Quality assurance and enhancement are high on current national agendas, with the process of assuring quality in higher education under review and QAA and HEFCE requiring the enhancement of standards of provision across all programmes. Furthermore, the Browne report developed an explicit focus on ‘quality’ and the development of ‘minimum levels of quality enforced through regulation’ (Browne 2010: 2).
This project explores how undergraduate students can have an increasing role and voice in producing, maintaining and enhancing quality in teaching and learning. The research focuses on the quality processes of subject committees and programme modifications in the Faculty of Health, Life, Social Sciences (HLSS). It is examining how far current processes enable and facilitate meaningful student participation and engagement, enquiring into ways in which practices might be improved.
Aims – This research project set out to
- Determine the extent and nature of student engagement within quality mechanisms in the Faculty of HLSS; in particular subject committees and programme modifications;
- Identify students’ and academics’ perceptions on the effectiveness of these mechanisms, including distinctive best practice;
- Identify and learn from best practice, student perspectives and national knowledge to inform the development of a proposal for a pilot for change in the Faculty;
- Engage students as researchers in the research process;
- Disseminate findings and recommendations, internally and externally.
Teaching and learning
This project is concerned student voice and representation in quality systems, as distinct from direct teaching and learning. However, meaningful student engagement in the quality processes is crucial to ‘enhance the collective student learning experience’ (Little and Williams 2010: 119).
- What is the extent and nature of student participation in subject committees and programme modifications in HLSS?
- Are there ways in which the active and meaningful participation of undergraduate students in these quality and curriculum development processes in HLSS could be furthered?
This research is being undertaken using mixed research methods, with the aim of gathering perspectives from both academics and students across the Faculty. Quantitative data is being gathered through an on-line questionnaire, all undergraduate students in the Faculty are being invited to respond. Qualitative data is being drawn from focus groups with student representatives from across the Faculty; semi-structured interviews with programme leaders; and an overview of documentary evidence from the past 12 months, particularly subject committee minutes and records of programme modifications.