The two most recent National Forum Associate Interns, Rachel Dunne and Amelia McConville, completed their internships at the end of February 2020. During their final week, they kindly recorded their reflections on their time spent contributing to teaching and learning at national level. Their reflections, in their own words, are shared below and give an insight into the ways in which Amelia and Rachel engaged with the work of the National Forum and the difference it made to their understandings and future intentions.
The National Forum, in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), is now seeking applications for a full-time, one-year, paid Student Associate Internship for 2020/2021. This is an excellent opportunity for a student (or recent graduate) who would like to expand their understanding of teaching and learning enhancement in Irish higher education and to collaborate with the National Forum team, playing a key role in ensuring students remain central to the work of the National Forum. Full details on the internship is available here. The deadline for applications is 15 March 2020.
Reflections from Rachel Dunne (formally of Mary Immaculate College) and Amelia McConville (Trinity College Dublin)
Six months ago, we began this journey as Student Associate Interns with different backgrounds but a similar belief – that the students should be at the centre of teaching and learning.
Throughout the internship, we have visited higher education institutions, sat on National Forum committees, attended National Forum events, and met with staff and students in the sector. We assisted with the promotion of the INDEx Survey, facilitated discussions at the Student Success Symposium, reviewed institutions’ funding proposals, and attended the 2020 European Learning and Teaching Forum, to name but a few of our activities. As a result of it all, we believe that we have obtained a much clearer view of the higher education sector and we have gained lots of interesting insights and lessons along the way.
Our very first task with the National Forum was to write a Stop, Start, Continue article for the National Forum’s ezine and we felt it was only fitting to write a stop, start, continue reflection to end the internship.
- thinking of higher education from exclusively the perspective of our own institutions and experiences.
- viewing student success with a black and white lens. Student success means something different for everyone, as outlined in Lee O’Farrell’s report Understanding and Enabling Student Success in Irish Higher Education.
- thinking that reactive support systems are the only way to safeguard student wellbeing. The integration of wellbeing supports across the entire institution is needed, as emphasised in sparqs’ presentation at the 2020 EUA Learning and Teaching Forum.
- recognising the importance of digital teaching and learning in the higher education sector.
- recognising the importance of supporting and developing centres for teaching and learning in higher level institutions.
- realising the importance of the reciprocal relationship between the National Forum and students to ensure that the student voice is central in all higher education matters.
We will continue to…
- have huge respect and admiration for the National Forum team and all of the highly committed members of the higher education sector.
- develop our awareness of the communication structures that are in place between the different national organisations to support and influence the higher education landscape in Ireland.
- support and engage with our new understanding of digital learning as it comes to the fore of Irish education.
- recognise that higher education institutions will always need to adapt with the changing needs of students in a modern context.
The National Forum team is very grateful for the valuable contributions made by Amelia and Rachel and the positive ways in which they influenced our work. We wish them the best in the bright futures that lie before them.