Consultation with and ongoing feedback from students has been a key driver in the development of a sophisticated technological infrastructure supporting learning, teaching and assessment at Manchester Metropolitan University. The core is a VLE (Moodle) tightly integrated with other institution systems including student records (SRS), timetabling (Scientia), MMUtube (media server), Library (Talis Aspire) and coursework receipting, wrapping the institution around the individual learner. The president of MMU Students’ Union has described the MMU Moodle infrastructure as a “complete game changer for students”.
A bi-annual internal student survey (ISS) enables students to feedback their experience on each unit within their programme of study, providing a rich source of “student voice” data to drive quality enhancement in teaching, learning and assessment. In 2014/15, 47,800 free text comments were posted and interrogated using a set of student experience orientated key words. This extracted 2072 comments relating to the VLE and other aspects of technology enhanced learning and assessment. This generated a data-set comprising 746 comments relating to the “Best” aspects of programmes and 1326 comments relating to the aspects of programmes that students would like to see “improved”.
The Learning Innovation team responsible for academic staff development and training in the use of Moodle and related learning technologies have undertaken a detailed thematic of this data, utilizing a variant of Richie & Spencer’s ‘Framework’ (2002) approach. (more detail in paper). From this 5-stage process eighteen themes, arranged into six categories, emerged from the analysis of comments relating to the “Best” aspects of programmes/units. Twenty-five themes, arranged in seven categories, emerged from the analysis of aspects considered to be “in need of improvement”.
In summary, where students comment upon “best” aspects of their units/programmes the themes describe Moodle areas that are well organised, regularly updated, provide printable materials in advance of teaching with clear and consistent guidance (particularly about assessments). Furthermore, “best” themes describe units making effective use of audio/video resources both in class and in Moodle (including audio/video lecture recordings). Finally, a strong “best” theme emerged around effective communications where students received rapid, helpful responses to email queries/discussion forum postings. Comments relating to aspects of units/programmes that students would like to see “improved” were almost a mirror of those considered best practice. Themes emerged around units that were perceived as poorly organized with materials not being kept up to date or enabling advance access/printing of teaching resources. Other themes expressed concerns about inconsistencies in information between tutors or a complete lack of course information and assessment briefs. A strong theme also emerged around units/programmes where response to email and other forms of communication were considered poor or unreasonably slow.
As well as exploring the “best” and “improve” themes at Faculty and Departmental level, this paper will explore academic staff interpretations and planned local and institutional responses to the thematic analysis. Consequently, we will attempt to provide an assessment of the effectiveness of the “student voice” as a mechanism for quality enhancement in relation to provision of learning, teaching and assessment via Moodle.