Living up to our students’ expectations – using student voice to influence the way academics think about their undergraduates learning and their own teaching

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Understanding the student learning experience is essential if Higher Education Institutions (HEI) are to provide an education for the 21st century. This study investigated students’ perspectives on their learning experiences and offered undergraduates a chance to influence the way academics think about learning and teaching.
Participants were drawn from two UK HEIs and a semi structured focus group approach was adopted. A total of nine focus groups consisting of 3-7 participants were drawn from across all Sport degree year groups in both institutions. Assessment, pedagogy and teacher characteristics emerged as primary concerns across both institutions. Assessment was appreciated by all students as key to their learning but was exposed as being overly traditional and rigid in its application. Students were unanimous in their support for small group pedagogies, rejecting traditional powerpoint dominated lecturing styles. The emphasis on the behaviour of, and delivery by, tutors was noteworthy.
Students appraised the development of their academic skills and confidence, linking these to motivation, knowledge, self-awareness and critical reflection. In doing so they understood the impact of inconsistencies in tutors’ teaching practices. The onus is on every tutor to combine imaginative assessment with dynamic and relational experiences in order to provide a strong foundation for flexible, reflective and creative graduates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-84
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Higher Education
Issue number4
Early online date18 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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