Hmm well I’ve been promising myself that I would post a blog on the SEDA Conference on student engagementI attended in May but it is rather old now. Perhaps it is a good test of my memory to see what I can remember from the conference and what has impacted on my practice by posting this about 4 months later!
My top 10 takeaways:
1. Student engagement is more complex than we often think but there are many ways of being creative about working with students. The presentation from Dan at Lincoln was inspiring about work shadowing and getting students on interview panels. These are areas we are following up. We have a new student engagement post too
2. Some students might not want to engage at all and we need to accept that. This did resonate with me as the assumption is that everyone will join in, we are bearing this in mind in relation to our student engagement activities.
3. Spending time out of the office is really important for my resilience. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but this was the first major conference I had been to since maternity leave and the big restructure and I had forgotten how refreshing it is to engage with colleagues from both my own and other institutions. I came back inspired and refreshed which was very much needed. Mental note to do more of this!
4. On that note as well going to a conference also reminds me of the value of what I am doing and how it is of interest to others and acts as a spur for me to publish, I have written a review piece and am pursuing some other ideas too.
5. “Impact is a cultural thing, it takes a long time, for example, five years, to assess the impact of activities/initiatives/cultural change” I can’t remember who said this but I liked it!
6. Reminded me that projects are not where the innovation or change is often at. So much expectation is often placed on a project but incremental or embedded change can be more effective. The “coffee bar” conversations are often the approach to engaging staff with change. A good excuse to drink more coffee! This was in Ranald MacDonald’s session.
7. Activities engaging students need to get beyond the “staff vs students” approach that often characterizes are interactions with students and can seem implicit in some of our policies or approaches.
8. Changing student engagement eg through consideration of NSS scores and so on needs to be holistic and more than just an action plan approach. This reinforces points above about engaging staff with change (Susan Mathieson’s session).
9. So much is talked about student engagement and partnership but we need to ensure we keep our mind on what we want to achieve, not just pay lip service to engagement with students but making it meaningful on both sides.
10. Train journeys are great for catching up on work!