Presentation – Michael Draper

Students as partners in the learning process: the role of the Academic Society in embedding learning

The NUS Report Success in the Student Market is based on evidence from students and from students’ unions discussing the behaviour, needs and wants of students. It is primarily based on innovation and student spending, however much of the background research discusses motivations for participation and interest in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities.

The report reveals that ‘appetite is increasing for course-related societies’ and it also explains that the primary focus for students is academic activities.

The idea of “partnership” stems from a rejection of the idea as students as consumers. NUS believes that students should be active partners, with their institution, in their education. This means taking on shared responsibilities and shared ownership of all aspects of university life.

Academic societies develop real and lasting partnerships at departmental levels. The aim is to bring all members of a community (in this case, the departmental community) together to support learning and share ideas together.

The Student Law Society at Swansea will be held up as an exemplar of this approach and offer a potential template for use in other Colleges.

The presentation will focus on the key benefits of the Student Law Society which includes a peer mentoring scheme with aims and outcomes that:

  • support enhanced student achievement and attainment
  • improve student satisfaction with their academic experience
  • promote ‘communities of learners’ and a willingness amongst students to support each other with their learning
  • enhance students’ engagement with their subject, their programme and their College
  • support development of the academic and professional skills of all students, including leadership through mentoring

Students are co-creators of knowledge. We believe academic societies will empower students to feel confident in their own known and potential expertise and allow them to more fully engage with this concept. Much of a student’s learning takes place outside the classroom, and this experience enables them to be more creative and confident in their academic work.

Academic societies can increase student engagement, retention and success by providing a platform for informal, safe, non-intimidating and student-led learning.

(Click the link below to view Michael’s session)