All posts by Katie

National Student Survey Launches on Campus


Monday 6th of February sees the launch of the 2017 National Student Survey (NSS) at Newcastle University.

Entering its thirteenth 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 aspects of their learning experience which include the teaching on the course, assessment and feedback, academic support, organisation and management, learning resources, and 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.

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

Learning and Teaching Workshop – 9 February

The next Learning & Teaching Workshop is being held on Thursday 9 February 2017, 4-5pm, entitled ‘Building Teaching Strategies: challenging perspectives on teacher / student interaction’.

This seminar is designed as an interactive session to support those who are interested in reflecting on the relationship between themselves and their students and the impact this may have on their teaching. Using a modified Balint group approach, attendees will have an opportunity to discuss and explore their personal challenges when teaching. This is an experimental seminar and limited to 10 attendees. To facilitate the development of this approach, a short period of time will be set aside for evaluation.

Come to the session with an open mind and prepared to talk about your own experiences.

The workshop will be held in room Med L1.0, 4-5pm.

Due to limited numbers it is important that you register your attendance with Sharon.griffin@ncl.ac.uk.

Teaching Spaces Sandpit

Do you often feel frustrated with rooms which are ill-equipped or badly set up for your teaching?

Do you want to have your say on teaching spaces around campus?

Estates, NUIT and researchers from the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching have come together to offer academics across the University the opportunity to do just that.

The Teaching Sandpit, to be set up in King George VI Building will give academics the opportunity to try out a new kind of teaching space and to feedback to decision-makers in NUIT and in Estates on what sorts of facilities they would like to see rolled out across the University.

Dave Allsopp from NUIT explained: ‘Usually when decisions are made about what sorts of technical equipment available in or even the basic layout of teaching rooms, we don’t have time to consult with teaching staff, the staff who will use those rooms.

‘This will give us the opportunity to find out what people want and to really engage with academics across campus to find out what sorts of technologies they may want to try out, even what sorts of furniture might work in common teaching rooms and what they might expect or need from spaces across campus.’

The idea came out of research conducted by Ulrika Thomas of the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching, who completed a study with colleague Pam Woolner looking at how students and staff perceived teaching rooms across campus and what the expected from them.

Ulrika explained: ‘Our study was really well-received and its findings have now been referred to the Executive, who want to act on our findings.

‘The sandpit is one idea which has come out of this research, giving staff an opportunity to see what might be available to them, to try it and to feedback on what works.’

The idea of a sandpit came, as Dave explains, from a similar exercise undertaken at Wolverhampton University, in which staff were given the opportunity to feedback based on their use of a sandpit space in which new technologies and layouts could be trialed.

Here at Newcastle the project is looking for:

  • Academic colleagues to deliver one-off small group teaching sessions and road test new ways of teaching using different styles and new technology
  • Professional Support Services to deliver specific training to colleagues in use of new and existing technology
  • Professional support teams to evaluate new technology and furniture engaging with academic colleagues and students to understand how it could be used in the successful design and provision of teaching and learning spaces in the future

Staff can volunteer by filling out this online form, and can discuss requirement with the project team.

Support will be provided by NUIT on technologies offered within the space and all users will have the opportunity to feedback on the experience.

It is expected that the space will not be utilised for normal teaching but perhaps for one-off sessions with 10-15 students.

Colin Fahey of NUIT, who in leading on the project, said: ‘The most important thing is to get academics into the space and get their feedback.

The whole project depends on the engagement of teaching staff, we need them to come along and use the space and to tell us what they found.’

Staff are encouraged to get in touch if they:

  1. Have any proposals or suggestions around innovative technology or furniture that you are aware of and may wish to see considered for inclusion in the space?
  2. Would be interested in trialing the space once it becomes bookable?

The space will be made available for use shortly after Easter 2017 so interested parties should  web-form by Friday 24th February 2017 and the team will contact them with further information.

 

 

 

Learning & Teaching Lunchtime workshops – Tuesday 10 January 2017

Dr Jane Stewart will be hosting a lunchtime workshop on Tuesday 10 January 2017 on the subject of ‘Developing Lesson Plans’.  This workshop will cover the principles of lesson planning and discuss some basic strategies for developing your approach.  The workshop will be useful to those who have had no formal training in teaching or wish to refresh their knowledge around lesson planning.  For the workshop it is helpful to have a particular lesson in mind.  To facilitate this, please bring along your PowerPoint presentation or any resource that helps guide your delivery.

The workshop will be held in room RIDB2.1.53, 13.00 – 14.00.

Due to room capacity it is important that you register your attendance with Sharon.griffin@ncl.ac.uk.

There are a range of other learning and teaching lunchtime sessions throughout the term. See schedule.

Peer Mentoring Thank You Event

Peer mentors from across the University gathered at the Great North Museum: Hancock last Monday to celebrate another successful year of the scheme.

Mentors and staff coordinators enjoyed drinks, food and an array of Christmas tunes as awards were given out for the best mentor from each Faculty and for the best Co-ordinator across the University.

PVC for Learning and Teaching Suzanne Cholerton introduces the awards
PVC for Learning and Teaching Suzanne Cholerton introduces the awards

Student mentors were nominated by the students they were mentoring and comments made were displayed on tables around to room:

‘My mentor was always positive and put 100% effort into helping every individual in our group.’

‘It is often more helpful to have a student’s perspective on an issue rather than just a staff perspective.’

peer-mentoring-quotationThe winners were Sachin Anand from Dental Sciences, Anjuli Chatterjee from Newcastle Law School and James Fortune from School of Biology.

The Coordinator of the Year was Alison Graham from the School of Biology.

alison-graham-award
Peer Mentoring Coordinator Winner Alison Graham, James Fortune Student Peer Mentor Winner and peer mentors from the School of Biology

The festive celebrations aimed to thank all students and staff for the time and effort they put into making the scheme such a success.

Well done everyone!

If you would like to get involved in Peer Mentoring at Newcastle, or you would like to find out more email us.

NUTELA 3Ps – Dialogues

At NUTELA (Newcastle University Technology Enhanced Learning Advocates) 3Ps workshop this week, we were learning about how to make really excellent resources for all of our students.

change-timingsAs both teachers and as researchers, we spend lots of time creating digital resources, how can we build in accessibility so that they can be used by the widest group of people?

For this session we explored a number of ideas:

  • Documents are best when they have text (not pictures of text), structure, and a sensible reading order.
    – We explored this with a hands-on exercise looking at pdf accessibility.
  • Videos are much more accessible and useful when they have a transcript and subtitles.
    – We had a look at how easy it is to add transcripts to YouTube.
  • Images can convey information powerfully, but how can we make these useful to people with little or no sight?
    – We explored the use of images in a Sway.

You can read more about the sessions and learn how to make resources for all at the NUTELA blog.

For more information about NUTELA or to join our mailing list email us.

Peer Mentoring: Feedback Sessions

With the Peer Mentoring Scheme well underway across the University, mentors have been meeting with convenors to check how things are going.

Alison Graham convenes the Peer Mentors in the School of Biology.

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Students in Peer Mentoring feedback session

She meets with Peer Mentors in the school in week 2, week 4 and week 7 or 8, just to check how students are doing and make sure that mentors and mentees are getting the most out of the scheme.

‘What I’ve started to try to do is to incentivise the meetings, so the students feel that they are getting something out of them, as well as just catching up.

‘I came up with the idea of tying them to the Graduate Skills Framework, so I often work through how the mentors will be able to use their skills in applying for jobs.

‘We go through how to evidence the skills that they’ve gained in applications and at  interview.’

Alison hopes that this approach will make the scheme more lucrative for second and third year students who may be unsure about giving up their time.

‘It’s really about making sure that students can see and really use the skills they are gaining form being a Peer Mentor, in addition to helping other students.’

Alison says the scheme has proved popular in the School and that students have described it as useful but that often the whole experience relies on engagement from the mentors.

‘We have some excellent mentors who establish a real social group and relationship with their mentees by organising trips and events.

‘We try to encourage that and encourage teamwork within the groups – for example, we organise a treasure hunt in week one where they all have to work together.’

She says that the amount of engagement with mentors depends on individual students and often to circumstances.

‘But it depends on them. Some students only really liaise with their mentor in the first few weeks but some need a little bit more.

‘They also tend to turn to their mentors around exam and assignment time.

‘But it can also be really important for some students who are struggling.’

As a convenor for the programme, Alison points out that its important for the mentors to be trained and supported so that they know what queries they can answer.

‘We have to be quite careful to make sure that they know how much help they can give students with their academic work.

‘Obviously they can provide some advice but we don’t want people sharing assignments or anything, so that’s something we have to train them for.’

As well as the feedback meetings, Peer Mentors have all been invited to a Thank You party, taking place on 5th December in the Great North Museum.

Claire Burnham, the University’s Peer Mentoring Coordinator said: ‘We’re very excited about the event.

‘The Mentor of the year award will be presented on the night and we’ve already had 400 nominations from students across the University.

‘It’s a great way of rewarding our mentors and our convenors for all of their hard work.’

 

STAR CASE STUDY: Blackboard Module Design in Computing Science

Nick Cook and teaching staff in Computing Science use templates to help ensure that their Blackboard materials are easy to find and use.

csc2025
Module layout for one of the modules in Computing Science

Nick said: ‘Basically students had said that they often found it difficult to navigate Blackboard modules as each module was divided up totally differently in another, making it hard to work out where lecture notes or even assessment information might be.

‘We decided that what we needed was an agreed format , so that every module had the same folders, with the same names, for the same sorts of materials.

‘This makes it much easier for students to find things and even for staff to decide where to put them!’

The folders they selected were: Announcements, Teaching Materials, Assessments,  ReCap Recordings, Contacts and Overview.

They made sure that, at least for student’s viewing Blackboard, both menus matched up, so that they no longer had to click through so many folders to find key information.

Nick said: ‘LTDS provided us with basic templates but staff across the School just updated their own modules.

‘Although people were unsure at first, afterwards staff commented on how refreshing it was not to be faced with lots of muddled and overflowing folders.

‘Most remarked that the new streamlined version was easier to populate and made them feel much more organised.’

Students also found the system much easier to use and no further comments were received about confusing Blackboard modules or materials which were difficult to find.

Nick said: ‘We don’t enforce it in the School but most people seem to have more or less stuck to it because it’s so much easier to use.’

You can read the whole Case Study on our Case Studies Database.

Do you have a potential Case Study of Good Practice in learning and teaching? Submit it online or email katherine.cooper@ncl.ac.uk.