A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual History UK plenary meeting at the Institute of Historical Research in London. Representatives from subscribing history departments in the UK were invited to attend. After the business meeting, there were two presentations about the relationship between the collection of data and the student experience in History (with focus on the Key Information Sets and the National Student Survey).
Sarbani Banerjee, HEFCE lead on NSS and Unistats, gave a presentation about the NSS and HEFCE’s plans to consult about a possible update to the questions – input from History and other subjects is welcomed but specific consultations will not be targeted on the disciplines individually. Dr Pat Cullum (University of Huddersfield) then gave a talk about the moves that they’ve been making in History at Huddersfield to improve NSS and KIS scores/ ratings – it seems like they are facing similar challenges to other institutions across the country and responding to them in similar ways.
After lunch Professor Arthur Burns from Kings College, London talked about a really interesting podcasting project in which staff make audio recording to provide students with access to different views – those of historians at Kings as well as members of the public or specialists from other disciplines – of various historical spaces around London (rather like In Our Time, with Arthur in the Melvyn Bragg role). This seems to me like an excellent project which enables students to engage with the physical environment of London – and different interpretations of it. The open and creative element of the assessment – students have to write up their responses to the experience of visiting the sites – was said to result in very high quality writing, although the students often find the very openness quite anxiety provoking. For more on this project follow up the book chapter here.
I then gave a presentation about the Making Digital History at Lincoln, which I contextualised through reference to research I’ve been conducting into e-learning experiences of staff and students in History departments. You can see the presentation here: