The past few weeks have seen some increased activity using the VOXUR video units, and some initial planning for the deployment of two batches of Flip cameras into two separate student populations. The aim of these activities is to capture student expectations and experiences of university life, and identify areas where we can influence the design of curricula to better suit the needs of the students. This preliminary work is looking into the induction processes here at Birmingham City University, but it is envisaged that this work will go on to inform further investigative projects into ongoing student experience.
The project has been bolstered by a successful (internal) application to run the project as a Student Academic Partners (SAP) scheme. We were lucky enough to be able to identify two media students before the start of the new academic year with expertise in video editing techniques to take up the rolls of the SAPs. They have been an integral part in the development of the methodology for capturing the video data and will continue to collaborate with other university staff through the collation, analysis and evaluation of the data collected. This work is also in keeping with the principles outlined in our stakeholder engagement model, giving students a powerful voice, allowing them to work alongside members of staff undertaking curriculum design activities.
Details of the activity:
- Several groups of students are being approached to use the VOXUR units to offer narrative accounts relating to induction and transition:
- Faculty of Health
- BIAD (Birmingham Institute of Art and Design)
- TEE (Technology, Engineering and the Environment)
- Students with disabilities
- International students
- Student parents
- Mature students
- Students are asked a series of generic questions on student induction (co-written and presented by one of the SAPs), followed by more specific questions to be asked relating to faculty/support services specific areas of interest.
- Being deployed to a group of five international Students – we will identify five students at the start of each intake to take part in the study:
- July/ August
- Being deployed to a group of between five and ten students with registered disabilities
- This will be an ongoing study with the students for approximately ten months
Early Feedback from VOXUR Units
After conducting a ‘pilot day’ within the Faculty of Health (with around twenty five respondents engaging with the VOXUR questionnaire), we have now identified a number of factors that we are considering and deciding how best to address them when redeploying the VOXURs.
- We asked our SAPs to approach students and explain what the project is about in an effort to put respondents at ease and encourage them to take part.
- Students appeared to be more at ease responding to questions when they were approached and were able to respond in a bustling social environment such as the Students Union. They seemed less at ease responding in a quiet, empty room.
- They seemed to be less averse to being approached in this environment compared to an empty corridor.
- However, although the respondents seemed more amenable to Voxur in a social atmosphere such as the Students Union, they did prefer to answer the questions with a degree of privacy, separated from their peers. To accommodate for this we erected some large notice boards in a U configuration in the SU to allow them this privacy. As the event became busier, we began to have issues with higher levels of background noise, and we discovered whilst playing back some of the videos during the morning that the background noise was becoming increasingly distracting and was beginning to drown out the voice of the respondent. We feel that engaging with students in a comfortable environment, on their terms is vital, and for this reason we are now looking into the purchase of an inflatable interview pod to help reduce these background noise levels whilst maintaining a presence in a social space.
All of these issues will be followed-up on and reported back initially via this blog.
Finally, do you have any experience of using inflatable interview pods or any similar alternatives? If so, let us know your thoughts and your experiences of using them. Did you find the noise reducing properties adequate? Were there any other issues you came across whilst using them?
Any feedback would be much appreciated