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Survey feedback - Architecture, Design & Construction

The following items describe the challenges faced by the School and the changes and improvement that the School is implementing in response to the National Student Survey 2011 and also as a result of feedback from students at School committees, feedback from School staff and feedback from a variety of other stakeholders.

Department of Architecture & Urban Design (AUD) (now called Architecture & Landscape)

Despite much effort to address the specific issues raised in 2010, the overall NSS 2011 scores for AUD were much lower than in 2010. As per the School action plan, we were applying much more rigorously than previously our existing policies of attendance and engagement with the programme. This strict monitoring of policies was translated in negative perception from the student body in architecture and was reflected across the board in the NSS results.

We are addressing the issues as follows:

  • Through a departmental restructuring, the School was able to re-balance the proportion of full-time staff as opposed to part-time lecturers. This will bring better stability and management of the overall students’ experience. New full-time staff have been appointed.
  • Attendance and performance of students are strictly monitored in a constructive way and this is now made quite clear to the students from day one.
  • Enhanced formative feedback sessions will take place at the end of Term 1 (start of Term 2) for the design courses.
  • The delivery of the courses has been reviewed in order to give more integration between the design projects and the other courses. This is providing opportunities for less assessment overall with more holistic assessments.
  • The UCAS entry points for the BA (Hons) Architecture have been raised and we will be more selective in our admission procedures.
  • There has been some restructuring of the studio layouts to provide better tutorial spaces.
  • We have changed the way we timetable design ‘crits’ to allow more space and time for each design group.
  • We have appointed an employability tutor who will work with the architecture team and others in the university and outside to improve advice on careers and employability.

Department of Landscape & Garden Design (now in Department of Architecture & Landscape)

In 2010–12 these subject areas were separate departments. The relevant programmes in the former Department of Landscape & Garden Design (BA Hons Garden Design, BSc Hons Landscape Management and BA Hons Landscape Management each had students cohorts less the necessary threshold of 23 students and so their NSS returns were not published nationally. Across the three programmes there was a good response with high levels of student satisfaction.

Developments:

  • Appointment of a new 0.5 Senior Lecturer (dual qualified in horticulture and landscape architecture) to lead Planting Design teaching.
  • Monitoring of student attendance.
  • Re-approval of all three programmes.
  • Raising of the entry points for BA Hons Landscape Architecture to 300 points.
  • Staff continue to offer individual employment advice, advise on CVs and also the former department head publishes an internship guide to employment internationally, although affected by the down turn in Europe and North America there continue to be excellent prospects in Asia, South America and Australasia and to some extent in the Middle East. The professional advisory body reports that Greenwich Landscape and Garden Design graduates have a high reputation in the profession.

Department of Communication Media for Design (CMD) (now called Design Futures)

We are delighted that there has been a great improvement between 2010 and 2011 in the NSS scores for CMD. The department had worked very hard to address the issues and students were generally much more satisfied as a result. There are still improvements to be made regarding the following aspects of the provision:

Learning resources: students said they need better access to specialist equipment, facilities or rooms.

The initiation of Information and Library Services (ILS) to move towards Windows 7 has left many programmes only used by students in our School not working in facilities provided by ILS and has a very serious knock on effect for resources, out of office hours, etc. This is one new issue that will need mitigation.

The specialist digital studio facilities are upgraded every year and offer some of the best software and printing facilities of the university. The pressure on this resource has grown with the rise in programme numbers, the need to match new industry standards and that most courses in the department need access to digital facilities. The Queen Mary Studio is not delivering the expected buffer for studio space and is not appropriate for all pedagogies.

Students request better technical provision at all campuses and evening and weekend access to the digital studio. The department has already made improvements to accessibility through the training of competent students as technicians in order to extend outside normal working hours at specific periods of the term. We will continue to review the provision across campuses.

Organisation and management: timetabling, communication and organisation.

Issues of organisation and management and communication are improving in the department thanks to the hard work of all staff within a lean staffing context. At present, we are trying to redress the balance between part-time lecturers and full-time staff. Two posts will be advertised soon in 2011–12 and this will help the department staff to better manage issues of organisation, timetabling etc. We are hoping to be able to nominate year tutors to better support students. However, these changes may take a little while to be embedded. The School office has implemented better communication systems via Moodle, to alert students of cancelled classes and changes etc.

Department of Construction Management and Department of Property Housing & Urban Regeneration (now called Property & Construction Management)

NSS 2011 results have not seen the expected improvements. The department found it difficult to appoint new staff as planned. The head of department left unexpectedly at the end of term 1. Whilst the School and the acting head of department made much effort in trying to mitigate staffing instability, this was reflected in the students’ perception. The two departments have been effectively run as one department from Term 2 of 2010–11. They are now merged into one department called Property & Construction Management.

What we have done:

  • We have appointed new full-time staff
  • We have appointed a new head of department for the new department
  • We have established better communication with students when they are not attending, to support them or withdraw them if they do not respond
  • We continue to improve the way we give feedback on assessed work
  • We have raised the UCAS entry points for the undergraduate programmes in the department
  • We are going to timetable more site visits
  • We will enhance students’ awareness of relevant professional bodies and advice on careers
  • We will nominate an employability tutor.