This short talk was given on 3rd Dec 2019 to staff at Manchester Metropolitan University, who have recently taken on a new management role. The slides are available here as a reflection on my leadership journey in the 2 years since I have been “Managing at Man Met Uni”. They cover my own rather winding path to an academic leadership position, my leadership philosophy as it has developed and what I have learnt in these two hectic, challenging and formative years.
The importance and intensity of student engagement within Universities has never been greater (BIS 2015). Across the sector, students engage at unit, programme or department level; through mechanisms such as staff student liaison committees, internal student surveys and external metrics such as the National Student Survey (NSS) (Canning 2017). Higher up the University though, student voices become harder to discern. Their contribution becomes filtered through layers of academic management or reduced to quantitative measures of satisfaction. Worst case, students can be unintentionally or deliberately silenced by the unequal power relations between them and senior staff (Robinson and Taylor, 2007).
How then can institutions be confident that they are hearing students accurately and responding to their concerns in a timely and effective manner? This case study from Manchester Metropolitan University, presented at RAISE conference 2019 in Newcastle, presents an institution wide framework for engaging students and listening to the student voice. We call it our Conversation. Continue reading Engaging with the executive: embedding student engagement throughout the university hierarchy: RAISE Conference Sept 2019
This presentation, delivered at ISSOTL Symposium in November 2018, describes an ongoing project to reinvent an undergraduate engineering curriculum in a post-92 University in the United Kingdom, based on the principles of relevance, accessibility and quality. The impetus for the project arose from institutional data that showed not only poor overall progression statistics, but stark differences in attainment and progression (students progressing from the 1st to the 2nd year of undergraduate study) between students arriving with traditional academic qualifications (A levels) and those arriving with vocational qualifications. The project involved twice-weekly hands on workshops with faculty from across the School of Engineering to address a series of problematic progression chains – sets of modules that build on each other in each year of study; propagate assumptions and attitudes about the quality and potential of the students at each level; and which currently exhibit the largest attainment gap between students arriving with Academic and Vocational qualifications. Redesigning the curriculum across a chain of modules is by definition a team based, and cross-classroom approach and the shared understanding that is developed is proving a powerful mechanism for a bottom up pedagogically driven approach to curriculum redesign.
Download the full presentation here: ISSOTL-Nov2018-Saunders-Fowler-Final
The what and why of video support for Teaching and Learning
Short videos/screencasts (aim for 5 minutes max) are really helpful for students and staff alike in terms of raising teaching quality, reducing staff workload (as all students have access to your one best explanation), and students really like them.
They don’t need to be professionally produced or edited or take a long time to make – especially if you use pre-prepared powerpoints/pdfs/images rather than writing or drawing live. And ask for help from your Faculty TELA to get you started
The types of topics that are particularly suitable for video are
- Revision tips
- Exam paper explanations
- Resit paper explanations
- Coursework guidance and tips
- All class coursework feedback
- Solutions to tutorial problems
- Core concept videos (short explanations of the key concepts that students must grasp to succeed on your unit)
One symptom of just how busy I have been over my first 8 months at Man Met Uni has been my neglect of my blogging. I had great plans to continue my series of reflections as I began my new role at Man Met but these have been blown away by the speed at which I have had to learn to adapt to both a new Institution – full of new people, processes and ways of doing things – and to a new senior role.
So how has this last 8 months been and what have I learned that I could share with other academics in the same position?
Well, its been a bit of a roller coaster to be honest. I think I started well; I made my primary focus that of building really good relationships with people and concentrating on two key maxims of leadership – enthusiasm and integrity (John Adair). I made myself as visible as possible within the Faculty, built my Education team within the first 2 months, aimed for a couple of quick wins and Chaired my first Faculty committees. All of this was a massive learning curve; overwhelming at times but by focusing on each day in turn I made it to Christmas and then to Easter without any great mishaps or mis-steps. Continue reading Learning Academic Leadership – Finding my feet