HSE Lecturer Gives Paper at Harvard on Research into the Student Experience
On the 11th March 2015, Senior Research Fellow at the HSE Institute of Education Igor Chirikov was a guest lecturer at Harvard University. The lecture was part of the Student Experience in a Global Perspective course at the Faculty of Sociology and covered the methodology and results of research into student experience.
Igor Chirikov had been invited to give a lecture by Manja Klemenčič, Harvard lecturer at the Faculty of Sociology. ‘She is my colleague and coauthor,’ Chirikov explains, ‘We are publishing an article this year, about how student surveys are used in different countries, about the methodological limitations of those surveys and about alternative sources of data on student experience. As for the last few years, I’ve been actively involved in conducting sociological research into students at the Centre for Institutional Research and at the HSE Institute of Education, and I’m Managing Director of the Student Experience in the Research University International Consortium (SERU-I) at Berkeley California, Manja invited me to talk about the methodology of measuring student experience and the results of the Consortium’s research.’
About a month before his lecture, Chirikov asked students to answer several questions from a questionnaire used by researchers to survey students at universities in the USA, China, Brazil, South Africa and Russia. The questions were about how they spend their time, how much they contribute in class, and about extra-curricular activities.
During the lecture, Chirikov asked the Harvard students to compare their answers to these questions with the answers given by students in other countries. For example, most students in social sciences faculties in Chinese universities said they spend more than 30 hours at lectures and seminars - so they are in the auditorium from morning till night. They have hardly any time to prepare for classes, or for any extra-curricular activities. In the USA, in public and private universities, undergraduates in social sciences spend a lot less time in lectures - 11-15 hours on average. ‘We discussed the possible consequences of different approaches to university teaching,’ says Chirikov. ‘Another example - our research shows there is almost no difference between countries and universities in how often students at research universities skip classes or are late handing in written work, which is another area which merits discussion.’
The second part of the lecture was about using sociological surveys in the research process. Chirikov said this remains problematic. What are the models of development for student experience and what are their limitations? How accurately do students evaluate their behaviour? Which are the best scales for measuring student experience? How are students selected for different kinds of research? All these questions are discussed in materials about the research that Chirikov took part in.
Talking about his impressions of giving a lecture to Harvard students, Igor Chirikov said, ‘I was struck by two things. First - I could tell from the discussion that all the students had read all the handouts in preparation for the lecture and seminar. I don’t have a lot of teaching experience but I think that happens rarely even in good universities. Second - there was a highly competitive atmosphere, not just between the students, but between students and lecturers too. There were some really tricky questions and fierce debate among the students. This all confirms Harvard’s image as a university that chooses the brightest and most motivated students.’
In 2015 HSE laboratories and centres chose 24 scholars as post-doctoral fellows in the fields of philosophy, history, data analysis, finance, and cognitive studies. University bulletin HSE Look introduces these researchers as well as the teams with which they are now working.
Students and alumni of the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and St. Petersburg have determined the Best Teachers of 2015. HSE First Vice Rector Vadim Radaev discusses the results of the voting.