PGT Student Support

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29 Οκτ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 10 μήνες)

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PGT Student Support

Two models of providing additional
support to Masters students at the
University of Southampton

Sarah Rogers (Student Transition to Living and Learning Project)

Jean Leah (Learning and Teaching Coordinator, Management)

Professor Darren Bagnall (Director of PGT Programmes, Electronics
and Computer Science)

13
th

January 2011

Overview: The
Masters student
experience

3


Key features of the transition to PGT study
for all students


Intense period of study


Can be a new discipline for the student


New University environment for most



4


Particular challenges for international
students



Different education system (ways of learning, size of
classes)


Not first language for many


New country and culture; adapting to life outside of studies


Some who have undertaken pre
-
sessional may be
complacent (eg. some do not participate in induction
activities)


Asking for help is not something that many students,
especially international, are comfortable doing

5


Common challenges being faced by ECS
and Management Masters students



Sharp increase in Masters student numbers in short period of time


ECS: 100 to 330 in three yrs


Management: 586 to 694 in one year


Very high percentage of international students


ECS 5% UK students


Management 12% UK students


Students not necessarily taking full advantage of existing support
available (e.g. personal tutors)


UK and EU students can feel in the minority and struggle to integrate
effectively with their peers



PGT Peer Advisors
in Management

7


Outline of the Pilot Scheme


Peer advisor schemes are known to work successfully at UG
level. However, at Masters level, it is difficult to introduce
such a scheme because of the programme length.


Decided to employ two recent Masters graduates for two
months after they had submitted their dissertation


One placement student was from China, the other from the
UK, in order to offer different perspectives

8


Peer Advisor Brief


Enhance the existing support structures in the School and
University, signposting them to where they should go to get the
information they need


Provide personal insights into what they found the experience to be
like and provide reassurance


Provide a bridge between the social and academic, and the students
and staff


Help build a sense of a Masters student community in the School
(ManSoc seems to predominantly focus on UG interests)


To use a variety of communication methods to reach out to all
students (face to face, email, Facebook, Twitter)


Maintain a log of every query and how it was dealt with

9


Process


Conversation between School L&T Coordinator and TP, identifying
what could be done to improve the experience of transitioning to study
at Masters level in the School. Peer Advisor idea emerged.



TP Director agreed to fund Peer Advisor scheme if School wanted to
proceed.



School approval of proposal for two peer advisors, lead by School PG
Director



10


Process


Job descriptions* and MSA Board approval
(TP lead)




Recruitment in September (email ad*, interview, appointment)

(TP lead)




Office space established
(School lead)




Induction for candidates in October
(School and TP)


*

See job descriptions and email advertisement for the placements in pack


11


Process


Set
-
up communication channels (email, Facebook, Twitter). Also set up
spreadsheet for capturing all queries.



Start of term: Advisors run integration events, weekly social events,
support Bridge the Gap, presentations in classes, gauge interest in and
set up day trips



Ongoing signposting of support available to students by Advisors


12


Process


Weekly meetings between LTC, TP and the Advisors. In early Nov the
PG Rep* joined these meetings.



Beginning of Dec: Advisors write report on the experience and notes for
next year’s candidates



Mid December: Online survey asking for student feedback to gauge
impact of Peer Advisor Scheme


*This is the first year that a PG Rep was elected, to coordinate all 15 PGT Course
Reps

13


The Peer Advisor Perspective (short film)





14


The Peer Advisor Perspective (short film)





15


The Student Perspective (short film)



16


Online survey feedback (first 100 responses)

How did you feel at different points in your first term here, on a
scale of 1
-
5 (1 being anxious and unsettled, 5 being relaxed,
comfortable and confident studying here)


1 2 3 4 5

Week one 21%
33%

16% 16% 14%

Around week four 4% 13%
41%

26% 16%

This week 4% 13% 22%
32%

29%


Here are some examples of what the students had to say…


17


Online survey feedback (first 100 responses)



I was very curious about how things happen in this
university and school in the first week, but unfortunately
the classes was a bit boring and we got a assignment so
soon, and most of us didn’t make it well since we never
settled personally outside the university. But in the later
weeks I really got good friends and classes were especially
good, especially organisational effectiveness, which made
me love my school and university. (I really love the way
they teach us).”

18


Online survey feedback (first 100 responses)



Week 1
-

Didn't really know people well enough to ask
them questions, didn't know who to approach etc.


Week 4
-

You've met all your classmates, you know who
your friends are, some places around campus and in the city
become familiar territory, you've worked in groups so you
are not shy anymore


Week 6
-

No one's a stranger anymore. Especially in a class
of 30 students , by week 5 you know everyone by their first
name, and since are class is very supportive of each other,
we have had a lot of socials where the entire class gets
together to relax, de
-
stress and have fun.”

19


Online survey feedback (first 100 responses)



First it was very difficult in listening the class and making friends here


The following weeks I feel better but there were lots of assignment

I
felt pressure


Now it is close to the holiday

and nearly courses have finished

I feel
quite happy

However there are still mountainous homework during
the holiday

OMG…”


“When you come from a foreign country, you need some time to adjust
yourself in the different everyday conditions you have to face. What
influenced me personally to change my feelings is the fact that I got
socialized with people really fast, even without knowing anyone before
arriving here, and also the fact that we are all students and we can
understand and provide any kind of help to each other in order to
'survive' into this new environment.”


20


Online survey feedback (first 100 responses)


93% of students were aware of the Peer Advisors


92% of students said yes, the School should appoint peer
advisors in the future, and here are some examples from the
student feedback about why they should be in place next
year…

21


Online survey feedback (first 100 responses)



yes, because we need people that are trustworthy to ask
about something outside the university things”


“They should appoint PGT Peer Advisors. For pursuing
masters, students from different countries come here.
They may feel home sick, feel lonely and left out.
Specially in those cases, the Peer Advisors would be
useful to them.”



“Because they have been a friendly and helpful point of
contact”


“they helped students to integrate”

22


Online survey feedback (first 100 responses)


“Well I feel it’s easier for students to talk to students
their own age with questions they might have, they get
the feeling that the Pg Advisor has gone through the
same time and will hopefully be able to sort the issue.”


“They are useful because they have recently finished
their Masters program and are really familiar with what
is going on around the Uni. In addition, we can
communicate with them in our informal way and feel
free to talk to them anytime; they have more free time
than our secretary of personal tutors :)”

23


Online survey feedback (first 100 responses)


“As far as social life and activities for postgraduates are
concerned, you need some motivators who have spare
time to organize and set things up. Otherwise, there
would not be that much participation and most likely
nothing would really happen.”


“I think they are very helpful for new students since the
age gap is not so much . Normally, new students are
afraid to talk with their tutor directly because of
language barrier.”


“We can’t disturb or approach doctorates or professors
every time for our silly doubts, (like were do we get flip
charts in Southampton) so they are really useful.”

24


Costs


£11k from the Transition to Living and Learning budget to
cover salary costs of placements (this was for the lvl 3
candidate to remain until Feb which didn’t happen, so real
salary cost iro £6
-
7k)


An additional £3k was contributed by the School to support
the cost of running events



25


Highlights…


The degree to which the two individuals developed as a
result of the placement, and the enhancement to their CVs


The high level of interest in day trips


How easily this scheme integrated and enhanced existing
structures, in particular the Course Rep set
-
up


50% of students (350 students) joined the Facebook page



26


Highlights…


By week 6 current students were happily responding to
each others queries posted on Facebook


By giving the candidates freedom within the role they felt
genuine ownership and enthusiastic about what they were
there to do


Proof that students really will ask anything at any time


there was no pattern to the nature of the queries




27


Alternative approaches for consideration


Number of Peer Advisors*


Nationality of Peer Advisors*


Hours of work per week (20 hours v.s full time)*


Length of placement (2 months, whole semester, whole
academic year)*


Potential to broaden the remit to cover additional
responsibilities in the School, appropriate for placement
candidate


Across
-
Faculty team
-
delivery approach, with an academic
strategic lead assigned

* See full options appraisal provided in pack


28


Next stages for the Scheme in
Management


Committed to continuing next academic year


Plan to continue with two month placement length


Started discussions with Associate Dean Education and
Student Experience in Faculty of Business and Law in view
of rolling the Scheme out in the Faculty


29


Improvements to be implemented next year


Recruitment should start in Easter of the previous year (the
MSA Board approval delays last year impacted on
recruitment schedule)


Induction will be more structured (candidate this year was
very well informed about University processes and support
systems)


Transition from Peer Advisor responsibilities to PG Rep
responsibilities will be built in from the beginning


Incoming students will be informed about the Advisors pre
-
arrival


Essential that the Advisors have their own room





PGT Study Support
Scheme in ECS

31


Background


Peer Assisted Study Schemes (PASS) or Supplemental Instruction (SI)
have been operating very effectively at undergraduate level in a number
of universities
(
http://www.campus.manchester.ac.uk/tlso/studentsaspartners/peers
upport/pass/passnc/
)


This Pilot Scheme in ECS uses a similar structure but for MSc students,
using PhD students as facilitators and employing a Graduate Intern to
coordinate the Scheme.


The Scheme is overseen by the Director of PGT Programmes.


The School had recently introduced MSc Project Monitoring whereby
PhD students were supporting MSc students with their projects over
the summer, and the two schemes seemed to complement each other
well


32


Outline of the Pilot Scheme


25 PhD students are the (paid) facilitators of weekly
sessions of peer assisted study support to ECS MSc
students.


Numbers of students in each session can vary from 4 to 15
depending on the subject


The facilitators provide a weekly report to the Graduate
Intern, and keep attendance sheets and notes of issues
raised for all sessions.


The Graduate Intern oversees the smooth running of the
sessions, and feeds any common academic issues and
general areas of concern raised by the students to the
Director of PGT Programmes.

33


Outline of the Pilot Scheme


All 330 MSc students are expected to attend, and if they
miss three sessions the Graduate Intern will be informed. If
some students are already identified as “at risk” they are
approached if they miss just one session.


Each PhD student facilitator works with one
-
two different
groups of students


The emphasis of the Scheme is around helping all MSc
students to fulfil their full academic potential.

34


Outline of the Pilot Scheme


Each session covers:


introduction to key topic (if one has been assigned),



review of the previous week and looking ahead to the
next week.


During the weekly sessions students:


compare notes


discuss the course and course materials


compare what they’ve read around the subject


analyse, criticise and seek verification of ideas


raise any non
-
academic related issues with the
facilitator

35


Outline of the Pilot Scheme


The PhD students facilitate these discussions rather than
re
-
teach, guiding them through and providing the benefit of
their own experiences.


The PhD students are allocated to student groups that
relate to their research group.


The MSc students benefit from better access to PGR
research and gain insights into life as a PhD student.

36


Outline of the Pilot Scheme


If issues emerge that are beyond the facilitator brief, the
students will be directed towards the appropriate support
provider (personal tutor, Senior Tutor, School Manager,
SSC (esp First Support), SUAIC, and so on).


PhD students are trained in effective facilitation skills, and
are informed of the full range of support available to
students at the University by the Intern and Director of
PGT Programmes.


The Graduate Intern attends SSLC meetings to be aware of
broader issues that are being raised, and to feed in common
issues that are raised through the Study Support Scheme.

37




Semester One

Topics covered in sessions


First stage

Induction

Second stage

Coursework prep, referencing, software,
writing

Third stage

2 week break where attendance is optional
and focused on coursework

Fourth stage

Exam preparation, how to manage time
and stress

Post
-
Christmas stage

Review of where students are at, go
through past exam papers, prepare
students for lower marks than they might
be expecting…

Content of the Study Support Sessions

38

Structure

Deputy Head of
School Education

Director of PGT
Programmes

Student Support
Coordinator (Grad
Intern)

PhD SSS Facilitators
(x25)

MSc students
(x330)

Director of UG
Programmes

Senior Tutor

School Manager
(Education)

Academic
Tutors

Staff Student
Liaison
Committees

PGT
Administrator

39


Costs


£28k for Graduate Intern


£15k from Transition to Living and Learning Project


£15k from ECS


All costs covered by ECS for the PhD Facilitators at
standard PGTA rate


40


Examples of how the Scheme has made a
difference


The School is able to respond to student needs and
concerns much earlier than they have done in the past:



Student suspensions have been encouraged earlier,
rather than after first semester exams


Issues are raised and often dealt with before the next
SSLC meeting


Issues are formally raised at SSLC


Number of issues reaching Director of PGT Programmes
is greatly reduced



41


Student evaluation


How well have the sessions been run? Rated 4.3 out of 5


Were the sessions enjoyable? 4.0 out of 5


70% of respondents said that the Scheme made a difference
to how they settled in to life at the University


100% of respondents said that the Scheme should continue



42


Student evaluation: Best feature


“You get to know people who are open to questions of any kind. Good
academic support on a regular basis and discussions about future
options, e.g. PhD, employment etc”


“There are senior students who pass their best experience with living
and study to us, which is really useful. And it gives a more comfortable
and relaxed environment for communication than when we are talking
to our lecturers or even tutors”


“He [the facilitator] has positive energy, he tries to get all students to
talk about their problems and find a solution”


“Opportunity to have a peer chat on issues that need resolving and to be
informed on how to meet certain needs”


43


Student evaluation: most valuable topics


Time management


Issues relevant to courses


Referencing


Intelligent Algorithms


How to study exams and coursework


Research topic of facilitator


44


Student evaluation: suggested improvements


More information about MSc Project


Give more opportunity to share problems privately


Fewer people in group


Greater academic support



45


Why the Scheme works so well in ECS


Plenty of social space and available rooms in the buildings for the
weekly meetings to take place


Culture of the School


Intense courses


the expectations are so high of the students, they
all find it challenging and are grateful of any additional support


High number of PhD students, many have studied at Masters level
at ECS


School was prepared to contribute half of the salary cost of the
Graduate Intern and all of the costs for the PhD students running
the session


Very experienced Graduate Intern

46


Next academic year


Dramatic changes in the School as it restructures as a Faculty


Change of roles (Director of PGT programmes, International
Student Officer role)


Where will the Study Support Scheme fit?


Looking ahead and
other
developments

48


Looking ahead


University strategy to increase international Masters
student numbers, so it is critical to ensure that we provide
the appropriate support to ensure they are equipped to fully
engage with the learning experience


Opportunities to review student support within new Faculty
structures?


Opportunity to develop these schemes further for other
student groups to benefit?

49


Other developments: supporting international
students with the transition to study at
Southampton



Extended induction for international students


International student induction redesigned for 2010


Settling International workshops throughout semester one: Making
Sense Of British Culture, Sharing Experiences Of Life At University,
How To Cope With Studying In A Different Culture






Settling International workshop,
2
nd

November 2010:

“How to cope with studying in a
different culture”

50


Other developments around supporting
students with the transition to study at
Southampton




Settling International Newsletter, emailed weekly to all
international students through the first term:
www.susu.org/international


Online pre
-
sessional in development with the “Prepare
for Success” team led by Julie Watson:
http://www.prepareforsuccess.org.uk/



51


Date for your diaries…



1pm, 16
th

February


Room 1019, Building 58a


Carys Fuller (Sociology Teacher, Barton Peverill) and Matt Oakman
(Deputy Head 6
th

Form, Wellington College) will make a short
presentation each on what the learning experience is like for
students from both a state and private 6
th

form college perspective,
followed by an open interchange of ideas between all attendees to
improve our awareness of the prior learning experiences and
expectations of our students and how we might bridge any gaps


Key topics for discussion will include:


Teaching and learning styles


Student expectations of feedback on academic learning


Student engagement with research skills


Student preparedness for HE


+ anything else you would like to discuss



RSVP to Sarah Rogers
sed2@soton.ac.uk

for catering purposes
(light refreshments will be available)


52


Contact the Transition to Living and Learning
Project if you would like…



help preparing funding applications


pilot funding for suitable projects


delivery support for pilot projects


research conducted to support education strategy


support in submitting to research journals and
publications


Contact Sarah Rogers
sed2@soton.ac.uk

if you would like

to start discussing some ideas


53


Further examples of Transition to Living and Learning Project activities

Developed:


Team of trained student transition facilitators available to support
activities


Video streams of example lectures and seminars, for use in induction


Tracked academic performance of international students, based on IELTs
score on entry (ongoing)


SUSU language drop
-
in for partners of international students pilot


Surveys of the international student experience of transition

In development:


Reviewing the communication plan for the pre
-
sessional students pre
-
arrival


Developing good practice guide for UG peer mentoring


UG focus groups, by discipline


More detailed course information available online to new students pre
-
arrival