The journal club met today for the first time. We discussed the two articles from the journal Teaching in Higher Education.
We discussed the article about student perceptions first by Lubicz-Narrocka and Bunting. The article was set in the context of the TEF and there was reference to other relevant literature including the discussion of the findings although, the authors make the point that most of the literature published is about academic views and not students. The two authors were themselves students one undertaking a PhD and one a Master’s level student. The study was qualitative in nature but had no research question because the authors were keen to have the themes emerging from the data using a grounded approach. Ethical approval was gained for the study. The study was of one institution and the anonymised comments from the student nominations for student-led teaching awards. There were eight categories of award and from the data four themes emerged which follow. Concerted, visible effort which focused on being approachable, engaging with students and teaching was clearly structured. Commitment to engaging students which referred to passion, enthusiasm and practical real life examples. Breaking down student-teacher barriers which referred to working in partnership, using students feedback to make changes and personal connections. Lastly there was stability of support with teachers helping students overcome struggles and having a positive attitude. The members of the club discussed at length the areas students identified and how these indicate personal connections and staff caring about what matters to students. There was discussion about supporting the student journey and this was evident through comments such as the quality and quantity of feedback. The article was well written and provided some good insight but the members felt that some follow up research could be to explore some of this further with students in focus groups and to look at whether there were discipline differences and across years of study.
Article two which had a staff focus by Wood and Su was also set within the context of TEF and other literature. This was also a qualitative study but did have clear research questions which formed the interview schedule. The members of the club however found the approaching of participants less clear with reference to a website and professional networks. 30 participants were approached and only 16 (53%) responded but these did go across grades of staff. There was reference to ethical approval but this seemed to be from two institutions and not therefore covering all the places the participants were from and so this raised an issue for us about ethical approval. We then discussed the findings which were presented using the questions rather than themes. There were some interesting points made but there was more discussion in this article of teaching rather than student engagement although there was reference to a journey. The members were interested that despite the authors discussing the difficulty with the concept teaching excellence no other term was offered. There was also no suggestion for any follow up research. The members did think the articles were a good contrast around the topic.