Download the call for papers document  and guidance for contributors for more information on preparing your submission.

For more information about the conference formats, to download a submission form, and to book your place, visit the conference page.

Another present from HEFCE …

NSS_Logo_Black_English

Really? Can it really be nearly that time of year again? It comes round so quickly doesn’t it?

No, not Christmas. It’s nearly National Student Survey time again. Shortly after the start of the new calendar year NSS 2016 launches – at Newcastle the Survey will launch on Monday 2 February. Sometimes it can feel as though there are some Groundhog Day elements to the NSS, but this year is different. 2016 will be the last time that NSS runs in its current format as HEFCE are planning a number of significant changes for NSS 2017.

The format of the NSS has remained pretty constant since it was launched in 2005. It surveys final year undergraduates. It uses the same 22 questions, with the addition of a question on Students’ Unions in 2012 being the only change. Such a period of calm, and lack of change, is somewhat unusual in UK higher education – and it’s about to end.

HEFCE have proposed that from NSS 2017:

  • Seven of the existing questions should be dropped from the Survey – including all three on Personal Development and the question on Students’ Unions.
  • Nine new questions should be added – four under the heading Academic Challenge and Integrative Learning; three on The Student Voice; and two on The Learning Community and Collaborative Learning.
  • All three of the existing questions on Learning Resources should be re-worded, as should two of the questions on Assessment and Feedback.

Not quite all change, but if HEFCE goes ahead with these changes the NSS will look very different. I’ve uploaded a mock-up of what the new NSS 2017 would like under the proposals to highlight this, which was compiled by Corony Edwards at Exeter University (and which I’m uploading with Corony’s permission) – NSS 2017 Proposed Questions.

What it means is that NSS would start to take on a different character with a much greater focus on  student engagement issues – both student engagement with their programmes, and student engagement as members of the academic communities in the departments/schools that deliver their programmes.

Of course this isn’t  fixed and agreed yet. HEFCE have been consulting on this (the consultation closed last week), and it will be a while before the final outcome and the actual content of NSS 2017 is announced. But it seems pretty clear that as with most other things relating to learning and teaching and external ‘regulation’ (TEF, quality assessment) we’re about to enter a very different world.