Experience as a student partner intern: one year in the role review
Ayma Masood Khan is a Biomedical Sciences student and a Student Partner Intern (SPI), and has been part of our Online Blended Learning (OBL) cohort this year. Over the 2020/21 academic year this cohort of SPIs have worked in partnership with staff, undertaking activities such as reviewing academic content and supporting transcription and subtitling projects across the University.
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Becoming a student partner intern is definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had as a university student. This role has not only contributed to my personal development by helping me improve my communication, organization and digital skills but has also given me an insight into a range of different courses from pharmacy and medicine to psychology and chemistry. It has given me the opportunity to network with staff and a diverse group of students, all while helping students and lecturers adapt to online learning and contributing to a wider community at university.
Expectation and experience
I remember being super anxious and excited on my first day as I didn’t know what to expect, but regardless, I was looking forward to it. Since I was a Biomedical Sciences student, I was assigned to the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health (FBMH) along with 4 other student partners. My role was quite diverse, and I was given the opportunity to work in groups and individually on a range of different projects that challenged my thinking and broadened my perspectives.
As an intern, I collaborated with staff and students to improve eLearning by reviewing online courses, lectures and student survey data independently before feeding it back in staff meetings. I identified what I felt to be effective ways to deliver engaging lectures and was often challenged to think of new ideas on how to improve their delivery and accessibility to all students including thinking about the possible perspectives of those who are, for example, international or disabled.
The 5 main types of projects I worked on as a SPI:
1. Creating an online community:
In a group with 5 other SPIs, I worked to create an online community with Psychology professor Christine Rogers, which included designing resources, videos and blogs that were relevant for students and staff throughout the University. These focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of discussion boards and breakout room activities. Here’s an example of a blog that we created: Blended Online Learning: The New Normal
2. Virtual labs and digital learning tools
I tested virtual labs and courses on platforms other than blackboard for accessibility, user-friendliness, and improvements. I also assisted to create an introduction to statistics course on articulate rise 360, as well as reviewed courses on Softchalk and blackboard. As a result, I’ve developed my digital and innovative skills and have a much better insight into learning technologies
3. Focus groups:
I took the initiate to participate in several focus groups, where I shared ideas on how to enhance the student online learning experience with teaching, management and IT staff. These really gave me a chance to express my perspectives and voice any student concerns
I supported staff by editing transcripts and proofreading lectures, which ultimately helped me develop attention to detail and persistence.
5. Unit surveys:
This is an up-coming project where I am working with a new group of interns. My aim is to help staff extract relevant information from student survey data by designing and presenting user-friendly reports, which allow courses to be tailored according to student recommendations.
Working with staff has been different experience. They treated us as equals and appreciated our perspectives and it made me realise the amount of work that goes on backstage to enrich student experience, along with the planning professors do before uploading their lectures online.
Development as a Student Partner
I’ve really enjoyed creating online resources and blogs, which involved voicing student opinions on ice breakers, zoom lectures and pastoral support. Moreover, it was a pleasure to get to know some of my professors outside of lectures by working alongside them and observing them implement our suggestions into their content delivery methods. This role also tied in really well with some of my other leadership roles this year, such being a PASS leader, international students’ ambassador and a Faculty Officer for Biology, Medicine and Health undergraduates in the Student Union senate, all of which involved representing student voice and enhancing university experience.
I had the opportunity to bond with some amazing people over the last few months in an all-online space and work on some unique yet intriguing projects. I’ve also had the opportunity to design training material for future student interns, as well as mentor new recruits by working alongside them on the President Student Partner Intern (PSPI) project that looks at data from student surveys.
In short, I’ve had a great experience so far and I’m ready to take on the exciting new challenges this role may hold! A special thanks to Matthew Oakley, Caroline Bowsher and Chloe Salins for supporting us through this wonderful journey and for keeping us motivated!