London, UK – March 10, 2021 – Explorance has successfully been awarded a contract by the University of Bristol (UOB) to supply a student module evaluation system, following a competitive tender under the APUC (Advanced Procurement for Universities & Colleges) framework. This has resulted in the selection of the Blue Experience Management (XM) platform.
The Russell Group institution, which has over 27,000 taught students, sought software to provide “a consistent method for capturing unit/module reviews in all schools and faculties, both midway through units and at the end of them” to enable a wider view at a programme level and subsequently at institutional level. The University also wanted a “consistent tool and method…to close the feedback loop between students providing feedback and the institution responding to the student voice”.
Meeting UOB Needs
Dr Mark Allinson, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) and Project Sponsor, said the University was looking for a consistent means of eliciting and monitoring unit-level feedback and responses at an institutional level as part of its wider strategy. “A key driver is our new Bristol Futures Curriculum Framework, and we require good insight on what students are thinking and saying about our provision to inform that, and also for students to reflect on their own learning as part of our overall approach to teaching and learning,” he explained. “Strategically we have also made a big investment in the Bristol Institute for Learning and Teaching. Bringing harmony to unit evaluation will allow the Institute to develop its evidence-based approach to supporting pedagogy, assessment, teaching and learning.”
A “diverse approach to collecting student feedback” on taught units has led to an inconsistency in experience across the student population, and Dr Allinson commented that “we are very keen to ensure that students know their feedback has been valued and taken forward.” He added that there had also been an inconsistent staff experience in terms of the administration and management of student feedback, depending on which unit or school is being evaluated and which method they utilise.
Blue’s Flexibility and Capacity
“We chose [Blue] because of its consistency and technical capacity to run well and across the University, and within that its flexibility,” he said. “When you have courses spanning languages to professional healthcare, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and that flexibility is needed. A new system will support us in enhancing teaching practices through the provision of timely and focused student feedback. Aggregating and disaggregating information in flexible ways, looking at trends over time, and honing in on particular areas will be incredibly beneficial.”
Sam Jones, Academic Quality Manager within the Academic Quality and Policy Office, part of Education Services, said that Blue would give the University “efficiency of practice”. She continued: “We anticipate that the output reporting will be extremely useful at both unit, school, faculty and institutional level. Closing the feedback loop, allowing transparency with students and transparency over time through our unit-level and Pulse surveys which we first developed in response to the pandemic, will be key. There are also several other annual surveys we run across the University that currently use other tools which may in time be a good fit for Blue.”
Blue is currently being implemented by the University with a view to being operational for the first round of mid-module evaluations in October. As part of this, a variety of user groups on survey design and joint forums with staff and students are being held, with staff and student voice being heard in all phases of operation. Sarah Dorrian, Project Manager, based in the University Strategic Programmes and Projects Office, added: “There is real opportunity to join things up on unit evaluation in what has been an important topic for a long time. We hope that people get on board with it as a positive change for the future.”
Explorance in the UK
In the UK, Explorance also provides the following institutions with its Blue or Bluepulse software: Aberdeen, Birkbeck – University of London, Brighton, Cardiff, Coventry, Durham, Glasgow Caledonian, Kingston, Liverpool John Moores, Loughborough, Nottingham Trent, Northumbria, Sheffield, Strathclyde and the University of Law. In 2019 Explorance was appointed by APUC to a multi-supplier UK education sector framework for the supply of student module evaluation systems and associated services to HE and FE institutions of Scotland. The framework agreement is also open to member institutions within the UK universities procurement consortia meaning that they too can use the framework and have the option to appoint Explorance directly as the ranked number one supplier through APUC.
John Atherton, General Manager – Europe and Africa, at Explorance, said: “We are thrilled to be working with the University of Bristol to ensure that it is better able to consistently gather and act on students’ views and opinions as regards their courses. We also look forward to helping them meet their objective to deliver visibility to students on how their feedback has been acted on, spanning over 3,000 units a year and 200 courses.”
About the University of Bristol
Ranked among the Top 10 Universities in the United Kingdom in the 2022 QS University Rankings, the University of Bristol was founded in 1876 and is one of the top research universities in the country. Attended by approximately 20,000 undergraduate students and offering over 200 degree courses, the University of Bristol describes the student experience at the institution as being focused on “equipping our students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in their chosen career in a competitive global market.”
General Manager – Europe & Africa
Blue•Higher education•Student Experience Management•Surveys•