The EDLAB Student Advisory Board started with 13 students from all six UM faculties in January 2021. The meetings contained feedback sessions, discussions on topics that were brought up by the students, or presentations and Q&As about past and present EDLAB projects. Often times we had material for discussions that could have continued long past the official closing of the meeting. Our topics covered what could be called an educational ABC ranging from assessment, belonging, communication, design thinking, and engagement to the Zoom classroom.
Driven by the board members’ interests and using design-thinking sessions, students also worked in subgroups and defined educational challenges they wanted to work on. Focusing on creative PBL practices, internships, and well-being initiatives the ESAB groups used the semester to develop ideas for improvement. This culminated in three reports that can be read on our website and offer great insight into those topics. In fact, the report on the well-being initiatives was already extensively discussed with the university’s well-being department.
An internal evaluation of the board reflected the satisfaction that came from this. During the final evaluation round with survey that included multiple 5-Likert scale items, the positive feedback was predominant. All survey respondents agreed that they were “satisfied with what [they] did during [their] time in ESAB” and found “participating in ESAB was worth [their] time”. “I enjoyed the ESAB meetings.” scored a 4.8 on average. The students generally also enjoyed the work in subgroups (Mean=4.3) and found the work interesting (Mean=4.5). On a qualitative level, students mentioned that they thoroughly enjoyed their time as an ESAB member. They were particularly appreciative of the interfaculty exchange, as well as learning about education innovation and improving their understanding of how the university functions. One student commented that being an ESAB member as a “wonderful and eye-opening experience”.
Things that were seen more critically was the perception of “having a say in UM’s education”, which was overall still positive but scored lowest on all items (Mean=3,6). The qualitative comments mentioned in addition that the scheduling was challenging throughout the semester, partially due to the large number of group members with each having individual schedules. In addition, some students mentioned that they would have liked to have stricter agendas ahead of our sessions, more guidance, and additional time to work in the subgroups.
Based on the feedback, we aim in the next academic year to connect ESAB more closely to the EDLAB advisory board. The sessions will be more directly related to current EDLAB projects or events. In order to make it functionally easier to work together, we have decided to reduce the size of ESAB to seven students.
We are very happy about these positive experiences and thank the ESAB members for a great semester!