If you go down to the Robinson Library today…

Psst! Do encourage your students to get down to the Robinson Library today for some Easter treats!
All they have to do to get a free creme egg (or a £1) and to be in with a chance of winning £20 is to visit the NSS Student Awareness table between 11.15 and 14.45.

Elliot Chapin (BA History and Archaeology) won £20
Elliot Chapin (BA History and Archaeology) won £20

Final Year students can fill out the NSS there and then if they wish.
There’ll be more opportunities for students to take part across campus over the next few weeks: Continue reading “If you go down to the Robinson Library today…”

Research informed teaching: Do your students value it?

A study into our students’ perceptions of the links between research and teaching is currently considering this question.

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Charlotte Huggins, a Psychology MSc student, is investigating this issue through a series of student consultations and a survey. Supported by LTDS she is asking students about their understanding of the term, if they recognise the ways in which staff research expertise feeds into teaching, and whether this is something that students value.

This study is well underway with a number of focus groups involving students from across the University being held this week.

A survey is also gathering a wider set of responses. The survey is open to all Newcastle University students and can be accessed online here.

Do encourage your students to complete the survey, we want to hear their views. Those who complete the survey will be entered in a prize draw for a £20 Eldon Square voucher.

Dr Sara Marsham, Associate Dean in SAgE, is conducting the parallel staff consultation. These two strands will be collated and fed back to the University Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee (ULTSEC) under the direction of Professor Suzanne Cholerton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching.

National Student Survey Launches on Campus

Students 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.

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.

https://youtu.be/GZ7qXpEXfAQ

 

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.

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.