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The Student Voice

The Student Voice



Symposium presented at the Postgraduate and Newer Researchers Conference, Celtic Manor on 7 December 2009. Student Intern research project with the Visual Learning Lab (VLL) at the University of ...

Symposium presented at the Postgraduate and Newer Researchers Conference, Celtic Manor on 7 December 2009. Student Intern research project with the Visual Learning Lab (VLL) at the University of Nottingham. Co-authored with Odessa Petit Dit Dariel and Claire Mann.



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  • Thank you for coming, we realize this is the last slot for today’s presentations and it’s probably been a long day. We appreciate you being here. My name is Odessa and this is Andy, we make up 1/3 of the student interns who have been involved in this research project funded by the Visual Learning Lab at the University of Nottingham. 3 of us PhD students, the other three are undergrad students. The other 4 interns who could not be here today are Claire, Terry, Kara and Ellie. Claire, the 3rd PhD student, was supposed to present with us today but was unable to make it last minute. So we’ve had to amend the presentation somewhat.
  • This series of presentations (which is for all intents & purposes one long presentation broken into 3 parts), describes a research project centred around the use of students as researchers in the exploration of the student voice in one HEI in the UK In the first part, I will very briefly discuss the background and context in which this research project takes place in terms of the issues surrounding HE and within the overall themes of this conference I will then, again very briefly present our research project in terms of the Process, Output and Outcomes which have guided it & also in order for the second part of this symposium to have more meaningful context. In Part 2, Andy will provide you with a more in-depth look at PAR and present it in terms of how it was used specifically as a framework for our research project. In Part 3: We will show you the video which was developed as the result of the data we collected. After the video we will discuss how this video was used and how it continues to inform this research project in a series of iterative cycles. This is very informal, so please feel free to stop us at any time. There will also be time to discuss and ask questions after the video and as conclude with the final stages of the research project and future developments we foresee
  • Few of us could have ever predicted the impact technology would have had on both our personal and professional lives. It’s difficult to find any literature these days addressing education which does not in some way refer to ‘digitisation’ and ‘knowledge economy’ and students as digital natives and consumers of information, knowledge and education. This and other issues such as the switch to fee paying status of students, the wealth of information available on the internet, social networks that lead to better informed individuals and Web 2.0 applications which enable people to be generators of knowledge as well as consumers of knowledge have all contributed to what has been called repeatedly an ‘empowered’ student body This empowerment has recently been confirmed by HEFCE who has decided that students’ opinions are deemed important enough to be included in quality assessment feedback mechanisms such as the QAA. Therefore the students’ voice is now taking centre stage beyond basic end of module & term Student evaluation forms of teaching and modules or (SETS and SEMS)
  • With this emphasis on students and how they are experiencing their learning in HE, researching the student voice has become an area of interest for many funding agencies such as JISC who in 2007 explored students views of learning with elearning in a research project entitled “In their own words’ Yet, as many other research studies which have sought to give voice to students, those doing the researching have been third party external researchers. However, in might be worth considering what students might say about their learning experiences to academics as researchers, or sociologists as researchers as researchers, when compared to fellow students, as researchers To answer this question, the VLL at the University of Nottingham hired 6 student interns to conduct a research study specifically to explore the student voice using students as researchers. Given the nature & development of this research project, which will be discussed in more detail by Andy in Part 2, it became evident that Participatory Action Research would be the approach best suited for this study. The development of PAR was therefore seen as the “Process” element of the project.
  • As we were seeking to explore students’ experiences with visual learning and learning in general in HE, we conducted a number student focus groups around the university asking them what they thought VL was, and what had been their best & worst learning experiences to date This data was then transcribed, coded and several overall categories were identified by the student interns. With this data, the ‘Output’ was the development of a video to be used to feedback the student voice back to the staff at the various departments around the university.
  • The idea was to use the video as a visual trigger (which was in line with the mission of the VLL) for interactive workshops with staff, who would in turn provide us with their views of the teaching & learning experiences. This feedback could then be used to inform and refine future workshops. In addition, we hoped the workshops would lead to staff reflecting on their own teaching and making changes (where necessary) in light of what the students had shared. The plan was also to show the students the video as a direct reflection of their own voice, and in order to garner more feedback, and to demonstrate how their feedback was valued and to encourage them to consider how important it is for them to continue providing constructive and useful feedback and assessments back to their departments in order to develop a continuous and iterative feedback loop for improved quality in higher education.
  • Now Andy will discuss in more detail PAR as a research methodology and how we were able to use it as a framework to guide our study. For those of you who not come across PAR before, Wadsworth describes it as .....

The Student Voice The Student Voice Presentation Transcript

  • The Student Voice   What students are saying about their learning experiences
    • Andy Coverdale
    • Claire Mann
    • Odessa Petit dit Dariel
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Presentation outline
    • Part 1 : Background & context
            • Process: PAR - Participatory Action Research
            • Output: Video of the student voice
            • Outcome: Video workshops w/ staff - iterative cycles
          • Part 2 : PAR - the methodology & the VLL project
            • Foundations: Participation, Action, Research
            • Cycles & Stages
          • Part 3 : the Video
            • Staff workshops
            • Future developments
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Background & Context
        • Theme 2: Challenges in HE
      • Digitisation of education
      • Student as consumer – empowered
      • Student feedback & assessment
          • HEFCE - students to take a central role in quality assessment & feedback in QAA
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Process: Researching the ‘Student Voice’
      • Not a unique concept:
        • JISC “In their own words” (3rd party)
      • VLL: student interns as researchers
      • Nature & development of research = PAR
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Output: SFG & video development
      • SFG around the university
          • What is visual learning?
          • What have been your best & worst learning experiences
      • Transcribed & coded in Nvivo
      • Video developed using students’ voice
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Outcomes: Feedback Loop
      • Education Pilot
      • Vet School
      • Classics
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Participatory Action Research (PAR)
    • "Research which involves all relevant parties in actively examining together current problematic situation in order to change and improve it. They do this by critically reflecting on the historical, political, cultural, economic, geographic and other contexts which makes sense of it."
    • (Wadsworth, 1998)
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • History of PAR
      • Psychology, social and educational research
      • Action Research (Kurt Lewin) - Action / reflection cycle
      • Participatory dimensions – critical, social and educational
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • PAR: Participation
    • Research Parties (Wadsworth, 1998)
      • The researcher(s) , the researched, and the researched for 
    • Authentic Participation
      • Empowering and emancipatory
      • Democratic and non-coercive 
    • Collective Self-reflective Enquiry
      • Record, collect and analyse reactions and feedback
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • PAR: Action
      • Not end product!
      • Affect positive change – improvement / reproduction 
    • Critical Inquiry
      • Circumstances, actions and consequences
      • Political process – wider contexts
      • Resistance to change (participants and others)
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • PAR: Research
    •    Start Small!
      • Small cycles and groups (McTaggart, 1989)
      • Manageable, controllable and realistic
      • Bottom-up approach
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Cyclical Model
    • Kemmis and McTaggart (1988)
    • 4 ‘Moments’ of Action Research
    • “ Self-critical communities of people participating and   collaborating in the research processes of planning , acting , observing and reflecting .”
    • (McTaggart, 1989)
    • Interdependent and cyclical
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Stages of PAR
      • Action-reflection cycles occur through a number of stages
    •   Granularity
      • Action and reflection determined by scale
      • Cycles within cycles
      • Stages and cycles can overlap and take place simultaneously
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Preliminary Stage
    • PLAN
    • Student interns as researchers
    • ACT
    • VLL core team engaged with student interns
    • Identify relevant learner issues
    • Role of student interns - unique position
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Stage One: Student Focus Groups
    • PLAN
    • Empowering / promoting the student voice
    • ACT
    • Conducting and analysing student focus groups
    • Key themes / categories emerged from the data 
    • Roles as ‘students as researchers’  
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Coding: Themes and Categories
    • Learning Contexts
    • Lectures
    • Small Groupwork / Seminars
    • Other (inc. Online, Field, Lab Work)
    • Themes / Categories
    • Interactivity and Engagement
    • Personalised Learning Self-directed Learning and Student Choice
    • Visuality and Multimodality
    • Technologies
    • Teaching Styles, Competencies and Training
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Stage Two: Video Workshops
    • PLAN
    • Disseminating findings to practitioners
    • ACT
    • Designing and presenting video workshops
    • Record feedback from practitioners 
    • Ongoing discussion
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Stage Three: Wider Dissemination
    • PLAN
    • Disseminating to external audiences
    • ACT
    • Presenting at the SRHE Conference
    • What’s happening here!
    • Reflect with other student interns
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • Stage Four: Future Development
    • PLAN
    • Disseminating to a wider internal audience 
    • ACT
    • Planning to present to PGCHE and MA(Ed.) students
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk
  • References
    • Hughes, I. & Seymour-Rolls, K. (2000). Participatory Action Research: Getting the Job Done. Action Research E-Reports, 4. http://www.fhs.usyd.edu.au/arow/arer/004.htm
    • Kemmis, S. & McTaggart, R., Eds. (1988). The Action Research Planner. 3rd Edition.  Victoria: Deakin University.
    • McTaggart, R. (1989). 16 Tenets of Participatory Action Research. The Third World Encounter on Participatory Research. Managua, Nicaragua. September 3-9. http://www.caledonia.org.uk/par.htm
    • Wadsworth, Y. (1998). What is Participatory Action Research? Action Research International, Paper 2.  http://www.scu.edu.au/schools/gcm/ar/ari/pywadsworth98.html
    www .visual learning lab. ac.uk