Waiting to engage

‘Student engagement’ is a feel-good term.  We don’t really know what it is, but we want more of it. Like anything we want more of, we need to think of ways of measuring it, so that we can check that we’re tracking in the right direction. In Australia and New Zealand, we measure it with the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE), which matches closely and deliberately to the US National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), so that we can…

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Who’s we, white man?

There’s an old joke that comes to mind a bit too frequently in current circumstances. After riding together through many adventures, having taken it in turns to rescue one another from certain death, The Lone Ranger and his faithful sidekick Tonto are finally surrounded by hundreds of Indians, whooping and hollering (it’s an old joke).  The Lone Ranger turns to Tonto with an arrow through his hat and says, “What do we do now, old friend?” To which Tonto sensibly…

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Tryin’ to keep the customer satisfied

Listening to a presentation on student satisfaction survey results recently, I felt a sort of ambivalent sympathy with the administrative colleague whose job it is to assure students that we’re committed to ‘closing the feedback loop’, so that they can feel that their efforts in filling out our surveys result in meaningful action. ‘Closing the feedback loop’ is considered the acme of good practice, but it’s also the Everest of communication challenges. It relies on persuading everyone involved that ‘we’…

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Universities are not very agile

I’ve been in conversation with a number of colleagues about whether or not academics are “resistant to change”.  This claim was included quite casually in a document written to explain to external stakeholders the kinds of characteristics they would expect to see in a university community. Students are experimental, technical staff are skilled, and academics are … resistant to change. Obviously, at one level this is just annoying.

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