I recently reported on student feedback for the unit HSTY 3902: History Beyond the Classroom (see: http://bit.ly/220TqsV). The feedback we have collected from the community and local organisations that students have worked with over the semester have been overwhelmingly positive, too. While survey results are still coming in, we have heard from fourteen of our thirty-three partner organisations, or just over 40%.
Over 90% said they were satisfied with the way in which our history students engaged with the organization, with one neutral on the subject, and one unsatisfied. Over 70% were happy with the amount of information they received about the course, and why students were engaging with the organization. One was neutral, and two others said they would have liked to have known more about the course. Gratifyingly, all of the organisations who have responded so far said they would be interested in working with history students from the University of Sydney again next year.
For most students, the community engagement was the best part of the course. See their comments here: http://bit.ly/220TqsV
Some of the qualitative comments from partner-organisations are listed below, but highlights included a note from Gay Hendrickson, from the Parramatta Female Factory Friends, who said that student Michael Rees was making a “real difference” to the organisation and “his approach was exceptional in the way he related to the individuals involved.” “I would also like to commend you and the University of Sydney for providing a subject with practical experience of history in action as well as making a real difference to communities such as the Parramatta Female Factory Friends.”
Mary Oakenfull of the Marrickville Heritage Society wrote that they appreciated the “deep interest and assistance” and “genuine enthusiasm” of student Margaret Bester, and “hope to have an ongoing relationship” with the History Department and the University of Sydney. And the North Parramatta Residents Action Group reported that Katya Pesce was delightful to have on board, her enthusiasm and dedication was a joy to be around….It is great to know that Katya has become so engrossed in our campaign that she has asked to stay on and help outside the course.”
And Sharon Laura of the West Connex Action Group, Haberfield/Ashfield, wrote about Lucy Hodgkinson-Fisher that: “I was delighted and surprised by her thoughtfulness and integrity, by her pursuit of information from many others, as well as from me/us. I have been blown away by what she has produced – it is insightful and timely. Her project really has connected a past community struggle to a present day battle by residents. Good on you all at Sydney Uni and good on Lucy. Thanks.”
As the dust settles on the academic year, feedback for our History Beyond the Classroom unit of study has continued to come in (HSTY 3902). We’ve been a little overwhelmed by the positive responses from students, guest lecturers, and our community and local partner organisations. We’ve now got back our Unit of Study Survey (USS) results, and we are in the midst of surveying our community partners. In an effort to be transparent, I’ve written a brief summary of the salient points from this feedback below, followed by a full report of the results, and comments (note, I’ve now separated out our community partner feedback into a different blog post, that can be found here: http://bit.ly/1m2zxkg).
Thirty of thirty-eight enrolled students responded to the USS survey, or roughly 80% of the class. Of these, 97% reported that they were satisfied with the quality of the teaching, with only one person “neutral” on the question. Significantly, 100% of students strongly agreed or agreed that the content of the unit “encouraged/stimulated their thinking and helped to develop an enhanced diversity of ideas, attitudes and approached to an beyond the subject matter.”
The positive qualitative comments to the question “What have been the best aspects of this unit of study?,” noted below, speak for themselves. I’ll only say here that students’ enthusiasm for the course was reflected in the results of their work, which was outstanding. In over twenty years of teaching, I have never seen such overwhelmingly impressive work. Students have inspired and energized me throughout the semester, as much as they have obviously enjoyed the course too. While many students noted it has been the best course they have ever taken at Uni, which is lovely to hear, I should also point out that it has been one of the most enjoyable courses I have ever taught! It has been such a treat and privilege for me to see students’ enthusiasm and intellectual development, and to watch these projects grow to fruition.
Overall students found History in the Making to be a stimulating and engaging course, with 98% of them agreeing HSTY 3901 had been intellectually rewarding. The course enabled these students to become advanced readers and writers of history, leaving one student feeling that completing History in the Making was ‘a challenging, yet enjoyable and uplifting experience’.