Using data to enhance the student experience: Do you have good practice to share?

© Mihaela Bodlovic 2019 Festival of Creative Learning

In this extra post, Professor Tina Harrison, Assistant Principal Academic Standards and Quality Assurance and Professor of Financial Services Marketing and Consumption, and Nichola Kett, Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement Team in Academic Services, showcase the work that The University of Edinburgh has been doing to address the Enhancement Theme: “Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the Student Experience?”, and highlight an important opportunity to present at the Enhancement Themes Conference in June 2020…

Staff across the University use a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative data to enhance the student experience, from national survey results to mid-course feedback and discussions with student representatives.  There is an excellent opportunity to showcase this good practice by presenting at the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Scotland’s International Enhancement Themes conference, Beyond measure? Exploring what counts in higher education, on 3 and 4 June 2020, in Glasgow.

What are the Enhancement Themes? 

The Enhancement Themes are key areas identified and agreed by the Scottish higher education sector as a means for institutions, academic staff, support staff and students to work together in a focused way to enhance the learning experience for students. The current Theme is Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the Student Experience. The Theme reflects on data that is available within the Scottish sector to help us understand what we do well and what we could improve. 2019/20 is the third and final year of the current Theme.

What have the University and the Students’ Association been doing to address the Theme: Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the Student Experience?

  • In consultation with key stakeholders, Student Data and Surveys led a project to review and enhance the data available to support key quality assurance and enhancement processes. This will improve clarity for staff on how to access, interpret and effectively use data. New PowerBI dashboards were launched in June 2019.
  • In response to student feedback, the Students’ Association implemented a handover document for all Programme Representatives to fill in at the end of their tenure. 66% of Programme Representatives have completed the handover document (up from 53% who completed the impact questionnaire in the previous year).
  • In a bid to improve data sharing with students for enhancement, standard high-level student feedback reports were developed and made available to student School Representatives as part of a pilot in three Schools in 2018/19. Following successful evaluation of the pilot, these reports will be rolled out to all School Reps across the University in 2019/20.
  • The mid-course feedback follow-up evaluation, and the course enhancement questionnaire review carried out in 2018/19, identified a need to provide clarity for staff and students on the role and purpose of various student voice mechanisms and how they relate to each other. A graphically-designed, visual representation of student voice mechanisms is being developed to share with students and staff.
  • A good practice resource for staff on closing the loop on student feedback was developed and can be found on the University website.

The Conference

The 2020 Enhancement Themes Conference Beyond measure? Exploring what counts in higher education will take place on 3 and 4 June 2020, at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow city centre. The conference will centre on four questions:

  • How can we use evidence to support decision-making?
  • What counts as valid evidence?
  • How can we ensure we are working in partnership with students?
  • How can we ensure that we are using evidence ethically?

Calls for proposals are now open, and will close on 25 October 2019.  Proposals can be submitted through the conference website.  As this is the final year of the current Theme, we are very keen for the University to be well represented, and so would encourage staff to consider submitting a conference proposal.

Through plenary sessions, papers and workshops, five conference strands will be explored:

  • Understanding student demographics, retention, progression and success
  • Using big data to enhance learning and teaching and the student experience
  • Creating and valuing evidence beyond numbers
  • Empowering staff and students to use evidence
  • Supporting employability and the development of graduate skills.

Registration for the conference will open in February 2020. Places fill up quickly, so keep an eye on the website or sign up to the quality enhancement newsletter to get regular updates on both the conference and Enhancement Themes work.

Other useful resources

The Enhancement Themes website contains a plethora of useful resources on using data to enhance the student experience. Examples include: a resource pack for responding to the student voice; guides on the HE data landscape; a booklet outlining key discussion topics for using evidence to explore retention and progression; and a series of recorded webinar, which considered the use of different types of data in a variety of contexts.

Further Information and Support

If you would like more information on the Enhancement Themes or to discuss a conference proposal, please contact Nichola Kett who co-ordinates the University’s work on the Theme. If you submit a proposal, please also let Nichola know because it is useful to know about Theme-related work happening across the University.

Tina Harrison

Tina is Assistant Principal Academic Standards and Quality Assurance and Professor of Financial Services Marketing and Consumption. Tina joined the University in 1993 and continues to maintain an active academic role in the Business School. She has had overall responsibility for the University’s quality assurance framework as Assistant Principal since 2009. She is a member of the QAA Scotland ELIR 3 Committee, a member of the sparqs University Advisory Group, and represents the University sector on the SCQF Quality Committee. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the European Quality Assurance Forum.

Nichola Kett

Nichola Kett is Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement Team in Academic Services, where she oversees the implementation and management of the quality framework and manages the quality assurance and enhancement team. Nichola also engages with and contributes to key University learning and teaching activities.

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