How MADE Cymru supports our students

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By Amanda Hayden, Principal Project Officer

As I am the first point of contact for the students on the MADE Cymru course, I am usually the one who helps them with the challenges and issues they face throughout their studies. Many of the students have busy jobs, families, and other pressures such as caring responsibilities for elderly parents. It is important that studying does not add more stress to their lives. For example, one student was struggling with balancing work, family, and study, so we broke the course into bite-sized modules, and they found that was much easier to cope with.

In addition to the holistic approach we offer, our lecturers often take on the role of mentors and guide students through their studies and projects. The team has a wealth of industry experience between them that benefits the students and enhances their learning experience.

Access to UWTSD resources

Support starts from the first time a student contacts us. I believe that with the right help along the way, students are better equipped to manage their workloads and really enjoy their studies. University of Wales Trinity Saint David has so many resources available to students. Plus, the one-to-one mentoring they receive from lecturers increases the impact of their studies Some of these resources include study support sessions and access to the library at UWTSD. But I also make them aware of other members of the team who can help them such as Mike Swanson who offers technical support or myself who can help students through unexpected challenges such as illness or childcare issues.

Mentoring

Mentoring students forms part of the pastoral care offered to students. Our lecturers recognise that working students have competing demands on their time, from work deadlines to caring responsibilities. Lecturers are available for one-to-one sessions and this ensures the students’ learning experience is enhanced by the support and mentoring from the team.

All our lecturers make themselves available to discuss student issues and, where possible, show flexibility. For example, students are given the choice of when to make a presentation rather than being allocated a fixed timeslot.

Student feedback: “The lecturer made himself available and was open and discreet if you wanted to talk to him about anything” and “They were so relaxed about childcare. It was such a positive and approachable environment.”

The fact the students have access to recordings of lectures is helpful, particularly if work or life pressures meant they were not able to attend a live lecture.

We get to know our students, and the lecturers go above and beyond to offer that extra support.

I’m really excited for one of our students who has been mentored by lecturer Alan Mumby and she is now going to present a paper they co-wrote in Greece. That experience has been invaluable for her, and Alan has been very kind offering extra time to support her.

Mike Swanson, Learning Technologist

“Part of my job is to offer support to the MADE Cymru students whilst they are studying with us. I am aware that they have a wide set of different skills and abilities and not everyone has the same access to internet related technologies nor the knowledge and confidence to use them.

I use my knowledge and experience to inform students of the availability of tools provided by UWTSD and how to use them. My specific role, skills and knowledge enable me to guide students towards the best advice to gain access to their programme online, whether that be providing links to materials or in specific one to one guidance. I love seeing the students grow in confidence when using IT and I like that they find they can contact me for extra help.”

Alan Mumby, Innovation Management lecturer

“As a product designer, every job starts with trying to understand the purpose of the design, what’s the desired outcome for the end user. Then it’s about gathering all the useful information – and looking to see how we can make best use of the people, tools, and skills that we have around us to develop and manufacture the product. The rest is smoke and mirrors…….well not really.

I suppose I approached lecturing in the same way.

My job is to enhance the knowledge of our clients, the students. The best way to do that this is to understand each cohort that starts on the course, as a group, but more importantly as individuals, both their characteristics and their attitudes. Making sure that the students get to know each other – and get to know as many of the teaching and support teams as possible. We’re all people and not parts of a mechanical process or management methodology.

Sustainable product design is always about context and then content. The relationship with our students begins with context, that is, knowing why our students are coming to the lecture sessions. Our opportunity and pleasure is to enhance their understanding of innovation and product development, that’s the content.”

One of Alan’s students shares their thoughts

“I started the course in my normal disorganised fashion, five minutes late for the first lecture. From then things didn’t get much better and due to some personal problems, I stopped attending. I got an email from Alan Mumby asking me if everything was ok?

I replied and told him things were not good. He asked me did I fancy a chat, not about work but about me. That was over 12 months ago, I completed the post grad certificate with a distinction. University is about learning, but also about learning about yourself and what can be achieved. Having a mentor in the shape of Alan for the duration of my study was invaluable. Being treated as an individual by the whole team has been a great experience. I got gifted some knowledge and a bucket load of support along the way.”

Project support

Many of the students have commented about the economic impact that their group projects make to their organisations. Again, the lecturers go that extra mile to help the students through the processes and logistics of their projects. It is never just an academic exercise; the team really want

the students to get the most out of their studies. Lecturers will visit the students at their workplaces to help them with the context of their projects and offer feedback to ensure it is a success.

Post MADE Cymru

Students will often stay in contact with us after graduating and it has led to other collaborations and work with us. That relationship doesn’t end with the course. It continues and evolves. And that is something I am very excited about.