- British Antarctic Survey
- Date first submitted:
- 17 Jan 2006
- Date last modified:
- 23 Mar 2011
- Personal effectiveness
- Research project skills
- Postgraduate researchers
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
As we are a NERC Research Centre, and not a university, our students come and go all the time; some are here for long periods and some are not. Our Student Network Day gives all our students [and supervisors] a chance to meet one another and network.
This is informal but essential training. All students are invited to take some part in the day: first years simply introduce themselves, second years present a poster, and third years give a short talk. We also have an invited speaker [or two] and something like a short movie/video on life and work in the Antarctic. The Day ends with a social get together [cheese and wine] and many go on to the pub!
We have been running our Student Network Day for nine years and find that it is the most popular part of our student training programme. What we tend to find is that the day largely runs itself. We start with a formal timetable of events and this nearly always generates a lot of interest and enthusiasm among the participants. The atmosphere is very informal and we invariably find that the students are very supportive of each other. Away from an audience of Professors and high level academics, a number of them come out of their shells and enter into the spirit of the day. Some of our students rarely bump into each other, so a day discussing common interests and problems usually pays dividende for them. They learn to both network and communicate.
Our primary aim is to give all our students the opportunity to practice their networking and communication skills. Over three years we ramp this up from a simple Introduction in Year 1, to a Poster in Year 2 [which they must stand in front of an introduce], and then a full 15-20 minute talk in Year 3. These presentations are essentially made to their peers. There will be some supervisors and permanent BAS staff in the audience but this is essentially an opportunity to practice various conference skills in front of a small audience of fellow students.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
We normally have a small group of 40 students, about one half of those who could come.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
The main benefits, as far as we can see, are that this is slightly less formal training; or, alternatively, training without a facilitator. It gives confidence to students to stand up and speak in front of an audience - sometimes for the first time. Students go to a 'conference' but are not overawed by senior colleagues.
No real challanges to organise this meeting. We have thought long and hard about the best time of year to hold it, and each year try and vary the programme to keep it informal and interesting.
We are looking into other slightly less formal ways of training students. Various types of workshops have been suggested that are essentially for students and run by students. It should be emphasised that this is not to replace formal training, but just to add a bit of variety.