Introductory Class Rep Training
In 2016 the NStEP Pilot Working Group, comprised of 5 Pilot HEIs, partner agencies and national experts from the Irish Survey of Student Engagement (ISSE) and the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, developed the first Class Rep Training Programme. The training programme materials were developed with sparqs and 5 trainers attended the sparqs residential training in Dundee. Throughout the first semester class reps in each of the pilot HEIs took part in the training which covered the different aspects of the class rep role. The training covers the following topics through an interactive session of group exercises and activities.
- Introduction to the NStEP pilot
- The Class Rep Role
- The Student Learning Experience
- Gathering Student Opinion
- Effective Feedback
- Developing Solutions
- Making Change Happen
- Closing the Loop.
In 2016 over 400 Class Reps have participated in one of the 19 Class Rep Training events held across the five pilot institutions. Class Reps were asked to indicate how valuable they found the training on a scale of 1-5 and results indicated an average 4.3 rating. 99% of responses also indicated they would recommend the training to other class reps. The training was delivered by the five NStEP Trainers: Dannii Curtis, Molly Kenny, Laura O’Connor, Catherine Ryan and Joanna Siewierska who were selected from over 30 applicants in April 2016.
Understanding the Role of Class Rep
The first section of the training module explores the purpose, tasks, skills and benefits of the Class Rep role. This has been very transformative for many reps as is seen in the charts in Fig. 1 indicating their level of understanding before and after the training session on a scale of 1 to 5. Class Reps have also stated they leave the training with more confidence from the knowledge they have gained and the network of Class Reps they have become a part of. It has become clear that the role of Class Reps is very diverse and students often have a limited understanding when asked to apply or volunteer.
Understanding the Mechanisms for Engagement
The recruitment of Class Reps also faces many challenges and is the focus of the National Project 1: Role and Recruitment of Class Reps. The Student Learning Experience Tool developed by sparqs is used in the training to explore the different mechanisms for engagement and participants have found this very useful. We can see that their understanding of the different mechanisms for engagement, depicted in Fig.2, improves significantly after taking part in the training session. The existing training programme is best suited for new or first-time class reps. The training and support needs of returning reps and reps for online/blended courses is being explored for 2018/2019.
Students’ Union Officer Training
In August NStEP provides training for Students’ Union Officers on Higher Education Governance, Quality Assurance and Student Partnership. In 2017 Officers and Students’ Union Staff from 20 different institutions were hosted in NUI Galway for the day long training.