As part of my role as a class representative for third year Philosophy, I am responsible for gathering and sharing feedback from my peers and making sure that they are fairly represented. To do this, it has been crucial to set up a friendly and approachable port of communication between myself and my class.
In order to ensure that my peers felt comfortable in using me as a means to communicate their feedback, it was important first and foremost to make sure people knew me!
I made sure to introduce myself to as many classes as possible, as well as posting a welcome message on both the Facebook group and through the university mailing list. This way, I was reaching out to all students across all platforms, not just in person but also on social media and through email for those who aren't on Facebook. I wanted to make sure that all students felt involved and able to express their views, and so made sure to include a wide scope of communicative options for them.
In anticipation of the first SSLC meeting, myself and the other class rep. used a few methods to attempt to gather feedback. Initially, we found that sending out a message asking students for feedback gained little-to-no response, so we had to look to alternative methods. We created a questionnaire, basing our topics around the jump from pre-Honours to Honours courses, course choices and how they were allocated, and just general questions about how students felt their courses were going thus far. Although it was a questionnaire, we tried not to make the questions too closed, as we didn't want students to feel as though we were dictating their points of view. We did gain some responses, and this was helpful in having some supportive data to present at the SSLC.
I have found the best method of getting feedback is actually getting the opportunity to talk to students, as it seems they are more willing to have a chat with you than emailing their views across. Perhaps this is due to the fact that this way they have some acknowledgment that their views have been received and understood in the correct manner.
At the SSLC, we presented feedback to staff by giving a general overview of what the questionnaire data showed, highlighting key issues that were concerning students, as well as some of the views we had noted down from talking to students. Overall, having supporting data seemed helpful in being able to back up the points we were raising, but due to the fact that so few people responded to this method of communication it was difficult to know how representative this really is. Generally the feedback we did receive was very positive, so there were few issues that needed resolving other than the unbalance of popular courses in semester 1 and 2.
I think we must continue to work as reps to find better ways of gathering feedback, as only a very small proportion of students seem to offer feedback to representatives. Whilst this is helpful, it may not be representative of the wider student body. This seems to be an continuing issue for reps, so we will try to work towards some sort of solution as to how we can encourage people to get their views heard.