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Academic Confidence: Students As Partners In Co-Creation of the Curriculum

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Students as Partners in Co-creation of the Curriculum

The pressure of being a student and the expectation that you balance your academic work with external responsibilities, often means that the dreaded word ‘engagement’ sends you running the other way, at pace, with your arms wailing above your head. Its already enough of a challenge to balance your numerous assignments, work your part-time job and remember to do your food shopping!

So why take more on?

The infamous juggling act of getting to grips with
student life, should not mean we have to sacrifice the
opportunity to become active creators of our curriculum.

Whilst initially, this may seem like another additional job and you may not see the immediate benefit (much like doing your food shopping) the opportunity is just too good to miss!

Surely, you want to have a say over what you study and the content you learn. Maybe you aren’t connecting with the course material and would like the option to select your own case study. Or perhaps you want to suggest a new and innovate approach of delivery, which will increase student engagement? (dressing your lecturer up as an avocado to teach food sustainability….) As co-creators, you have the chance to move beyond distant, quantified responses; and the constraints of a traditional feedback forum.

Instead you are invited to mould your university
learning experience into what YOU want it to be.

There are also added personal benefits. Getting involved and embracing the experience enhances your sense of belonging within the academic and broader university community. Imagine the elation when the case study you suggested is being used to teach environmental sustainability to your cohort. Witnessing your suggestions come to life and serve as the cornerstone of a module lifts your confidence and self-belief that your voice, opinions and ideas are valid. This confidence can then shape your academic development and personal wellbeing.

Advocating for change in your modules is not just beneficial for your learning experience, it also has value for others. Co-creation, peer-working, collaborative engagement all helps your peers who are perhaps struggling to connect with the material, or are apprehensive to take on active role themselves.  

So how do you get involved?

It could be as simple as letting your lecturer know what you would like to be included in your course. This sort of dialogue is important for ensuring that your views are heard and implemented. It also provides you with the opportunity to have an active role in enhancing the learning environment for both you and your peers.

If you would like to turn the level of co-creation up a notch, you could always consider attending CQEM meetings (course quality monitoring and enhancement meetings which take place twice per year), course development meetings or becoming a student rep. Not only will this boost your employability and look fantastic on your CV, it also allows you to network with staff and students and give feedback on your course.

 

Small steps….. Big Impact….

Here are some small steps which you could take
to begin your co-creation journey….

If the assessment you have been set is an article, ask your lecture if there is any flexibility in terms formatting. Maybe you want to produce a podcast, or a website, or seize the opportunity to demonstrate your creative flare and produce a poster.

Think there is a glaring lack of case studies being used from a certain region or demographic group? Do you have an idea for how this gap can be filled? Raise this with your lecturer.

Is your concentration wavering in the middle of your double lecture? Suggest to your lecturer that a comfort break is introduced at the halfway mark.

Do you feel caught off guard when you are asked questions in a seminar in front of all your peers? Why not suggest that your tutor provides you with the questions beforehand, allowing you time to prepare your responses. Or maybe they could make use of online questioning tools or polling? You could always add in that this will enhance the quality of the responses provided and produce richer discussions.

Don’t like the essay questions you are being assigned with? Propose designing your own essay questions so you can focus on the topics you enjoy. Sometimes the suggestions you make may not be able to be integrated into your module immediately, but will provide valuable feedback for future cohorts.

Have a favourite lecturer and love how they teach and deliver content on certain modules? You could always discuss this when providing feedback so that other members of staff could adopt similar methods that suit your needs.

Remember, that your role as a student is so much more than just the classroom! We represent a body of student voices by consulting with our lecturers and help to co-research help design what we get taught and how!

 

Where now?

Were you persuaded? Want to get involved?

Co-creation is not just another chore, it’s an opportunity to shape your university experience! Start with the small steps suggested above; pick one which you identify with and kick start the dialogue. Feeling more ambitious? Find out more about being a student rep and other opportunities for rigorous co-creation here.

Want to provide a testimony of how you have actively co-created in your course contact the Curriculum 2025 team at curriculum2025@coventry.ac.uk

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