Students at the University of Lincoln arranged ‘I’m a Producer day’ on the 20th of November, 2011. At the University of Lincoln the concept of ‘Producer’ is used as a title for students who are working closely alongside academics and support staff to develop the Student as Producer programme across the University.
This was the timetable for the day:
10.00 – 10.50 Designing the ideal graduate workshop
11.00 – 11.50 Critique your course workshop
12.00 – 12.50 Atrium Takeover
13.00 – 13.50 Presentation of Student Projects
14.00 – 14.50 Designing the ideal graduate workshop
15.00 – 15.50 Critique your course workshop
17.00 – 18.30 Uni with a difference!
Wes Wesley, one of the student Producers, explained the purpose of the day:
‘The main purpose of the day was to raise the level of awareness among students about Student as Producer, and to get them involved in discussions about how the ideas behind Student as Producer might be set to work on their courses.’
One of the most popular workshop events on the day was ‘How to critique your course’. Professor Howard Stevenson, one of the facilitators of the workshop, said:
‘Participants identified and discussed the many different ways that students can provide feedback on their courses. However, there was a recognition that Student as Producer is about much more than providing “feedback”, and is about engaging students and lecturers in a dialogue about the learning process in ways which shape the nature of the work. A key element of Student as Producer is the notion of student engagement in research; but an equally important aspect is that of students and staff co-constructing the learning experience.’
Dr Karin Crawford, who has written on working with students as consultants on teaching courses, worked with Howard as a co-facilitator in the workshop. She drew attention to the significance of different kinds of student engagement:
In the sessions we identified the various contexts in which these sorts of discussions might take place. Subject Committees, and Student Reps, were recognised as being a very important part of the feedback process, but Subject Committees, by their nature, are formal and rather bureaucratic. We all agreed that Student as Producer called for a more radical practice. Formal University committees are an important opportunity to raise issues, but are not always a productive environment to discuss issues in detail. Moreover, because the number of representatives is necessarily limited, there are restricted opportunities for wider student engagement.’
Howard Stevenson continued:
‘In the workshops we explored different ways in which a richer and more participatory dialogue between students and staff might be facilitated. Suggestions such as within course meetings were discussed. A lack of time prevented these issues being developed further, but the quality of our discussions was excellent and certainly generated an appetite to continue to explore these issues in the future.’
The last session of the day took place in the new Graduate School on the Brayford campus. Dan Derricott, one of the main student organisers of the day, gave a presentation on the importance of Student as Producer for the University of Lincoln, and the HE sector.
Following this presentation, there was a very lively debate about the connections between Student as Producer and other forms of critical pedagogies, as well as the politics of the current student protest against fees, marches and occupations. One of the students said: ‘Student as Producer feels more like a social movement than a teaching and learning strategy.’