Educational Development and
the NSS
SEDA/HE Academy Workshop
Aims of this session
• To consider the context required for NSS
outputs to contribute to teaching
enhancement
• To explore the conceptual models at play
when educational developers respond to NSS
issues with academic staff
• To share how educational developers might
work best to enhance teaching, using the NSS
NSS as a trigger for change?
• Concern for benchmark position (as a university
or across a programme or department)
• An indicator of a ‘problem’ from the students’
perspective
• As above – from the perspective of academic staff
• An opportunity to evaluate an earlier change
initiative
• Educational developers available to act as critical
friends, advisors, facilitators
But..
Some questions to consider:
• Do people, departments,
universities care about the
bench mark position?
• Are people convinced that
that the NSS is a valid tool
for uncovering student
experiences?
• Is anyone interested in
evaluating an earlier change
project?
• Are educational developers
able to respond in a helpful
way?
Process relies on:
o Senior managers who care
about NSS outcomes and
communicate this
o Students who expect to be
involved in dialogue about
the NSS
o All of above despite
possible reservations about
validity of tool
o University mechanisms
which link to NSS outcomes
o The role of the EDU
Q 1. What structures does the NSS link to in your university? For example, annual reviews,
promotion evidence, departmental quality reviews, reports to committees?
Do people care about NSS?
Dialogue with
current students
A discussion point
at appraisal
Evidence of the
student experience
An indicator to be
analysed in the
course annual
review
An action point in
a department plan
Evidence for
rewards or
promotions
An action plan to
be considered at
individual or course
level
A goal in
institutional
strategy
A national
benchmark
Educational developers and the NSS
• The role of the Educational developer in
relation to student evaluation data
• The nature of EDU work in relation to student
evaluation data
• The possibilities and challenges
Who are you when you are working
with academics on the NSS?
The non neutrality of some of the
mental models
Davies (1975) – consulting relationships are either product or
process orientated
Product mode – client has solution in mind and consultant
assists. The client may ‘purchase’ advice or resources from a
‘seller’. There may be external coercion to do this and an
economy in which to operate. Something is lacking until the
transaction when balance is restored.
Process mode – consultant engages the client in problem
solving. Can be a deficit model – the client has a problem, is
sick and the consultant can make a diagnosis and resolve the
problem. Even co-enquiry model may not feel neutral
Espoused and perceived methods of
working
• When I am working well
with an academic team
it’s like what?
• Is your espoused model
the same as the model
you actually use?
Q.2. What might an academic team be thinking when the
educational developer comes to work with them on the
NSS?
How is the unit seen?
• Too linked to senior
management and managerial
agendas?
• The providers of hints and
tips for teaching?
• Critical friends?
• Colleagues?
• The pedagogic gurus?
• The commissars?
• Who?
Implications of the evaluation
instrument
• There may be implicit values / ideological stances
embedded in an instrument like the NSS (student
satisfaction not student engagement for example)
• It might result in perverse outcomes through a
focus on crude measures of satisfaction
• The values and mental models of the educational
developer will influence the way the tool is used
• The values and mental models of the academic
team / individuals will influence the way the tool
can be used to enhance teaching
SEDA Values
• An understanding of how people learn
• Scholarship, professionalism and ethical
practice
• Working and developing learning communities
• Working effectively with diversity and
promoting inclusivity
• Continuing reflection on professional practice
• Developing people and processes
Using the NSS to change views about
teaching
• A tool for reflection – offering an opportunity to benchmark and a
student view of the teams’ practice and a basis for action research,
including student focus groups to triangulate data (Biggs 1999)
• A mechanism for providing a pedagogic threshold concept – ‘there
may thus be a transformed internal view of subject matter, subject
landscape, or even world view, and the teacher can move on’ (Meyer
and Land 2005)
• A lever for changing behaviour– change institutional, departmental,
course or individual level practice and beliefs will follow (Guskey 1986)
• Evidence of enhancement – a crude measure but one nonetheless of
enhancement work or strategic actions
• A ‘way in’ to a dialogic space with academics and academic teams –for
transformative dialogue (Kester 2004)
Development and Change
‘Development’ may be viewed as a site for contest: it is not
a unitary concept for which one day, we will provide a
model. The very meaning of the word ‘development’, how it
is constituted, the kind of activities it implies, are all
discursive, and can be interpreted according to various
ontological and epistemological standpoints
Webb 1996
But doesn’t that make our job so interesting?!
references
Biggs, J (1990)Teaching for Quality Learning at University SRHE
Davies, I (1975) Some aspects of a theory of advice: the management of an
instructional developer-client relationship. Instructional Science 3, 351-373
Guskey, T (1986) Staff development and the process of teacher change, Educational
Researcher 15 (5) 5-12
Kester G 2004 Conversation Pieces
Meyer, JHF and Shanahan, M (2003) The Troublesome Nature of a Threshold Concept
in Economics, Paper presented to the 10th Conference of the European Association for
Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI), Padua, Italy, August 26-30.
Perkins, D (1999) The Many Faces of Constructivism, Educational Leadership, Volume
57, Number 3, November
Perkins, D (2005) The underlying game: troublesome knowledge and threshold
conceptions, in Meyer, J.H.F and Land, R. (eds) Overcoming Barriers to Student
Understanding: Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge .
Webb G (1996) Understanding Staff Development SRHE
Wenger, E (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Educational Development and the NSS