Student Engagement Conference | London

Programme – 19 October 2023

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  • evasys Student Engagement Conference Programme: Thursday, 19 October 2023

09:30

Registration

10:00

Welcome and housekeeping

10:10

Opening Keynote: Creating Student Engagement for the Future: Designs and Benefits
Professor Gilly Salmon, PhD., PFHEA., NTF., CEO and Principal Consultant, Education Alchemists Ltd

10:45

PARALLEL SESSION 1

 

Workshop 1  (Chancellors Hall)

Workshop 2  (G3)

Workshop 3  (G4)

 

Co-creation through
Scholarship
Danielle Thibodeau, Graeme
Hathaway and Elise Omfalos,
Queen Mary University of
London

Enhancing Student Engagement through structured Personal Tutoring
Dr David Grey, UKAT

Building student-centric
services: Unlocking
Innovation in Student
Engagement
Colum Mackey, Greenwich
Students’ Union and Tania
Struetzel, University of
Greenwich

  • 11.45 am: Refreshment Break

12:00

PARALLEL SESSION 2

 

Paper presentations A (Chancellors Hall)
Chair: Dr Helena Lim

Paper presentations B (G3)
Chair: Bruce Johnson

Paper presentations C  (G4)
Chair: Glenda Saint John

 

1. Using creative enquiry to empower student voice: experiences from Queen Mary University of London
Dr Louise Younie, Dr Ana Cabral, Dr Stephanie Fuller, Stephanie Fuller et al, QMUL
2. Photovoice for advanced learning among first-year BA students  
Louise Taylor and Christie Johnson, London College of Communication, University of the Arts

3. Motivating international postgraduate taught students at UK business schools – bridging the chasm of student expectation and institutional reality
Ann Qian, Chester Business School

4. Developing a data-driven
module enhancement
service

Jonathan Thomas, University of London

5. Harnessing evaluation for data-driven decision making
Sophie Leslie, Swansea University

6. Student Voice and its many colours 
Emily Chapman, SOAS, University of London

 

7. A National Approach to Empowering Learners and Enhancing Student Engagement in Higher Education in Ireland
Sean O’Reilly, Technological Higher Education Association

8. Reflections from Office: A sabbatical officer’s reflection of student engagement and voice in Higher Education (HE) teaching and learning.
Callum Perry, University of East Anglia

9. Understanding how students engage with their studies
Professor Gill Knight, Royal Holloway, University of London

  • 13.00 pm: Lunch

13:45

 PARALLEL SESSION 3

 

Workshop 4   (Chancellors Hall)

Workshop 5 (G3)                                       

Workshop 6 (G4)                                        

 

Creating new futures for engagement: using a rich picture to facilitate collaborative and dynamic thinking
Professor Gilly Salmon and Rod Angood

NSS: one size fits all? A peer learning discussion
Dr Helena Lim, evasys and
Huw Morgan-Jones,
University of London

Co-creation from the ground up: address inequalities in higher education in and through the curriculum with student voice
Dr Kate Cuthbert, Sally Andrews and Jameelia Stephenson

14:45

PARALLEL SESSION 4

 

Roundtable Discussion 1  (Chancellors Hall)

Roundtable Discussion 2 (G3)

Roundtable Discussion 3  (G4)

 

Why we must engage all student groups in higher education governance structures
Dr Diana Beech, London Higher

Elevating Student Engagement: Pre-Arrival Surveys in Higher Education
Bruce Johnson, evasys with
Lia Lawson & Jacob Pepper,
Middlesex University

Safe, Sustainable Student-led Community Engagement
Dr Poorna Gunasekera, University of Plymouth

  • 15.45 pm: Refreshment Break

16:00

Closing Keynote: Student Engagement, interventions and evaluation data – what keeps me awake at night
Student engagement is a critical component of learning. In this keynote, we will look at the critical links between the use of evaluation data and building the right systems for successful student interventions. Charles will provide some provocations to consider in your own institutional context. 
Dr Charles Knight, Assistant Director, Knowledge and Innovation, Advance HE

16:25

Closing remarks

16:30

Conference close

Keynote Speakers
gilly salmon speaker student engagement conference

Professor Gilly Salmon ( Ph.D., PFHEA, NTF.)

CEO and Principal Consultant, Education Alchemists Ltd.

Creating Student Engagement for the Future: Designs and Benefits

Professor Gilly Salmon will explore preferred and viable learning futures for student engagement. Looking through some different windows with intent and using a Rich Picture technique, this creative and innovative keynote will consider the multiple lenses of engagement, to include for instance, cocreation, partnership, academic engagement, evaluation design and data capture. Drawing from her extensive experience pedagogical innovation and transformation, Professor Salmon will consider how, if together we design super-well deploying the best of data, we can scale, sustain, contextualise, adopt, and adapt for students’ flexibility and for longer-term impact.

Professor Salmon will be supported by Rod Angood, an established Graphic Artist providing real time artistic images, pictures and diagrams that capture concepts, ideas and models during the keynote.

Professor Salmon is one of the world’s leading thinkers, researchers and practitioners in learning futures. She publishes, blogs & presents on pedagogical innovation and learning transformation. Her books ‘E-moderating’ and ‘E-tivities’ are considered seminal texts. Her ‘Carpe Diem’ learning design methodology is extensively deployed internationally. She has 30+ years of experience, in universities in UK, Europe and Australia. She has implemented significant educational changes. She is an Adjunct Professor at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and Visiting Professor at the Universities of Law, Derby, and Edge Hill, in the UK.

Knight Charles original

Dr Charles Knight

Assistant Director, Knowledge and Innovation, Advance HE

Student Engagement, interventions and evaluation data – what keeps me awake at night

Student engagement is a critical component of learning. In this session, we will look at the critical links between the use of evaluation data and building the right systems for successful student interventions. Charles will provide some provocations to consider in your own institutional context.

Charles is an academic leader with a proven track record of delivery in the areas of learning and teaching and enterprise. Prior to joining Advance HE, he was Associate Dean (Student Experience) at Salford Business School where he worked with colleagues to introduce a series of innovative practices including short technical qualifications, block teaching and an increased emphasis on the use of simulations and experimental learning. He was also involved in setting up a North-West Attainment Gap group bring together business schools.

Session abstracts

Parallel Session 1, 1045 – 1145

WORKSHOP 1

Co-creation through Scholarship
Danielle Thibodeau, Graeme Hathaway and Elise Omfalos, Queen Mary University of London

Since 2022, the Queen Mary Academy at Queen Mary, University of London has been running its Learner Intern Programme (LIP). The aim of LIP is to undertake scholarship and development projects in collaboration with our diverse learner population by annually hiring interns to work on projects in partnership with educators. This workshop will use LIP as a jumping off point to discuss how scholarship can be undertaken via cocreation with learners, and strategies for better incorporating learners’ perspective into the work of developing innovative and well-evidenced learning practices. The goal of this session is to explore new models for learner engagement that contribute to evidence-based practices while supporting learner skill development and career exploration.

WORKSHOP 2

Enhancing Student Engagement through structured Personal Tutoring

Dr David Grey, UKAT

It’s time to kickback and have some fun! In this highly interactive workshop session, participants will explore how a structured programme of personal tutoring can personalise the learning experience, engage students with their studies, and enhance their success within and beyond higher education. Participants will work in groups to play UKAT’s Advising Journey design game, through which they will develop an outline personal tutoring programme that maps meaningful student support interventions to relevant points in the student journey.

WORKSHOP 3

Building student-centric services: Unlocking Innovation in Student Engagement
Colum Mackey, Greenwich Students’ Union and Tania Struetzel, University of Greenwich

This workshop will provide an overview of the Retention Project, shortlisted for the 2022 THE Award Outstanding Student Support, which provides proactive peer-to-peer support to all students through wellbeing check-in calls. This project, now in its third year, focuses on meeting students where they are at, to provide a proactive, early intervention to resolve issues they might be facing. During the calls, students are asked about their programme, wellbeing, offered advice and directly referred to the relevant University and SU services where required. The calls provide a safe, social connection with a student peer positively impacting on the sense of belonging. The workshop will discuss how the project brings together Students’ Union and different student services, and how the insights from the calls have informed improvements to university services and processes. These include follow-up research on housing and initiatives to support with the cost-of-living crisis. Prioritising students not attending classes supports Professional Services and Personal Tutors ensuring these students receive relevant, timely
support, and has significantly contributed to improving retention and completion. It is expected that upon completion of the workshop, participants will have initiated the design of their own proactive intervention tailored to their local context and student demographic.

Parallel Session 2, 1200 – 1300

PAPER 1

Using creative enquiry to empower student voice: experiences from Queen Mary University of London
Dr Louise Younie, Dr Ana Cabral and Dr Stephanie Fuller, Queen Mary University of London

(1). Through metaphorical and symbolic engagement with the different languages of the arts, voice can be given not just to the cognitive domain of experience but also emotional, tacit and ineffable dimensions (2). In this presentation, we discuss the concept of creative enquiry and how it has been used to elicit and empower student voice at Queen Mary. Creative enquiry was used as part of a curriculum enhancement project on graduate attributes where students were invited to reflect on randomly selected images. This generated deeper engagement with the attributes, their meanings and relevance to students’ study and ambitions. These discussions are now being used to support the development of resources. Creative enquiry was also used in research to explore lived experiences of students involved in co-creation projects. Alongside surveys and interviews, participants chose a postcard from a website that resonated with their experience and posted a reflection on Padlet. These reflections powerfully distilled the essence of what they have learned from the experience as individuals and future professionals. We will invite attendees to share their experiences and will discuss how creative enquiry can be used effectively.

PAPER 2

Photovoice for advanced learning among first-year BA students
Louise Taylor and Christie Johnson, London College of Communication, University of the Arts

Enabling students to succeed from the beginning of their studies is a priority for educators, as is engaging them in developing capacities for research and creative thinking. At London College of Communication, we chose to explore Photovoice as a participatory arts-based research methodology for empowering and engaging students. Over several projects, participants were encouraged to test the limits of the methodology, to produce artefacts beyond the conventional printed and digital photographic image. Our session will include contributions from students and staff involved in several Photovoice projects which emphasised the continuity between students’ creative practices and their learning development. As staff and student co-researchers, we will explore how Photovoice can empower student voices and influence policy, and enhance skills of collaboration, communication, visual literacy and research. We will reflect on how far participatory projects such as this can enhance students’ long-term learning behaviours, increase academic and creative confidence, and lead to students’ understanding themselves better as learners. We will present data and feedback, as well as selected project images and narratives. To give delegates time to engage further with images and narratives, we would propose to install a popup exhibition at the conference.

PAPER 3

Motivating international postgraduate taught students at UK business schools – bridging the chasm of student expectation and institutional reality
Ann Qian, Chester Business School

As a lecturer at the Chester Business School, I often hear our international postgraduate taught (PGT) students claim that what they experience is not what they have expected, and the mismatch has negatively impacted their motivation, satisfaction and success. UK HEIs allocate a lot of resources on supporting international students (McMahon, 2015; Cebolla-Boado et al., 2018). However, students need to be motivated to take up the offers and engage with their studies. In addition, research has acknowledged that international students could be highly adaptive if motivated (Kingston & Forland, 2008; Sewpersad et al., 2019). This research, through the perspective of psychological contract, motivation theories and IPMA (importance-performance matrix analysis), aims to explore international PGT students’ expectations and motivations of studying in a UK business school. It will identify potential gaps after students have started studies, look for factors related to their expectations and motivations, compare the impacts of those factors, provide recommendations for motivation and assisting their adaptation to UK HE criteria. The results will help underpin UK business schools’ strategy, policy and priority in marketing, recruitment and teaching delivery, inform services to be more effective in the context of limited resources (Sherry et al., 2004).

PAPER 4

Developing a data-driven module enhancement service
Jonathon Thomas, University of London

Accurate and consistent data is essential to identify and understand potential issues students are having with a module. In this session, we will look at how the University of London Worldwide is using evasys end-of-module evaluation data to shape their new module enhancement service and drive their continual service improvement agenda.

PAPER 5

Harnessing evaluation for data-driven decision making
Sophie Leslie, Swansea University

Quality enhancement is leading the direction of HE and informing quality practices, however, the need for clear data-driven practices and robust evidence to inform action highlights a number of challenges facing universities in their pursuit for true quality enhancement. Student feedback is one of a number of metrics universities use to inform enhancement and often lead to the production of action plans and the need for constant change and improvement. Following a recent review of student feedback practices at Swansea University, a number of common themes arose that related more to the culture surrounding decision making and evidencing practice than specifically student feedback. Using student feedback as a prime example, this presentation will focus on the embedding of a culture of data-driven decision making and more importantly how it can be embedded within quality enhancements approaches, support quality assurance and support the ongoing partnership of staff and students, and utilising free text comments for decision making. The presentation will also focus on the cyclical and big bang action planning utilised across the sector and the benefits of continuous enhancement and how we can be utilising dialogic approaches to support ongoing enhancement whilst also celebrating good practice.

PAPER 6

Student Voice and its many colours
Emily Chapman, SOAS, University of London

At SOAS we see students as Co-Creators of their educational experience and need to know what they think. It is important that every student feels heard, valued, respected, and empowered. And in that spirit, we encourage our students to engage and use their voices. We want to know:

  • What works, so we can keep doing it?
  • What is important to you, so we can invest more in it?
  • Where could we do better?

We base this on four stages Listening, Analysis, Taking Action, and Communication. We are going through a time of change and enhancement, leading to encouraging results within Student Voice and Student Engagement. There are two core methods to highlight:

  • Enhancements and engagement within the Student Rep Network and in Partnership with the Students Union.
  • Our Teaching Excellence and Student Experience Plans – for each academic department linking to yearly improvement based on data-driven insights and decision making.

During this session, we will highlight what systems we have in place as well as highlight the positives to have come out of it and what we want to achieve moving forward. As well as an interactive session on where colleagues think student voice is after Covid.

PAPER 7

A National Approach to Empowering Learners and Enhancing Student Engagement in Higher Education in Ireland
Sean O’Reilly, Technological Higher Education Association

This oral presentation will outline key elements of a major transformative national programme currently underway across the seven technological HEIs in Ireland. The government of Ireland chose to invest €38m of #NextGenerationEU funding into the programme running from 2022 to 2024, designed to
foster an inclusive digital education ecosystem for all learners in technological higher education. Informed by the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030, published in 2011, significant reform has taken place including the consolidation of Institutes of Technology (IoTs) to create amalgamated universities. Five Technological Universities (TUs) were established between January 2019 and May 2022. Two Institutes of Technology remain. A partnership of these seven institutions developed a programme to transform learning, teaching, assessment and the student experience across the sector. Based on evidence gathered from the wholeof-HE ‘Next Steps for Teaching and Learning: Moving Forward Together’ project coordinated by the Irish National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, and national StudentSurvey.ie data on students’ experiences, the programme aims to create sustainable digital ecosystems that empower staff and students within a changing world. Further details are available at www.transforminglearning.ie

PAPER 8

Reflections from Office: A sabbatical officer’s reflection of student engagement and voice in Higher Education (HE) teaching and learning.
Callum Perry, University of East Anglia

From 2019-2021, I was Undergraduate Education Officer at a UK SU and saw first-hand the benefits, challenges and hurdles to ‘good’ student engagement for learning. It became clear that there were challenges affecting our ability to ‘connect’ with student demographics which affected how confident I felt as a representative to represent. From reaching the ‘hard to reach’, discussing co-creation in educational policy, changing a culture of tokenistic representation, and exploring the relationship between honesty and student engagement, I continue to ask questions about what engagement looks like and how student voice is garnered for positive educational change in HE. How can we move away from having ‘a seat at the table’ to meaningful voice and engagement in teaching and learning issues that affect students. In this presentation, I will draw on my own reflections from my time in office to offer some observations and conclusions on what questions we need to be asking to tackle student engagement. I will explore times where engagement felt ‘good’ and times where it felt completely
wrong, drawing on key theories for student voice and participation. I will actively ask colleagues to provide their own reflections of when engagement felt right or wrong through an interactive Padlet. This will be supported by key reflective questions to support takeaway points in the presentation.

PAPER 9

Understanding how students engage with their studies
Professor Gill Knight, Royal Holloway, University of London

As with most UK Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) we have seen a steady decline in student attendance to on-campus and on-line teaching sessions. This decline in student attendance not only causes concern with Royal Holloway academic staff, but it can also impact student attainment. In 2022/23 we implemented a university wide initiative, to better understand student’s perception of engagement with university study. We conducted this initiative in partnership with six undergraduate students, who worked with us to design an online questionnaire and conduct student focus groups. We explored what educational delivery encourages student engagement and what can cause students to become less engaged with their studies. This presentation will provide the outcomes of the study, describing the key findings related to student attitudes to different learning styles, what factors influence attendance and engagement and how community and support networks influence student engagement. We will also present data on how our key findings are influenced by the different demographics of our student body. We will look to invite, where possible, some of our student cocreators to co-present our work. We also plan to place a short series of questions/reflections throughout the presentation to ensure active audience participation in the presentation.

Parallel Session 3, 1345 – 1445

WORKSHOP 4

Creating new futures for engagement: using a rich picture to facilitate collaborative and dynamic thinking
Professor Gilly Salmon and Rod Angood, Education Alchemists Ltd

Deploying the images from the morning keynote, Gilly and Rod will facilitate this interactive workshop where it is over to you. The session will present a chance to explore and share successes- and learn from failures – with delegates familiar and new to you; and an opportunity to contextualise what you’ve heard so far, and make your own plans. Our aim is to collectively produce a (really worthwhile) ‘To Do’ list.

WORKSHOP 5

NSS: one size fits all? A peer-learning discussion
Dr Helena Lim, evasys and Huw Morgan-Jones, University of London

The 2023 National Student Survey has seen comprehensive changes including the move to direct questions, the introduction of a four-point scale, the removal of Q.27 for English institutions, new questions on freedom of expression and mental wellbeing support, and the use of positivity scores in reporting. These changes have profound implications for institutions, where for 17 years, the NSS has provided robust information that has informed student choice, driven improvements in teaching and learning, and allowed comparisons across the UK HE sector. The changes to the NSS have thrown up new considerations for institutions around internal surveys, longitudinal data and benchmarking to name a few. This session will be a peer-led exploration of how the revised NSS is being used following August’s data release and provide the opportunity to share with and learn from colleagues from other institutions who may not be in the same boat but are having to navigate the same storm.

WORKSHOP 6

Co-creation through Scholarship
Danielle Thibodeau, Graeme Hathaway and Elise Omfalos, Queen Mary University of London

Since 2022, the Queen Mary Academy at Queen Mary, University of London has been running its Learner Intern Programme (LIP). The aim of LIP is to undertake scholarship and development projects in collaboration with our diverse learner population by annually hiring interns to work on projects in partnership with educators. This workshop will use LIP as a jumping off point to discuss how scholarship can be undertaken via cocreation with learners, and strategies for better incorporating learners’ perspective into the work of developing innovative and well-evidenced learning practices. The goal of this session is to explore new models for learner engagement that contribute to evidence-based practices while supporting learner skill development and career exploration.

Parallel Session 4, 1445 – 1545

ROUNDTABLE 1

Why we must engage all student groups in higher education governance structures
Dr Diana Beech and Emily Dixon, London Higher

With almost three-quarters of London based students who enter university due to be from ethnic minorities by end of 2030, as well as over 179,000 international students currently studying in the capital, London universities have to consider the needs of all students when making decisions on behalf of them. The session will look at the experiences of international students, mature students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds in particular, considering not only those who are vocal and actively participate, but also the fact that not all students do engage and therefore do not have their voices heard. The session will mainly focus on issues such as: the study experience, the social experience, employment, accommodation and student support, and discuss what universities can do better to ensure everyone’s needs are considered.

ROUNDTABLE 2

Elevating Student Engagement: Pre-Arrival Surveys in Higher Education
Bruce Johnson, evasys with Lia Lawson & Jacob Pepper, Middlesex University

This round table discussion will focus on the crucial role pre-arrival surveys can play in enhancing student engagement and retention. Recognising the value of understanding student expectations and preferences prior to enrolment, the session aims to explore effective survey methodologies, data analysis strategies, and their integration into academic planning and support systems. It will focus on the opportunity for proactive intervention with UF students as individuals, as well as closing the feedback loop including providing targeted access to support resources. Colleagues from Middlesex University and evasys will share insights, good practice, and real-world experience to facilitate this opportunity for collaborative learning. Thus will include addressing implementation challenges, and highlighting opportunities for leveraging pre-arrival surveys to tailor the educational experience and bolster student success and continuation.

ROUNDTABLE 3

Safe, Sustainable Student-led Community Engagement
Dr Poorna Gunasekera, University of Plymouth

Arguably, many student support services are based on a deficit model, whereby participants are seen as a few in need extra help. While the provision of such help is indeed essential and commendable, this singular focus on ‘supporting’ may override due consideration of ‘celebrating’ the innate attributes of all students. The bar seems to be set at supporting survival, rather than facilitation of thriving. This is especially true for international students. The University of Plymouth adopted a unique approach to work proactively with students and staff, to create opportunities for social engagement with the wider resident community, in a concerted effort to minimise social isolation. We now have 950+ signed-up members, representing the full communal spectrum, who have engaged in over 125 events dedicated to ‘leaving no one behind’. Details of these diverse array of events are found in https://www.meetup.com/global-plymouth/. We propose to first outline the programme and the lessons learned thereby, before facilitating a roundtable discussion on ways to improve this initiative and avoid pitfalls. We hope this may trigger the creation of a network dedicated to facilitating sustainable, safe, social engagement for students on a larger scale, leading to wider communal empowerment in the spirit of Knowledge Exchange.

Student Engagement Conference | London

Thursday, 19 October 2023