Student studying at his computer

During the Year 2 summer term modules, the Department of Life Sciences monitored student engagement and well-being using weekly surveys in Blackboard. 

The department asked students to reflect on their week’s learning and to provide feedback that teaching staff could use to clarify or enhance learning and teaching on the module. Students could also request advice or support.

At intervals, the department checked in with students not taking part in the survey or engaging with module activities, to confirm that they were okay. The 4-question, free-text-response surveys were set up as non-graded tests in Blackboard to allow advice and support requests to be attributed to individuals for follow-up. 

Over the 4 weeks, 89% of students took part at least once. The Year 2 convenors for each degree stream actedon the feedback by liaising with module convenors about academic issues and the senior tutor about pastoral concerns.

Dr Magda Charalambous, Year 2 convenor for Biological Sciences reported that students had given positive feedback about the delivery of remote practicals and new initiatives, such as journal clubs, and had highlighted when lecture recordings had not been released on schedule, which allowed this to be rectifiedfor remaining lectures.

She also said, “They have told us when any material has been very challenging,enabling the module convenor to take appropriate action, if required”. In relation topastoral concerns, Dr Charalambous said,Rather than waiting for such concerns to come to the senior tutor via the personal tutor it has allowed us to quickly reassure the student and help resolve the issue. This speed of contact with the senior tutor isessential when the students are working remotely and can feel more isolated.”

Parit, a second year Biochemist said, “The student surveys were a timely and effective way of giving feedback on our learning during the previous week. I found that course convenors were quick to take action on any issues raised so that our experiences were continually enhanced. For example, acting on survey feedback, the course convenors developed a video to give more guidance on a practical in the Challenges in Cell biology course”.