Joe Mahon Reflects on the Student Engagement Symposium held in Dublin.

Six weeks ago, I embarked on an exciting journey with evasys, and I can’t contain my enthusiasm about this new role. It’s a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with forward-thinking higher education institutions worldwide that prioritisze students’ needs above all else. Last month, I had the privilege of attending the evasys Student Engagement Symposium in Dublin, where colleagues from Irish and UK higher education sectors shared their insights into the current challenges and opportunities in student engagement. 

Joe Mahon joins Implementation and Account Manager

Implementation and Account Manager, evasys

Not only did I gain valuable knowledge about diverse approaches to enhancing student engagement, but I also witnessed the genuine appreciation for not only the evasys software but also the remarkable customer support provided by my colleagues to partner institutions.

This experience has reinforced my belief that joining the evasys team was the right decision. I’m now part of a dedicated group determined to help institutions achieve their goals and enhance student voice and feedback practices.

Navigating the Learning Curve: Insights from a new evasys Team Member

As the newest member of the evasys team, I’m on a steep learning curve, and this event was a fantastic opportunity to immerse myself in the ways universities are striving to enhance student engagement.

The day began with a keynote address from Professor Marie Clarke of University College Dublin. She shared insights into UCD’s journey using Kotter’s change model in partnership with evasys. UCD initially opted to survey a sample of modules to reduce survey fatigue; feedback from students was that they wished to provide feedback on all modules. The timing of surveys emerged as a challenge, with some students concerned that providing feedback before assessment deadlines could bias results, while others felt that post-assessment feedback wouldn’t benefit them personally. Marie emphasised that a change in feedback strategy is a cultural transformation that requires time and resources to fully integrate.

Patricia Maguire from the National College of Ireland discussed the College’s successful module evaluation pilot across 15 programmes, achieving initial response rates exceeding 30%. Duncan Berryman and Eimear Gallagher from Queen’s University Belfast shared the university’s progress in improving response rates and their commitment to closing the feedback loop in the coming academic year. Both praised evasys for its effectiveness and for the exemplary customer support.

Dr Andy Clegg then delved into the Being, Belonging, Becoming (BBB) initiative at the University of Portsmouth, focusing on personal tutoring, co-creation of academic study, and creating a sense of belonging. Portsmouth has developed the BBB Survey to evaluate these initiatives and will conduct a sector-wide pilot in the 2023/24 academic session, supported by evasys as the technology partner.

Reflections from the Student Engagement Symposium Dublin featured

Hannah Kelly and Niamh Murtagh from the National Student Engagement Programme (NStEP) discussed their efforts to engage students across Ireland, emphasising the importance of student involvement in decision-making and well-being.

A panel discussion chaired by Aisling McKenna explored meaningful discussions between staff and students. The panel stressed the need for genuine student involvement, not just tokenism, and discussed the challenges of transactional engagement.

After lunch, Dr Kay Hack from Advance HE delivered a keynote highlighting the impact of the cost of living crisis on student engagement. She shared data demonstrating changes in student behaviour due to financial constraints and explored ways to mitigate these challenges.

Dave Kilmartin from Technological University Dublin praised evasys for its support in implementing the Graduate Outcomes Survey, achieving a 52% response rate and showcasing the platform’s effectiveness.

student engagement fireside chat with Theresa O’Leary

The day concluded with a fireside chat chaired by Theresa O’Leary from UCD and featuring Nina Sachau from SUAS and Lisa Basquel, a recent graduate from the University of Galway, highlighting the importance of supportive staff and environments for student involvement in volunteering.

Key takeaways:

  • Fostering student voices involves cultural change and collaboration across departments.

  • Expanding feedback channels can boost response rates.

  • Students engage when they feel valued and believe their feedback matters.

  • Student involvement is essential for programme and process improvement.

  • Closing the feedback loop strengthens student-university relationships.

  • Student support and training can enhance productive feedback.

  • Building relationships with students fosters a sense of belonging.

This symposium was just the beginning of my journey with evasys, and it reminded me why I’m passionate about higher education. I look forward to more learning opportunities in the days ahead. 

Joe Mahon joins Implementation and Account ManagerJoe Mahon, evasys

To view the programme and presentations, visit our events page. To learn more about evasys, reach out to us at enquiries@evasys.co.uk.

 

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