27 Feb 2023

Update on the development of Student Learning Experience model

Following on from previous articles about our ongoing work to redevelop the Student Learning Experience, Phase 1 of the project is now complete. From September to January, sparqs worked with students to identify the principles of the Student Learning Experience that matter most to them. This took the form of a series of workshops with student reps and diverse student groups across Scotland. These workshops were designed to capture the views of students on what makes a good Student Learning Experience.

We arranged sessions with students’ associations and institutions to run workshops with their students. These workshops were facilitated by sparqs’ Development Consultants, with some workshops delivered online and some in-person, depending on the format which worked best for the institution. 21 workshops took place across Scotland’s colleges and universities during Phase 1 of the project, in addition to 3 pilot workshops delivered during summer 2022.

In phase 1 sparqs engaged with 301 students from Scotland’s colleges and universities. We ran institution-specific workshops with the following institutions: Dumfries & Galloway College, Forth Valley College, UHI Inverness, North East Scotland College, New College Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire College, West College Scotland, West Lothian College, Abertay University, University of Dundee, University of Glasgow, Heriot-Watt University, Queen Margaret University, University of St Andrews, University of Strathclyde and the University of Stirling.

In this workshop series, we wanted to ensure that we were hearing from a diverse range of students from different demographics and levels of study, to ensure that the model works for all students, however and wherever they learn. We therefore ran some workshops for specific groups of the student body, including international students; widening access students; and LGBT+ students. We also ran workshops with students studying at several levels of study and types of course, including modern and graduate apprentices, undergraduates across all year groups, postgraduate taught students, senior phase school pupils studying at college, and students studying on supported education programmes.

We would like to thank all the students who took the time to participate in these workshops and share their thoughts. Your contributions are hugely valuable and will play 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 workshops generated over 500 suggested principles. In Phase 2 of the project, sparqs has begun by undertaking an initial thematic analysis of the principles data gathered in Phase 1. From this analysis, sparqs has identified an initial longlist of draft principles under each of the building blocks. These principles, and the wider phrasing and structure of the building blocks themselves, will be consulted upon and workshopped with students and staff across the sector at several national committees and events. These will attend include:

  • CDN Quality Development Network
  • College Vice Principals’ Network
  • National Education Officers’ Network (NEON)
  • Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Committee (SHEEC)
  • Student Engagement Staff Network (SESN)
  • The Quality Forum (TQF)

Alongside this sector consultation activity, sparqs will establish a student and staff consultative group. This group will develop sections of the model in more detail, including considering key aspects of the model, such as how it should address the diversity of the student body, and how we can ensure the model can be used for all modes of study, e.g. FE, HE, Apprenticeships and PGT.

Once we have agreed as a wider group on the suggested new building blocks for the SLE and their accompanying principles, sparqs will propose a Student Learning Experience model to be incorporated into the common approach to quality, to be shared with the Scottish Funding Council in its final draft form in early May 2023.

If you have any queries, please contact Megan Brown, Development Consultant – megan.brown@sparqs.ac.uk.

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