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Keep in touch with your students

Thursday 19 March 2009 Tips for Course Reps

Course Reps from more than 15 different universities came together at the NUS Course Reps Network Training and Networking Day in London in March. Read their suggestions on how to keep in touch with students.

An effective Course Rep can use a number of methods to contact students, ensuring that they get a good amount of useful, representative opinions from all students on their course before meetings. Here are just a few:

• Social networking sites: e.g. myspace.com or facebook.com may be a good way to contact other students on your course and discuss the issues. Why not start up a group for your course? Don't forget to join the NUS Course Reps Network group on facebook.com if you haven’t already too;
• multimedia tools why not make a video and disseminate the link on issues that matter? Aslom Ullah, Course Rep at Queen Mary University has made a video  about the National Student Survey to encourage students on his course to feedback;
• online content – ask your students’ union to get something up on their webpages, or let students know if you have a blog or webpage where they can find out about what you’re doing or leave their feedback;
• lectures/announcements/shout outs - take five minutes at the start or end of a lecture to get student opinion (don’t forget to ask permission first though!) Better still, why not get a lecturer to assign you a regular slot in a core lecture to speak to students?
• text and instant messaging – disseminate short messages via Bluetooth or by SMS asking for students views;
• suggestion box – start your own feedback/suggestion box and ask to leave it in a key area in your department, and remind students that it’s there;
• Posters– advertise the issues on your departmental noticeboard, or why not advertise yourself?
• circulate a questionnaire – start your own survey to drill down into the issues – you can even create a small free online survey and send it out. Remember to keep it short and sweet;
• intranet – Make the most of the resources available and speak to a member staff to get information up on your institutions’ intranet;
• email – gain access to email distribution lists from a member of staff;
• social events – organise a social event for students on your course, and use this as an opportunity to get informal feedback;
• word of mouth – the personal touch is often much neglected and underrated, but it’s really the best way to let students know that you exist and gain meaningful feedback!