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Change Makers is here to stay

Last year, LSE and LSESU piloted the first iteration of the Change Makers programme. Inspired by a similar programme at UCL, where she worked previously, new Pro-Director for Education Professor Dilly Fung brought the project to LSE, partnering with the LSESU to make available funding and support for students wishing to get involved in research about LSE. 

In an interview with LSE Blogs, LSESU Education officer Martha Ojo called the programme “in essence is a community building exercise.” Arguing that “It will fundamentally transform how we as community view our relationship to one another and in turn how we produce knowledge.” 

Last year 24 projects were funded, involving 54 students from 16 departments – the budget for the project was £50,000. In its second year – and with a budget bump to £65,000 – there are 28 projects underway, studying a broad array of subjects, ranging from effective mental health campaigns, to the experiences of belonging for commuting masters’ students. 

https://blogsmedia.lse.ac.uk/blogs.dir/116/files/2019/08/Changemakers-podcast-transcript-14Aug2019.pdf

Some findings from 2018/19

Do I Fit in? Experiences of first-generation students at LSE

By: Maria Gafforio, Zoi Adrianopoulou, Marie-Isabel Theuwis

A qualitative study on the experiences of first-generation students at the university. Through interviews and a focus group, researchers found that “first-generation students perceive a gap between their ‘home environment’ and their ‘school environment’”, and “feel like it is hard to communicate their [university] experience to people from home.”. 

Recommendations: 

For all First-Generation Students:

∙Promote asking for help.

∙Re-work the “Best of the Best” narrative

∙Create a “First-Generation Students” society.

∙Assign an LSE Careers consultant for FGS.

∙Provide more scholarships based on students’ financial situation.

For undergraduates only:

∙Carry out LSE LIFE sessions for expressing ideas.

∙Employ more programs like the Alison Wetherfield Programme.

Is the further introduction of summative class participation a good means of improving student engagement and satisfaction with LSE classes?

Rory Gillis, Damian Virchow

The researchers focused on three courses in the Philosophy and Accounting department, studying the impact of summative class participation on students. They found that though there is a potential for stress issues to arise, summative class participation “can be beneficial”. 

The researchers recommend that “the further introduction of summative class participation should be seriously considered as a means of improving students’ sense of community whilst studying at the school. That said, we do not believe that the policy should be uniformly implemented, but rather that it should be considered on a department by department basis.” Finishing with the clarification that “more precise micro-level panel data needs to be collected on course and student levels.” 

Why is feedback not effective?

Ningyuan Jia, Yijiang Wang, Yuhan Liu

In a survey of 243 students in the Accounting and Finance departments, the researchers found that 83% of respondents perceived feedback to not be useful for their future careers; 70% felt that they did not receive feedback in a timely manner;  87% felt that comments received were “too general” without enough “constructive advice”. 

Inclusion Plans for disabled LSE students: what’s really happening?

Alison Beck, Amanda Nenzén

Narrowing into Inclusion Plans – documents and practices designed to help students with disabilities – the researchers conducted interviews to investigate the realities of receiving and actioning an IP. They found that students found: 

∙Lack of awareness that the DWS exists

∙Getting an Inclusion Plan (IP) takes time and effort

∙Frequently, the IP adjustments simply don’t happen.

∙Students are having to ‘manage’ the implementation of their IP

∙Some staff are less empathetic or understanding

Professional staff found:

∙The process is manual and tedious.

Staff found: 

∙Challenges of suggesting to a student that they might benefit from an IP

∙IPs add to the sense of email overload

∙IPs are too generic –it takes extra work to understand the ‘real story’ and what would actually help the student 

∙Some adjustments are unclear, unhelpful, or at odds with their teaching style or best practice

∙Some teachers feel hesitant or unsure, especially regarding mental health

Their recommendations range from increasing student awareness of IPs and the Disability and Wellbeing Service, provide “a space in each IP for students to (optionally) write something about themselves and their needs, in their own words”, and improving monitoring by adding a question to TQARO surveys regarding the implementation of disabled students’ inclusion plans.

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