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Course Design Blueprint


While there may be other interested parties, the prime purpose of all courses is to enable and measure student learning.  Consequently, it is essential that we involve students in the development, review and enhancement of our provision.  This will occur in both informal and formal ways.  It is hoped that for the most part informal conversations and discussions will enable any student issues or suggested improvements to be explored effectively and in a timely manner.  Thus, the more formal mechanisms normally provide opportunities to record and evidence the receipt of student feedback and appropriate responses by the course team.

The Students’ Union oversee a course representative system for all courses, operating elections for reps annually, providing reps with training and support in their activity, and collating student rep feedback to inform their work with the University as a whole.  Normally, a student rep is elected from each distinct cohort of students, although where cohorts’ sizes are particularly small or large, this may be varied to suit the situation.

Student Voice and Student Partnership

The University has many mechanisms embedded into its activity to seek the student voice in order to review, improve and enhance its provision. In general, these processes are owned by the University - the University determines how students' opinions are sought, collected, reported, and acted on.

Student partnership activities go beyond student voice activities in that students take more responsibility for the determination of how their opinions are gathered and employed.  For example, in some partnership working:

  • Students are involved in collecting and processing feedback,
  • Students contribute to discussions and take (part) responsibility for the decisions and subsequent activities and actions
  • Students are (equal) partners in work to develop theirs, or their peers' (current or future) experiences
  • Students take (part) responsibility for the development, delivery or management of (aspects of) the curriculum and assessment.

CELT are seeking to develop models for student partnership, working with the Student Experience Ambassadors to explore ways in which partnership working can be rolled out to support course development and enhancement, and the broader devlopment of the Universities policies and practices.  As this work progresses further content will be added to the Blueprint and CPD activities will be made available to all University staff.

Curriculum development

Whilst new students are perhaps not the best source for feedback on course content suitability (although their hopes and aspitations can be helpful in gauging which aspects of the curriculum need to be emphasised in marketting), those who have experienced a reasonable proportion of their studies are an essential resource for curriculum development activity.

Learning and Teaching

A course team preparing for a re-approval should ensure that they spend effort in gaining feedback from their current students (and recent graduates where possible) on the effectiveness of the learning and teaching approaches employed.  Of particular value are:

  • Opinions of first year students on how they found the transition into the Higher Education environment, and how well the course provision supported them, and what particular issues or gaps formed barriers to their engagement and achievement.
  • Opinions of students in the latter stages of the course on how well their earlier learning activities prepared them for studying at higher levels.  They will also be able to provide feedback on the process of becoming independent learners and how well the course provision facilitated this process.
  • As explored elsewhere in this Blueprint, balancing theory and practice and ensuring students are able to articulate the two within their learning and development can be tricky.  Exploring current students' experiences can help explore how well the course is performing this balancing act, and direct feedback can help locate particular points in the curriculum where the articulation needs to be emphasised or built upon more clearly.


Feedback on work and placement experience

Where students engage with employment and placement experience within the course, they will be well placed to inform curriculum considerations related to how the cousre prepared students for such experiences and contexts.  While both academic staff and employers will have a sense of the skills and knowledge requirements for effective engagement, it is those who have completed such experiences that will be best placed to identify aspects that need to be amended or enhanced within the curriculum. 

Ongoing conversations

There is an expectation that module leaders / teams will maintain continuous conversations with the students to review the effectiveness of the learning opportunities employed and to revise or enhance delivery plans to best suit student needs and the characteristics of particular cohorts.  Course leaders are expected to meet with course representatives regularly in order to review and discuss how their course is going on an informal basis.  This interaction is intended to allow any emergent issues to be reported and dealt with in a timely manner, and course reps should be encouraged to contact the course leader between planned conversations should any significant issues arise.  Such interaction is further enhanced through the ability of course reps to use the Suffolk Online Feedback In Action (SOFIA ) tool to report student feedback at any time and for this to be reported to the relevant University department for a response. 

There are also some further opportunities available for some students to provide direct feedback on their experience:

  • On many courses the course team arrange for the External Examiner to be able to meet with students and discuss their experience.
  • Where courses are accredited by external bodies, there may be opportunities for members of these bodies to meet with students.
  • Many course will seek to involve students in their preparation for re-approval by setting up opportunities for students to provide input and to discuss the team’s development plans.

Student Surveys

Most undergraduate students are invited to complete the National Student Survey (NSS) near to the end of their studies. This survey is intended to provide students with an opportunity to report on their satisfaction with the entirety of their studies, although it is not uncommon for a cohort to provide a particularly low level of satisfaction when particular issues have impacted on them late on in the course.  Module teams are also expected to seek feedback from the students on the module’s provision, usually through the use of a discussion board on the module's Brightspace area.



Course Student Voice Forums

Each course will have a student voice forum scheduled for around the middle of each teaching period (usually in the middle of each semester).  The main aims of course student voice forums are the receipt, review of, and response to student feedback, received in any of the forms listed above or directly at the meeting, and the monitoring and review of course data and the course action plan.  As set out within the RiME processes, student voice forums are made up of members of the course team along with student representatives and other stakeholders.