LISTEN AND RESPOND TO THE STUDENT VOICE
"I think that people want to belong; people want to not feel like they are sitting outside the system."
The PIVOTAL Model illustrates the investigation process which focusses on the development of thriving academic leaders through innovative course design. Leadership coursedesigners must not only attend to the needs of the profession as articulated by the Reference Group advocates, but must also ensure they are responsive to those who are students as well as school leaders.
A vital feature of the PIVOTAL Model is that of listening to the student voice and being responsive to various points of view. Many postgraduate students of educational leadership courses are current or aspiring school leaders and so their unique input is crucial in this regard. The long term benefit of listening and responding to the student voice, is that future educational leadership courses will be informed by what is deemed by them to be highly relevant for future school leaders.
Students have an opportunity to be part of a collaborative process which has the potential to be professionally rewarding and provide for collegial interaction. They also have an opportunity to contribute to the future development of the University’s learning and teaching effectiveness, participate in community engagement and to be empowered. Through this process, the students have the opportunity to have their leadership capacity recognised and further developed –a benefit which aligns well with the benefit of leadership development of future students of the courses. This approach demonstrates a way of working that fosters an appreciation and understanding of the significance of individual perspectives from this significant stakeholder group. Each student comes with a personal perspective of their professional learning needs and the postgraduate leadership course provider endeavoursto meet these needs in order to positively impact on both the learning experience and future leadership capacity.
Whilst current student perspectives are central to developing an understanding of the situation, past student experiences are equally valid. Online surveys to both groups offer an understanding of how courses are meeting/ have met students’ professional learning needs, and provide quantitative and comparable data across disciplines and sites. Surveys are followed by semi-structured focus group sessions, with student feedback providing rich qualitative data which is anticipated to ‘improve teaching, the curriculum and the student experience’ (McInnis, Ramsden and Maconachie, 2012, p. 36) interacting with others in a supportive and nurturing environment.
Ensuring professional partnerships are continually fostered, AISTL’s designated Leadership Requirementsand Professional Practices from the Australian Professional Standard for Principals (AITSL, 2011) is used as the framework for discussion. Through the listening to the student voice through surveys and focus groups that comprise current and aspiring school leaders enrolled in postgraduate courses, the institution ensures maximum input from the target group and consequently has the opportunity to engage learners of the future in relevant and innovative ways.