Context & Scale
This design pattern is suitable for postgraduate unit or final years of undergraduate units, where students can critically reflect on their experience and constructively share their insights with future students from the same unit. By reflecting and sharing their experiences and know-how, students can support their peers in navigating the content, activities, and assessments and potentially improving future student experience in the unit. This fosters a sense of community by leaving legacy for future students (Strayhorn, 2018) and encourages students to contribute to the ongoing success of the unit. In addition, this approach uses a personalised and peer-focused technique. This is particularly crucial for large units, where scaling efforts to make a welcoming environment relatable and engaging can be challenging. The pattern aligns with the CLaS principles of Connected Participation and Active Learning.
The main purpose of student testimonial videos is to help current students to navigate the unit and be informed about good learning practice which helps them succeed in the unit. It is based on the notion of students passing their knowledge on to other students (Jaleel & Verghis, 2015). This is particularly useful for units with complex structures and different modes of navigation. As a result, unit goals, assessments and activities are communicated by the teaching team as well as students who have recently completed the units; their language may differ in granularity. This links to evidence that shows that students engage differently with resources created by teaching teams and students (Pirhonen & Rasi, 2017).
The testimonial video should be concise, informal and assist future student learning and management of the unit. Although we have tried student testimonials in a video format, other formats may be considered. Student testimonial videos align with students as co-creators literature which produces and implements artefacts created for students by students (Killam & Luctkar-Flude, 2021).
In many educational settings, educators approach unit introductions with specific goals in mind, such as introducing learning objectives or emphasising the role of assessments. However, students may misunderstand these introductions, which can lead to students facing challenges in comprehending the course goals, activities and assessments, which may in turn hinder their ability to understand how to succeed academically. This misalignment of perspectives can at times lead to confusion, a lack of motivation to learn, and, in some cases, disengagement from the course.
To address this issue, it is important to draw upon the theoretical foundation of self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2012), which suggests that a student’s intrinsic motivation thrives when they experience relatedness, competence and autonomy. By incorporating strategies that enhance students’ sense of relatedness and competence, such as utilising messages from other students highlighting successful experiences and fostering connections with previous cohorts, their intrinsic motivation can be boosted.
Furthermore, even well-designed courses in higher education can potentially overwhelm students. To mitigate this, featuring testimonials from students who have successfully completed the course can be helpful and motivating. These testimonials not only provide encouragement but also offer important insights and considerations, reinforcing students’ belief in their own ability to overcome challenges and succeed.
This pattern involves providing students with access to optional videos from previous students who have successfully completed the unit. These testimonial videos offer advice and insights in how to navigate the course content and assessments, providing new students with informal peer feedback on how to succeed in the unit. The advice can include, but is not limited to, areas such as participation, key terms, group work and assessments.
Identify a few students (we suggest 1-4 students) close to the final weeks of the unit and invite them to provide a testimonial for future students in the unit.
Those that agree sign a media consent form.
Invite selected students to record their advice. Depending on available resources, filming can be done by students themselves, other staff, e.g. teaching team, media professionals, or other students.
The final video product is uploaded into the unit/course in the LMS and presented to new students in the early weeks of the semester.
At the end of the semester the process is repeated whereby new students can be identified and invited to share their testimonials.
Examples of pattern in use
Example 1: Business analytics
This pattern was introduced and implemented in a newly designed unit QBUS6600 Data Analytics for Business Capstone. This is a capstone unit with approximately 600 – 700 students each semester. The largest portion of these students is international.
We would like to acknowledge the unit coordinators and wider teaching team involved from the Business Analytics discipline, in particular Peter Radchenko and Andrey Vasnev.
At the end of the unit co-design process, the team decided to implement this pattern to improve student experience in the unit and assist students with navigating group projects with industry partners. The unit coordinator and tutors were invited to share their suggestions on which students to invite. The teaching team used different approaches, for example, active students in tutorials, high contributing students in the LMS etc. These students were contacted and invited to share their brief testimonials for future students to succeed in QBUS6600. The key questions asked were:
- What are your tips for future students to succeed in in the unit?
- What do you wish you knew before commencing the unit?
Three students were recorded on campus by two media production officers, two students were recorded online using video recording platform Riverside (other alternatives include Zoom, Skype). The media officers edited the videos and created a 4-minute video called ‘Succeed in QBUS6600: Student perspectives’. Most student recommendations concentrated on reflection skills, time management, assessment and managing group work. The video was made available to students in Welcome week and Week 1 in the following semester.
Example 2: International Business
This pattern was implemented in IBUS6020 Enterprise Management in China. In the past three years the student cohort in the unit has increased from 150 to 700 students per semester. The largest portion of students is international.
We would like to acknowledge the unit coordinators and wider teaching team involved from the International Business discipline, in particular Hans Hendrischke and Wei Li.
During the co-design process, the team decided to implement this pattern to improve student experience and assist students with navigating the unit. Initial discussions led to a student invite to create a testimonial video. As a result, the invited student created a short, self-filmed and edited video in English (called ‘IBUS6020 Study Tips’) and another one in Chinese, where he shared his experience in the unit. The video was filmed in different parts of campus. Three years after first publishing these student videos, they are still an integral part of the unit resources to welcome new students.
Later on, the unit coordinators invited more students cohorts to create additional videos. One student created a video called ‘Tips for exams’, while a group of students created a video ‘Tips for group work’. All videos are informal in nature, filmed and edited by students, and used as a resource on the unit’s LMS site to assist students with learning and succeeding.