Improve the student experience
"…an excellent learning and stimulating student experience, where students are at the heart of all our considerations."
Plymouth University’s mission is to 'advance knowledge and transform lives through education and research'. The commitment is to enable excellence in all dimensions of University life, raising the aspirations of all students through delivering excellence in teaching and learning alongside world-class research, in a culture of equality, respect and inclusion. The University sits within a complex matrix of internal and external structures, advisory and regulatory organisations. Partnership working is crucial.
The ambition is to place students at the heart of everything the University does. In addition to delivering a high quality learning experience, students have the opportunity through the Union-based activities including volunteering, university-led extra-curricular, and external activities, to develop their skills and experience in ways that connect them to communities beyond the University and enhance their employability. The Graduate Compass provides the ways in which students can understand these broader opportunities and map their experiences.
Develop research informed teachingThe University’s ambition is to achieve the highest quality teaching informed by research, and for all staff involved in teaching and assessment activities to be appropriately trained and to have the opportunity to be accredited through the HE Academy or relevant professional body. Academic staff are expected to be involved with shaping the fields in which they work, and to make this involvement visible to their students. Where possible, staff involve undergraduates and taught postgraduates in their research through dissertations, projects and as co-researchers.
Students at Plymouth should be involved, wherever possible, in developing ideas, testing theories, discussing and creating, so that they have the practice of learning in ways that support their confidence to be effective researchers. Team and group work is important here. Academics more often work in research teams, and when they write, their work is peer reviewed and critiqued before final acceptance for publication. Student learning at its best aims to mirror these professional processes, so that an undergraduate has insights into how academic work is done. There may be some cases where ‘listening’ is important, but moving to ‘doing’, students as active researchers, is the aim. The students as researchers concept is an important differentiator of university as compared with school learning – there are rarely ‘right’ answers, most information is contested and hotly debated, uncertainty replaces certainty, knowledge is confusing and can be ambiguous. The interesting challenge is to understand both what you know and don’t know, and what is actually unknown, and to be discovered.
Support students on the journey to become a Plymouth graduateThe University aims to develop graduates who are enterprising, creative global citizens. This presents a challenge that is tackled in different ways by the different disciplines but supported in a range of ways from across the University. This graphic explains that a degree should help to develop student’s self-esteem, self-confidence and self-efficacy, although how, and at what rate, will be unique to each student.
At the core is their degree studies, but in addition there are generic skills and areas of cross-University expertise that enhance their learning. Sustainability has been a core University research and practise area for over 15 years, and some aspects of sustainability learning will be part of most degree schemes. Similarly ethics, careers learning and personal development planning. Some students become very skilled in particular areas, for example the sustainability ambassadors, and PALS (peer assisted learning) leaders, others hugely involved in community volunteering or sports. Each students journey is their own, but tutors may find this a useful diagram to use when exploring the wider dimensions of the University experience with students.