Dr. Tom Brock, Lecturer in Sociology in the faculty of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences, was shortlisted for two MMU Student Union Teaching Awards in 2014, just one year into teaching here. We followed up with Tom to find out what he was doing in this teaching that students liked so much. The video, created for the Good Practice Exchange, focuses on interactivity in lectures and working with course reps. For this post, Tom and Abs, last year’s Sociology Course Rep, have teamed up to write about being working the importance of course reps and student feedback.
Can you reflect on how it is to receive student feedback and how you react to it. Why is this important to your teaching? Will you be making any changes to your approach this year?
Tom: “I find working with student reps a vital part of the teaching and learning process in higher education. Student reps are able to identify any anxieties, concerns or issues that class members may be having, allowing myself to respond or make changes before these become critical and potentially undermine their learning experiences.
When I receive feedback from the student reps, I always make a point of acknowledging that the feedback has been received to my students in the following lecture and seminars. I then consider whether the suggestions can be implemented into the course design. Not all feedback can. For example, where students might find conceptual language challenging, the solution is not to remove it, as requested. Rather, in response to such concerns, I will redesign the subsequent lectures/seminars to further clarify these ideas before moving on to new material. Without the student rep such concerns might not have been raised and such changes implemented. This makes their role pivotal in generating a positive student experience.”
As a course rep what kind of feedback did you typically get from students? How did you communicate that to staff? What made that better or worst for you?
Abs: “As a course rep last year students typically told me things they would like changing or that they thought needed improving within their modules and university. It quickly became apparent that such feedback could easily be implemented in a much more time efficient manner by talking to the relevant staff directly, as opposed to waiting for specific course rep meetings. This meant that simple issues were resolved quickly and the student body were generally a lot happier, as such many members of the first year sociology teaching staff received thanks from the formal meetings instead. It did require a greater commitment of time than may otherwise be required of a course rep, but it was entirely worth it and I was very lucky to have such receptive staff supporting feedback from students.”
Can you think of 3 things that would make the relationship between course reps, teaching staff, and the rest of the student body work effectively that other courses could try?
- Provide reps with the space in lectures and seminars to raise and address issues with students directly.
- Unit leaders to correspond with reps on a weekly basis to discuss any issues that emerge weekly.
- To make course rep contact details readily available to both staff and students.
This post was contributed by Dr. Tom Brock and Amarpreet (Abs) Kaur, Sociology, faculty of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences at MMU.
The Good Practice Exchange is an online resource created by CELT MMU to document good practice in learning, teaching and assessment by our colleagues across the university. If you or your colleagues have a teaching initiative or aspect of good practice you think would be valuable to share, contact Eleanor Livermore on firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.