As previously, this informal – yet we will always insist informed! – network meeting gave us another opportunity to exchange ideas and to share information, to fly kites and to make suggestions, all in an effort to support what we do back at our own institutions while also seeking to make a contribution to sectoral thinking and developments.
Our focus today was on quality assurance ‘versus’ quality enhancement. And, although that preposition might readily be replaced by a variety of others to reflect what it is that we do and seek to do, how we view QA ‘and’/’with’/’alongside’/etc. QE, we did feel that it was a more apt description of reality than it might need to be.
We are not without direction, but we may also be seeking more room to roam, to smell the roses along the way, and to develop personally and professionally rather than just following a precisely laid down map.
Quality Enhancement, in essence the sharing of effective practice, can be seen both widely and narrowly. It can be a ‘formal process’ as, for example, in the way that Quality and Qualifications Ireland sees it, which “involves promoting and spreading effective practice in an ever-evolving quality assurance system”. It can also be informal.
Held yesterday afternoon, the NStEP Project 1 – 3rd Team Meeting saw six of us in the room joined by two other members contributing by phone. In doing so, we managed to cover quite a bit of ground, with the meeting concentrating, as anticipated, on two main tasks:
considering what the Scottish case studies might offer us in the Irish context; and
firming up the survey we wish to run involving student representatives and staff.
We also took the opportunity to start mapping out where the project is heading in the weeks and months ahead, including the tentative scheduling of an additional (even if only an informal, inquorate, etc.) meeting between now and next academic year, while also noting progress on and ideas regarding a couple of other outputs.
One of the most substantial benefits of Project 1 – The Role and Recruitment of Class Representatives running in parallel with four other national projects is that we are learning from the advances made and stumbling-blocks encountered by our fellow NStEP project teams.
For instance, the two page document created by Project 5 – Staff Roles and Capacity Building regarding their work offers us a template for wider dissemination and promotion in relation to our own efforts. We might just have to have a go at creating something similar ourselves.
In sum, we’re learning by doing, as well as from others, but we also feel that we are progressing with the various tasks we’ve set ourselves. Stay tuned!
The NStEP Project 1 – 3rd Team Meeting is being held tomorrow afternoon and it looks like we’ve come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Two of the main tasks ahead of us at this next meeting are:
a consideration of case studies sourced by sparqs regarding class representative policies and practices in Scotland; and
ahead of a survey we wish to run, we need to firm up what we wish to find out from interested parties regarding class rep mechanisms.
Unsurprisingly, in advance of this third meeting, we’ve asked project members to run their eyes over a couple of documents developed to support these discussions.
With regard to a set of “Case Studies of Scottish Class Rep Handbooks” provided by sparqs, we’re particularly interested in project members identifying their favourite materials/mechanisms, asking them to be able to explain why they appeal, what might work in their context, etc.; in essence, we’re asking project colleagues to identify effective practice when it comes to the support for, reward of, etc., class representatives.
In turn, with regard to the survey we’re looking to run regarding class representatives, a “Survey Discussion Document” has been developed by project members led by Cork Institute of Technology and the Union of Students in Ireland, so the next tasks are to consider it further, to amend where necessary, and to get it signed off by the project team. We were able to garner some feedback already from the second national network meeting in Letterkenny, but we now need to make some decisions.
So, plenty to keep us occupied tomorrow afternoon, but that is no bad thing!
Hosted by Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LVIT) on Tuesday, 8 May 2018, the 2nd National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) network meeting provided us with an ideal opportunity to update the wider NStEP community regarding the progress made thus far by Project 1: The Role and Recruitment of Class Reps and to ask both for their feedback on what has been done up to this and for their ideas regarding next steps.
The role and recruitment of class representatives are a central function of educational institutions and their students’ unions, embodying what partnership means and what student (and staff) engagement entails inside and outside of the classroom.
As the image taken from the NStEP tweet shows, the informal setting employed for this particular session allowed project members and those NStEP colleagues particularly interested in student representation to discuss a variety of aspects regarding class representation, including:
job descriptions (such as the variety of tasks and practices associated with the role)
recruitment processes (e.g. elections)
training (i.e. local and national, as well as task oriented)
reward and recognition
Various themes emerged during this session including, but not restricted to, the need for appropriate institutional infrastructure to support class reps, the crucial role to be played by ongoing communication in all aspects of this vital work, as well as the challenges faced and potential remedies.
The challenges include the retention of class reps, creating opportunities for other students to come forward, and questions regarding sustainability, as well as the applicability of established class rep models for students who are not full time and undergraduate. Meanwhile, in terms of how to address these issues, the power of momentum, the possibility of multi-year plans, and the part to be played by good working relationships were among those items covered.
One of the outputs which this project is aiming to deliver are exemplars of effective practice in the whole area of class representation, with examples drawn from here in Ireland and further afield. Meanwhile, a survey of institutional practice primarily involving, but not necessarily limited to, Students’ Union officers and staff is being developed as part of this exploration. The project work continues apace.
One of the many distinctive features of National College of Ireland is that part time learners constitute a majority of the student headcount, such that the premises are busy from early morning to late at night during the week, and throughout the day at weekends. In turn, our online support for learners is invariably accessible 24/7 so that it fits with the various ways in which our students learn.
In delivering upon its mission, NCI plays an increasingly central role in the local business and residential communities, as well as further afield, seeking to enable people through education, lowering barriers to their individual and collective advancement, while making a unique contribution to the wider economy and society.
This narrative struck at the heart of our ‘Lightning Talk’ contribution given as part of the 2nd Meeting of the National Student Engagement Network (NStEP) held yesterday at Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT). Allocated 10 minutes, this whirlwind tour built upon similar ‘lightning’ analyses offered by Hibernia College regarding the challenges faced by online students and LYIT in relation to placement students.
There is lots happening in the world of the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP), including the very welcome prospect of a second meeting of the network being held in Letterkenny on Tuesday, 8 May 2018.
The theme of the network meeting is “Overcoming Challenges to Student Engagement”. which provides us with the fantastic opportunity to learn from one another, while also energising us to confront some of the issues we are each facing.
NCI and NCISU have been invited to participate directly on a number of different levels, including providing a ‘lightning talk’ before lunch regarding the challenges facing part time students within the context of student engagement, while also hosting a national project session after lunch regarding progress on, and plans for, NStEP Project 1: The Role and Recruitment of Class Representatives. Indeed, the NStEP Project 1: 3rd Team Meeting is slated for Tuesday, 15 May 2018, one week after the second NStEP network meeting, so there is real momentum here.
The agenda for the second NStEP network meeting, which is being hosted by Letterkenny Institute of Technology, follows below:
It looks like a great day in prospect, with the perfect excuse of the preceding bank holiday weekend to do some exploring. Let the sun shine!
With the ISSE 2018 survey results for NCI expected to arrive later this summer, it makes sense to start taking a closer look at where we stand in terms of recently published data.
As noted previously, 847 NCI students took part in ISSE 2018, a response rate of 25.1%, while the average response rate across the sector was recently revealed as 29.4%. Thus, while our own response rate went up, with the absolute number of NCI students responding increasing significantly, we continue to trail behind the national average, as illustrated in the following PPT slide:
This is partly why we set a response rate target of 30% for NCI, i.e. to get closer to the national average; if anything, the gap between NCI and the national average is growing, so that is something which needs to be tackled with renewed vigour.
One of the ongoing projects in the weeks and months ahead will be to compare and contrast what our students are telling us with what the picture is nationally. Recently tweeted by @StudentSurveyIE, the overarching depictions of the 2017 and 2016 survey results will be among the resources we’ll be using to assess where we stand.
As illustrated below, these user-friendly gauges need to be part of the conversation that we have with our own students when it comes to ISSE specifically, and learner feedback more generally. It is also part of the ‘virtuous circle’ narrative supporting feedback from students through a process of ongoing communication and interaction, thereby enabling its promotion, completion and evaluation, as well as appropriate action in the light of what it is telling us.
The National Student Engagement Programme is a collaborative initiative which aims to develop student capabilities and institutional capacity to enhance engagement at all levels across the higher education system.