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Experience of Gathering Feedback - 3rd year Class Rep

Fri 18 Nov 2016

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.

 
An End of Semester Update from your School Convenor, Samantha, and UG Vice Convenor, Josephine.

Wed 16 Dec 2015

This is a brief update to let you know what your school representatives have been getting up to over the last semester.

 

Samantha has been working closely with the UG and PG Vice Convenors to ensure they get the most helpful feedback possible from class reps. She has been overseeing meetings with class reps and ensuring they are comfortable in their roles. She has  co-organised a very successful School Council meeting, where a number of important issues were discussed (the minutes were sent in a previous email. If you did not receive them and want to know what happened, please contact me). She has been working with the PPLS heads of department and school office to ensure issues are directed down the relevant channels to be dealt with. 

 

Josephine has worked with the undergraduate class reps, making note of the issues peers have brought up to them and relaying some of these at meetings. She also briefed the reps initially and helped to clarify the structure of the role to help the reps be as effective communicators of your feedback as possible. Josephine has also been involved with a number of community-building projects in PPLS. Key highlights of her semester’s work with convenors and other students include getting a new SSLC and cognitive science-specific class reps, being part of the core team that has made Cognitive Science society an official academic society in PPLS, and ensuring that the reps were briefed and have been supported.

 

Looking ahead to next semester, a number of exciting events are being planned. For example, we'll be holding an event with the Careers Services team to help you gain a better understanding of what jobs a PPLS degree can lead to. We'll also, as ever, be working with the class reps to ensure your feedback is heard. So if you haven't got in touch with them already, now's your chance! 

 

We hope you've had a great semester, and enjoy your Christmas break. 

 

Best wishes,
 

Samantha and Josephine 

 
Experience of School Council - Philosophy 3rd year

Mon 14 Dec 2015

A few days before the school council meeting the other philosophy class reps and I met with the School Convenor and vice Undergrad Convenor to discuss some of the school wide issues we had gotten from the feedback of our fellow philosophy students. We discussed possible solutions to these and how important they were to the students.

 

The actual school council meeting was open to all the class reps and any other students who wanted to take part. We had sent messages to the third year philosophy students to make them aware of this. Unfortunately it was mostly just the class reps that attended but we had all the feedback from our peers to present.

 

The meeting started casually with lunch which gave us a chance to chat with the other reps and the convenor's about the issues and get an idea before the meeting officially started about some of the issues. It was interesting to see how may of the issues overlapped between the different subjects. I made an effort to talk to the reps from the other subjects to get an idea of their course structure before the meeting so that I could adjust my ideas to suit everyone.

 

The main issue that was discussed were was assessment structure (including exams, coursework and possible tutorial participation marks). As a philosophy student I felt that more emphasis should be put on coursework rather than a sit down exam and that tutorial participation should be mandatory and credited. The majority of the philosophy reps agreed but we opened the discussion up to the other subjects. Most of us agreed that tutorial participation should be credited but there was less consensus on whether our final assessment should be essay or exam based. Some suggested that the students get a choice. Nothing was absolutely decided on that matter but i was confident further discussions would be had.

 

I think the meeting will help focus our upcoming SSLC meeting because I have more of an understanding about the channels of communication and the issues currently seen as the most pressing. The meeting was an overall success as we were able to openly and comfortably express our views, as well as those of our peers and take everyones opinions on board.

 
Experience of Class Rep Welcome Meeting - 3rd year Philosophy Class rep

Mon 14 Dec 2015

On 6/10/2015 I attended the first meeting of the new class reps for PPLS. It started with coffee lunch with gave us the opportunity to meet everyone and casually discuss our plans for the year in our role as class reps. it also made us more comfortable with the members we would be working with. We were able to discuss the school-wise issues as well as those that were only relevant to our course. after the initial meet and greet the individual department staff introduced themselves and their role in the process. We then separated into subject groups and got to know all the other year reps. We also discussed the types of things we might want to discuss in SSLC meetings and how that process would work. Hearing what everyone wanted to achieve inspired many of my own ideas and gave me the confidence to raise them. Hearing what the staff had planned was also good to hear and gave me ideas of the sorts of changes they could implement.

 
Experience of Attending an Event - 4th Year Philosophy and Psychology Class Rep

Tue 06 Oct 2015

The second semester was the most inspiring to me as a class rep, because I had fully learned how to use my voice and my class's feedback to represent. I went to "Amnesty International Activist Training" I found that this seminar was helpful to inspire me to be an activist and more importantly effective activist that gets their point across to individuals positively. Working with various other students this seminar inspired me to act for my class as a true activist - one that inspires through enthusiasm and an informed opinion on a measured level appropriate to whom they are speaking. I tried to incorporate this in my emails to my class in second semester. Seeing my feedback grow through me developing emails that not only informed the class, but asked for interaction through perspectives on issues and encouraged students by letting the students know how much their own feedback and voices changed the university. In philosophy the class reps worked on getting Feminism for next year (instead of dropping it) we found that over 300 students supported our effects and the university changed their opinion based directly off their feedback.  Not only this, but the Women’s Lib Group Convenors are now working on incorporating more “Feminism Philosophical ideas” into larger areas and schools at the university to provide gender equality learning. The students have inspired me as much as I hoped to have inspired them this semester through this accomplishment alone! I have personally influenced providing Dissertation Proposal, 1,500 Word Coursework, and Coursework Dissertation exemplars for our 3rd years. Additionally, I helped to make the university away of much needed inspirational help for Study Abroad students when it comes to dissertations in general.

 
Experience of Implementing Change - 4th Year Philosophy and Psychology Class Rep

Mon 05 Oct 2015

I have found one of the most difficult things about my role is to truly impact and inspire other students to become interested instead of apathetic towards change in our university. At the base level everyone wants change and I believe in the good in the world, however this is not always the case with fulfilling our own moral responsibilities to have our voices represented. This was especially clear when it came to feedback and getting students to vote. I build a facebook group for philosophy 4th years to discuss whatever came to their mind and were inspired to change in our school or university. I found that this really bought 4th years together to speak about issues with me on a personal level, rather than thinking of me as staff or an “unapproachable” class rep. I went to the "Transformative Leadership Workshop by EUSA" and learned ways to improve how I use my role as a positive and unspoken class leader that works to lead by valuing and being enthusiastic about issues so that students are also inspired to get involved with changing the university one step at a time. Additionally, I volunteered in the Edinburgh Student Arts Festival and ended up speaking to several students about changes in coursework and more creative outlets for students. I think I inspired these students to get involved and also informed them about roles they hadn't known about in EUSA. I hope that my small effects have encouraged a unification of students to talk about issues and what they like in the university! I try to encourage conversations about change whenever I can to hope to inspire students to see that change is tangible and change can happen through their voices allow. I have truly learned this year the best way to inspire people to change is to lead by example and to lead with empathy and a good dose of humility.

 
Experience of Implementing Change - 2nd Year Psychology Class Rep

Mon 05 Oct 2015

As a class representative I raised many issues that were voiced by the students of my psychology 2 course during the SSLC meeting however the majority of the complaints were about our course assignments and the statistics & methodology and how it was integrated to the course. This was an issue I also myself strongly sympathized with. The other two class representatives and I discussed it many times and thought it would be a brilliant idea to request a meeting with the course organizer and raise the issues and listen to his comments about it so we could then pass it on to the entire class.
 

In broad terms the issues were:
 

1. The assignments' objectives were unclear, grading was harsh and unfair, students were not completely confident with their use of SPSS (statistics software)

2. Students felt that the way SPSS was taught did not help them really understand how to use the software, in addition they complained about the tutorials being solely about SPSS and not about the topics covered in class. Furthermore, the statistic model was taught during one lecture a week (interfering with the model being studied over that period) which confused the students.
 

During our meeting with the course organizer he admitted that he has received emails raising these issues and that he and the lecturers were working on solving this issue.
 

The first issue was kind of solved by letting students choose one of two possible topics of the research paper due in semester 2.
 

For the second issue, the course organizer assured us that the school was working on making Statistics & Methodology a separate course so it would not interfere with the topics covered in psychology as well as not confuse the students anymore as they will get more guidance on using SPSS.
 

We were relieved to hear that even though it was not going to affect us directly, however it would help the students after us.
 

We sent an email as well as posted a comment on our Facebook page notifying the students of what was said during that meeting with regards to their concerns and how our (students') feedback has resulted in making changes for the future years helping those coming after us.

 
Experience of Staff-Student Liaison Committee (SSLC) - 4th Year Philosophy and Psychology Class Rep

Mon 05 Oct 2015

In semester 1, of this academic year, I had just started as a class representative with no experience representing students. In the past, I personally had often had struggles with the university staff with communication, so as a class rep I thought this might happen as well. At times in the first semester, I found it hard to understand what I was doing wrong when I came to the point where the staff couldn’t really give me answer and I had other expectations. In the second semester, I found that this was solved by contacting the right staff who specialised in various difficult representative issues. Additionally, I learnt to be more patient and ask a bit more professionally about issues that I knew were due to academic rules that students disagreed on. I found this especially difficult at the first SSLC meeting where I thought all the class representatives were going to have a lengthy discussion about issues and my expectations had fallen when I didn’t get to explain all my issues. We, as class representatives, decided that having a "Pre-SSLC" with Staff might be a helpful way to discuss with staff more in depth before the very fast pace general SSLC meeting. This worked super well! Not only did I feel that I got to explain my issues more in depth, but other class reps started to give more of their feedback as well! It gave all the class reps a chance to get feedback directly from the staff prior to our meetings and also get feedback from other class reps in different years. I learned that giving optimism a chance is far better than aggressively trying to change an issue all by myself, moreover that this is not what leadership means. However, the adjective I actively try to embody is “proactiveness” instead of “aggressiveness”. 

 
 

Welcome to the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences Representation page.
 

Here you will find useful information about your School’s student representation system.
 

First of all, let us introduce you to your School Representatives. Each School has two School Reps whose role is to listen to you and bring any issues you raise to the relevant staff and committee meetings, such as the Student-Staff Liaison Committee or your School Council. In PPLS, the Undergraduate School Representative is Jo-Anna Hagen and the Postgraduate School Representative will be elected in the October By-Election. Feel free to get in touch with them if you feel that you have something important to say to the School! Your School also contains Class Representatives who work very closely with the School Representatives, EUSA and the staff to ensure you make the most out of your courses. Potential areas Class Reps may engage with are issues with feedback, course content, and suitability of assessment.

 

The School Council is a democratic structure and forum that enables you to take a proactive approach to your student life. It is a way for you and your coursemates to voice your opinions about what is going on in your School, and you are entitled to bring up issues and ideas that you consider relevant to the student experience in these meetings. You can ask your School Representatives to talk on behalf of you, or you can speak for yourself and count on their help to bring these issues forward and support you. They take place at least once a semester, so keep an eye out for updates from your Reps and don’t forget to attend – the more students that show up, the better! In 2014/15 the School Council was very active and regular, and focused on building a solid community within the School. The Reps strengthened the bonds between the School Convenor and Vice Convenor and the Class Reps to ensure a more effective representation, and together worked hard around the academic community and Class Reps’ training and roles.
 

In your School, you can make use of a number of Academic Societies implemented in your School. Whether you are looking for support in your studies, meeting like-minded students, networking or keeping up-to-date with your field of study’s latest news, they are the place to be! In the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences you can find the Philosophy Society (PhilSoc). PhilSoc runs discussion groups, reading groups and guest lectures throughout the year. It has its own library and is a great place to discuss philosophy with course members from various years, as well as students with a shared interest who are studying outside the discipline. PhilSoc offers Academic Support sessions run by senior honours students. You can ask questions, bring along an essay draft, and have the opportunity to view sample coursework answers.
 

The Psychology Society gives access to talks and social events, and provides a chance to get involved in the Undergraduate Journal meetings. They also run a pastoral system of Academic Families. A mix of  1st through 4th year students are grouped into ‘family’ units so students are on hand to provide support and answer any questions. Some families get involved with pub quizzes, others attend ceilidhs or go out for a coffee. The choice is yours.
 

LangSoc is a society for the appreciation and study of language sciences. They provide a forum for linguistics that extends beyond the classroom to provide support, friendship and community for anyone interested in Linguistics or English Language.
 

Another important thing to look out for in your School is Peer Support. The Peer Support programmes are student-led initiatives that offer guidance and advice for newer students by more experienced students. PPLS runs a number of these schemes throughout the year:
 

SCHOOL-WIDE INITIATIVES
The PPLS Freshers’ Helpers Scheme works to offer intensive support to students when they arrive at University for the first time. The role of these senior students focuses around signposting and offering general guidance and advice. For further details please contact judy.mcculloch@ed.ac.uk
 

LINGUISTICS  AND ENGLISH LAGUAGE

Linguistics also run the FamiLing peer support scheme. The purpose of this Scheme is to encourage different year groups to interact and build a sense of community within the discipline. Further information here:  https://www.eusa.ed.ac.uk/support_and_advice/peer_learning_and_support/get_peer_support/find_a_project/organisation/Familing/, or contact mhairi.davidson@ed.ac.uk.

 

In addition, LangSoc will continue to organise revision sessions throughout the semester and particularly around exams. These will mainly be for LEL1, since the LangSoc's Academic Support Officer, James Reid, is a tutor for that course. There will be no official review sessions for 2nd and honours students, but LangSoc will gladly help with things like organising peer support review sessions, booking rooms, etc. For further details please contact mhairi.davidson@ed.ac.uk
 

PSYCHOLOGY
The Psychology Department also runs a pastoral system of Academic Families. A mix of  1st through 4th year students are grouped into ‘family’ units so students are on hand to provide support, guidance and answer any questions. Some families get involved with pub quizzes, others attend ceilidhs or go out for a coffee. If you are interested in getting involved please contact Tamsin.Welch@ed.ac.uk
 

For more information about representation in PPLS, please visit the following pages:

UG: http://www.ppls.ed.ac.uk/students/undergraduate/documents/Reps%20and%20Committees%20230914.pdf

UG: http://www.ppls.ed.ac.uk/students/undergraduate/student_community/school_council.php

PG: http://www.ppls.ed.ac.uk/students/postgraduate/PPLSPGStudentReps.php

If you believe something is missing from this page, please contact schools@eusa.ed.ac.uk

Undergraduate School Representative