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Pharmacy shapes education through staff-student partnerships

The School of Pharmacy wasn’t over the moon when it was placed in the ASER Intensive programme in 2015-16 but, says Dr Rebecca Lever, ‘it galvanised us to push on with several initiatives.'

Students in a pharmacy tutorial

22 November 2016

Dr Rebecca Lever explains how the initiatives, already under development to improve the education experience of our students, have been effective.

These include:

  • improving exam feedback
  • creating more opportunities for regular dialogue with students
  • a close-the-loop campaign.

Pharmacy saw a dramatic improvement in rates of satisfaction across all metrics in the 2016 National Student Survey

Dr Lever, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology and MPharm Programme Director, and Kirsty Martin, the School’s Student and Academic Support Manager, have been working together with colleagues to address issues raised by students through a variety of channels, including the NSS.

‘We have always given a lot of support to struggling students,’ says Dr Lever, ‘But what about the ones who were doing well? If someone scores 68% in an assignment, for example, they still want to know how to improve on that, how they might achieve 78%.’ 

Exam feedback scheme

An Exam Feedback scheme was established through which students could review their most recent exam papers with their personal advisor and reflect on their performance.

This helps them to identify any weaknesses in their approach to assessment, such as time management and structuring of answers, as well as areas of the curriculum that might require more focus in the future.

The scheme is now in its second year and a survey has been designed by four Changemaker Scholars that will be used to gather students’ views on the success of the scheme later this academic year.

Making lectures more accessible by providing recordings

Lecture recording has become the norm, thanks in part to the student Technology Enhanced Learning Officers (TELOs) who work closely with the e-learning co-ordinator to make sure that lecturers are miked up correctly and that recording equipment is working properly.

The Student Experience Group

Once a term there is a meeting of the Student Experience Group – an informal interactive forum for students and staff in the JCR.

"All course reps are automatically members, but any student who shows an interest is welcome," says Dr Lever. "There’s always a good turnout, with around 60 people in round table discussions, and we provide a packed lunch. We’ve had great feedback from students, who really appreciate the chance to interact with staff in this way. And they love the packed lunch!"

Regular two hour drop-in sessions are held and an anonymous feedback portal on Moodle, both hosted by the Student Experience Group, extend the opportunities for students to raise issues and suggest improvements throughout the year.

At the end of the second term the School runs a ‘Student Voice’ survey with NSS style questions as well as specific questions about individual modules.

The staff-student teaching and learning partnership

Out of the discussions in the Student Experience Group, we have developed the Staff-Student Teaching and Learning Partnership, which sets out the following:

What students can expect from staff – such as:

  • timely posting of materials on Moodle
  • return of feedback on submitted work within three working weeks
  • ensuring that teaching sessions begin and end on time

What staff expect from students – such as:

  • prompt arrival in lectures
  • courteous use of email
  • taking responsibility for their own learning.

Making sure students understand their role in encouraging change

Importantly, the School makes clear to students the role they are playing in steering change.

In December 2015 and January 2016, a ‘You said, We did’ campaign demonstrated improvements in IT, exam feedback, lecture recording and increased availability of iPads for loan. In addition, the SSCC Moodle page has a live action tracker, which shows the progress of initiatives.

Kirsty Martin says: "These days students are far more ready to get involved with shaping their education - there’s a real sense of partnership."