Author(s) Ellen Spender
How to truly experience the student experience? Become a student. 20 years a lecturer and then I decided to enrol as a fulltime student in order to experience, on a daily basis, the barriers students today face and constantly think about ways to break down those barriers. In September 2016 I enrolled on the MSc in Accounting and Finance as well as being employed as an accounting lecturer at Swansea University. It has been an enlightening experience. I have witnessed at first hand the challenges, likes and dislikes of students and the experience has highlighted areas of concern to students which we, as lecturers, can address. Join me on a journey of discovery into the world of students at Swansea University. A journey of expectations, frustrations, homesickness, loneliness, camaraderie and achievement all in an attempt to reach for teaching excellence.
The lecturer/student contract: two very different experiences on a journey to one destination. As lecturers our responsibility is to deliver knowledge in such a way that students not only understand but also retain that knowledge. My career path as a professional educator for 20 years has always focused on enhancing student experience by delivering quality teaching and engaging successfully with students to motivate them to fulfil their individual educational potential. Student expectations have grown, some might say disproportionally, in recent years. In the current era of marketisation, where students are effectively paying customers with a resounding voice, quality of teaching is key to the success of the university, and professional educators such as myself are vital to achieving continued student satisfaction. Last September I took the decision to become, once again, a fulltime student in Swansea alongside my role as a lecturer at the University in an attempt to identify current student expectations and to develop a more effective relationship with my students. My findings have been illuminating. The aim of this paper is to present to peers an insight into Postgraduate students expectations and the barriers those students face on a daily basis and how, as lecturers, we can attempt to break down those barriers. My data was collected via a questionnaire distributed to my fellow classmates and through interviews with a focus group. The word expectations has such a broad scope, the Oxford Dictionary defines expectations as, “a belief that someone will or should achieve something”. How true when related to students. Students believe that they should achieve something. In my study over the past academic year, I have looked deeply into my own teaching history and have questioned myself regarding issues such as, do I know what student expectations are or do I presume to know? Lectures and seminars are constructed around various pedagogies in an attempt to engage students so why are there absences? Should student satisfaction be at the heart of our lesson planning or students retention of knowledge? The areas frequently raised by students have been discussed under the acronym BLUPA. • Blackboard – the direct route to distant learning? • Lecturers – realistic access to a paid for service? • Understanding – how can we truly gauge student understanding when faced with large class sizes? Are clickers the solution? • Power Point – a lecturers dream but a student’s nightmare? • Attendance – contributing factors. The importance of feedback. The aim of this session is to explore the relationship between how as lecturers we meet our objectives whilst also ensuring students best achieve their objective. I can share my experience and good practice with colleagues so that delegates may be able to implement the findings / initiatives in their own practice. My session demonstrates an innovative approach because I am a reallife study. Dynamic and fluid. My findings, to date, have been shared with colleagues in the School of Management and I hope to share these findings university wide starting at the SALT conference.
student engagement , expectations , duty barriers
Potential solutions to breaking down barriers between students and their learning experience.