Launched at the sparqs' 20th birthday event on 5th October 2023, we are delighted to share our new Student Learning Experience model, developed as part of the single tertiary approach to quality for colleges and universities. The new model seeks to put the experiences of students at the centre of the sector’s approach to quality.
The model was commissioned by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), following publication of their Review of Coherent Provision and Sustainability report. It was developed by students in partnership with staff across the sector, in order to be focused on what matters most to our students. The model is designed to sit at the heart of conversations with students, enabling students and staff to work together to identify priorities to enhance the quality of learning. It plays a key role in Scotland’s quality arrangements and will continue to evolve alongside the tertiary approach to quality.
In developing the model, we built on our existing Student Learning Experience (SLE) tool. The existing tool has been used widely across the sector for many years and is the foundation of the training that sparqs delivers to course representatives.
The new SLE model is comprised of 9 building blocks. These are the key elements that make up the learning experience. They support students to begin to consider the distinct aspects of their experience which come together to provide a high-quality student learning experience.
The model is underpinned by 3 lenses. These are areas of focus that can be applied across all 9 of the building blocks. The resource will be updated during the 2023-24 academic year, to allow institutions and students to apply the lenses to the model in order to highlight aspects across the learning experience that relate to these 3 areas.
Each building block has an accompanying set of 10 reflective questions. The questions support dialogue between students and staff on various aspects of the building blocks. They will help develop an understanding between students and staff of strengths within the student experience, as well as areas for development.
You can read more about the development of the new SLE model on our website, which details the extensive process to ensure the model was founded upon the views of students across Scotland on what makes an excellent quality learning experience. During the process we held 24 workshops across the sector, with over 300 students engaging and contributing.
We would like to thank all the students who took the time to participate in the workshops and share their thoughts, playing a key role in setting the agenda for conversations about the student learning experience in Scotland for many years to come. Our thanks also go to the students’ associations and institutions who volunteered to host a workshop and supported their successful running.
The final wording of the model and its accompanying questions was developed by a student and staff consultative group, comprised of students, students’ association staff and institutional staff from Scotland’s tertiary sector. Thank you to all the members of this group for their considered and thoughtful contributions to this process, which was a key part of the development of the model.
As always, with such pieces of work, members of JAG, NEON and SESN played a key role during the development process and our sincere thanks go to them for their valuable expertise, both in the initial development stages and as part of the student and staff consultative group involved in the final phase. Thanks also to the student officers and students’ association staff at our That’s Quality! residential; and to student rep trainers at our Associate Trainer residential. Initial pilot workshops at these events served a dual purpose – to begin the data gathering exercise to shape the new SLE model, and to gather initial feedback from experienced staff and students on the workshop itself and how we could most effectively deliver it across Scotland.
In the later stages, the draft model was consulted upon and workshopped with students and staff across the sector at several national committees and events, to ensure that there was consensus at a sector-level on the model, so that, whilst it is centred on what students have said, it is owned by everyone.
In short, our huge thanks go to everyone who has contributed to the development of the model along the way, and thanks to all those who attended our 20th birthday celebrations at which the new model was launched.