I must confess, I applied to be a Southampton Feedback Champion initially because it offered the practical experience I needed to complement a master’s qualification in Sociology and Social Policy; and it was some extra shoe-shopping money. However, after the first meeting I realised the importance of this program’s mandate. Feedback Champions offered students the opportunity to engage with university policy and make a contribution to the scholastic experience of students across campus, a change it was discovered, we didn’t fully consider within our purview as students.
Feedback for many was an abstract concept that did not translate beyond formal summative feedback at the end of semester. Moreover, feedback was seldom considered upon the receipt of what students felt to be a fair grade. The Southampton Feedback Champions project gave the student researchers and participants a lens through which to view feedback, a holistic view that encompassed more than grades. Feedback then came to encompass peer reviews, tutorial sessions, emails and other taken-for-granted communication between staff and students. What’s more, the academics assumed the students understood the holistic concept but given the diversity of the university’s student population such information had not spread beyond a few. Feedback Champions brought this disparity to the fore with a mandate to make feedback widely comprehensible and implement change that would benefit both parties through needs assessments.
As a budding social science researcher, this project was a cumulative exercise of my degree program’s substantive modules. And as a postgraduate mentor I was able through my zealous appreciation for the project’s objectives to share this with my mentees, two math students who had never done research before. I was ‘on call’ to answer questions and conduct practice interviews as my mentees were committed to producing the best data and I am proud of their findings and growth as researchers.
I am grateful to the LLAS for conceptualising this project and their decision to involve students in the project design, data collection and presentation of findings. I am confident that the data collected will inform faculty-specific practises and policies that will have a great impact of the academic and student experience at the University of Southampton.
MSc Sociology and Social Policy