Guidance on working with students

So, you’ve decided to include students in the consultation process, or get them involved in a development project. Here are a few things to think about before, during and after you engage students.

Students should be engaged in a deliberate and meaningful way.

Think carefully about how and when to involve students, being mindful of how best they can contribute to a process. Students’ time is limited, so think about how to focus their involvement on the issues most relevant to them or the areas where you most want to get student input. Also think about timing: at what stage in a project can students’ views and ideas have the most impact?

Student involvement should be proportional

The bigger the potential impact of your actions is on students, the more you need to consult with and involve them. For example, if you are proposing significant changes to the curriculum that will impact on the whole cohort, you will need to consult widely.

All students should have an opportunity to get involved

You should make sure opportunities to engage are widely publicised, accessible and flexible, and that any barriers to participation are addressed. This might mean holding meetings and events in accessible venues, making sure students can participate online or via skype, scheduling meetings to avoid timetable clashes, and using plain English.

Students should receive recognition for their involvement

Engagement is a personal development opportunity for students. It should therefore be recognised and rewarded appropriately. Ideally, you’ll have agreed on the kind of recognition students will receive before recruiting them to your project. Types of recognition might include payment (if you are asking students to undertake a significant amount of work), academic credit, HEAR accreditation (not available for new activities), electronic badges or simply a letter of thanks.

Students and staff should be supported

Think about the training and support that students and staff may need to work together effectively. Give feedback to students and staff to help them develop their skills in working collaboratively.

Remember that students are equal collaborators

Remember that students are early career professionals who have a stake in the review and development of high quality education. Make sure you’re creating opportunities for students to not only input but to initiate conversations. Proper facilitation should empower students to make suggestions and ask ‘why?’

The conversation doesn’t end when your project does

Student engagement goes beyond consultation with students. It should be part of a wider effort to continually engage students throughout their time at University, working towards ongoing open dialogue.

Monitor how things are going

You should continually review and monitor the effectiveness and impact of engagement. Why? How?

Outcomes of student engagement are valuable. Make sure people know about them.

Project outcomes, research findings and any suggested actions should be communicated widely and through agreed communication channels (e.g. SSCs, department newsletters, tutor meetings). Students should also be informed how their views have had an impact on learning and teaching.