You Said, We Did
Here at the IoPPN, student satisfaction is one of our top priorities. So we listened to what you said in the last PTES survey.....
'Assessment and feedback remains an issue, with problem areas being usefulness of feedback in improving further assignments, receiving detailed comments on submitted work, and promptness of feedback.'
A significant new initiative introduced for the 2016/17 academic year is the move away from double marking (College Models 1 or 2) and the ubiquitous adoption across all Faculty PGT programmes of model 3 of the College marking framework: double marking by retrospective sampling. This will markedly reduce (i.e. cut by almost half) the marking burden across the Faculty. In turn this will facilitate more timely and detailed feedback to students, which will be reinforced to all staff involved in marking. Generally we find that staff are keen to provide high quality, detailed feedback, but feel that the quantity of marking required significantly prohibits their ability to do so. This should directly address this.
'Some students wanted more support around their dissertation, including more feedback'
This has been a major area of focus with three initiatives:
Funding. Firstly, a new non-pay funding model was introduced this academic year to ensure fairness and transparency in the support given to students. This represents a substantial change to the way programme funding is allocated and administered at Faculty level. The two key elements of the model are a) that every student dissertation should receive, via their supervisor, a fixed bench fee (wet lab, £1250 / dry lab, £500 / library, £100) at the start of the academic year and b) residual non pay costs should be allocated to Programmes at a fixed common rate per student head, thus incentivising recruitment and ensuring equity of course provision.
Supply. Free text PTES comments reflect considerable student anxiety around whether there will be enough projects to go round and whether they will be successful in getting one. We have therefore engagied in an exercise to obtain Faculty agreement on a set quota of projects to be offered per head of staff (based on detailed supply and demand calculations) and intend to write this into the Academic Performance Framework. This is now set at 3-4 projects per faculty staff member, introduced from 2016/17.
Organisation. Free text PTES comments also show students have been unimpressed by the way some dissertation opportunities have been advertised (or not) and concerned about the general lack of organisation in some programmes around the process of securing a dissertation topic and supervisor. Along with FOLSM, we have engaged with Tessa Harrison and Ian Tebbett to request a Faculty or cross-Faculty software solution to the perennial problem of calling for, collating, advertising and matching dissertation opportunities to suitable students.
'Students wanted further information about developing their career'
The Faculty has launched the Spring Term Faculty Careers programme. This includes sessions on meeting with a careers consultant, talks on 'what to do with a PhD?' and 'social netorking for job hunting, CV's, job applications and interview skills.' This set of sessions should help students with planning their career.