Weekly student-staff meetings: topics, actions, feedback
Topics, actions, feedback from the weekly student-staff meetings
Each Wednesday, 1330-1430, there will be an open meeting for the School – students and staff – to talk about teaching and learning together. The first two meetings led us to work jointly on these topics: Workload; Tutorials; Engagement; Assessment; Pastoral issues; Communication. Each topic is listed below, with a note about it followed by the action we will take and how progress is being fed back.
Please come to the meeting to make sure we all get the best results we can for teaching and learning this year. The details to join are: https://ed-ac-uk.zoom.us/j/89701601760, Meeting ID: 897 0160 1760, Passcode: anSck4SA.
Many students found the Semester 1 workload very heavy. There was more continuous assessment than in previous years, some deadlines fell very close to each other, there were 10 credit courses that seemed more like 20 credit courses, and there was very little time for revision before the December examinations.
ACTION: We are asking course teams to try to reduce the amount of assessment without reducing the coverage of material in the course. While Semester 2 is not as compressed as Semester 1 (because of Flexible Learning Week and the holidays before the examinations) we will still push on this. (Continuous, focusing on feedback)
FEEDBACK: We will take updates as the Semester continues from this meeting as well as at the Student-Staff Liaison Committee.
Some students found online tutorials in Semester 1 to be frustrating because few participants had their cameras on. Some tutorials were quite interactive, while some concentrated on the tutor answering the questions; some student preferred one, some the other.
ACTION: We are reiterating to tutors the importance of encouraging tutees to have their cameras on. This is not always possible – e.g. bandwidth issues, personal choice – but does set the ground for a more lively tutorial (completed 18/1).
FEEDBACK: Anecdotally, there are more cameras on at the beginning of Semester 2. (18/1)
There are two parts. The first part is that some students would like to have more synchronous activity in the courses beyond tutorials, such as lectures, giving the opportunity to engage with lecturers more than offered currently. The second part is that some students would like to have more engagement with other students within the School but beyond courses.
- There are almost twice as many scheduled synchronous activities per week in Semester 2 as in Semester 1. These take the form of synchronous lectures, office hours and Q&A sessions. There was a mix of feedback from students last semester about preferring long lectures or shorter content lectures, so we are continuing with diversity. (Completed for 9/1)
- MathSoc have created a discord channel (https://discord.gg/bYK8GbZGsY) as "...a place for people to hang out in a relaxed environment and chat about uni, life, maths and anything. We’ve made 4 separate channels for different years but we hope everyone will also get to know people from other years. Anyone is free to join, not just maths students." (Completed 20/1)
- We are creating a small team, led by Dr Worton, to work on other forms of engagement beyond the individual courses but in the School. (To be completed 27/1)
- We will use the regular meeting to get feedback on the mix between different activities in order to help us plan for 21/22.
- We will use the regular meeting to get feedback to find out how widely used this is, and what we can learn for other developments.
- Dr Worton will present the first ideas for comment during the meeting on 27/1.
- Examinations: Questions have been raised about examinations, specifically about difficulty of some in Semester 1, and also about if the University will take in to account the lockdown for Semester 2.
- Coursework: as well as the workload issues mentioned above, some students have flagged that STACK is sometimes implemented in a way that gives no credit for partially correct solutions.
- Extensions: there was little flexibility in Semester 1 with extensions, and requests that did go in were sometimes responded too late to be useful.
a) The Board of Examiners have compared data from this year with previous non-covid examination to ensure that overall results did not seem significantly different from those years. The Board of Examiners has the power to do some scaling of results to achieve this. These results are already out (pre-honours) or will be coming out soon (honours & MSc).
On lockdown, the University is working through what would be appropriate for this semester, including EUSA in the discussion, and we are told that information should be coming soon.
b) We will highlight to course teams the opportunity for the ‘check’ function on STACK and also mastery-based questions, where there are repeated attempts at the same style of question. On the other hand, there were some times where the precision in the solution was integral and critical so STACK will continue to be used in different ways. (For 28/1 School Forum – i.e. staff meeting)
c).We have complained about the problem with slow turnaround time for extension requests (it is a central unit) (20/1) and we are investigating what flexibility there is for extensions given some decisions about coursework deadlines that have already been made. This will need to be reported back to this meeting, probably in early February.
FEEDBACK: In all cases, this meeting will be a place to discuss progress on these matters.
There was concern about mental health issues being created or increased due to lockdown. In addition, digital learning may also worsen conditions like ADHD.
a) Every course organizer should know about necessary learning adjustments for students taking the course. This is their responsibility, but if something has not been addressed properly please email Dr King, who is the “Coordinator of Adjustments” – the person who oversees this. (Should be complete by start of semester)
b) We are working with the Student Support Officers to organise some events around mental wellbeing, dependent on getting expert guidance from the University (counselling, chaplaincy, etc). We will raise this further at SSLC to discuss details and ideas there (ongoing).
FEEDBACK: From this meeting or from Student-Staff Liaison Committee meeting about learning adjustments implementation.
Students want regular and concise communication with the School. [Staff want that too, with the students!]
a) this meeting will take place every week (continuing)
b) we will keep the website https://teaching.maths.ed.ac.uk/main/teaching2020 up-to-date and continue to send emails too with the same relevant information (continuing)
c) we will encourage class reps to come to these frequent meetings, as well as to go to Student-Staff Liaison Committee (continuing)
d) we will keep up with anything which comes to the MathSoc questionnaire (continuing)
FEEDBACK: effectiveness through this meeting and any other informal channels.