On a national level, student engagement has been under discussion with the June 2011 Government White Paper, Students at the Heart of the System, and the Student Engagement partnership. Additionally, the Quality Assurance Agency is creating a chapter in its new UK Quality Code addressing how and why institutions should engage students meaningfully in learning and teaching, looking at representation and beyond.
Encouraging students to be active participants in their education—within a climate of academic excellence—is also a priority at the University of Sheffield. Students are actively involved in quality assurance processes with representation on periodic review panels. They also provide feedback on modules and programmes. At an institutional level, students also participate in national suryeys such as the National Student Survey, Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey, and Postgraduate Research Experience Survey.
In addition to more formal structures, many connections happen naturally through day-to-day departmental and faculty interactions. There are many other ways to build those connections to allow greater student engagement where students take on a more active role in their learning. It is important to bear in mind that student engagement is not only achieved through projects and activities but an ongoing process that touches on many of the core priorities in the Learning and Teaching Strategy, including skills development, personal tutoring and communities of learning.
In addition to student representatives in departmental and faculty activities, several initiatives allow students to further make an impact on the learning and teaching environment and research experience on campus.
Student Ambassadors for Learning & Teaching (SALTs)
Each academic department appoints a Student Ambassador for Learning and Teaching whose role it is to liaise with professional services staff, attend Faculty Learning & Teaching Committee meetings and work on specific projects to support Learning and Teaching development. SALTs provide a student perspective in order to develop and improve the learning and teaching experience for all students.
SURE: Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience
SURE offers undergraduate students an opportunity to become directly involved in the research activity of the University.
Faculty or Course Representatives
Faculty or course representatives are elected officials who give feedback and present the student voice on Faculty committees, providing valuable feedback before decisions take place.
Students’ Union Representation System
Each department has a student representative to feedback concerns to the Students’ Union Council.
Student and departmental collaboration yield community benefits
As part of a joint collaboration between the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Sheffield Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), enterprising students from the University of Sheffield turned crisp packets into blankets for the Bolivian community.
Visit Experience Sheffield for examples of how students can become more engaged in the University community through a variety of endeavours, such as departmental activities, Student Union involvement, work experience and volunteering. Departmental initiatives include Witness, Storying Sheffield and the Global Engineering Challenge.
Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)’s event launch for the new student engagement Chapter of the Quality Code.
Engaging students in learning & teaching - A presentation by Amy Jeffries (LeTS) at the Sixth Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, 2012
These principles include active learning, prompt feedback and respect for diverse ways of learning. They lay much of the foundation of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), used increasingly in the United States and Canada.
Chickering, Arthur W. and Zelda F. Gamson. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education, American Association of Higher Education Bulletin (39), 7, 3-7.
Implementing the seven principles American Association for Higher Education Bulletin (2003).
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