One of the best parts of my job is receiving emails from academics thanking me for something I have suggested or designed. The other day I received such an email from UTS Law academic Jackie Jones, part of which said:
“I just thought I would give you some feedback on your survey. I adapted it a little and sent it to my class for Ethics Law and Justice (1st year) and all students in Legal and Professional Skills (PLT) and have had a number of responses – especially from PLT students. A great idea Adam to connect early with students – more personal than posting something on a discussion board!”
Jackie used my Getting to Know You Survey, which I discussed in two previous blog posts: A simple way to start building a supportive learning environment and Getting to know your students. Just like Sumati Ahuja did in my second post, Jackie has kindly agreed to share her insights on the survey in this Q&A session.
Adam: Thanks for agreeing to participate Jackie. Can I start by asking you why you decided to use the survey?
Jackie: It sounded like a good way to make the initial connection with students. In the past I have sent out emails and posted an introduction on a discussion board but there was no real connection with the students.
Adam: When and how did you go about distributing and collecting the surveys?
Jackie: The week prior to week 1 of the semester I sent an individual email to students (using the groups on UTSOnline) attaching the survey requesting they complete and return to my UTS email account.
Adam: What did your students disclose to you in their completed surveys?
Jackie: The completed surveys disclosed a consistently strong message – wanting assistance from the tutor in their learning – importantly answering questions.
Adam: How has this disclosed information helped you?
Jackie: It reaffirms how communication is a 2 way process, with both the sender and receiver of information having a responsibility to the other. Also it emphasised the importance of managing expectations – students have a role and responsibility in their learning, it is not just about being told information, and this needs to be clearly explained.
Adam: That’s all from me. Thanks for sharing your insights Jackie: Any final message?
Jackie: I send each student an email upon receipt of the completed survey. I think it is important to acknowledge completion of the task. A theme in Legal and Professional Skills is the importance of communication with clients. I see the survey and then communication throughout the semester (via email, announcements, discussion board) modelling the learning.
It gives me great pleasure to share this Q&A exchange with you. Jackie’s comments about communication being a 2 way process is very insightful. I love the way that something as simple as a little survey can help start this process. If you too have had success with the survey, I’d like to hear from you (drop me an email). Likewise, if you are doing something else that helps you connect with your students, please get in contact with me as I’m always keen to hear what others do (and to perhaps profile you in a Q&A Futures blog).
It’s not too late to connect with your students
Given we are still just a few weeks into the current teaching session, I encourage you to give the ‘Getting to Know You’ survey a go. The survey, available for download below, is in word, so you can change whatever you like. It’s important that your survey questions contain the things that you would like to know about your students.
Click here to view/download the survey.