Marzenna Hiles: Cohort Culture and the ‘student voice’ in creative and media subjects in UK Higher Education

Researcher: Marzenna Hiles

Marzenna joined Bournemouth University’s Media School as a doctoral researcher in September 2013.  She holds an MA in Creative and Media Education from Bournemouth University (2011); has a PG cert L&T in Higher Education from Chichester University (2009) and is a fellow of the HEA (Higher Education Academy).

She is a part-time Associate Lecturer in Media at Chichester University and Visiting Tutor in Film Production at the Arts University Bournemouth.  She also guest lectures at other HE institutions and spent a year in FE teaching on the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Film and TV Production.

Through her extensive industry experience as a Film Script Supervisor in television drama and feature films she has set up and run film and TV continuity courses at the NFTS (National Film and Television School) and is an Assessor on Creative Skillset’s Level 4 Diploma in Script Supervision. She is a member of the Guild of British Camera Technicians and MeCCSA (Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association).

With her industry and education background, Marzenna has a particular interest in the pedagogical applications of industry based practices within Film and Media courses in Higher Education.  Her research could have far reaching implications for widely accepted course structures and their potential impact upon student experiences.

Her PhD addresses the need to explore the pedagogical impact of a Cohort Culture within UK Creative and Media Higher Education; the influence upon the ‘student voice’ and the National Student Survey’s (NSS) ability to provide a faithful representation.

Cohort Culture amongst Students

Her work will investigate the existence of cohorts, described here as subject specific long-term learning                   communities, and explore how this social process could impact upon student learning.  It will seek to investigate the implicit, hidden beliefs and modes of behaviour adopted by cohorts and how this shared cohort identity could influence individual student experiences and subsequent survey responses.

She is currently conducting a pilot study using NSS qualitative data from media students at Bournemouth      University. This will form the basis for further inquiry and will inform the methodology for a larger research project.

As the NSS nears  its first decade, this research will examine its role in providing a platform for feedback on     learning and teaching and student satisfaction. Findings could have wider implications for the reliability of internal and external student surveys.

Cohorts may provide students with a greater sense of belonging that could lead to higher survey satisfaction scores.  Equally, they may mask true student feelings due to strong  cohort allegiances or marginalisation by cohort members. The effect of teaching creative and media students in long-term subject specific cohorts requires further investigation in order to optimise potential outcomes for creative industries students, staff and faculties.