I'll create a few posts to discuss the range of data that was obtained in this student survey, but in this post I wanted to share some specific data related to minimum standards in the VLE, with the idea that this could be an implementation to introduce some common consistency between VLE modules for students. It's also something that students have requested previously.
Firstly, 90% of respondents in the staff survey (n = 102 : Aug, 13) were in favour of introducing a baseline to help introduce consistency across areas. Oh goody! Further questions in the staff survey teased out the barriers for engaging with TEL initiatives further. 'Lack of time to innovate' was by far the most popular response. (61%).
In both the staff survey and the student survey (n = 840 : Oct, 13), respondents were asked to identify specific elements that should be included in any such baseline and were presented with a list of items (as follows):
- A dedicated VITAL area for each module
- 'Welcome' to the VITAL area
- Contact Details (Module Leader)
- Contact Details (Other teaching staff)
- Module Specification
- Module Timetable/Schedule
- Module learning outcomes
- Module Assessment Strategy/Requirements
- Recommended/Further Readings
- Lecture notes/handouts
- Past exam papers (where appropriate)
- Ability to submit coursework online
- Opportunity for draft assignment (formative) feedback
- Online discussion forums
I recognise this list could be endless, but I felt it gave us a reasonable idea, and respondents had the option to select 'other' and leave comments if needed.
The ResultsI ensured both surveys contained the exact same question so I could compare answers. The chart below shows student (blue) and staff (red) responses to what they think should be included in any such baseline.
N.B. You might want to click the image to see the full size version.
It's clear that students value a few things mostly:
- Lecture Notes (95%);
- Past Exam Papers (93%);
- Further Reading (88%);
- Timetables (86%);
- Module Leader Contact Details (83%).
What jumps out at me in this chart though, is how staff consistently undervalue specific criteria in comparison with students:
- Is this a common occurrence in other studies?
- Do academic staff presume they know what's best for students, and well, appear to be wrong? Or do we see the general patterns between both sets of respondents and believe staff do indeed know what students want, but just value them a bit (significantly?) less?
- The only area that staff felt more strongly than students was in relation to a 'welcome' to the VLE area. I'm surprised by this but perhaps our students just want to get straight to the content they need, and well, they are face-to-face students so they don't really need an online welcome(?).
The areas where the staff opinion differs mostly from the student opinion are in relation to:
- Provision of Past Exam Papers (46% difference)
- Online submission of coursework (41% difference)
- Provision of a Module Specification (38% difference)
- Opportunity for draft/formative feedback on work (34% difference)
Commenting on a similar difference in attitudes between staff and students at an Australian university, Kregor et. al (2012) eloquently offer a potential reason:
We therefore attribute the difference to respective roles where time saving and flexibility gains for students may inversely require additional workload or skill demands for some staff. It is self-evident that the two groups have very different relationships with the technology as a function of role.I wonder to what degree this might be evident here at Liverpool - a research intensive University where for many, research is a/the priority?
I'd like to hear other people's views on this so please do share in the comments.
Kregor, G., Breslin, M., & Fountain, W. (2012). Experience and beliefs of technology users at an Australian university: Keys to maximising e-learning potential. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(8), 1382–1404. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet28/kregor.html
The Reed Diaries by Peter Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License