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UPDATED - In Conversation With... School of Strategy and Leadership

Video and Transcript Attached - A quick overview of some of the key talking points from the 'In Conversation With...' event with representatives from the School of Strategy and Leadership.

Our sixth ‘In Conversation With’ event was with the School of Strategy and Leadership.

The panel consisted of:

  • Dr Danielle Talbot - Associate Dean - Student Experience
  • Dr Maktoba Omar - Associate Head of School - Student Experience
  • Prof Joan Lockyer - Head of School
  • Dr Anthony Olomolaiye - Curriculum Lead/ Associate Professor

Questions were posed to the Panel by our school reps:

  • Natalia Skrzeczkowska – Faculty Officer
  • Tsz So – Welfare and Inclusion Rep

The event was hosted by Maryam Ali, CUSU Student Experience Coordinator. Below, we aim to give you a small summary of some of the conversation points from the event.

Assignment deadlines are planned quite closely to each other. This negatively impacts student performance and effects their mental health too. Can the school space out the assignment's deadlines going forward?

Every semester before you start your course, the course director and the module leaders would have sat down in the previous semester, planning the assessment to make sure that the students are not overloaded at any particular point in time. Everything is planned to make sure that our students take the best out of the learning process that we want them to have, also making sure they pass very well during their assessment. At no point do we try and set out and say lets make life hard for any students. It is still also possible that due to circumstances outside of students control they might leave assessments later. At the beginning of the semester, the module leader will most likely tell you these are the assessments on this module and start getting you ready to do those assessments. We plan this rigorously so that your mental health will not be effected at any point in time.

You need to have enough teaching to be able to do the assignment, so you can’t put an assignment in week 3 and then the other one in week 12. They naturally tend to go towards the end of the teaching weeks and into the assessment weeks. If there is an issue where a student says they haven’t been able to do the preparation work and its having an impact, we take that very seriously. We have mental health advisors and counselling services, because quite often its not just to do with the assignment that’s having a negative effect on someone’s mental health. The other thing we have tried to do is give the 24hr grace period. We have built in a bit of flex for some people and it is possible to ask for a bit of an extension. If you have mitigating circumstances that mean you need a bit of extra time, you can apply for this. We have been very generous with extensions during the pandemic as we recognise that students have had a lot on.

If students say ‘this is too close together’, speak to the course director (Kate in this case) and we will have a look at things to see if things need to change. Going through Maktoba to myself (Danielle) and finally to Beverly Stevenson who is the Associate Dean Quality and Accreditation. 

We have student success coaches who can manage your time, so do speak to us. Module leaders have consultation hours and quite often our academics wait for students to come and ask questions, we need students to take advantage of the resources that are there. 

What measures has the school put in place to encourage students to attend face to face seminars? 

We have done everything we can, I can’t think of anything we haven’t done really! We have gone back to our 10hrs contact face to face this year, so we have gone back to face to face at the earliest opportunity. Staff are here and are doing a lot of work. We want people in the room with us because a lot of the things we do require student activity and action. It's getting engaged in group work, in individual projects and various activities that require physical movement within the room. Obviously we couldn’t do this when we had social distancing.

We can’t not pay attention to our online offer also, because we have a lot of students doing that. We have built up such a fantastic repository of resources online. Our undoubted preferred approach to teaching, I think almost every academic will tell you the same is when you get students in the room. We can have a conversation, read the body language, we can sense the mood. I would love to know from students actually what you think we can do to get students in the room, rather than just what we are doing. The opportunity, time and resources are there for students to be in the room – we just need them. We enjoy face to face conversations – we really miss this.

It’s a similar challenge for the student’s union, they are putting on fantastic activities. In the faculty we have amazing staff and facilities, and we want that buzz back, we want students in the classroom. Our lecturers love face to face teaching and that’s really what they have missed. We all want the same thing. Students sometimes have felt reluctant as they are worried about safety. We have made the safety of the campus as good as we possibly can. We are making things as engaging as possible in the classroom and I hope that in semester two we see a real shift with students. 

We would rather have an engaged student rather than just an attending student, engagement is key for us. We want students engaging with their course.

Most businesses have placement opportunity's available during 'Spring Week'. Unfortunately during this time the students at Coventry University are sitting exams. Will the school consider restructuring its academic year to allow us to avail these opportunities like thousands of students across other universities do?

We have lots of opportunities to do internships, work experience and placements or a year or semester abroad so we try and build those types of experiences in as we know they are really important. We don’t have breaks, like a spring week break. The likelihood of our academic year being restructured is very small. The key thing I feel is how important it is to do the work experience. We have a long summer break, we encourage students to do work experience during the summer break, which a lot do. We encourage students to do placements and we would love a bigger uptake in our placement opportunities as we know that students who do a placement year are more likely to get a high quality graduate job and their first salary is statistically higher that students who don’t do a placement year. We have more placement vacancies than we have students applying for them. We have a really fantastic talent team who will help students get placement opportunities and support them through the whole thing. We do want students to do that, the negative is that the spring week is not one that fits into our academic year.

The talent team has been massively increasing and reconfigured. They are an amazing resource for students to take advantage of placements, internships, and a whole host of other things. We try to make sure the talent teams and the course teams work very closely together to maximise opportunities for external engagements because of the advantages they bring.

For more information on the ‘In Conversation With…’ events, there is a full schedule available here. If you missed this event, a full transcript of this can be found here. If you would like to watch the event back, please find the video below.



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