Always nice to find out what the opposition's doing, especially when the presentation's given by a former colleague! Louise Thorpe from Sheffield Hallam University gave a good talk on "Responding to student expectations through policy and practice"
As well as carrying out student satisfaction surveys, for the last 5 years SHU have been carrying out an expectations survey in freshers week and the first week of term. Their view is that an expectations gap can lead to difficulties in making the first year transition to University and in retention and non completion as it is a different experience going from from school to university.
They wanted to understand student expectations to inform development and planning and to use the feedback to inform curriculum design.
One of their challenges was the issues of whether actually asking questions raises expectations – for example if you ask whether students expect podcasting, do they then expect you to provide them. So - do you try and meet expectations, or manage them?
Their results show a number of things whch haven't changed over time:
Overall expectations are high
Working and commuting students assign biggest value to technology
All see it as an essential feature of learning and preparedness for workplace
Many students are confident with technology, but there's still a significant minority needing support
Their essential baselines – electronic resources, email communications with tutors, blended activity – don’t want just on line resources but need face to face contact as well
What has changed:
2003 students were more uncertain that those surveyed in 2007
2007 students want technology to play a greater role in assessment - 83% expect on-line feedback
They are more confident about the robustness of technology and trust it more
The newer technologies have seen the greatest growth – 50% expect online collaboration and reflection tools, eg blogs and wikis.
They want more access to online media eg podcasts
What have they done about these expectations?
To try and meet some of them they've moved to on-line feedback and technology supported submission of course work. Students have to read their feedback in order to release their grades.
To manage them they've encouraged staff to have a clear rationale for using elearning and to publish it including what is expected of the student and of the staff member.
This year they are not doing the same survey but have moved to just text based questions such as
what are you most looking forward to about course, what do you think will be different, and what skills would you like to improve to help you to do better.
I look forward to seeing the results.