Fittingly perhaps, the programme for this year’s conference, with the theme of student engagement (at the heart of student learning) took place in the university’s new Atrium room. It offered a diverse mix of staff and student seminars, with presentations covering a broad range of topics from the digital to the personal, ensuring that delegates had a good choice of what to visit throughout the day.
I was pleased to discover a number of presentations addressing my areas of concern around student engagement. These included a well-delivered keynote address by Dr. Camille Kandiko (KCL) who contrasted the outcomes of measuring engagement versus satisfaction among students, which is so often the focus in the UK. Is satisfaction really appropriate – and do students going through being students really know what’s best for them, to evaluate teaching in this way? And amidst attempts to measure student engagement, when is staff engagement measured? Given that engagement is about two or three or four-way interaction – where does the staff voice come in?
Elsewhere Mary Davis (Brookes International) discussed cultural differences in peer marking, and gave useful tips on how to execute this in a non-threatening way. In addition, Rachel Long (Mathematics) showcased some lesser known features of Moodle (Brookes’ VLE platform) and Neil Currant (OCSLD) and his colleagues discussed how iPads may be used to enhance student peer to peer engagement. Indeed, throughout the day, the overall focus on student peer-led engagement was promising :-).
All in all, the event was well thought-out and a welcome, timely discussion. For those who attended, that is. For a student and staff conference there weren’t many non-presenting students – or staff. Perhaps, for all the strategies and good practice, what actually matters is the fundamental process of getting students and staff engaged in the first place.