Student engagement

student_engagementWelcome to Volume 3 of the Brookes eJournal of Learning and Teaching, and to my first issue as Editor. It has been a little while since the previous issue as we have been reviewing the purpose and format of the journal. We have expanded the membership of the Editorial Board and I am grateful to the members of this group who have helped us to think about the needs of our audience.

As part of the review, BeJLT has merged with Oxford Brookes’ internal magazine, Teaching News. We expect that the audience for this expanded BeJLT is all those who teach, research and support learning in higher education, including those who make or influence policy and practice within Oxford Brookes and externally. BeJLT aims to encourage dissemination of good practice, provoke debates on learning and teaching and promote networking and collaboration within the University.  We have added ‘Latest News’ to the journal website and each issue will include short articles as well as research papers.

We welcome short articles on what is happening in your discipline, reviews of papers or books you have read, or commentaries on current issues in higher education. In this issue for example, Jude Carroll reviews one of the syntheses of research that the Higher Education Academy has been commissioning. Jude reflects on her reading of Hockings’ review of inclusive teaching and learning and provides a commentary on the value of such syntheses more generally.

BeJLT also continues to support engagement with and contribution to pedagogical research. We have maintained a section of the journal for peer reviewed research papers. We have recruited new reviewers, overhauled our guidelines for reviewers, and conducted training for reviewers to ensure the feedback for authors is timely and constructive. We welcome submissions of research papers from local, national and international contributors.

This first issue of the revised BeJLT contains a mixture of short articles and research papers. In the research papers section Persephone Sextou uses the results from a questionnaire with drama students and staff to examine the nature of the supervisory relationship. She encourages us to broaden our perception of pedagogy of supervision to see value in participatory dialogue, using techniques from mentoring to ‘empower the student to take responsibility for their research and develop awareness of ethical culture in particular contexts’.

Andrew Rosenthal and Peter Grebenik also tackle the issue of student engagement, this time through a study of students’ private study time. They analysed the time students reported spending in private study and looked for relationships between this and the timing of assignments. They offer this method as a way of helping to identify and intervene with students who are failing.

Continuing our theme of student engagement, there are two short articles sharing experiences from students themselves. In an interview with Frances Deepwell, Meera Shah talks about her role as a course representative and International Student Officer. Deborah Roberts shares a vivid account of her experiences of studying for a foundation degree and how it has enabled her not just to proceed to further study, but to develop her confidence and skills to gain promotion at work. These refreshing, personal accounts provide an insight into the student experience and a reminder of the value of listening to students’ voices.

Oxford Brookes is not alone in recognising the value of engaging students in the academic life of the University. Our new Strategy for Enhancing the Student Experience reminds us that ‘representation and student engagement are not an end in themselves’ but are part of our ambitions for educational improvements and institutional change (SESE 2010, section 4.3.1). As we attempt to meet the challenges of student engagement, the papers in this issue should encourage us to find ways for students to have input and influence into their university experience.

I hope that you have found something of interest in this issue of BeJLT and have also seen some ways in which you could make a contribution. We will continue to publish one issue each semester. Between these issues you can keep up to date through the News section of our new Pedagogic Research wiki.

Dr Rhona Sharpe, Editor

Rhona Sharpe

Professor Rhona Sharpe is Head of the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development at Oxford Brookes University. Her interests are around developing and tutoring online courses, developing learners for a digital age, and  pedagogic research. Rhona is one of the co-founders of ELESIG (Evaluation of Learners' Experiences of e-learning Special Interest Group), a Senior Fellow of the Staff and Educational Development Association, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a National Teaching Fellow. She is Editor of the Brookes eJournal for Learning and Teaching.

Posted in Editorial

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