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Democracy

Education Officer:
Maahwish Mirza

Maahwish Mirza is the SU's Education Officer.

Hey everyone! I'm Maahwish, your Education Officer this year. Before this I was your average struggling, ever-so-slightly undernourished English Literature student, and I'm now here working to make sure you get the best out of your university experience!

I work specifically on all things related to your course - if you ever have any issues, please do not hesitate to get in touch via email (or, better yet, come and say hello to me in my office where there'll be a cup of tea waiting for you!)

All of us over at the SU work really hard to make sure that you get the best academic and social experience possible during your time here, and in order for us to do this effectively we need your feedback and want to hear your concerns. We have so many fantastic resources available to help you, and we want to see all of you happily navigating your university life.

I hope to see you around at some point!

Blog

  • Sun 21 Jun 2015 23:29

    I am very pleased to announce that Warwick has signed up to participating in the Race Equality Charter Mark, which works to monitor an institution’s progress on representation and success of ethnic minority students and staff.

    This is an issue that the SU has campaigned heavily on this year, and marks a very positive step forward in Warwick working to tackle issues of inequality in higher education. When I started my Sabb year, I wanted to see Warwick become one of the best institutions in the Russell Group on matters of race, and I am pleased to see that we are heading in that direction.

    My own research, Race, Academic Attainment and Equality has looked at an identified several issues to do with the academic experiences of ethnic minority students at Warwick.

    National research has also indicated that the primary cause of concern surrounding this issue has been the lack of monitoring, oversight and action from institutions. That is why it is very encouraging to see Warwick sign up to the Charter, and I am extremely hopeful that this will see Warwick radically improve in matters of diversity and race.

    All students are being asked to fill out a survey as part of this Charter Mark, which will be available very soon. Please keep an eye on the SU social media pages for more information on the survey.

    Please note that the survey will only be open from Wednesday the 24th.

    Thank you

     

  • Sun 21 Jun 2015 17:13

    Thank you to everyone who completed the examination conditions survey that I ran this year. 

    Looking at our feedback, a number of key issues were raised which we have highlighted below. 

    I have arranged meetings with the Examinations Office and other relevant members of senior management to address these issues and make the univeristy aware that this is what students wish to see.

    With thanks to staff at the SU - namely the Campaigns Coordiantor - for helping me collate this research.

  • Sun 21 Jun 2015 16:50

    I am very pleased to announce that this year we have achieved cohort examination feedback.

    This is a fantastic step in the right direction towards greater use of individual examination feedback for all and in some departments will be the first time that some official form of examination feedback is being offered. This practice should be put into place for next year. 

    Standard cohort level feedback will provide general comments on examination questions and answers, and will not override practices in departments where individual feedback is already offered.

    This will offer a baseline for examination feedback, and I hope has gotten the ball rolling towards individual feedback in every department. I have spent the year lobbying for and campaigning on this cause, from organising meetings with the University on this issue to raising it in the committees that I sit on and running the exam feedback campaign, for which I am grateful to departments like Politics and International Studies (PAIS) who have gotten involved at my asking.

    As outlined in my previous blogs, examination feedback is vital for students to gain an understanding of what is required to improve on their performance in an extremely key component of their assessment.

    I would encourage students to ask their tutors for expanded commentary on what makes for a good examination performance – sometimes all you need to do is ask.

    I hope that this campaign and drive for examination feedback continues, and I have high hopes for the university’s commitment to this cause. 

  • Tue 09 Jun 2015 20:42

    This blog post is part of my Exam Feedback Campaign. You can view Part I, a guest blog by Dr Justin Greaves, Director of Student Experience and Progression in PAIS, here.

    When I was an Undergraduate student, I studied in the English and Comparative Literary Studies department. My department was absolutely fantastic – I had brilliant lecturers who offered engaging seminars and lectures, modules that were varied and interesting, and I loved spending my time doing a course that I loved.

    I opted in my second year to take an outside module with the Politics and International Studies (PAIS) department, and I remember at the end of the year being surprised at receiving feedback on the exam I had sat for this module. The feedback was sent to me through Tabula, and offered me advice on what I could do to better improve my performance for next time, as well as pointing out what I had done well. I found out that this was regular practice in the PAIS department, and was automatic.

    We didn’t have this practice in the English department, and it struck me as an incredibly valuable thing to do – for the first time in my life I had received feedback on an exam. Examinations are such a huge part of assessing our academic performance, and yet year on year we sit them and never receive any intelligence on our performance beyond a single mark or grade.

    Our entire education system revolves around exams, and as soon as we walk out of that exam hall we put it all behind us. Feedback is vital because not only does it offer enlightenment on how to better one’s exam performance for next time, but it also enhances learning. Let’s face it – exams are an artificial condition of our education system, where a year’s worth of learning is assessed through a two or three hour sitting on a single day. We sit this exam and never look back, allowing it to simply exist as an assessment exercise with no long-term opportunity for review or reflection.

    With exam feedback, the process of learning is further developed, with students able to get the examiner’s perspective on their thought process, knowledge and arguments as demonstrated in the examination. The exam then does not exist as a mere one-off assessment method, but with the added benefit of feedback it becomes another step along the way in our academic journey towards becoming better thinkers and scholars.

    In terms of what this would look like in practical terms – yes, this would require some amount of resource and effort. The 20 working days feedback policy does not apply to examination feedback, so that would go very far in mitigating the pressure on examiners, particularly our Postgraduate students who teach, who are understandably already quite stretched. At the same time, the fact that the PAIS department is able to find the resources and time to do this - including on its largest modules - shows that this is certainly possible, particularly for smaller modules or courses. The PAIS department has set an excellent example for all departments at the university, and is offering an extremely valuable tool with which to satisfy students’ concerns and give them the best chance for academic development.

    At the Students’ Union, we would love to see more departments offering this service, and we’ve heard time and again from our students that this is what they want.

    I believe this practice to be one of the best ways with which Warwick can distinguish itself as a leading academic institution that sincerely promotes scholarship and long-term development, and that is why I am leading our Examination Feedback Campaign based on the best practice of the PAIS department.

    I certainly benefited from the examination feedback that I received from the PAIS department on my outside module, and I would love to see other departments adopting this practice for the good of all students, on all courses.

     

     

  • Tue 09 Jun 2015 19:00

    I have asked Dr Justin Greaves, Director of Student Experience and Progression in Politics and International Series (PAIS), to provide a guest blog post for my Exam Feedback Campaign. My blog post for this Campaign is available to view in part II, here

    Your Academic Journey: Exam Feedback at Warwick

    My role focuses on the student experience for undergraduates in PAIS.  I believe we should be unabashed advocates for high levels of student satisfaction and engagement at Warwick.  Not just because of league tables and the NSS – as important as they both are.  Not just because of tuition fees – as much as we are sensitive to their impact, quite rightly, on the expectations of Warwick students. To put it simply, we aspire for all Warwick students to be satisfied and engaged because we care about our Warwick community and we want it to be strong and supportive. We want all our students to be inspired by first rate lectures and classes, to face with confidence a successful and rewarding life after Warwick, and to be supported through outstanding advice and feedback.  

    When we get this right, it transforms students’ lives. Take feedback, for example. When we think of feedback we often think of feedback on formative and summative essays.  Some departments at Warwick have provided cohort feedback on exams.  Others have offered individual feedback – sometimes written, sometimes verbal - on request. PAIS is one of a very small number of departments at Warwick to automatically provide individual written feedback on exams.  In fact, we go even further.  We break written feedback down to each individual exam question and offer students the opportunity for a further verbal consultation in advice and feedback hours. PAIS uses Tabula for the electronic release of exam feedback and have delivered this on modules with up to nearly 400 registered students. 

    Why do we think this is important?   Firstly, it is really appreciated by students. Miguel Costa Matos, Social Sciences Faculty Rep, conducted a survey of 260 students in 2013. Exam feedback was the issue students thought most urgent and important.  233 said it was important and 170 said it was urgent. We have no reason to believe the response would be that different in other Faculties.  In our experience, students on joint degrees have particularly strong views – if they receive it for one subject, but not the other!

    Secondly, examinations remain crucial to many of our students’ academic journey. They remain one of the principle methods of assessment at Warwick and we believe that examinations have a formative as well as a summative dimension. Individual exam feedback can help improve exam technique, by identifying problems that students can then work on. It can help identify where students have got it wrong (or right!), in terms of their understanding and knowledge. It can help improve student performance in the future (whilst there are many factors affecting performance, 95 per cent of PAIS finalists received a 1st or 2.1 in 2014!). In an era of e-delivery, where feedback can be returned more quickly, including during vacations, exam feedback is perhaps even more helpful than in the past.  Students may have a clearer memory of what they wrote in their exams, allowing feedback to serve an even greater purpose. 

    Thirdly, exam feedback helps improve student satisfaction, as reflected in the NSS.  Last year PAIS achieved an 8 per cent rise in its feedback scores, placing us 2nd in the Russell Group and making us a leader in the Faculty.  This strengthens Warwick’s reputation and helps us recruit more students. Individual exam feedback is an amazing advert for PAIS on open days!

    Fourthly, individual exam feedback offers reassurance, and can be an important component of effective student support. Take a student who has not performed as well as they hoped or expected.  An exam mark with no explanation can make students feel lost.  Feedback, provided relatively quickly, can offer such explanation and help put students at ease in terms of pointers for more effective performance in the future. 

    Finally, we view Widening Participation (WP) as activities to raise prospective students’ aspirations for higher education, as well as those that enhance the ability of all our current students to undertake higher education successfully. It is not just about such students coming to Warwick – it is about supporting students when they are here.  Individual exam feedback is an essential component of such a strategy.

    We appreciate there are practical considerations in terms of cost – both financial and human resources.  PAIS’s experience is that e-delivery of feedback through Tabula – backed up by effective training and IT support - makes individual exam feedback easier to achieve.  If resources are limited, we believe students do appreciate prioritising teaching and learning, especially feedback.  Individual exam feedback is an investment – both in our students’ future and in Warwick’s reputation and recruitment.  The institutional 20 working days feedback policy does not apply to exams, to give exam boards and external examiners time to meet and deliberate.  This eases the pressure somewhat when providing individual exam feedback.  

    Individual exam feedback is a campaigning objective of the SU and was highlighted by candidates running to be the SU Education Officer this year. PAIS would be very happy to explore the delivery of exam feedback with other departments. It has proved a great success for us and delivered radical, progressive change.  It has required effective systems and brilliant administrative staff.  It would require the sharing of best practice across the institution. We have amazing students and staff at Warwick.  What better way could there be to ‘simplify, collaborate, deliver’ and live up to our standing as ‘a powerhouse of teaching excellence’, as declared by The Times?

    Dr Justin Greaves

Contact Me

Maahwish's office is on the 2nd floor of SUHQ.

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