Power of the student voice: how you can improve your programme

As a student you want to have the best education possible. But sometimes things don’t always go as expected. From disorganized lectures to unclear assignments, it can be frustrating when the biggest challenge in your Master’s degree programme is administrative and not the actual content! Read more on how you as a student can help change your education into one that works best for you. 

A hallmark of the scientific community is innovation. Building upon existing paradigms and constantly updating and moving towards new ones. The same can be applied to education. Teaching methods, assessments, and curriculums need to be continuously updated to keep up with the constantly evolving scientific community. This way Universities can ensure they are educating future scientists with the most cutting-edge teaching methods.  

Unfortunately, due to the demands of academia, teachers often do not have the time to keep up with the newest teaching methods. Often defaulting back to methods that do not require as many hands-on staff involvement due to time and personnel constraints. These methods may not always be the most effective in promoting learning in students. 

Imperfections call for student feedback 

This is when students need to speak up and voice their opinions on what are the most suitable teaching methods for them. Programmes can spend hours creating the most detailed course structure, but if students don’t learn anything, then that’s time and efforts wasted. Students themselves know what methods work best for them; whether the content is suitable for the level of understanding they possess; whether the assessment methods directly assess the student’s knowledge and understanding of the subject; or whether students can apply the knowledge they gained in their future careers. 

Surveys have often been the method of collecting feedback from students. But having dedicated personnel providing a student’s point of view ensures feedback and suggestions reach the responsible personnel in a concise and comprehensive manner. Opening direct discussions with teachers ultimately allows students and teachers to come up with feasible solutions to problems within the programme and courses. 

Educational Committee – a way to improve education for you and your peers

The above points have pushed several members of the student community to form an Educational Committee for their programme. The University of Turku’s Human Neuroscience programme formed an Educational Committee (EduCo) in December 2021. The Educational Committee’s mission is to combat the concerns of their fellow classmates. EduCo is dedicated to optimizing the MDP in Human Neuroscience course design and planning. They collect feedback from fellow students and communicate them to teachers and the programme coordinator. Ultimately the feedback reaches the Turku Brain and Mind Centre board. 

Human Neuroscience Programme Coordinator 2021/2022 (Mikko Hurme) and EduCo. Left to right: Tenzing Dolmans, Claudia Tato, Hilyah Audah, Mikko Hurme, Myrthe Tillemans, Niina Chaar 

Giving students a voice allows them to be more involved in their education. EduCo was involved in providing suggestions for the new 2022-2024 curriculum based on student experiences of the previous curriculum. On May 11th 2022 EduCo arranged the first live Human Neuroscience feedback session. The event was met with enthusiasm from both teachers and students. It allowed all involved parties to discuss their experience of courses and the Master’s degree programme from both an educator and student perspective. 

Human Neuroscience Feedback Event 2022. Photo by: Hilyah Audah 

More recently, in the 2023 spring semester, UTUambassador and EduCo member Hilyah Audah, with fellow EduCo members participated in the TYY international board meeting and delivered a presentation at the monthly programme coordinator meeting on how EduCo has helped voiced student opinions to staff and faculty. Hilyah has met with TYY’s Academic Affairs and International specialists to discuss common problems faced by international students regarding their education. In addition, she participated as a student interviewee in the ongoing Audit at UTU by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (KARVI). 

Help your Master’s degree programme become better 

As a student at UTU, you too can be active in improving your education. Engage in discussions with your lecturers, contact your programme coordinators, be a part of your student organisation’s board. Have ideas? Let people know! If you are interested in creating your own EduCo for your programme, there are guidelines available on how to set one up. Contact educo@utu.fi for more information and check out our page

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