Four Scholarship projects will run in the coming Academic Year. All projects are based in a single School, where appropriate, and contribute to the priorities of the Enhancing the Student Experience Action Plan, and the current Quality Enhancement Theme “Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the Student Experience”. Initial details are given below, with full descriptions to appear once the projects are finalised.

 

Current and Future Online Learning Provisions in Glasgow School for Business and Society

Alexis Barlow, Glasgow School for Business and Society
Blended and online distance learning approaches are increasingly being adopted within higher education, including Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), where digital learning is highlighted as a key strategy for learning (2015-2020) to enhance student engagement, accessibility, flexibility and personalisation of the curriculum. This makes it necessary to evaluate a range of online learning model and to fully understand the potential that digital/virtual environment can bring to learning, teaching and assessment.

Across Glasgow School for Business and Society (GSBS), there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the different online and blended learning provisions currently in use. At the moment, practice tends to be piecemeal, very much down to the individual academic and there is no real understanding of what works well in engaging students and what doesn’t work well with ever evolving new technologies. Mapping out the use of different technologies across the school and university is important for institutional learning and for effective decision making.

Consequently, the aim of this study is to conduct an audit of existing online provision across GSBS and to consider what approach or model is best for achieving GCU’s future learning and teaching objectives and strategies.

This research will contribute directly to the 2020 Enhancing the Student Experience Action Plan to deliver a stepwise change in student satisfaction with their online learning experience. It will aim to maximise the opportunities of online learning whilst minimising the risk.

 

Diversity and Inclusivity in STEM in Higher Education

Patricia Munoz de Escalona, School of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment.
Literature suggests that there are many under-represented groups in Science, Engineering and Computing. Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Students (BAME: nb this includes white minorities such as travellers, Roma etc.) are known to be under-represented in HE overall, and at GCU, with additional issues such as lack of attainment being recognised in this group (The Attainment Gap). University data along these last three years shows that BME group is 10%, White students 89% and not known 1% with  BAME entrants in 2018-2019 in SCEBE at less than 10%. This project will consider the challenges faced by these students and the mechanisms the university can employ to increase recruitment and provide support for retention.

 

Peer-Supported Communities

Yvonne Wayne & Fiona Kennedy, School of Health and Life Sciences
The What Works? Student Retention and Success Programme argues that ‘at the heart of successful retention and success is a strong sense of belonging...’ (HEA 2012: 6), and enhancing the student experience to evoke such a sense of belonging is the cornerstone of the Peer Supported Communities initiative.  The GCU Student Experience Action Plan clearly outlines the commitment to supporting students to engage with their own experience, and that of others.  Moreover, developing a sense of belonging is considered a contributory factor to progression and retention rates, which is a key performance indicator of the Institution.   According to NSS data, GCU is currently in line with both Scotland and the UK in relation to student satisfaction with their learning community, however there is scope for improvement.

A key area that we want to address and support through the Peer Supported Communities is articulation.  What Works? further argues that the development of student belonging is also cultivated through ‘supportive peer relations’ (ibid: 7), the importance of which was highlighted by focus groups that were conducted with articulating students during the first Trimester of Session 2017-18.  Articulating students often find themselves joining established student cohorts in which friendships have already been made and the focus groups participants all noted a divide between continuing and articulating students.  Moreover, some focus group participants also stated that they had difficulty navigating the transition from college.  We are therefore keen to develop the Peer Supported Communities in a way that they can support articulating students pre-entry and throughout the full student lifecycle. 

 

Late Enrolment and Student Performance: Does a Casuality Exist?

Ruth Marciniak, Stefan Hollins, Anne Chapman, GCU London
Given University regulations permit students to begin their studies up to 3 weeks after their programme has commenced, a number of students miss the induction and start of each module sessions.  As a consequence, this presents a challenge in regard to fully embedding the student into their programme and the university.

Induction and the very early weeks of teaching serve to equip students with both housekeeping matters of being at university (e.g. password for IT systems, library and learning resources introductions, opportunities to sort out financial and accommodation issues) and more personal matters, for example, allow space for socialisation and understanding and managing learning expectations.  Whilst mini induction events are run for late enrolees, these students are at a disadvantage in that they have less time, compared to those who started at the beginning of the programme, to assimilate new information.  Further, they may be overburdened by anxieties associated with embarking on new learning experiences at a university new to them.  In particular, international students have the challenges associated with moving to a foreign country and coping with a new environment, such challenges include adjusting their cultural norms (Banjong, 2015).  It has been identified that these adjustments alone can affect international students’ academic performance (Wan et al., 1992).  In particular, experience of international students at GCU London has identified issues including the pressure to succeed, cultural clashes, financial constraints, the need to communicate in a language other than their own and being far away from friends and family, all being contributing factors to deteriorating mental health, exacerbated for late enrolees.  Further, although allowing students to register late is a well-intentioned effort to accommodate the needs of the student, the question goes beyond what effects it may have on the student… what effects does late enrolment have on the rest of the cohort?