CRITiCAL (Collaborative Research Internships Team in CAL) Digital Insights

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The Collaborative Research Internship Team in the College of Arts and Law (also known as the CRITiCAL project) involved four student interns working collaboratively with HEFi staff to analyse data from a large student survey. The Jisc Digital Experience Insights students’ survey is an annual UK-wide survey which is designed to reveal how students are using technologies, what is making a difference to their learning experiences, and where improvements can be made. The survey generates valuable data which can inform CAL’s digital strategy. For example, the 2022-23 survey contained 45 questions, including: What aspect of learning using digital technologies, if any, is most positive for you? What aspect of learning using digital technologies, if any, is most negative for you? To help you to use digital technologies effectively, what one thing should we do? This survey had 3,883 responses from University of Birmingham students altogether, of which 818 were from Arts and Law subjects.

The CRITiCAL interns analysed the data received from CAL students in the last two annual surveys. They analysed the free-text responses by identifying themes and selecting illustrative quotes from the students, and they identified trends from the statistical data. They used cutting-edge tools, such as the artificial intelligence platform, ChatGPT4, and a corpus analysis platform, Voyant Tools, in combination with Microsoft Excel. The output of their work was a draft report, which will be further developed by HEFi staff and presented to senior leadership. The project has the potential to make a significant impact on the way students experience digital technologies at the university over the coming years.

In addition to the survey analysis, the interns were invited to participate in a half-day workshop for teachers of humanities subjects at local schools, aimed at supporting students in the transition from school to university. The interns gave presentations at this event and contributed substantially to the discussions. Their input was highly appreciated by all the participants.

Upon conclusion of the CRITiCAL project, the students worked with a HEFi staff member, Halimat Abdulai, to produce a short video with their personal responses to the survey findings and their experiences on the internship. We hope you enjoy watching it!